Anthony Davis

Deveney’s Latest: A. Davis, Schröder, Bulls, Knicks

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said last week that “numerous” league executives suggested to him that Lakers star Anthony Davis doesn’t have significant trade value due to his injury history. However, execs who spoke to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com scoffed at that idea.

One general manager told Deveney that there would be “29 teams ready with offers” if the Lakers made Davis available. An Eastern Conference executive said the idea of Davis not having much value is “crazy.”

“Look, it is beauty in the eye of the beholder. But he is an elite talent and he is 29 years old,” the East exec told Deveney. “Everybody wants him, everybody thinks that if they get their hands on him, they can keep him healthy, etc., etc.

“Now, can you get the kind of offer the Lakers gave up when they traded for him (in 2019)? No, of course not. But a team like Chicago, where he is from, they would bend over backwards to get him. Dallas, putting him with Luka (Doncic)? Of course, they would. Phoenix, Miami, any team that really wants to take that next step. The injury is a risk, but the payoff you get if you can keep him on the floor is worth it.”

While there seems to be no real consensus on Davis’ value, it may be a moot point this offseason, since there’s no indication the Lakers would consider moving him.

Here’s more from Deveney:

  • It’s possible the Rockets will re-sign free agent point guard Dennis Schröder and then look to trade him during the 2022/23 season, like Boston did this past year, a source tells Deveney. Although Deveney suggests Houston could use part of its mid-level exception to retain Schröder, the Non-Bird exception would allow an offer up to about $7MM, which could be enough. It’s also worth pointing out that signing a one-year deal with the Rockets would give Schröder the ability to veto a trade next season.
  • The Bulls are one team to watch as a potential free agent suitor for Schröder, but probably only if they trade Coby White, according to Deveney, who notes that Schröder had his best year playing for Billy Donovan in Oklahoma City in 2019/20.
  • Executives around the NBA believe the Knicks – who added Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker last summer – are more likely to pursue “young-ish” players with some upside this offseason rather than going after veterans again. Deveney mentions Tyus Jones, Mohamed Bamba, Chris Boucher, and Schröder as possible targets, though he acknowledges that some of those players aren’t particularly young.

Lakers’ Jeanie Buss Discusses Down Year, Front Office, More

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss wasn’t happy with the way her team’s season played out, she said in a wide-ranging interview with Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times. With championship expectations and one of the NBA’s most expensive rosters entering the 2021/22 season, Los Angeles went 33-49 and missed both the playoffs and the play-in tournament.

“I’m growing impatient just because we had the fourth-highest payroll in the league,” Buss told Plaschke. “… When you spend that kind of money on the luxury tax, you expect to go deep into the playoffs. So, yeah, it was gut-wrenching for me to go out on a limb like that and not get the results that we were looking for. … I’m not happy, I’m not satisfied.”

As the final decision-maker on Lakers matters, Buss said it was up to her to “make things better” after an “extremely disappointing” year, which could mean making personnel changes on and off the court.

“Absolutely, if we are not living up to the Lakers standard, absolutely I will look at everything,” she said. “… I will make the hard decisions, because that’s what you have to do.”

Although it sounds like front office changes could be on the table if the Lakers have another down year, Buss appears prepared to give VP of basketball operations Rob Pelinka and his group at least one more shot to reshape and upgrade the roster, as well as to hire a new head coach, Plaschke writes.

“In terms of basketball decisions, I have complete confidence in our front office, which is headed by Rob Pelinka,” Buss said. “He is a person that is extremely smart, extremely strategic, everything he does is thoughtful and with purpose. … I have complete confidence that he can put together a roster and find a coach that is going to get us back to where we belong.”

Here’s more from Buss on the state of the Lakers:

  • Buss confirmed that she receives input from Kurt Rambis, Linda Rambis, Magic Johnson, Phil Jackson, LeBron James, and Klutch Sports, but insists that none of those figures have outsized voices within the organization. “Do they have final say? No. Are they running the team? No, no, not at all,” Buss said when asked about James and Klutch Sports, adding that it’s normal for teams to bounce ideas off of their top players. “I am controlling owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, I’m held accountable for every decision that’s made here.”
  • Buss defended Kurt Rambis’ track record against what she perceives as “unfair criticism” and stressed that Linda Rambis has no input in basketball decisions. “In terms of Linda Rambis, she does not have a role in the basketball department; her role is, as it’s been for the last almost 40 years, is as my advisor,” Buss told Plaschke. “She and I have worked together for years and years and years. Why that has become an issue for people, I don’t understand.” Linda helps new Lakers players and their families adjust to Los Angeles, according to Buss: “Every team has somebody like that, in our case it’s Linda. … She’s done that for over 30 years with the Lakers. Not like all of a sudden she’s become the assistant general manager, that’s not true.”
  • Buss believes the Lakers can win another title with James and Anthony Davis as their cornerstones, but declined to speculate on Russell Westbrook‘s future with the team. “Having a conversation like that is premature,” she said. “We have to now find the right coach to lead this team. Depending on the style of play that that coach wants to play, given the roster that we have, it all has to start to come together.”
  • Buss hasn’t given any thought to the idea of selling the Lakers, telling Plaschke that her late father Jerry Buss always wanted to keep the franchise in the family. “I’m not going anywhere. This is exactly what my dad asked me to do. The team is not for sale,” Jeanie said. “… I like to say, my dad had his children, but the Lakers were his baby, and he put me in charge of the baby, and I will make sure that the baby thrives.”

Lakers Notes: Westbrook, Klutch, Carmelo, Offseason

The Lakers‘ front office is internally blaming pressure from Klutch Sports Group for last summer’s acquisition of Russell Westbrook, multiple sources tell Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

As has been reported by several outlets since last August, Klutch clients LeBron James and Anthony Davis played a part in recruiting Westbrook, helping convince the Lakers to go after the former MVP instead of trying to sign-and-trade for DeMar DeRozan or acquire Buddy Hield from Sacramento.

Still, while James, Davis, and their agency may have had a hand in the Westbrook trade, VP of basketball operations Rob Pelinka and the rest of the Lakers’ front office ultimately had the final say. Pincus, who suggests that assigning the blame to Klutch Sports “may be an epic level of passing the buck,” writes that NBA front offices should consider their stars’ input but that the top basketball executives are responsible for making the decisions they feel are best for the team.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

Lakers Rumors: Nurse, Davis, LeBron, Westbrook, Carmelo

Once the Lakers officially dismiss head coach Frank Vogel, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is expected to be one of the team’s top targets, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. The Lakers are hoping that Nurse is an option, according to Charania, who acknowledges that it’s unclear whether Nurse “will be attainable or whether he would have interest.”

In order to even talk to Nurse, the Lakers would have to get permission from the Raptors, since the former Coach of the Year remains under contract in Toronto for two more years. Nurse would then have to be interested in leaving a stable, well-run organization for one that was mired in dysfunction this season. And the Lakers would likely have to be willing to give up substantial draft compensation to acquire Nurse from the Raptors.

Given all of those obstacles, I’d be shocked if Nurse emerged as a realistic candidate for the Lakers’ job, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. As one Eastern Conference executive observed to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com, Nurse is represented by Andy Miller at Klutch Sports, the same agency that reps LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

“I would expect the Lakers to at least ask about Nick Nurse,” the executive told Deveney. “… He got the big contract with the Raptors and he is secure there. They’re not going to let him go. But it makes him look better and Klutch look better if they are asking for him, right? So yeah, I would not be surprised to see the Lakers ask about him but more as a favor to Klutch. Maybe they won’t because he is so far out of reach. But, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours, that is how things work.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Anthony Davis said on Sunday that he still believes a roster built around him and LeBron James can contend for a title moving forward, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. “I think us two can. We’ve shown that we can,” Davis said.
  • While James and Davis are widely expected to remain in Los Angeles going forward, Russell Westbrook‘s future is cloudier. According to Charania, rival executives believe the Pacers will be open to discussing trades involving Malcolm Brogdon and Buddy Hield and could emerge as a Westbrook suitor, which is something Marc Stein suggested over the weekend. While Brogdon and Hield would be good fits on the Lakers’ roster, L.A. would likely have to attach sweeteners to Westbrook to realistically make any deal with Indiana.
  • James told reporters today that an MRI on his left ankle showed that he won’t require surgery or any injections, but he’ll have to stay off of it for the next four-to-six weeks (Twitter link via Mark Medina of NBA.com). LeBron also said that he and the Lakers could have extension discussions later this offseason once CBA rules allow for it (Twitter link via McMenamin). James will become extension-eligible in August.
  • Asked about potential roster moves and the possibility of playing with Westbrook next season, James said he’ll defer to the front office. I’m not here to make decisions for the front office and that nature,” he said (Twitter links). “But I loved being teammates with Russ.”
  • Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com spoke to multiple league sources about the Lakers’ disappointing season and the perception that head coach Frank Vogel was being undermined. “On a regular basis, (Kurt) Rambis would get on Vogel in front of staff and players — in practices, in the hallway where everybody can see it. He wasn’t taking it behind closed doors and laying it out,” one source said. “And what position does Rambis have? What’s his title? His title is friend of Jeanie Buss. Trust me, Frank Vogel would have been happy to have been fired from that mess.”
  • Addressing Vogel’s firing, Bill Oram of The Athletic contends that the way the news leaked – before the team formally informed Vogel – should be a warning sign for potential replacements.
  • Asked about his priorities in free agency this offseason, Carmelo Anthony said he’d like to win a championship, but also wants to be somewhere he’ll be happy. “If I gotta be unhappy to try to go fight and win a championship, I don’t want that. I don’t want that unhappiness,” he said, per McMenamin (Twitter link). “… I think at this point in my carer, it’s about just being happy and being able to wake up and come to work every day with a good attitude. Being positive.”

Lakers Rumors: Westbrook, Vogel, Front Office, More

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook “never respected” head coach Frank Vogel, a person with knowledge of the situation tells Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times.

“The moment Frank said anybody who gets the rebound can bring it up the court, which is just how the NBA is played these days, Russ was like, ‘Naw, I’m the point guard. Give the ball to me. Everybody run,'” the source told Woike and Turner. “Frank was like, ‘No, we have Talen (Horton-Tucker). We have Austin (Reaves). We have Malik (Monk). We have LeBron (James). We have AD (Anthony Davis). They can all bring the ball up.’ He was like, ‘Nope, I’m the point guard. Give me that s–t. Everybody get out the way.’

“From that point on, in training camp, it was a wrap, ‘cause now Russ is a fish out of water. He doesn’t know what to do. That’s how that started.”

Both the Times’ report and an in-depth Insider-only story from Ramona Shelburne of ESPN paint Vogel as one of Westbrook’s bigger supporters, resisting pushes from staffers and players to pull him from the starting lineup as the season went on. According to Shelburne, there were people in the organization who felt that only “humiliation” would prompt Westbrook to change his playing style to better fit in, but Vogel wanted to stand by him and give him the chance to figure things out.

However, Shelburne hears from team insiders that – in addition to being a poor on-court fit – Westbrook wasn’t a good “personality fit” alongside a non-confrontational coach like Vogel and a passive-aggressive star like James.

According to Woike and Turner, some Lakers staffers began to wonder during the season if the club had made a big mistake by not re-signing Jared Dudley to be a “locker-room buffer” who could help integrate Westbrook. The team had also wanted to hire Westbrook’s former coach Scott Brooks as an assistant on Vogel’s staff, but didn’t have the spot or the money for him after giving Mike Penberthy a promotion and a raise to prevent Jason Kidd from poaching him for his staff in Dallas, says Shelburne.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Although Vogel appears likely to be replaced after the season is over, the front office leadership group – led by Rob Pelinka and Kurt Rambis – is expected to remain intact and in power going forward, sources tell Shelburne.
  • The Lakers, who were unwilling to attach their 2027 first-round pick to Westbrook at the trade deadline to grease the wheels on a deal, appear similarly reluctant to waive him this offseason and stretch his $47MM salary across three seasons, reports Shelburne. Releasing Westbrook might appeal more to the team if he were willing to give up money in a buyout agreement, but sources close to the guard have expressed pessimism that he’ll do so, Shelburne writes.
  • One reason the Lakers acquired Westbrook rather than DeMar DeRozan last summer was timing-related — the team was able to move on Westbrook around the draft since he was under contract, whereas working out a sign-and-trade for DeRozan would’ve meant waiting for free agency (and coming up with a package that the Spurs would accept). However, sources close to the situation say that James’ and Davis’ enthusiasm for Westbrook were a significant factor in L.A.’s shift in focus as well, per Shelburne.

Lakers Promote Wenyen Gabriel To Standard Contract

3:23pm: Gabriel’s new deal is a two-year contract with a team option for 2022/23, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.


2:44pm: The Lakers have filled the open spot on their 15-man roster by promoting Wenyen Gabriel from his two-way contract to a standard deal, the team announced today (via Twitter). That roster opening was created on Thursday when Trevor Ariza was waived.

Gabriel signed a series of 10-day contracts earlier in the season with the Nets, Clippers, and Pelicans before eventually getting a two-way deal from the Lakers on March 1. The 25-year-old has appeared in 24 total NBA games this season, including 17 for his current club. In those 17 games with the Lakers, he has averaged 5.7 points and 3.8 rebounds on .481/.238/.621 shooting in 14.6 minutes per contest.

Gabriel figures to see plenty of action in the club’s final two games of the season this weekend, with a number of regulars sidelined. LeBron James has been ruled out for the season, while Anthony Davis (foot), Russell Westbrook (shoulder), and Carmelo Anthony (non-COVID illness) will all miss at least Friday’s game vs. Oklahoma City.

The exact details of Gabriel’s new contract are unclear. If the Lakers simply converted his two-way deal to a standard contract, it will only cover the rest of the season, but teams and players are free to negotiate new terms in this situation.

Non-playoff clubs that promote two-way players to their 15-man rosters near the end of the season typically want to tack on at least one extra non-guaranteed year to those new contracts — we’ll have to wait for further clarification to see if the Lakers did that with Gabriel.

Los Angeles now has a full 15-man roster, with one open two-way slot.

Lakers Notes: Davis, James, Westbrook, Offseason Approach

Anthony Davis isn’t sure if the Lakers‘ front office will try to trade him after the season, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reports. Davis is signed through the 2024/25 season, though there’s an early termination option prior to the final year.

“Obviously I love it in L.A. If that’s something that they’re considering, then we’ll have a conversation about it,” he said. “I don’t know what they’re talking about, what’s the plan.”

Davis missed a chunk of time this season due to a foot injury but he bristles at the notion that he’s injury prone.

“To be honest, my training methods were top tier,” he said. “I can’t control stepping on someone’s foot and I can’t control someone falling into my leg. It’s not like I’m out of shape and I did some crazy (stuff) or it was anything I could control.”

We have more on the Lakers:

  • Davis (right foot soreness), LeBron James (left ankle soreness), and Russell Westbrook (right shoulder soreness) sat out Thursday’s game against the Warriors, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register writes. It’s unclear if the trio will be shut down for the remainder of the season but the Lakers have little to play for after getting eliminated from postseason contention.
  • The Lakers’ best future option is for the front office to start running the club like a small market team, Moke Hamilton of the Basketball News opines. They need to find a way to get back into the draft, most likely by trading Talen Horton-Tucker, and uncover diamonds in the rough through scouting and player development.
  • The Los Angeles Times’ Broderick Turner breaks down all the roster decisions that GM Rob Pelinka and senior advisor Kurt Rambis need to make this offseason.
  • The same topics are explored by the Bleacher Report’s’ Eric Pincus, who notes that significant changes are unlikely to occur within the front office.
  • The franchise has come up short of lofty expectations created by the additions of James four years ago and Davis three years ago, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today notes. While the Lakers won a championship in the Orlando bubble in 2020, competing for multiple championships was expected. They missed the playoffs in James’ first and fourth seasons in L.A. and lost in the first round last season.
  • In case you missed it, Trevor Ariza was waived on Thursday.

Lakers Notes: Elimination, Westbrook, Vogel, Draft Pick

The Lakers were officially eliminated from play-in contention on Tuesday night as they lost in Phoenix and the Spurs picked up a win in Denver to clinch at least the 10th seed. There are still three games left on Los Angeles’ regular season schedule, but Tuesday’s loss marked the unofficial end of a historically disappointing year, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

“Extremely disappointed,” head coach Frank Vogel said after the game. “Disappointed for our fan base. Disappointed for the Buss family, who gave us all this opportunity, and we want to play our part in bringing success to Laker basketball, and we fell short.”

Anthony Davis, who wondered earlier this week “what could have been” if the Lakers hadn’t had to deal with so many injuries, admitted on Tuesday that the club wasn’t exactly dominant even when he, LeBron James, and Russell Westbrook were all healthy. But he still believes L.A. could have reached another level with more time to establish chemistry.

“I think even though we lost games where all of us were on the floor — me, Bron, Russ — I think we’re three great players, but we would have figured it out if we logged more minutes together,” said Davis, who pointed out the team had more starting lineups (39) than wins (31) this season. “But we weren’t able to do that, which makes it tough to be able to compete for a championship when your three best players haven’t logged enough minutes together.

“… I truly think that we could have done something special, if Bron and myself — and mainly me — were healthy for the entire season.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • With James and Davis unlikely to go anywhere, Westbrook looks like a candidate to be traded – or even released – this summer as the Lakers attempt to reshape their roster. But the former MVP will enter the offseason planning to remain in L.A. “I mean, that’s the plan. But nothing is promised,” Westbrook said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “Yes, we want to be able to see what that looks like, what that entails over the course of an 82-game season. But we’re not sure if that’s guaranteed, either. So I just hope that we have a chance to be able to do something.”
  • It’s unclear if Davis and James, who are both dealing with injuries, will play in the Lakers’ final three games now that the team has no chance at the play-in. “We’ll see,” Vogel said (Twitter link via Mark Medina of NBA.com). “We’ll meet with the front office, our players and the coaching staff, and see what’s best for our group.”
  • While Vogel declined to speculate about his job security – or lack thereof – he seemed to acknowledge in a conversation with Bill Oram of The Athletic that he understands his probable fate. “It’s been a win-now job for each of the three years I’ve been here,” Vogel said. A Tuesday report stated that the Lakers will likely replace Vogel at season’s end.
  • As Andrew Lopez of ESPN tweets, the Lakers appear virtually locked into the No. 8 spot in the draft lottery, which is great news for the Pelicans, who will get L.A.’s first-round pick if it’s in the top 10. There would be a 99.6% chance of that happening if the Lakers remain in the No. 8 spot in the lottery standings. The Grizzlies, who would get the pick if it falls between 11-30, will likely end up receiving Cleveland’s 2022 second-rounder and New Orleans’ 2025 second-rounder from the Pelicans instead.
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype takes an in-depth look at the major decisions facing the Lakers this offseason.

Lakers Rumors: Coaching Change, Davis, Westbrook, THT, Nunn, Monk

An offseason coaching change seems inevitable for the Lakers, who could see their hopes for the play-in tournament end as early as tonight, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

Sources tell Fischer that L.A. is expected to fire Frank Vogel after the end of the season. Vogel has reportedly been on the hot seat for some time, and only received a one-year contract extension last summer.

There will be a long list of potential replacements, but Fischer identifies Jazz coach Quin Snyder and Sixers coach Doc Rivers as the most intriguing names to watch. Marc Stein of Substack recently linked Snyder to the Lakers’ job, and possibly to the Spurs as well. Snyder responded by calling it “disrespectful” to the teams involved to discuss rumors while those coaching positions are filled.

Snyder was a Lakers assistant 10 years ago, and Utah may decide to make a coaching change of its own after a late-season slide, but Fischer cites skepticism around the league that he’ll wind up in Los Angeles. The feeling is that Snyder would prefer to wait for the San Antonio job, even if Gregg Popovich returns next season.

Rivers could become available if Philadelphia has an early playoff exit, and he would be considered by the Jazz as well, Fischer adds. Rivers had a long history in Boston with Utah CEO Danny Ainge.

Fischer has more news regarding the Lakers:

  • Some rival teams have wondered if Anthony Davis might be available in a trade this summer, but multiple sources told Fischer that won’t be an option the Lakers seriously consider. Davis has been severely limited by injuries the past two years, playing 39 games so far this season and 36 in 2020/21, but L.A.’s front office still believes it has the makings of a championship contender when Davis and LeBron James are healthy.
  • The Lakers will try again to trade Russell Westbrook, but they still may not have any options other than a deal with the Rockets for John Wall that would likely also cost them a future first-round pick. Talen Horton-Tucker, who Fischer said was nearly sent to the Raptors at the deadline in a three-way deal that would have included the Knicks, will also be on the market, along with Kendrick Nunn, who is expected to pick up his $5.25MM player option.
  • Malik Monk was the Lakers’ best offseason signing, ranking third on the team in points scored and minutes played on a minimum-salary contract, but he may be somewhere else next season. L.A. only holds Non-Bird rights on Monk and will be limited to a contract that starts at the taxpayer mid-level exception, which is projected to be $6.4MM. Rival executives expect him to get offers with a starting salary as high as $10MM, says Fischer.

Lakers Notes: Davis, James, Injuries, DeRozan

The Lakers aren’t technically out of playoff contention yet, but after falling two games (and a tiebreaker) behind San Antonio in the Western Conference standings on Sunday, their odds of claiming a spot in the play-in tournament are increasingly slim — in fact, the Lakers could be officially eliminated as soon as Tuesday if they lose in Phoenix and the Spurs win in Denver.

Following Sunday’s loss, Anthony Davis sounded like someone who recognized that L.A.’s season is all but over, as he reflected on “what could have been” if the team had been healthier.

“I think the biggest thing that I think about personally is what we could have been, had we stayed healthy all year,” Davis said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “What could we have been. … Guys feel like, ‘OK, what could we have been if I was healthy all year, [LeBron James] was healthy, [Kendrick] Nunn was healthy.’ You think about those things. We put this team together and it looked good on paper, but we haven’t had a chance to reach that potential with guys in and out of the lineup.”

Davis, who has only played in half of the Lakers’ 78 games so far this season, has been bothered throughout his career by injuries, but he bristled at the perception that he’s fragile, telling Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times that he hasn’t been sidelined due to “little ticky-tack injuries.”

“This is what I’ve learned about injuries,” Davis said. “Last year when I wasn’t playing, people were saying, ‘AD’s giving up on his team. It’s the playoffs. AD has to play. He’s got to play.’ And when I went out there to play, got hurt again, they said, ‘Who was his trainer? Who let him play?’

“So, what the [expletive] do you want me to do? When I play, it’s a problem. It’s a problem when I don’t play. At the end of the day, I’ve got to do what’s best for me and how my body feels. And we go from there. I’m not worried about who’s saying what or who thinks this about me because none of them have stepped on the floor and played. And the ones that did play, they should understand.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • A source familiar with James’ status told Dave McMenamin of ESPN that the star forward is “unlikely” to play on Tuesday vs. Phoenix. However, according to McMenamin, the source said there’s still a chance that could change if LeBron’s ankle improves more than expected by tomorrow night.
  • Jovan Buha of The Athletic and his colleague John Hollinger both pushed back against the idea that injuries have been the primary cause of the Lakers’ disappointing season. Buha observed that even in games when Davis and James played, the team was just 11-11, while Hollinger said the team’s offseason plan needs to be better than simply running it back and hoping its two superstars stay healthy in 2022/23.
  • Appearing on ESPN’s Get Up and First Take on Monday, former Lakers president Magic Johnson criticized the club for not acquiring DeMar DeRozan last offseason instead of Russell Westbrook (link via Jenna Lemoncelli of The New York Post). While that’s not an unreasonable take, given that DeRozan had interest in playing for his hometown team, Johnson’s assertion that the Lakers could’ve had DeRozan, Buddy Hield, Alex Caruso, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope instead of Westbrook is a fantasy that doesn’t pass muster. Unless DeRozan had been willing to sign for the taxpayer mid-level exception (which wasn’t viewed as a viable option at the time), L.A. would’ve become hard-capped by acquiring him and would have had no way of carrying all those contracts in addition to James’ and Davis’ maximum salaries. Acquiring both DeRozan and Hield without giving up Caldwell-Pope also likely wouldn’t have been possible due to salary-matching rules.