Austin Reaves

Lakers Notes: LeBron’s Status, Reaves, Walker

With reports indicating that LeBron James is nearing a return from his right foot injury, the Lakers have upgraded his status for Sunday’s game against the Bulls from out to doubtful, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

James has missed the last 13 games after suffering a tendon injury in late February. He tweeted on Thursday that he’s working out three times a day in an effort to return as soon as possible.

“Progressing as normal,” coach Darvin Ham said when asked about James after Friday’s game. “Just doing the work that needs to be done for him to get his foot all the way together.”

The Lakers have managed to remain competitive without James, posting an 8-5 record and climbing into eighth place in the Western Conference.

There’s more from L.A.:

  • Austin Reaves discusses his contract situation in an appearance on the Point Forward podcast with former NBA guard Evan Turner (video link). Reaves has become a breakout star in his second NBA season, but the Lakers have limitations on what they can offer when he becomes a restricted free agent this summer. “I would like to be here (with the Lakers),” Reaves said, “you know, but it’s the NBA, it’s a business at the end of the day. … I want to make as much money as I can and be as successful as I can, no matter where it’s at.”
  • Reaves may play for Germany in the World Cup, according to Robert Arndt of the German website Spox. Reaves’ grandmother is German, and he received a German passport several months ago.
  • The Lakers got a huge boost from Lonnie Walker on Friday night as they topped the Thunder to move to .500 for the first time this season, per Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Walker, who started 32 games earlier this season, has found himself outside the rotation after L.A. picked up D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Rui Hachimura before the trade deadline. Walker came off the bench Friday to score 20 points in 24 minutes and impressed his teammates with his mental toughness. “We don’t win this game without him,” Anthony Davis said. “He comes in, is playing well and I don’t know, I’ve never been through it where I’m playing and then get benched or whatever, but I can only just imagine how it messes with the mind. To be mentally strong to go from a starter to move to the bench, don’t play. Then come in and play big minutes, help the team win. You got to be a strong-minded individual for that.”

Hoops Rumors Glossary: Gilbert Arenas Provision

Gilbert Arenas hasn’t played in the NBA since 2012, but his legacy lives on in the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The NBA introduced the Gilbert Arenas provision in the 2005 CBA as a way to help teams retain their restricted free agents who aren’t coming off standard rookie scale contracts. While Arenas isn’t specifically named in the CBA, the rule colloquially known as the Arenas provision stems from his own restricted free agency in 2003.

At the time, the Warriors only had Early Bird rights on Arenas, who signed an offer sheet with the Wizards starting at about $8.5MM. Because Golden State didn’t have $8.5MM in cap room and could only offer Arenas a first-year salary of about $4.9MM using the Early Bird exception, the Warriors were unable to match the offer sheet and lost Arenas to Washington.

Introduced to help avoid similar instances of teams losing promising young free agents, the Arenas provision limits the first-year salary that rival suitors can offer restricted free agents who have only been in the league for one or two years.

The starting salary for an offer sheet can’t exceed the amount of the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, which allows the player’s original team to use either the mid-level exception or the Early Bird exception to match it. Otherwise, a team without the necessary cap space would be powerless to keep its player, like the Warriors were with Arenas.

An offer sheet from another team can still have an average annual salary that exceeds the non-taxpayer’s mid-level, however. The annual raises are limited to 5% between years one and two and 4.5% between years three and four, but a team can include a significant raise between the second and third years of the offer.

As long as the first two years of a team’s offer sheet are for the highest salary possible, the offer is fully guaranteed, and there are no incentives included, the third-year salary of the offer sheet can be worth up to what the player’s third-year maximum salary would have been if not for the Arenas restrictions.

Based on a projected $134MM salary cap for 2023/24, here’s the maximum offer sheet a first- or second-year RFA could receive this coming summer:

Year Salary Comment
2023/24 $11,368,000 Value of non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception.
2024/25 $11,936,400 5% raise on first-year salary.
2025/26 $36,850,000 Maximum third-year salary for a player with 1-2 years in NBA.
2026/27 $38,508,250 4.5% raise on third-year salary.
Total $98,662,650 Average annual salary of $24,665,663.

It’s important to note that in order to make the sort of offer outlined above, a team must have enough cap room to accommodate the average annual value of the contract. Because if the offer sheet isn’t matched, the player’s new club will spread the cap hits equally across all four years (ie. $24.67MM per season).

In other words, a team with $25MM in cap space could extend this offer sheet to a first- or second-year RFA. But a team with only $20MM in cap space would have to reduce the third- and fourth-year salaries in its offer sheet to get the overall average salary of the offer down to $20MM per year, despite being able to comfortably accommodate the first-year salary.

The application of the Arenas provision is infrequent, since first- and second-year players who reach free agency rarely warrant such lucrative contract offers. First-round picks sign four-year rookie deals when they enter the NBA, so the Arenas provision generally applies to second-round picks or undrafted free agents whose first NBA contracts were only for one or two years.

The Arenas provision hasn’t been used at all in recent years. Based on our data, it was last relevant during the 2016 offseason, when multiple teams made use of the Arenas provision as they attempted to pry restricted free agents from rival teams.

One notable example from that summer was Tyler Johnson‘s restricted free agency with Miami. The Heat had Early Bird rights on Johnson, who had only been in the NBA for two seasons. The Nets attempted to pry him away with an aggressive offer sheet that featured salaries of $5,628,000, $5,881,260, $19,245,370, and $19,245,370. It wasn’t the maximum that Brooklyn could have offered Johnson, but the massive third-year raise was a tough pill for Miami to swallow.

Overall, the deal was worth $50MM for four years. If the Heat had declined to match it, the Nets would have flattened out those annual cap hits to $12.5MM per year, the average annual value of the deal. However, due to the Arenas provision, Miami was able to match Brooklyn’s offer sheet with the Early Bird exception, even though the Heat wouldn’t have been able to directly offer Johnson a four-year, $50MM contract using the Early Bird exception.

When a team matches an Arenas-provision offer sheet, it also has the option of flattening those cap charges. However, that option is only available if the team has the cap room necessary to accommodate the average annual value of the deal. Otherwise, the club has to keep the unbalanced cap charges on its books. In the case of Johnson, the Heat didn’t have enough cap room to spread out the cap hits, so they were forced to carry those exorbitant cap charges in years three and four.

When Johnson’s cap hit for the Heat jumped from $5,881,260 to $19,245,370 in 2018/19, it became an albatross — the team eventually sent him to Phoenix in a salary-dump deal at the 2019 deadline.

This coming offseason, the best candidate for an Arenas-provision offer sheet is Lakers guard Austin Reaves, who has emerged as an important rotation player for the club during its push for a playoff spot.

If the Lakers negotiate with Reaves directly, they’d be limited to offering him a little over $50MM on a four-year deal using the Early Bird exception. However, a rival team with the necessary cap room could offer him up to $98MM+, as detailed above.

A four-year, $98MM+ deal seems awfully ambitious for Reaves, but it’s possible that a rival suitor could test the Lakers’ limits by using the Arenas provision to put an offer sheet of $60MM or more on the table for the young guard. If Los Angeles matched such an offer, the contract would look the same in the first two years as the one L.A. could offer, but would include larger salaries in years three and four.

Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu, Raptors guard Dalano Banton, and Heat center Omer Yurtseven are among the other players who will become eligible for restricted free agency this offseason with just two years of NBA experience under their belts and would be subject to the Arenas provision.

Finally, just because a club is given the opportunity to use the Arenas provision to keep its restricted free agent doesn’t mean that club will necessarily have the means. Here are a few situations in which the Arenas provision would not help a team keep its restricted free agent:

  • If a team only has the taxpayer mid-level exception or room exception available, it would be unable to match an offer sheet for a Non-Bird free agent if the starting salary exceeds the taxpayer mid-level, room exception, and/or Non-Bird exception amount.
  • A team would be unable to match an offer sheet exceeding the Non-Bird exception for a Non-Bird free agent if that team has used its mid-level exception on another player. The club could use Early Bird rights to match if those rights are available, however.
  • If the player is a Non-Bird or Early Bird free agent with three years of NBA experience, the Arenas provision would not apply — only players with one or two years in the league are eligible.
  • If the player is eligible for restricted free agency but doesn’t receive a qualifying offer, the Arenas provision would not apply.

Note: This is a Hoops Rumors Glossary entry. Our glossary posts will explain specific rules relating to trades, free agency, or other aspects of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ was used in the creation of this post.

Earlier versions of this post were published in past years by Luke Adams and Chuck Myron.

Lakers Notes: Reaves, Russell, LeBron, Davis, M. Leonard

After scoring a career-high 35 points Sunday night, Austin Reaves was rewarded with a spot in the Lakers‘ starting lineup, writes Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. With two days off between games, coach Darvin Ham and his staff had time to prepare Reaves for starting duties as he took the place of Malik Beasley. Woike notes that it’s Ham’s first change to the starting unit since the trade deadline that wasn’t forced by injuries.

Reaves delivered 25 points and a career-best 11 assists in his first start since January 4 as the Lakers topped the Suns to move into a tie for ninth in the Western Conference playoff race.

“It’s going to be hectic,” Reaves said of the competition for postseason spots. “But this is why you play the game. You want high-pressure moments and you really want to play under the lights.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • D’Angelo Russell says he’s “at peace” after returning to the Lakers in a trade last month, but he’ll also be able to adjust if his long-term future isn’t in L.A., according to Helene Elliott of The Los Angeles Times. Russell, who has provided a scoring spark, topped 25 points Wednesday for the fourth time in his 11 games with the team. He’s enjoying the chance to display how much he has grown as a player and a person since L.A. drafted him in 2015, but he also knows more change could be coming in a few months. “I’m a free agent this summer. I’ve been traded midseason, so to get comfortable somewhere it’s not easy for me,” he said. “So, until I am, I won’t be comfortable. I won’t feel like it’s home.”
  • LeBron James will have his right foot tendon injury reevaluated this week, but there’s still no set timetable for him to return, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Ham believes the team is benefiting by responding to challenges with James sidelined. “Bron, with him being out, it’s revealed that we have a lot of different weapons that are very capable players on both sides of the ball that can help us achieve the goal we’re trying to achieve,” he said. “And when he comes back, he’s just going to add to it.”
  • Buha notes that the medical staff still considers the right foot stress condition that caused Anthony Davis to miss 20 games earlier this season to be an “active injury,” and it hasn’t been decided whether he’ll play in both games of the team’s lone remaining back-to-back on April 4 and 5.
  • Sources tell Buha that the Lakers were interested in signing Meyers Leonard, who worked out with them in January, before he joined the Bucks. L.A. is opting to keep its open roster spot for now after workouts with Tristan Thompson and Tony Bradley earlier this week.

Lakers, Reaves Have Mutual Interest In New Deal In Offseason

In the wake of Austin Reavescareer night on Sunday, Jovan Buha of The Athletic reports that the Lakers and Reaves’ camp have mutual interest in keeping the guard in Los Angeles beyond this season.

Because Reaves only received a two-year deal from the Lakers when he signed his first standard NBA contract in 2021, he won’t become eligible to sign a contract extension before he reaches restricted free agency this summer. Additionally, the team will only hold his Early Bird rights at that time, rather than his full Bird rights.

As Buha notes, that means L.A. will be limited to offering Reaves approximately $51MM over four years if they negotiate with him directly. At one point, that would have looked like more than enough financial flexibility to bring back Reaves, but his strong play this season has increased his value. Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter video link) suggested today that the 24-year-old’s market could be in that four-year, $50MM range, if not higher.

Reaves would have the ability to sign an offer sheet with a rival team that exceeds the Lakers’ best offer. However, the Gilbert Arenas provision would apply to such an offer sheet, meaning it couldn’t exceed the Early Bird amounts in years one or two but could include a substantial third-year raise. And despite only holding Reaves’ Early Bird rights, the Lakers would have the ability to match such an offer via the Arenas provision.

As Buha observes, how Reaves performs down the stretch and possibly in the postseason will help determine how his free agency plays out. But the former Oklahoma Sooner has established himself as a reliable rotation player in his second NBA season, averaging 12.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.9 assists with an impressive .518/.380/.854 shooting line in 54 games (27.8 MPG).

For his part, Reaves doesn’t sound like someone seeking change of scenery, having expressed gratification on Sunday for the opportunity to play for the Lakers.

“It’s special,” Reaves said after scoring 35 points in a victory over Orlando, per Buha. “I mean, I grew up a Lakers fan. To do it for this organization, especially, is surreal. Sometimes I gotta stop and really think about what I am doing. … All I’m really happy about is the win.”

Pacific Notes: Reaves, M. Williams, Lue, Kings

He’s unlikely to get any votes, but Austin Reaves still appreciated the “MVP” chants from Lakers fans Sunday night, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Reaves came off the bench to deliver 35 points in a narrow win over Orlando that lifted L.A. into a tie for ninth place in the tight Western Conference playoff race.

“For them to recognize what I do — obviously not an MVP-caliber player, those guys are really good — but for them to do that for me is special, it means a lot to me,” he said.

It was a career-high scoring night for Reaves, but it wasn’t out of character. Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times points out that Reaves has become a dependable part of the offense since LeBron James was sidelined by a foot injury three weeks ago. He has failed to reach 13 points just once since James got hurt, and he has helped the Lakers post a 6-5 record without their star.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns coach Monty Williams indicated that rotation changes may be coming after Sunday’s loss at Oklahoma City, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Williams was frustrated after watching a double-digit lead slip away in the fourth quarter. “This one’s on me,” he said. “I’ve got to get guys in the game that can create a rhythm, especially on defense. We’re giving up way too many 30-point quarters, consecutively. That’s on me. I have to figure out the guys who can play together defensively as opposed to the starters to increase the momentum from an offensive and defensive standpoint.”
  • Associate head coach Dan Craig picked up his first win guiding the Clippers Sunday night, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Craig was filling in for head coach Tyronn Lue, who was able to coach the team on Saturday, but didn’t make the flight to Portland because of a non-COVID illness. Craig said Lue is expected “back soon.”
  • The Kings didn’t have shooting guard Kevin Huerter and forward Trey Lyles in Saturday’s win over Washington, and both are listed as questionable for tonight’s contest at Utah, notes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Huerter has a strain in his right knee area, while Lyles is experiencing soreness in his right shoulder.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Pacific Division

For the rest of the regular season and postseason, Hoops Rumors is taking a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents during the 2023 offseason. We consider whether their stock is rising or falling due to their performance and other factors. Today, we’re focusing on a handful of Pacific players.

Austin Reaves, G/F, Lakers

  • 2022/23: $1.56MM
  • 2023/24: RFA
  • Stock: Up

After going undrafted out of Oklahoma in 2021, Reaves initially caught on with the Lakers on a two-way deal, but received a promotion to a standard contract before his rookie season started. He was one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing season in Los Angeles, averaging 7.3 PPG, 3.2 RPG and 1.8 APG on .459/.317/.839 shooting (.600 true shooting percentage) in 61 games (23.2 MPG).

He has been even better in year two – you could easily make the case that he’s been the Lakers’ third-best player in 2022/23. Through 52 games (27.6 MPG), he’s averaging 11.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG and 2.8 APG on an elite .511/.385/.860 shooting line (.667 TS%).

The 24-year-old has a really nice pump fake-and-drive game, which he uses to throw defenders off balance and draw fouls – he’s averaging 3.4 free throw attempts per night, which is quite high considering his usage rate is only 14.7%. Reaves has a feathery soft touch when throwing lobs, has good chemistry with both LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and has drastically improved defensively in his second season.

Reaves will be a restricted free agent in the offseason. The Lakers were only able to give him a two-year rookie contract after using most of their taxpayer mid-level exception on Kendrick Nunn a couple years ago, so they will hold his Early Bird rights, with a maximum offer of $50.77MM over four years.

Could he get a higher offer than that in free agency? Quite possibly. Rival suitors who want to pry him away would be subject to the Arenas provision, which limits the amount they can offer in years one and two but allows them to include big bump in salary in years three and four. Unless it’s a crazy overpay, I would expect the Lakers to match.

Lonnie Walker IV, G/F, Lakers

  • 2022/23: $6.48MM
  • 2023/24: UFA
  • Stock: Down

Walker opened the season as a starter in his first year in Los Angeles, averaging 14.7 PPG, 2.3 RPG and 1.4 APG on .455/.384/.875 shooting (.578 TS%) in 32 games (29.8 MPG). Left knee tendinitis sidelined him for 14 consecutive games from late December to late January.

Walker has not started a game since he returned and has averaged just 15.5 MPG in 19 games, recording 8.2 PPG and 1.5 RPG on .417/.292/.867 shooting (.534 TS%). He has received a couple healthy scratches in that span.

Still just 24 years old, Walker is an explosive athlete but he’s just an OK shooter and doesn’t provide much in terms of rebounding, passing or defense. When he’s been on the court, he has a minus-7.2 net rating, the worst among the team’s rotation regulars. When he’s off, the Lakers are plus-3.3.

I’d be pretty surprised if he receives a starting salary at the taxpayer mid-level exception again next season.

Donte DiVincenzo, G, Warriors

  • 2022/23: $4.5MM
  • 2023/24: $4.73MM player option
  • Stock: Up

I was very surprised at how relatively little money DiVincenzo received in his first free agency foray last summer. I know he was coming off a down season in ’21/22 following left ankle surgery and had particularly struggled with his shot – he posted a .351/.339/.843 shooting line in 42 combined games (24.0 MPG) with Milwaukee and Sacramento (.510 TS%).

Still, he started to play better as the year went on, and he was still solid in other areas (4.0 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.1 SPG). The Kings initially gave him a qualifying offer and then pulled it, with the former No. 17 overall pick receiving part of the taxpayer mid-level from Golden State – he’s actually making less this season than he did in the final year of his rookie contract.

The 26-year-old has certainly earned a raise. He has been invaluable to the Warriors, averaging 9.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.4 APG and 1.3 SPG in 60 games (25 starts, 26.6 MPG).

On top of being a strong defensive player, DiVincenzo has a high basketball IQ, hustles, and is shooting a career-high 40.4% from three-point range to go along with a rock solid 58.8 TS%. The Warriors only have his Non-Bird rights, so it will be very difficult to bring him back unless he really loves playing for them and is willing to accept a team-friendly deal.

Alex Len, C, Kings

  • 2022/23: $3.92MM
  • 2023/24: UFA
  • Stock: Down

Len signed a two-year, $7.65MM contract with the Kings as a free agent in 2021. He didn’t play all that well last season, averaging 6.0 PPG and 4.1 RPG while shooting 53.4% from the floor and 65.1% from the line in 39 games (15.9 MPG).

He has barely played at all in ’22/23, appearing in 17 games for a total of 53 minutes. He is the definition of being buried on the depth chart.

It’s hard to see the former No. 5 overall pick getting anything more than the veteran’s minimum as a free agent this summer, assuming he finds a team.

Josh Okogie, G/F, Suns

  • 2022/23: $1.84MM
  • 2023/24: UFA
  • Stock: Up

Okogie spent his first four seasons with Minnesota, the team that drafted him 20th overall in 2018. They let him walk after his rookie deal expired, and the 24-year-old was only able to find a veteran’s minimum deal with Phoenix.

The primary reason for that modest deal was Okogie’s limited offensive production. He averaged 6.4 PPG, 2.9 RPG and 1.0 SPG on .403/.275/.758 shooting (.521 TS%) in 244 games (20.6 MPG) with the Wolves.

His stats this season in Phoenix – 7.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG and 0.8 SPG on .399/.329/.728 shooting (53.5 TS%) in 60 games (17.6 MPG) – aren’t all that different. So why is his stock up?

Since the start of the new year, Okogie is averaging 10.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG and 1.0 SPG on .398/.369/.725 shooting (.547 TS%) in 28 games (24.1 MPG). He has been even better over the past 14 contests, of which he’s started 13 straight (32.4 MPG), averaging 14.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 1.6 SPG on .423/.378/.780 shooting (.580 TS%).

Okogie is a ferocious offensive rebounder and pound-for-pound one of the best athletes in the NBA, which enables him to switch across multiple positions. He is an outstanding defender.

The Nigerian swingman brings a relentless energy and physicality every time he steps on the court, which complements a team that relies heavily on jump shots. I don’t have a good feel for how much he might get on his next contract, but he’s certainly trending in a positive direction.

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Russell, Reaves, Beasley, Bamba, Irving

LeBron James likely won’t be back until the final week of the regular season if he returns at all before the playoffs, Jovan Buha of The Athletic said during a discussion about the team with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. James missed his ninth straight game with a right foot injury Wednesday night, but there have been some positive signs regarding his recovery.

Buha notes that James was able to shed his walking boot this week and was seen dribbling the ball and shooting layups during Tuesday’s shootaround. The Lakers have been cautious about releasing information on James, but Buha hears he’s ahead of schedule and will be reevaluated next week.

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Buha and Scotto believe D’Angelo Russell and the team have mutual interest in a new contract this summer. The Lakers brought back their former draft pick in a trade last month, and he has been productive apart from injury, averaging 18.8 points and 5.9 assists in the eight games he has played for L.A. The Lakers could have received Mike Conley from the Jazz in the trade, according to Buha, but they opted for Russell because they see him as part of their future. Scotto believes Russell is motivated to succeed with the team that drafted him.
  • The Lakers are hoping to re-sign Austin Reaves, but multiple teams are planning to make a run at him in free agency, Scotto states. L.A. can offer up to $50MM over four years, and Scotto believes his floor will be the mid-level exception. Buha points out that Reaves’ flexibility has been extremely valuable for the Lakers, noting that he has played everywhere from point guard to small forward and brings a high IQ to the game. He adds that the team has to be careful about getting into a situation similar what it did with Alex Caruso, adding that another team might be willing to offer Reaves $12-15MM per season. The Lakers would have the ability to match a higher offer via the Arenas provision.
  • Another free agent, Rui Hachimura, is also likely to get offers in the non-taxpayer MLE range, which will be about $10MM per year, according to Buha. He believes the Lakers are willing to make that offer, but another team may be able to outbid them.
  • General manager Rob Pelinka had been interested in Malik Beasley for some time before acquiring him, so the team is likely to pick up his $16.5MM option for next season, Scotto states. Mohamed Bamba, who has a $10.3MM team option, is more “on the bubble,” Scotto adds, because the Lakers can probably find a more affordable backup center.
  • The Lakers were strongly interested in Kyrie Irving when he asked the Nets for a trade in February, but that seems to have changed in light of their moves at the deadline, Buha adds. He hears that the front office likes the current look of the team and doesn’t plan to pursue Irving in free agency.

Lakers Notes: Trade Deadline, Westbrook, Irving, Reaves

Now that Kyrie Irving is headed to Dallas, the Lakers are left to search for other ways to upgrade their roster, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register.

There don’t appear to be any other All-Star level talents available for what L.A. has to offer, so Goon believes the options now involve role players such as Mike Conley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley from the Jazz, Josh Richardson and Doug McDermott from the Spurs or possibly Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier and Mason Plumlee from the Hornets.

The Lakers are also in a difficult situation because the player they most want to part with, Russell Westbrook, has a contract that will likely require three or four players in return to match salaries, Goon adds. Utah, Charlotte and San Antonio may not be interested in making such a complex deal when there are simpler options with other teams.

Last month’s acquisition of Rui Hachimura — and the likelihood of a new contract this summer — will cut into L.A.’s projected cap room. A rival executive told Goon that the Lakers want to limit this year’s hit on their repeater tax, which also reduces their options in the trade market.

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Although Westbrook has been better this season, teams remain reluctant to take on his $47.1MM contract, Goon adds. The same executive says potential trade partners still want at least one future unprotected first-round pick attached in any Westbrook deal. Goon also speculates that the Lakers’ interest in Irving may have opened old wounds with Westbrook that could affect locker room chemistry if he remains with the team.
  • The Lakers received permission from the Nets to talk to Irving’s representatives when he was pondering his player option last summer, but they didn’t follow up, sources tell Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Even though L.A. appeared to be the most likely trade partner at the time, Irving’s agent, Shetellia Riley Irving, never heard from any member of the team’s front office. Buha’s sources say the Nets informed the Lakers that they wouldn’t have accepted Westbrook in an Irving deal, so his only path to L.A. was to decline the option and sign for the mid-level exception, which the Lakers didn’t believe he would do. L.A. reportedly tried again in early July and during Summer League, but Brooklyn wasn’t interested in dealing Irving at the time.
  • Austin Reaves talks about the difficulty of breaking into the NBA as an undrafted free agent during an interview with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Suns Reportedly Offered Chris Paul, Jae Crowder For Kyrie Irving

The Suns put together a trade offer for Kyrie Irving that included Chris Paul and Jae Crowder, along with draft capital, according to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report (Twitter link).

Brooklyn also received an offer from the Lakers that included the only first-round picks left at their disposal — the ones in 2027 and 2029. Confirming a report that surfaced on Friday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports that the Lakers offered the Nets a package of Russell Westbrook and the two first-round picks but the Nets also wanted all of their young players, including Austin Reaves and Max Christie.

Charania also provided more specifics on Phoenix’s offer.  The Suns were willing to give up Paul, Crowder and one first-round pick. However, the Nets wanted three first-round picks in order to take that deal. The Suns never added those picks and ultimately lost interest in pursuing a trade.

The Nets ultimately decided to go with the Mavericks‘ offer of  Spencer Dinwiddie, forward Dorian Finney-Smith, an unprotected 2029 first-round pick, a 2027 second-round pick, and a 2029 second-round pick with Markieff Morris also going to Dallas.

Despite Paul’s age, Phoenix’s willingness to give up its floor leader for the unpredictable Irving is an eye-opener. The Suns had a successful weekend, picking up victories in Boston and Detroit, and should get Devin Booker back soon from his groin injury.

However, Paul has battled heel and hip injuries that have led to questions about how his body will hold up throughout this season and the remainder of his contract. Paul is making $28.4MM this season and $30.8MM next season, though only $15.8MM is guaranteed. His $30MM salary in 2024/25 is not guaranteed.

Crowder has been sitting out all season, awaiting a trade.

Trade Rumors: Irving, Lakers, Walker, Rozier, Mavs, More

Many around the league believe Kyrie Irving‘s preferred landing spot is the Lakers, according to reports from Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports and Marc Stein at Substack, among others.

Count Lakers legend Magic Johnson, formerly the team’s president of basketball operations, as a supporter of acquiring Irving.

Personally, I’d love to see Kyrie in the purple and gold,” he said (via Twitter).

Irving, of course, won a championship with LeBron James while the two were on the Cavaliers in 2015/16. James also acknowledged Irving’s trade request, cryptically tweeting out an eye emoji and a crown.

However, the Nets are expected to be a buyer at the deadline, which could complicate matters, Stein notes. It’s hard to imagine getting equal value for Irving considering the market for him is reportedly pretty thin.

The Lakers do indeed have interest in Irving, sources tell Jovan Buha of The Athletic. The likely framework would be Russell Westbrook and their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks in exchange for Irving and Joe Harris, per Buha’s sources.

L.A. would push to lottery-protect at least one of those picks, according to Buha, who suggests a third team might have to be involved, depending on Brooklyn’s goals. The Lakers don’t have interest in trading Austin Reaves or Max Christie in a potential Irving package, sources tell Buha.

Interestingly, Lonnie Walker and Patrick Beverley could be involved in an Irving deal or in another trade in order to upgrade the rotation, Buha reports. Beverley’s inclusion is no surprise, but this is the first time this season I’ve seen Walker’s name involved in trade rumors.

Here are more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Lakers have reportedly had preliminary talks with the Jazz regarding Westbrook, but they remain interested in Hornets guard Terry Rozier, sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.
  • Executives with knowledge of Dallas’ plans tell Goodwill that the Mavericks would definitely take Irving, the question is at what cost. Head coach Jason Kidd is a proponent of acquiring the star point guard, according to Fischer’s sources. Dallas has “confidence in Kidd’s coaching ability to connect with Irving,” Stein writes.
  • There isn’t universal agreement within the Mavericks‘ organization about adding Irving, however. Some front office members have concerns about Irving’s long-term fit with Luka Doncic, according to sources Tim Cato of The Athletic spoke to. The concern is centered on how they’d mesh in the locker room, as they have “drastically different off-court personas.”
  • According to Stein, the Nets are believed to be interested Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith in a potential Irving deal, but the Mavericks “would surely insist” on trying to shed the contract of either Tim Hardaway Jr. or Davis Bertans. Dinwiddie played for the Nets from 2016-2021, so they’re very familiar with him as a person and player.
  • The Mavericks are also interested in Hawks swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic, as “they’re desperate and determined” to get help for Doncic, says Goodwill.