Austin Reaves

Lakers’ Beverley Likely To Face NBA Discipline After Shoving Suns’ Ayton

With just under four minutes remaining in the Suns‘ win over the Lakers on Tuesday night, Lakers guard Patrick Beverley and Suns center Deandre Ayton were involved in an on-court altercation that resulted in technical fouls for both players and an ejection for Beverley.

Following a Devin Booker foul on Austin Reaves that was ultimately ruled a Flagrant 1, Ayton grabbed the ball and stood over Reaves, who was down on the floor. Beverley shoved Ayton from behind, knocking him to the court and resulting in a brief skirmish between Lakers and Suns players (YouTube video link)

As Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes, Beverley explained to reporters after the game that he was looking out for his backcourt partner.

“Got a person on the ground, two people looking over mean-mugging and puffing their chest out and referees don’t get into it to kind of separate it, control the game, so I’m going to stand up for my teammate,” Beverley said. “… Obviously, it’s unfortunate that it happened on national TV. But you know me: Regardless of what’s going on, I’m a big fan of protecting my teammates. … I’m a foxhole guy. I put on the jersey, and I commit to a team, I commit to a city, and it’s kind of my motto.”

Beverley received postgame support from head coach Darvin Ham and several teammates, including Reaves himself, who said he told Beverley “four or five times” that he appreciated him. Ham acknowledged that Beverley will likely face NBA discipline for the incident, but said he wasn’t upset about his point guard’s reaction.

“Pat Bev, you don’t want just to be a tough man competition; you actually want to play tough basketball. But at the end of the day, I’m not mad at him,” Ham said, per McMenamin. “He’s there protecting his teammate, and I’m sure he’ll probably go through some type of consequence for that.”

At the very least, Beverley seems likely to be facing a fine of up to $50K for his actions. Chris Mannix of SI.com and Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter links) were among the reporters to suggest that a suspension isn’t out of the question, particularly since Beverley has a history of on-court chippiness.

Suns head coach Monty Williams told reporters during his postgame media session that “the league needs to take a look at those kinds of plays,” referring to them as “silly” and “unnecessary,” while Booker alluded to Beverley’s reputation in an on-court interview with TNT’s Chris Haynes after the game.

“Pat needs to stop pushing people in the back, man,” Booker said (video link). “Push them in the chest. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Neither the Lakers nor the Suns are back in action until Friday, so the NBA may decide to take a little time to determine what sort of penalty might be appropriate for Beverley and possibly other players involved in the altercation. Although the Lakers guard didn’t regret standing up for a teammate, he said he could have taken another approach to confronting Ayton and is bracing for some kind of league discipline.

“Very unprofessional by myself. Definitely could have reacted in a different way,” Beverley said, according to McMenamin. “So, yeah, I’m a big boy. I’ll take my lumps however they come.”

Lakers Notes: Davis, Reaves, Westbrook, Walker

The Lakers‘ problems haven’t gone away, but the team is feeling good after winning three straight games for the first time in nearly a year, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. With LeBron James sidelined by an adductor strain, Anthony Davis has delivered three games in a row with at least 30 points and 16 rebounds. He’s “playing out of his mind,” coach Darvin Ham said after the Lakers were plus-34 in Davis’ 28 minutes in Sunday’s win over the Spurs.

Davis has shaken off early-season back issues to become the dominant force that he was when L.A. won the title in 2020. He’s shooting 61.7% from the field during the winning streak while averaging 35.0 points, 17.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks per game.

“Just imposing my will on both sides of the ball, trying to be the dominant player that the team needs me to be,” Davis said. “It’ll usually lead to us winning basketball games or in the fight, so doing everything he’s asking of me, the team is asking of me and just trying to do my part, honestly.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Austin Reaves is making a strong case to keep his spot in the starting lineup, Buha adds. Reaves scored 17 points in the first half Sunday and finished with 21, marking the fifth time in the last six games that he has reached double figures. Ham responded, “We’ll see,” when asked if Reaves will remain a starter once James returns.
  • Russell Westbrook injured his right thumb on Sunday, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Westbrook had a wrap on his hand as he left the arena, and Ham said further tests will be conducted Monday. Initial X-rays were negative (Twitter link).
  • Lonnie Walker is having his most productive season after signing with the Lakers over the summer, and his former coach isn’t surprised, per Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Gregg Popovich helped develop Walker during the four years he spent in San Antonio and has watched him figure out the NBA game. “Learn how to play with teammates, understand what solid meant as far as winning and losing. And that takes a little bit of time. And he’s definitely progressed throughout in that regard,” Popovich said. “He continues on that path. He’s done a really good job. Because he always depended just on that athletic ability, it was so ridiculous compared to other people. But now he understands more the mental side of the game with each year that passes, and you can see that in his play.”

Lakers Notes: Davis, Reaves, Westbrook, Trade Talks

Anthony Davis admits there’s a “sense of urgency” surrounding the Lakers after their 0-3 start, but he adds that it’s important not to overreact to the first week of the season, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. L.A. was hoping for some early wins to change the narrative about the team after missing the playoffs last season. But the Lakers have played a strong schedule so far — losing to the Warriors, Clippers and Trail Blazers — and are facing a tough two-game road trip against the Nuggets and Timberwolves.

“You don’t want to dig yourself too big of a hole,” Davis said. “But we’ve got to stay even-keeled. We can’t get rattled or flustered and things like that. Just like if we win 12 in a row. We don’t want to get too high.”

Offense is the main issue in L.A. as the Lakers are last in the league in three-point shooting at 21.2% and Davis called their shot selection late in the Portland loss “very poor.” However, there has been improvement on defense as the team leads the league with 11.3 steals per game and ranks third in points per possession.

“We’re continuously learning each other,” Davis said. “The good thing about it is we’re playing defense, ranked third in the league in defense. In all the statistical categories, we’re top-10. We just got to keep pushing. Keep our head down and move forward with the mindset we’re going into Denver (tonight) to get a win.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Embattled guard Russell Westbrook is expected to miss tonight’s game with a hamstring injury and Austin Reaves will take his place in the starting lineup in a move that may become permanent, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link). Reaves saw time with the starting unit during the preseason, and his future in that role may depend on how the team looks against the Nuggets. Sources tell Charania that coach Darvin Ham has been working with Westbrook to figure out the best way to utilize him going forward. Westbrook hopes to be able to return Friday, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
  • In an appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up,” Woj stated that the Lakers haven’t discussed deals with the Pacers or Jazz – viewed as perhaps their two most likely trade partners – since the season began (video link). He adds that the only trades currently available are the ones L.A. refused to do during the offseason.
  • The Lakers have put themselves in an impossible situation by holding onto Westbrook for a second season, contends Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. He points out that not only is Westbrook in decline, but he doesn’t have chemistry with Davis and LeBron James, as the trio is just 11-13 in the 24 games they have all played together.

L.A. Notes: Clippers, Coffey, George, Lakers, AD

John Hollinger of The Athletic previews the Clippers for the 2022/23 season, writing that with the league’s deepest roster and stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George back and healthy, they should be among the best teams in the league. Hollinger predicts the Clippers will go 54-28 and finish as the No. 1 seed in the West, but thinks the Warriors have a better shot of making the NBA Finals.

There are a couple of question marks on the roster, even though it’s very deep, especially on the wing. According to Hollinger, the Clips need either John Wall and/or Norman Powell to step up and be a “third star” to complement Leonard and George, with shot creation and getting to the free throw line top priorities.

The other weakness of the roster is center, with only Ivica Zubac as a true five on the 15-man roster. Hollinger thinks it might be a tall order to have Robert Covington play full-time backup center in the regular season, and wonders if the team might use its last standard roster spot on a traditional center.

Here’s more on the two Los Angeles teams:

  • Amir Coffey, a Minnesota native who played college ball for the Golden Gophers, says he fulfilled a lifelong dream by signing a three-year, $11MM contract as a restricted free agent. “It’s a dream come true,” Coffey told Marcus Fuller of The Star Tribune. “Just playing in the league and doing something I’ve been wanting to do since I was a kid. Just putting all that work in and having it pay off is a good feeling.” Coffey had a breakout third season in ’21/22 after spending the bulk of his career on two-way deals, averaging 9.0 PPG, 2.9 RPG and 1.8 on .453/.378/.863 shooting in 69 games (30 starts, 22.7 MPG).
  • George recently sat down for an interview with Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (video link) and discussed a number of topics, including joining forces with Leonard, his health, leadership, recruiting Wall, and more.
  • The Lakers started Patrick Beverley and Austin Reaves in place of Kendrick Nunn and Damian Jones during Wednesday’s preseason game against Phoenix as coach Darvin Ham was taking a look at a small-ball lineup, tweets Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group. Star Anthony Davis sat out the game for “precautionary” reasons due to lower back tightness, Goon notes (via Twitter).

Pacific Notes: Sarver, Ayton, Crowder, Kings, Reaves

In the wake of the NBA’s announcement that Suns owner Robert Sarver would be suspended for one year and fined $10MM following an investigation into his workplace conduct, the team issued a series of statements this afternoon, including one attributed to Sarver, as Melissa Rohlin of FOX Sports relays (via Twitter).

“While I disagree with some of the particulars of the NBA’s report, I would like to apologize for my words and actions that offended our employees,” Sarver said. “I take full responsibility for what I have done. I am sorry for causing this pain, and these errors in judgment are not consistent with my personal philosophy or my values.

“I accept the consequences of the NBA’s decision. This moment is an opportunity for me to demonstrate a capacity to learn and grow as we continue to build a working culture where every employee feels comfortable and valued.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Within the second part of his Q&A with Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic (subscription required), Suns general manager James Jones said that the team is on the same page as center Deandre Ayton (“the contract stuff is behind us”) and forward Jae Crowder. Crowder posted a cryptic tweet earlier in the offseason in which he stated it was “time for a change,” but Jones dismissed that as “noise” and said the Suns and Crowder are “good.”
  • It has been over a month since Quinn Cook agreed to sign with the Kings and nearly two months since the team reached an agreement with KZ Okpala, and neither deal is official yet. According to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter link), both Cook and Okpala are still expected to be in camp with the team, but roster situations are fluid at this time of year, Anderson notes, so it’s possible that could change.
  • Lakers guard Austin Reaves spoke to Shams Charania of Stadium (video link) about his path to the NBA, playing with LeBron James, and his willingness to play whatever role the team asks of him in 2022/23.

Lakers Notes: Nunn, Backcourt, Westbrook, Outlook

Lakers guard Kendrick Nunn was recently cleared for increased contact in workouts, league sources tell Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Head coach Darvin Ham told reporters, including Buha, that Nunn has primarily been working on individual drills and working out in the weight room.

According to Buha, Ham also said that Nunn, Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker are all in consideration for the starting lineup, and the trio will have “notable roles.”

Nunn, who missed all of last season with a knee issue, said he was “100%” healthy back in July, but subsequent reports from Buha have cast a cloud on his status. Still, additional contact was an important hurdle to clear for the 27-year-old, so we’ll see if he’s ready to go once the season starts next month.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • The “combustible” pairing of Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook could provide the spark necessary to ignite the Lakers, or it could blow up in their faces, opines Mirjam Swanson of The Southern California Newsgroup (subscriber link). As Swanson observes, both players are well-known for being stubborn, and their previous run-ins have been well documented. Everyone in L.A. is saying the right things right now, but only their on-court play and actions will prove whether the backcourt pairing will work or not, Swanson adds.
  • Westbrook needs to reinvent his game in order to make things work with the Lakers, argues Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times. Westbrook’s refusal to adjust his playing style was a primary reason why he fit so poorly with the team last season, Hernandez notes. Asking him to make drastic changes this late in his career might not be fair to the former MVP, but he’ll have to play much better defense and make offensive adjustments for the team to find success in year two, Hernandez writes.
  • League insiders are pretty skeptical regarding the Lakers’ outlook for the 2022/23 season, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. One common thread brought up by the insiders was that the defense might not be good enough to hold up the poor shooting of the roster. Only one of the seven insiders Pincus spoke to was confident the Lakers would make the playoffs outright.

Lakers Interested In Jazz Vets, Hope To Preserve 2023 Cap Room

The Lakers have “some interest” in Jazz veterans Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson, but are still trying to maintain their cap room for 2023, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports (Twitter links). The Lakers currently project to have about $30MM in cap room next summer.

As Zillgitt observes, Conley’s $24.36MM salary for 2023/24 is partially guaranteed at $14.32MM, while Clarkson has a player option worth $14.26MM, which may affect how much interest L.A. has in the two guards.

Bogdanovic is on a $19.55MM expiring contract, and several teams are reportedly pursuing the 33-year-old forward, a talented scorer and shooter who has converted at least 38.7% of his three-point tries in each of the last five seasons.

In order to match salaries, Russell Westbrook‘s $47.1MM expiring deal would have to be sent to Utah, because the Lakers don’t have any tradable mid-sized contracts. If they don’t want to take on money beyond next season, a package of Bogdanovic, Malik Beasley and Nickeil Alexander-Walker theoretically works for salary-matching purposes, and all are on expiring or pseudo-expiring deals (there’s a ’23/24 team option for Beasley at $16.52MM).

However, it’s unclear if the Lakers would be interested in that scenario, considering the Jazz might ask for both of the Lakers’ available first-round picks (2027 and 2029). Utah is in the middle of a roster teardown, with a particular emphasis on accumulating unprotected first-rounders.

In other Lakers-related news, Jovan Buha of The Athletic reassesses the team’s depth chart and rotation after acquiring Patrick Beverley from Utah in exchange for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson. Sources tell Buha that Thomas Bryant and Austin Reaves have been “standout performers” in offseason workouts, and Buha currently has both players slotted in the starting lineup at center and shooting guard, respectively.

Lakers Rumors: THT, Westbrook, Reaves, Nunn, Carmelo

Before the Lakers traded Talen Horton-Tucker to the Jazz in the Patrick Beverley deal, the Pacers expressed interest in the 21-year-old wing, Michael Scotto said in the latest episode of the HoopsHype podcast.

As Scotto explains, the Pacers were interested in pursuing a deal that sent Buddy Hield, Myles Turner, and Daniel Theis to the Lakers in exchange for Russell Westbrook, Horton-Tucker, and Los Angeles’ 2027 and 2029 first-round picks. However, L.A. has been reluctant to include both of those first-rounders in any deal not involving Kyrie Irving, and wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about swapping Horton-Tucker for Theis.

Although Horton-Tucker is off the table, Indiana remains one of the two most likely landing spots for Westbrook, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who says a deal involving the Pacers and Westbrook could involve just one of Hield or Turner — the Pacers still have $30MM+ in cap room and could take on Westbrook’s $47MM+ expiring contract without sending out both players. Still, Buha believes that Utah is a more viable destination for Westbrook than Indiana.

Here’s more on the Lakers from the HoopsHype podcast:

  • Scotto has gotten the impression that Austin Reaves and the Lakers have mutual interest in continuing their relationship beyond the 2022/23 season. Reaves will be a restricted free agent next summer and will be seeking a pay bump on his minimum-salary contract.
  • While Kendrick Nunn has been around the Lakers’ facility and has been working out, his ramp-up process has been slowed than anticipated, according to Buha. Nunn said a month ago that he feels 100% healthy, but the acquisition of Beverley gives the team some extra insurance at point guard.
  • A reunion between Carmelo Anthony and the Lakers remains possible, in Buha’s view, but he believes the veteran forward is more likely to land elsewhere. L.A. still needs more shooting, which Anthony could provide, but also wants to continue to upgrade its perimeter defense, which isn’t one of Carmelo’s strengths.

Lakers Notes: Westbrook, Closing Lineup, Nunn, LeBron

While former Lakers head coach Frank Vogel benched Russell Westbrook late in games a small handful of times last season, new coach Darvin Ham will have more power to do so this season, assuming Westbrook remains on the roster and Ham decides there are better fits in crunch time, says Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

Buha expects Westbrook to get opportunities to close out games, but notes that it will depend on his shooting, decision-making, and defense.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis are, of course, locks to be part of the Lakers’ “closing” five, and Buha views Austin Reaves as the next-best bet to join that group because he can be a secondary ball-handler. Buha predicts that Juan Toscano-Anderson and Troy Brown will fill out the closing five in instances when Westbrook is on the bench.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Although Kendrick Nunn recently said he feels 100% healthy after missing the entire 2021/22 season due to a knee injury, he has yet to resume playing five-on-five, which will be the “next big hurdle” in his recovery process, Buha writes. The expectation for now is that Nunn will be ready to go for training camp.
  • Buha believes that the Lakers are done adding veteran free agents this offseason, and that any additional roster changes would come via trade. He notes that the team could also be active on the buyout market after the 2023 trade deadline.
  • LeBron James will become eligible on Thursday to sign a contract extension with the Lakers, but Chris Mannix of SI.com doesn’t believe James will be in any rush to sign that deal, since he can maintain leverage and keep pressure on the team by taking his time. He could sign that extension at any time up until June 30, 2023.

Lakers Notes: Anthony, Reaves, Bryant, Westbrook, Handy

Carmelo Anthony may return to the Lakers for another season, but a decision isn’t expected quickly, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy. Like many NBA veterans, Anthony’s status is on hold while teams wait to see what happens with this summer’s trade rumors.

“They have a lot to sort out obviously,” an unidentified general manager said of the Lakers. “But as more things get set, they’ll probably get back around to bringing him in. It’s just, at this point, you don’t know what might happen with (Russell) Westbrook and whether you might need to take on players, so you see that around the league a lot — teams have 10, 11, 12 players signed and there’s no hurry to fill in the last spots until you see how the other stuff plays out.”

A return to the Knicks has been mentioned as a possibility for Anthony, and Deveney sees the Nets as a potential landing spot as well. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving reportedly wanted Brooklyn to sign Anthony when they joined the team in 2019, and adding him to the roster might be a way to mollify them if they’re both still with the Nets when training camp opens. The GM also mentions the Warriors, who would give Anthony his best chance to win a ring before he retires.

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Austin Reaves has a strong case for a starting spot heading into camp, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Reaves will need to improve his outside shooting, but he can serve as a secondary ball-handler and his defensive abilities make him an ideal backcourt mate for Westbrook, Buha adds. He also notes that Thomas Bryant could become a starter if L.A. is determined to play Anthony Davis at power forward rather than center.
  • Westbrook will face a “moment of truth” if the Lakers can’t find a way to trade him, states Dan Devine of The Ringer. If Westbrook plays another season in L.A., he’ll either have to adapt to a different role or get out of the way of his star teammates, Devine adds.
  • Assistant coach Phil Handy recently signed an extension with the Lakers, tweets Marc J. Spears of Andscape. Handy had been heading into the final year of his contract.