Brandon Ingram

Pacific Notes: Ingram, McGee, Deng

Could Brandon Ingram be the next great Lakers closer? Elliott Teaford of the Orange County Register thinks so. On a roster filled with promising young player and role-playing veterans, Ingram could be uniquely qualified to step into the role that Kobe Bryant vacated in 2016.

He definitely has the ability and confidence to make those kind of plays,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said of Ingram. “He definitely wants it. One hundred percent he wants it. Some people, they say they want it. But in their eyes you can tell they’re just saying it because they’re supposed to say it. Brandon, he truly wants those types of moments.

Teaford cites Ingram’s role in the Lakers’ recent comeback victory against the Wizards, chipping in with 11 points in the fourth quarter and tapping in the game-tying bucket at the end of regulation.

In four games as a Lakers sophomore, Ingram has averaged 15.8 points and 4.8 rebounds.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Despite his emergence as a valued rotation piece for the Warriors last season, JaVale McGee has been used sparingly thus far in 2017/18. Anthony Slater of The Athletic caught up with the center about his usage. “I don’t feel like I’ve been struggling the first few games,” McGee said. “I haven’t really played a lot, so there’s really no room to struggle. But even from last year, I don’t play a lot during games that go small. All I can really do is work on the things that keep me from playing a lot.
  • In a preview of what could be their backcourt of the future, Kings fans saw Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Aaron Fox connecting in the final minutes of their loss to the Pelicans Thursday. “I can talk to him and tell him about the mistakes I made,” Bogdanovic told Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee. “And hope he can learn without having to make those mistakes.”
  • Having seen just 13 minutes of action so far this season, it’s safe to say that Luol Deng is at the bottom of the Lakers‘ depth chart. An ESPN report states that the veteran will likely continue to draw DNP-CDs.

Lakers Exercise 2018/19 Options On Ingram, Nance

One week ahead of the October 31 deadline, the Lakers have picked up their 2018/19 team options on forwards Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance Jr., the team announced today in a press release. The moves will fully guarantee the two players’ salaries through the ’18/19 season.

[RELATED: Decisions On 2018/19 Rookie Scale Team Options]

Although Ingram has struggled to make a consistent impact on the court for the Lakers since being selected with the second overall pick in the 2016 draft, the decision to pick up his 2018/19 option was a no-brainer for the club. It will count against L.A.’s cap for $5,757,120 next season.

As for Nance, he has impressed Lakers decision-makers with his play this fall and usurped Julius Randle as the team’s starting power forward. It’s a small sample, but through three games this season, Nance’s per-minute numbers have soared — he’s averaging 18.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per 36 minutes, compared to 11.2 and 9.2 last year. His fourth-year option for 2018/19 will count for $2,272,391 against the Lakers’ cap.

Nance will be eligible for a contract extension next offseason, and if he’s not extended, he’ll be on track for restricted free agency in 2019. Ingram is under team control for one additional year, so the Lakers will have to decide on his 2019/20 team option a year from now.

Los Angeles Notes: Ingram, Rivers, Hart

After an uninspiring rookie season, Lakers forward Brandon Ingram has been devoted to working on his jumpshot and adding to his frame. The 20-year-old has been lifting weights, eating better and intentionally trying to eat more, Mike Trudell of the team’s official website writes.

While Ingram’s numbers slowly improved in the second half of his first campaign, he has a long way to go to live up to the hype that surrounded him following his second-overall selection in the draft. That’s not so much a knock on Ingram’s performance as it is a reminder of his ceiling, he actually ended up averaging a respectable 13.2 points per game on .475 shooting after the break in 2016/17.

Trudell writes that Ingram couldn’t always rely on his jumpshot to open up space on the floor and that, coupled with the inevitable transition from college to the pros, contributed to his less than stellar first season.

I went into the game [at Summer League] and it all felt natural“, Ingram told Trudell. “I felt like myself again. I felt like I was just playing regular basketball. Now I feel even better. Better conditioned, stronger. We’ve been putting in so much work in the weight room.

There’s more from L.A.:

  • Rather than decide which of Kobe Bryant‘s jersey numbers to retire, the Lakers decided to put them both in the rafters, the team’s official website said. The ceremony will take place on December 18.
  • The Clippers had a busy offseason this summer and shaking things up could serve them well in the long run, Shaun Powell of NBA.com implies. Doc Rivers has been relieved of his roster management responsibilities and will be able to focus on coaching with Blake Griffin now the lone focal point of his offense.
  • Lakers guard Josh Hart has his priorities straight and knows just how he wants to contribute to his team in Year 1. “For me, defense is personal,” Hart told the team’s official website. “Obviously it’s tough to stop people one on one. But when you have that mind set of taking this personal; it’s just you and the other guy, and there’s one ball. And one person’s gonna eat, and I want that to be me.”

Pacific Notes: Ingram, Randolph, Warriors, Kings

Kings‘ forward Zach Randolph was formally charged with two misdemeanors after his August 9 arrest for possession of marijuana, John Schultz of the Sacramento Bee writes.

Charges against Randolph were reduced from possession of marijuana with intent to sell to possession of more than one ounce of marijuana and resisting arrest, per the Los Angeles County Superior Court website.

Possession of marijuana comes with a possible six-month sentence, a fine not exceeding $500, or both. The resisting arrest charge comes with up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.

Randolph, 36, signed a two-year, $24MM deal with Sacramento in July, bringing a stable veteran presence to an otherwise rebuilding Kings team. While age has slowed Randolph’s production, he has still posted at least 14.1 PPG and 7.8 RPG the last five seasons. Needless to say, this type of legal issue is not what the Kings had in mind when they committed two years to the NBA veteran.

Below you can read other tidbits of news around the Pacific Division:

  • In a piece for ESPN Insider (subscription required and recommended) Mike Schmitz examines Lakers‘ forward Brandon Ingram. The second overall pick from last year’s draft did not have the type of season he and the organization hoped for in 2016/17. Schmitz — who expects a breakout season — explains that Ingram’s shooting was impacted by a change of position and simply adjusting from college to the professional level.
  • Anthony Slater of The Athletic (subscription required and recommended) explains how the Warriors‘ star players can be even better in 2017/18. Golden State has made three consecutive NBA Finals appearances, winning two out of the three.
  • A state senator in Inglewood, California, says it is possible that a proposal to fast track a new arena for the Clippers will be introduced, Liam Dillon of the Los Angeles Times writes.
  • Shaun Powell of NBA.com has compiled an offseason recap for the Kings.

Pacific Notes: Ingram, Beverley, KCP

The Lakers have been active and persistent this offseason, from drafting UCLA product Lonzo Ball, to shipping out former first round pick D’Angelo Russell to the Nets, to signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a one-year deal. While trade talks persist, the team is adamantly against trading last year’s second overall pick Brandon Ingram, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News writes.

Ingram, soon-to-be 20 years old, did not post eye-popping numbers in his rookie season, averaging 9.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG and shot 40.2 % from the floor. However, his work ethic and potential is the reason why Lakers brass has been abruptly ending phone calls once opposing teams inquire about his availability. Team president Magic Johnson‘s endorsement is a glowing one for the Duke product.

“The guy only cares about winning and basketball,” Johnson said. “He’s quiet and doesn’t do anything else. He is a very intelligent young man and is our hardest worker.”

As the Lakers continue their drift toward youth, Ingram figures to crack the starting lineup next season. Alongside the hotshot prospect Ball, veteran acquisition Lopez, and other youngsters, Ingram’s development remains a crucial point and goal for the Lakers.

Below are additional notes surrounding the Lakers and the Pacific division:

  • The Lakers‘ signing of KCP is a risk for both sides but one that could pay dividends, Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times writes. Caldwell-Pope signed a one-year, $18MM deal with Los Angeles and was introduced earlier this week. The Lakers’ hope is that the 24-year-old, who is technically considered a veteran as he enters his fifth NBA season, will be a leader for a young team.
  • Conversely, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press ponders whether KCP’s decision to reject a four-year, $80MM offer from the Pistons last season was a wise move. While KCP will do fine financially this season, injuries, poor performance, and a change in the market could harm his value after 2017/18. Caldwell-Pope’s hope will be to have a strong season and hit the market at 25 years old looking for security.
  • Mark Medina adds in a separate piece that the Lakers are looking to fill out their roster in the next few weeks.
  • One of the Clippers‘ many acquisitions in the Chris Paul sign-and-trade was defensive standout Patrick Beverley. USA Today highlighted Beverly and his desire to not be compared with Paul and rather let his game speak for itself. Many Clippers officials are also quoted in stating their longtime appreciation of Beverley’s talents.

Pacific Notes: Gallinari, Randolph, Ingram

Expect the system the Clippers have in place to complement the skills of newly acquired Danilo Gallinari, Tyler Blint-Welsh of the Los Angeles Times writes.

One of the reasons I chose [the Clippers] is because of the team that we have,” he said. “So I have no doubt that I’m gonna fit in.”

The versatility that Gallinari brings to the franchise will help the squad play positionelss basketball, something ever more important in today’s evolving NBA. Having such options on the perimeter should make life easier for Clippers big men Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in the post.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers shut Brandon Ingram down for the Summer League as a precautionary measure, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News writes. The second-year forward gave his team a scare when he suffered a cramp in his leg toward the end of Friday’s Vegas league contest but the injury is minor.
  • When the Kings added Zach Randolph they added the type of veteran that will benefit their young players. Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee interviewed Randolph’s former coach with the Grizzlies about what he brings on and off the court. “This is a process,” Lionel Hollins said, “And the process is enhanced by the quality of your veterans. You can’t have guys who sit on the bench, get paid and don’t help their young teammates. You have to have the right veterans because that will help the young players move up faster. So the young kids better come ready out there, because Zach is going to teach them how to be tougher, more physical and professional.
  • The decision that Kevin Durant made to take less money that what he was eligible for allowed the Warriors to retain their core and club general manager Bob Meyers is quick to applaud him for the gesture. “I can pretty much unequivocally say without it, we’re not looking at the team we have right now. What Kevin did shows who he is, shows what he’s about and I think it’s clear that that’s winning,” Myers told the Associated Press.

Community Shootaround: Lakers Future

The Lonzo Ball Era has officially arrived in Los Angeles – well, Las Vegas technically – and the potential impact the No. 2 overall pick will have on the franchise can already be felt world-wide.

Sure the Lakers lost to the Clippers (in what Lavar Ball calls his son’s ‘worst game ever‘) but the rookie’s vision was on full display right from the onset of the first quarter.

Just over ten seconds into his NBA debut, Ball connected with Lakers 2016 first-round pick Brandon Ingram for a casual alley-oop.

Already the prospect of seeing Ball and the new-look Showtime squad has pushed the organization into new territory (or at least familiar territory that they haven’t seen in some time).

After years of Post-Prime-Kobe and consistent asset collection, the team has brought in a new executive staff, committed to a highly regarded young coach and laid out a framework for a roster that could remain in Los Angeles for years.

The result?

History. Sort of. As Ohm Youngmisuk detailed for ESPN – and we broke down here – the Las Vegas Summer League sold out their venue for Saturday’s entire session and had done so by noon today. That’s a first, Youngmisuk reports, reminding readers that the Thomas & Mack Center’s venue seats over 15,000 people.

The question, of course, is whether the franchise will live up to the hype or not. While there are several legitimate reasons to be genuinely optimistic about the future of the franchise, there was no shortage of hype this time last year either, when the team presented Ingram, D’Angelo Russell and then-new head coach Luke Walton as the pillars of the team’s future. Ball, then, hadn’t even yet suited up for a single Bruins game at that point.

We ask you, Lakers fans and haters alike, will this go down as the beginning of the next great Showtime dynasty? Are we finally seeing the core building blocks of the organization’s next great run? Or, for the pessimistic among us, will we simply be having an entirely different conversation this time next year?

Latest On Paul George

There’s a near-unanimous view around the league that Paul George will sign with the Lakers next summer despite Friday’s trade to the Thunder, writes Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. Lowe states that the chances of George heading to L.A. are about 75%, and the Celtics and Cavaliers had that in mind as they were working to obtain him.

The Lakers also subscribe to that view, which is why they weren’t willing to part with Brandon Ingram or Lonzo Ball to get George from the Pacers now. Lowe adds that Indiana didn’t have any interest in former Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell, who was subsequently dealt to the Nets.

The ESPN writer shares more information about Friday’s major deal:

  • The Celtics wanted to see if they could land Gordon Hayward in free agency before completing a trade for George. They were reluctant to deal two starters in exchange for George without knowing whether they were getting Hayward.
  • Boston’s last offer for George didn’t include Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, the 2018 Nets pick or the Lakers/Kings pick that Boston received from Philadelphia. There were reports that the Celtics offered Indiana three picks at some point, but Lowe believes those were a combination of Boston’s future selections and protected 2019 first-rounders from the Grizzlies and Clippers. All of those draft choices could have fallen into the 20s, Lowe notes, and the Pacers wanted something more likely to be in the top 10.
  • A three-way trade involving the Pacers, Cavaliers and Nuggets was discussed on Friday. The deal would have sent George to Cleveland, Kevin Love to Denver and Gary Harris, Trey Lyles and a protected first-rounder to Indiana. Lowe describes the Cavaliers, Nuggets and Celtics as “stunned” when news broke that George was headed to Oklahoma City.
  • The Trail Blazers tried to get George on draft night, offering a package that included several picks and at least one player, but the Pacers turned it down.

Brogdon, Saric Headline 2016/17 NBA All-Rookie Teams

The NBA has announced its All-Rookie teams for the 2016/17 season, with Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon and Sixers forward Dario Saric headlining the First Team. Brogdon and Saric were the only two players who were unanimously named to the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team.

Here’s the full breakdown of this year’s All-Rookie squads:

First Team:

Second Team:

Brogdon, Saric, and Embiid are the finalists for the 2016/17 NBA Rookie of the Year award, which will be announced later tonight during the league’s TV broadcast on TNT.

Pluto’s Latest: George, Love, Ingram, Butler

The Pacers want to make a Paul George deal while they can still get value, but they aren’t interested in taking back Kevin Love from the Cavaliers, according to Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. Indiana is focused on getting young players and draft picks in return for its star forward, who has announced that he will opt out of his contract next offseason and has expressed a desire to return to his hometown of Los Angeles and play for the Lakers.

The Pacers proposed a deal to the Lakers involving Brandon Ingram, the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft. However, Magic Johnson, L.A.’s president of basketball operations, doesn’t want to part with Ingram, who averaged 9.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 79 games as a rookie.

Pluto passes on several other tidbits in his latest column:

  • The Celtics could have as many as 10 first-rounders over the next three years and seem like a natural facilitator to take on Love and get George to Cleveland in a three-team trade. But an unidentified NBA executive tells Pluto the Celtics also want George and are more likely to deal with the Pacers directly.
  • The Bulls weren’t interested in Love either, which is why the Cavaliers had little chance of trading for Jimmy Butler. Chicago has gotten tired of being mediocre and is looking for young talent to start rebuilding around. However, Pluto says most of the league iwas “stunned” that the Bulls couldn’t get more than Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and a swap of first-rounders in return for Butler. The Celtics reportedly offered a better package that included several future draft picks.
  • The Cavaliers are still waiting to hear if Chauncey Billups will accept their GM offer. Sources tell Pluto that Billups has been pursuing a GM job for more than a year, so it’s not clear why there’s a delay. Billups has never worked in an NBA front office, Pluto notes, so he would need to hire an experienced executive as an assistant. A top candidate is George David, a former assistant GM with the Pistons who has a background in scouting.
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