Brandon Ingram

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Ingram, Rondo, Walton

After a decade and a half as competitors and teammates, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are preparing for their final meeting tomorrow night, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Wade, who hasn’t relented on plans to retire after this season, will travel with the Heat to meet LeBron and the Lakers in L.A.

“It’s bitter, and it’s sweet,” James said. “It’s sweet and sour. The sweet part about it is I’ve always loved being on the same floor with my brother. We struck up a relationship together at the combine in 2003, and it started from there. And the sour part about it is that this is our last time sharing the same court.”

James was destined for stardom as the top pick in the 2003 draft. Wade was taken at No. 5 and quickly established himself as an All-Star in Miami. They won a pair of championships as teammates with the Heat, then briefly reunited last season in Cleveland. Wade’s retirement will leave Kyle Korver and Zaza Pachulia as the only other active members of the 2003 draft class.

“The older I get and the more I’m in the game, I gain even that much more respect for these guys — the legends that we’re starting to lose along the way,” said Lakers center Tyson Chandler. “… You cherish every moment you get to compete against those type of competitors.”

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • Brandon Ingram‘s sprained left ankle will keep him out of action longer than expected, according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. The team’s second-leading scorer at 15.2 PPG, Ingram will miss at least another week. “We really just miss the fact that we keep losing out on a great opportunity for our team to kind of find that rhythm together,” coach Luke Walton said. “Every time we start to find a little bit of a rhythm, we lose a big piece.”
  • Rajon Rondo is still experiencing swelling in his broken right hand, tweets Mike Trudell of However, the swelling is considered normal and isn’t a sign that Rondo’s recovery will take longer than expected. He was given a four- to five-week projection to return after the November 15 operation.
  • A brief experience with the Memphis Tigers provided Walton with the inspiration to become an NBA coach, relays Jason Munz of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Walton joined a former Arizona teammate on the college team’s staff during the 2011 lockout. “I went back and played for a few years after that,” Walton said, “but it was pretty evident to me after that that coaching was what I wanted to do when I got done playing.”

Pacific Notes: Ariza, James, Cauley-Stein, Ingram

Suns forward Trevor Ariza is viewed by teams as a player who will become available before the NBA’s Feb. 8 trading deadline, Marc Stein of the New York Times reported this week. However, Ariza rejected the idea upon hearing the rumors and explained his desire to stay in Phoenix, despite his team holding just a 4-20 record as of Thursday.

“I’m not one to get somewhere and then just duck out,” Ariza told Gina Mizell of The Athletic. “I’m one to be in it, regardless of whatever the situation is. Fight until the end. That’s the type of person that I am, and that’s what I expect.”

Of course, the Suns could always choose to move Ariza against his wishes if the right deal comes. He signed a one-year, $15MM deal to join the young team in free agency, entering a vastly different situation than what he had in Houston during the 2017/18 season.

“It gives you a different perspective,” Ariza told Mizell. “Although I love to win, sometimes you have to be the person that’s able to take these punches and be able to still get up. (I have to) teach the next generation, teach the younger players how to prepare, how to become better pros.

“Right now, that’s the situation that I’m in, so I’m not worried about it. I’m not crying about it. I’m very thankful for my position. The only thing I can do is hope that we get better every day.”

There’s more out of the Pacific Division tonight:

  • LeBron James tuned out the noise surrounding him against the Spurs on Wednesday, scoring 20 fourth-quarter points to propel the Lakers to victory. “I’m past the [taking things] personal stage,” James said, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “I can do whatever. I can have a huge workload, I can have a not so huge workload. … It doesn’t matter for me. What’s most important is seeing my teammates make huge shots in the fourth quarter. … That’s what’s most important to me. I can care less about the narrative about me. It doesn’t matter. I’m a staple in this game.”
  • Willie Cauley-Stein is proving his worth with the Kings this season, gunning for a bigger contract in free agency next summer, James Ham of NBC Sports writes. Cauley-Stein is averaging a career-high 14.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, shooting 54% from the floor in 23 contests.
  • Lakers forward Brandon Ingram will miss at least two games after spraining his left ankle on Wednesday, according to McMenamin (Twitter link). Ingram didn’t travel with the team and is set to undergo a precautionary MRI Thursday evening. His status will be updated Friday morning.

Pacific Notes: Curry, Beal, Rondo, Kokoskov

Warriors point guard and two-time MVP Stephen Curry could be back in action this week, according to an post. He will go through a full practice on Tuesday with the possibility of playing against the Raptors on Thursday, coach Steve Kerr told the media. Curry has missed 10 consecutive games with a left groin strain.

We have more news from around the Pacific Division:

  • Any potential Lakers trade for Wizards guard Bradley Beal would likely have Brandon Ingram as its centerpiece, according to Eric Pincus in a Bleacher Report column. Los Angeles probably wouldn’t agree to deal Ingram plus either Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma or Josh Hart, Pincus opines. However, a package of Ingram, Rajon Rondo and Michael Beasley would add up to enough salary to absorb Beal’s hefty contract. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope couldn’t be substituted for Rondo unless he agreed to the deal, due to a quirk in rules regarding players who re-sign one-year contracts, Pincus adds.
  • The Lakers’ offense has suffered without Rondo, who is currently out with a broken hand, Joey Ramirez of the team’s website reports. The Lakers ranked fourth in scoring (116.9 ppg) and fifth in assists (26.0) before Rondo’s injury, but are 22nd in points (106.6) and 29th in assists (18.6) in the first five games without him. Rondo has been cleared for non-basketball activities but is still several weeks away from returning, Ramirez adds.
  • Suns first-year coach Igor Kokoskov believes his days as an assistant in Detroit were pivotal in his coaching career, as he explained to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News. He was a young coach with the Pistons when they reached the Eastern Conference Finals on a regular basis. “I had the privilege of being with Larry Brown for two years and Flip Saunders for three years,” Kokoskov told McCosky. “I was very fortunate to learn from those great coaches and those great players. Just being a part of that group, with those guys all in their prime, I had a chance to steal the best from those guys. I learned a lot. Especially when you are winning.”

Lakers Rumors: LeBron, Chandler, Ingram, Carmelo

The Lakers lost their first three games to begin LeBron James‘ tenure in Los Angeles, and fell to 4-6 after an embarrassing home loss to Toronto last Sunday. The team has since rebounded, winning three in a row to move above .500 for the first time this season and allowing James to exhale a bit. Speaking to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the four-time MVP admitted that he had some trying moments in his early days as a Laker.

“I haven’t changed anything outwardly, but you know me. You know how I am. I almost cracked [last week]. I had to sit back and remind myself, ‘[Expletive], you knew what you were getting yourself into,'” James told Haynes with a laugh over the weekend. “This process has been good for me. I just have to continue being patient.”

The last week hasn’t exactly been the toughest stretch of the Lakers’ 2018/19 schedule — the club’s three most recent wins came against the Timberwolves, Kings, and Hawks. Still, LeBron is looking more comfortable with his new teammates and the recent arrival of Tyson Chandler has clearly had a positive impact on the organization, as head coach Luke Walton acknowledges.

“[Chandler]’s been big,” Walton said, per Haynes. “Not only the way he is on court, but the way he talks in the huddles. We’re very happy to have him.”

Let’s round up a few more Lakers-related items…

  • Here’s a little more of what LeBron told Haynes, regarding the team’s recovery from a slow start: “I had to regroup and remember this is a young team. We’re playing some good ball right now and we’re starting to build some good habits. That’s all that matters right now.”
  • There may be some room for improvement in the on-court chemistry between James and former No. 2 overall pick Brandon Ingram. As Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype relays, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (podcast link) recently spoke to an executive who has long been a big fan of Ingram and feels as if “it’s not working with LeBron.” Of course, given Ingram’s four-game suspension, the duo only has nine games under its belt so far, so there’s plenty of time to figure things out.
  • Appearing on ESPN, Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated suggested that the Lakers are likely done tweaking their roster for the time being, meaning they probably wouldn’t be in play for Carmelo Anthony if the Rockets release him. Dan Feldman of NBC Sports has the details.

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Okobo, Cousins, Lakers

The Warriors have been ordered to pay approximately $40MM for prior renovations at Oracle Arena, according to an Associated Press report. The dispute stemmed from renovations to the arena back in 1996. The government agency that manages the arena took out a $150MM bond for basketball renovations and the team agreed to help finance with annual payments. The Warriors argued their debt obligation should end when they terminate their lease and leave Oakland for San Francisco at the end of the season. An arbiter disagreed and ruled that the team must continue making payments through 2027.

We have more news from the Pacific Division:

  • Rookie Elie Okobo may have emerged as the Suns’ answer at point guard in a loss to the Thunder over the weekend, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes. Okobo posted a team-high 18 points and eight assists after he replaced Isaiah Canaan, who suffered a left ankle injury early in the contest. “He played with confidence, he played with a presence. He played like, ‘I belong here,’” Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said.
  • Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins apologized to coach Steve Kerr for getting ejected from the bench during the team’s game against the Knicks on Friday, Nick Friedell of ESPN relays. Cousins, who is still rehabbing from his Achilles injury he suffered last season, got tossed for trash talking to Knicks center Enes Kanter. “That kind of stuff is not going to help us win a championship, it’s not going to help his reputation, and I think he understands that,” Kerr said. “And I think he immediately regretted what happened, so I really appreciated him coming to me and making that pretty clear, and I don’t expect it to happen again.”
  • The Lakers need to ride their young players — Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart — to complement LeBron James and build a brighter future, Martin Rogers of USA Today argues. It’s important for that quartet to grow and develop chemistry with James, rather than playing veterans like Rajon Rondo and Michael Beasley, Rogers adds.

Pacific Rumors: Ingram, Crawford, Shumpert, Rivers

Lakers forward Brandon Ingram felt he got off easy after receiving a four-game suspension for instigating a fight between his team and the Rockets on Saturday night, he told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk and Dave McMenamin and other media members. Ingram received the longest suspension doled out by the league but he thought it could be worse. Teammate Rajon Rondo and Houston’s Chris Paul also received suspensions. “Well, it was better than we expected,” Ingram said. “I’m happy it’s only four but I know I got to control my emotions a little better.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Veteran guard Jamal Crawford took only two shots in his Suns debut Saturday and that was by design, he told Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Crawford joined Phoenix on a one-year contract just before the season opener. “Missing training camp, missing preseason, you don’t want to come in and be ultra-aggressive,” he said. “You have a new team, you have a new coach and learning a new system so you don’t want to come and try to step on anybody’s toes. I’m sure the scoring part will come, but for me, I’m just trying to make the right play.”
  • Iman Shumpert feels a sense of satisfaction being back in uniform this season, according to Noel Harris of the Sacramento Bee. He was dealt to Sacramento by the Cavaliers at February’s trade deadline but didn’t suit up due to plantar fasciitis. He was bothered by a calf injury in training camp but was able to return for a preseason game. He then scored a team-best 26 points in the Kings’ first regular-season win over the Thunder. “Being able to play that preseason game, that was a different type of happiness for me after sitting out a year,” Shumpert said. “I joke around about it a lot, but I’m serious as a heart attack when I say it: I don’t wish that on anybody, not being able to play.” Shumpert needs to continue to produce, as he’ll enter the free agent market after making $11MM this season.
  • Doc Rivers doesn’t think he’d still be coaching the Clippers if the former star trio of Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan had remained with the team, as he told Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times“I needed the change. I wouldn’t have done this with the same group. I wouldn’t be here probably,” Rivers said. “We just needed change. We needed it and we just had to do it. We had to come to the conclusion we weren’t going to win.”

Suspensions Handed Out To Ingram, Rondo, Paul

As expected, the three players at the forefront of the scuffle that broke out in last night’s game between the Rockets and Lakers have received suspensions. Adrian Wojnarowski has reported (via Twitter) that Brandon Ingram will be suspended for four games, Rajon Rondo three games and that Chris Paul will sit for two games.

As a result of these suspensions, Ingram and Rondo will miss the Lakers’ upcoming games against the Spurs, Suns and Nuggets (with Ingram missing another contest against the Spurs later in the week). Meanwhile, Paul will sit out games against the Clippers and Jazz before returning to action.

Financially speaking, Bobby Marks of ESPN has reported (Twitter link) that Ingram will lose $158,816 for his four game suspension, Rondo will lose $186,207 for his three missed games and Paul will miss out on $491,782 for the two games he will be suspended for. The financial penalties are based on total salary divided by 145 for each game of the suspension.

Marks also notes that the Rockets will receive a $245,891 credit (half of Paul’s lost salary) that will be applied to their luxury tax at the end of the season.

These suspensions were inevitable, as all three players played key roles in the back-and-forth late in the fourth quarter of last night’s game.

Lakers, Rockets Brace For Suspensions

An exchange of punches late in Saturday’s game could result in significant suspensions for the LakersBrandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo and the RocketsChris Paul, write Dave McMenamin and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

Rondo and Paul landed punches on each other in the fracas, but Ingram could face the harshest punishment. He sparked the incident by pushing James Harden, then ran from halfcourt to throw a wild punch in the direction of both Paul and P.J. Tucker.

In the aftermath of the fight, the two teams couldn’t agree on what led Paul and Rondo to come to blows, other than a long-simmering feud between the veteran point guards. Paul claims Rondo spit in his face, while the Lakers contend nothing on the video backs up that assertion.

“You don’t do that to nobody — in sports, on the street,” Houston’s Carmelo Anthony said of the alleged spitting. “That’s blatant disrespect. You don’t do that. That’s unacceptable. … You don’t even see that in the streets, man.”

Lakers coach Luke Walton denied the accusation and blamed a flagrant 1 foul on the Rockets’ James Ennis a few minutes earlier for setting the tone for the incident.

“The clothesline three minutes prior, I saw that, and I have zero idea how that’s a flagrant 1,” Walton said. “The rule is — he clotheslined our guy, picked him up off his feet and slammed him on his back.”

NBA executive vice president Kiki VanDeWeghe, who handles discipline for the league, attended the game and has already begun an investigation. Rondo’s suspension three years ago for a homophobic slur toward a referee will likely be taken into account in determining his punishment, according to ESPN.

With the Rockets scheduled to play the Clippers tonight, an announcement is expected soon. Any accompanying fines will carry a per-game cost of $245,891 for Paul, $62,069 for Rondo and $39,704 for Ingram, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Lengthy suspensions for Rondo and Ingram would give Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma a chance to return to the Lakers’ starting lineup. Ball has been operating under a minutes restriction since offseason surgery on his left knee, but told reporters he wouldn’t have any limitations.

Lakers Exercise 2019/20 Options On Ball, Kuzma, Hart, Ingram

The Lakers have made a series of procedural moves, announcing today in a press release that they’ve exercised their 2019/20 team options on Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, and Brandon Ingram.

All four moves were expected, given the modest costs of those options. For Ball, Kuzma, and Hart, their third-year options will count against L.A.’s cap in ’19/20 for approximately $8.72MM, $1.97MM, and $1.93MM respectively. Each 2017 first-rounder also has a fourth-year team option for 2020/21, which the Lakers will have to exercise or decline by October 31, 2019.

As for Ingram, his fourth-year option will lock in a $7.27MM cap charge on the Lakers’ 2019/20 books. With that option officially picked up, he’s now on track to become extension-eligible next July 1. If he and the Lakers don’t reach an extension agreement by mid-October in 2019, he’d be in line to reach restricted free agency during the summer of 2020.

Our breakdown of all of this year’s rookie scale option decisions for 2019/20 can be found right here.

Pacific Rumors: Ingram, Holmes, Looney, Gilgeous-Alexander

LeBron James continues to chat up Brandon Ingram as a budding superstar, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin relays. The Lakers small forward got a chance to play the point in the latest preseason game and racked up 31 points, nine rebounds and three steals. “His pace, his ability to play the point and play the wing, he’s a very special talent, and we’re definitely happy to have him on our side,” James said, adding, “I know what I see in him, and he’s looking for this opportunity to make this next jump in his third year.” Ingram is eligible for a rookie scale extension next offseason and James’ praise won’t hurt his cause.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Richaun Holmes isn’t a scorer but his other attributes have made him a favorite with the Suns’ coaching staff, as Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic notes. The big man has earned a role with Phoenix with his energetic style. “He moves well, is a live body, good defender,” coach Igor Kokoskov said. “Very athletic. He’s got to help us defensively, protect the paint. Runs the floor and he fits in well with what we’re doing here.” Holmes was acquired from the Sixers for $1MM in July.
  • Warriors forward Kevon Looney drew lukewarm interest from a handful of teams in free agency, he revealed to Mark Medina of the San Jose Mercury News. The Rockets, Timberwolves, Clippers, Sixers and Hawks made contact but “nobody really offered,” Looney said. He was an unrestricted free agent after Golden State declined to pick up his option last fall but he settled for a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal.
  • Lottery pick Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has earned significant playing time during training camp, according to Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times. The University of Kentucky product is averaging 11 PPG and 4.5 APG in 24.0 MPG for the Clippers in two preseason outings.