Brandon Ingram

Lakers Notes: Kuzma, Covington, Randle

The Lakers‘ trade options this winter may be somewhat limited, given their lack of mid-level contracts and the fact that three of their players have the ability to veto deals. However, if they’re willing to move Kyle Kuzma, it could open up some doors.

In an Insider-only article for ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton and Bobby Marks explore the Lakers’ trade possibilities, noting that packaging Kuzma with both Quinn Cook and DeMarcus Cousins would be enough for the team to bring back a player earning up to $13.5MM.

While ESPN’s duo offers a few ideas for potential targets, Pelton and Marks agree that Timberwolves forward Robert Covington should be “Option A” for L.A in that scenario. According to Marks, Minnesota will likely have the ability to create a bidding war for Covington if he’s shopped leading up to the deadline, so the Lakers’ package wouldn’t necessarily be enough — especially since the Wolves may prioritize acquiring a point guard.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Within that same ESPN Insider article, Marks questions Kuzma’s overall trade value, while Pelton argues the young forward would be more valuable to another team that could benefit more from his shot creation. While there were reports during last year’s Anthony Davis trade talks with the Pelicans that the Lakers insisted on keeping Kuzma, Marks says he heard from reliable sources that New Orleans was actually focused on Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball anyway.
  • Within a mailbag article, Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register looks at some of the potential factors involved in a Kuzma trade with the Kings or another team, while also addressing LeBron James‘ groin issue and Rajon Rondo‘s up-and-down play.
  • With the Lakers set to host the Knicks on Tuesday night, Julius Randle revisited the end of his tenure in Los Angeles in 2018, suggesting that it “wasn’t the right situation” for him, as Marc Berman of The New York Post relays. “Do I wish it would’ve worked out differently? I don’t get into what-ifs,” Randle said. “It worked out how it was supposed to. I’m happy where I’m at now. Everything in life happens for a reason. Highs and lows of life happens for a reason. It made me the person I am today and I’m extremely happy to be a Knick.”

Southwest Notes: Harden, Self, Ingram, Luka

After Russell Westbrook joined James Harden in the backcourt for the new-look 2019/20 Rockets, the team’s offense struggled with counters against half-court double team Harden traps from smart teams like the Nuggets, The Athletic’s Kelly Iko writes.

Iko details how coach Mike D’Antoni, Harden, Westbrook, and their Rockets teammates devised clever solutions to counter the traps. “We figured out a way it’s going to work for us,” wing Danuel House told Iko. “All we gotta do is be ready to knock … shots down or make the right reads. If we don’t have the shot, pass it or drive to get someone else a shot.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Kansas head coach Bill Self responded to chatter from ESPN’s Seth Greenberg and The Athletic’s Sam Amick and John Hollinger that he is being considered to replace Spurs coach Gregg Popovich when the five-time NBA champion eventually retires. “There’s absolutely zero truth to that,” Self said, according to The Kansas City Star’s Gary Bedore. “The thing that cracks me up about some media types is the more outlandish things you can say … what it was, was [Greenberg’s] ‘Bold Predictions for 2020 [segment].’ You grab something or throw something against the wall and hope something sticks.”
  • Pelicans star forward Brandon Ingram has been having a breakout season in New Orleans, averaging 25.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 3.8 APG this year. Andrew Lopez of ESPN takes a look at how Ingram, in the final season of his rookie contract, has carved out a place for himself on his new team. The 22-year-old, who will be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2020, was just named the NBA’s Western Conference Player of the Week.
  • Clippers consultant Jerry West has very high praise for rising Mavericks star Luka DoncicKevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News reports. “One player has transformed them into a playoff team,” West said. “[Doncic] will be the best player Dallas has ever had… I have great respect for [Dirk] Nowitzki, but Dirk is not him.” West has won nine titles as a player and executive in a storied Hall-of-Fame career.

Pelicans’ Jrue Holiday Available Via Trade?

The Pelicans are believed to consider Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram untouchable in trade talks, and have remained reluctant to trade J.J. Redick, league sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter links). However, according to Stein, there’s a belief that Jrue Holiday is available via trade.

Stein cautions that it would surely require a substantial offer to convince the Pelicans to part with Holiday. Based on Stein’s report, it sounds like the team is open to listening to inquiries, but won’t actively shop its standout guard.

Still, as recently as this summer, when David Griffin took over as New Orleans’ head of basketball operations, Holiday was viewed as entirely off-limits. It appears the club’s dismal 6-21 start to the season has influenced the front office’s thinking on the subject.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggested on Sunday that Holiday loves New Orleans, but might not be opposed to a change of scenery if it means avoiding an extensive rebuild.

Holiday, 29, is considered one of the NBA’s best defensive guards, and has also been his usual productive self on offense so far this season. In 25 games, he has averaged 19.4 PPG, 6.8 APG, and 5.0 RPG with a .454 FG% and a .338 3PT%. He has shot 48.9% from the field and 38.9% on threes over his last 17 games, following an early-season slump.

Holiday is under contract through at least 2020/21, with matching cap hits of $26.2MM this season and next season. He also has a $27.1MM player option for 2021/22. If the Pelicans begin fielding trade offers in earnest, he could quickly become the most intriguing player on the trade block this winter.

Lakers Notes: Kuzma, Ingram, Davis

Kyle Kuzma continues to search for his fit on this year’s Lakers, as Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times writes.

“It’s tough sometimes, but you just have to be positive, have an even-keeled mindset. But that’s easier said than done,” Kuzma said. “It’s something I’ve got to kind of figure out. But it isn’t anything I can’t handle.”

Kuzma has scored 10 or fewer points in half of the 14 games he’s played this season. In 70 games last season, he scored 10 or fewer just seven times as well.

Here’s more from Los Angeles:

  • Brandon Ingram spoke with Mark Medina of USA Today about the environment in Los Angeles last season. “The team was a little rattled. Coming in every day, it wasn’t always good,” Ingram said. “It wasn’t always good energy.” The former No. 2 overall pick was sent to New Orleans in the Anthony Davis deal.
  • The trade talks surrounding half the players on the Lakers became public last season and while it would have been better to keep the discussions out of the spotlight, Ingram says he isn’t too bothered by how everything went down. “I’ve never been in a position of GM. I don’t know how it could’ve been handled,” Ingram said (via Medina’s piece). “I know it’s hard decisions to be made. I know these decisions had to be made to make them a better team, and they’re obviously a better team this year. So I don’t know how I would’ve handled it. They had to handle it how they handled it, and it worked out great.”
  • Davis, who has been reunited with DeMarcus Cousins in Los Angeles, believes the duo could have done great things in New Orleans if they would have been given more time together, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register relays. The Pelicans allowed Cousins to leave in free agency in 2018.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southwest Division:

Brandon Ingram, Pelicans, 22, SF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $23.8MM deal in 2016
More appropriately, Ingram’s stock is way, way up. Ingram’s last season with the Lakers was cut short by a blood clot issue. He averaged 18.3 PPG but there was still skepticism just how good Ingram was. He’s answered that emphatically in his first 13 games with the Pelicans, posting All-Star level numbers (26.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 4.2 APG, 45.9 percent on 3s). The Pelicans will make him a restricted free agent by extending a $9.48MM qualifying offer. Will Ingram re-sign with New Orleans, sign a big offer sheet, or sign the QO and test unrestricted free agency the following summer? For sure, he’ll get paid.

Courtney Lee, Mavericks, 34, SG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $48MM deal in 2016
Lee’s value to Dallas is mainly his expiring contract, which could prove useful as the Mavs look to acquire another piece to their vastly improved squad. Lee’s playing time has been mainly limited to garbage-time minutes. After two solid seasons with the Knicks, Lee’s career has declined the past two seasons. His 3-point prowess (38.7 percent for his career) might earn him a short-term deal next summer but he won’t be making anywhere near $12MM next season.

Gerald Green, Rockets, 33, SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2019
Have we seen the last of Green in the NBA? That’s a strong possibility, considering his age and long-term rehab from a foot injury. He underwent surgery in late October and is expected to miss the regular season and likely the postseason as well. Green, a 12-year NBA veteran, has made prior stops with Boston, Minnesota, Houston, Dallas, New Jersey, Indiana, Phoenix and Miami during his professional career. He was a major contributor off the Rockets’ bench last season, averaging 9.2 PPG and 2.5 PPG in 73 contests. Another veteran’s minimum deal is his best hope.

Marco Belinelli, Spurs, 33, SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $12MM deal in 2018
Belinelli’s perimeter shooting has made him one of the league’s most reliable second-unit players for years. The shooting touch has abandoned him, one of the many reasons the Spurs have struggled this season. Belinelli is shooting just 29 percent from the field while averaging 5.2 PPG. He has averaged in double figures off the bench for the past four seasons. Gregg Popovich has continued to give him steady minutes, so Bellinelli’s production should return to the norm. But if his playing time is reduced, he may have to settle for the veteran’s minimum next summer.

Dillon Brooks, Grizzlies, 23, SF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.8MM deal in 2017
Brooks was limited to 18 games last season, mainly due to a toe injury that required surgery in January. He has come back at full strength and started every game this season for the Grizzlies. He’s the team’s third-leading scorer at 13.3 PPG while making 38.7 percent of his 3-pointers. It’s a foregone conclusion the Grizzlies will extend a $2MM qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent this summer. The 2017 second-round pick will get a substantial pay raise regardless of how his free agent journey unfolds.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southwest Notes: Iguodala, Ball, Ingram, Doncic

The Grizzlies haven’t softened on their stance of resisting a buyout with Andre Iguodala, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link from Siva Kodali). In a report last night, Wojnarowski said teams with interest in acquiring the veteran swingman should be prepared to make trade offers.

“The message that Memphis has delivered to teams like the Lakers, Clippers and Rockets is that you’re going to have to trade for him,” Wojnarowski said. “‘We are not buying him out. He will not be on the free agent market.'”

Iguodala has been in limbo ever since the Warriors shipped him to Memphis in July to open up cap room. He hasn’t spent any time with his new team and is waiting for a deal so he can start playing again. Iguodala would be a valuable addition to just about any contender, but his $17MM+ salary makes it challenging for the top teams to work out a trade.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans should consider using Lonzo Ball off the bench now that Kenrich Williams has claimed a starting spot, contends William Guillory of The Athletic. Injuries forced coach Alvin Gentry to use 11 starting lineups in the first 15 games, but he has more options now that the team is getting healthier. New Orleans has played very well when Brandon Ingram and J.J. Redick are on the court together, and with Jrue Holiday holding one starting backcourt position, that doesn’t leave room for Ball.
  • Ingram has displayed All-Star potential through the first month of the season, observes Scott Kushner of NOLA.com. The Pelicans didn’t reach an extension with Ingram before last month’s deadline, but Kushner believes a long-term deal this summer is virtually certain, even if it means the team has to match an offer sheet for the restricted free agent.
  • Tim MacMahon of ESPN looks at how Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle learned to trust Luka Doncic during a sometimes difficult first season in Dallas. Doncic’s occasional carelessness with the ball wasn’t a good fit for a no-nonsense coach like Carlisle, but he understood that his rookie guard needed a chance to develop his game at the NBA level. “For the development of a great player this young, the best thing they can do is make mistakes and grow from those mistakes,” said former Dallas director of player development Mike Procopio. “You can’t freak out over every mistake. Rick understands that. Rick is intelligent. Rick knows this kid is the future of that organization. He can’t get in the way of that.”

Southwest Notes: Wright, Mavs, Pelicans, Ingram

Guard Delon Wright said the Grizzlies played hardball with him this summer during his restricted free agency, which led him to sign an offer sheet with the Mavericks, according to David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Memphis agreed to a sign-and-trade, receiving a pair of second-round picks, after Wright signed the three-year, $27MM contract. “They were playing hardball,” Wright said. “So I had to go find another deal. They were more than willing to accommodate me with a trade. So that was cool.” Wright is averaging 8.1 PPG, 3.6 RPG and 3.9 APG while playing in all nine games with Dallas this season.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle used seven different starting lineups in the first nine games but he’s hoping to get that settled soon, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes. “I’ll keep looking at it,” Carlisle said. “I’m open to getting something consistent, but we talked about this from the beginning that the way we’re structured we’ll probably need to be flexible and fluid. The guys have handled it well.” Ten players have started at least once, with Luka Doncic being the only player who has started all nine games.
  • Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry finds himself with a similar predicament, as NBA.com relays. Gentry has used nine players in the lineup through the first nine games. New Orleans won just its second game of the season on Saturday. “Well, we can do one of two things, and we’ve changed a little bit schematically what we are trying to do. The next step is we have to find somebody that will do it,” he said. “We will start playing different combinations of guys, like we did (Saturday). That’s not a threat, it’s just what you’ve got to do as a coach.”
  • With Zion Williamson sidelined, Brandon Ingram has emerged as the No. 1 Pelicans‘ scoring option ahead of Jrue Holiday, Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Times Picayune notes. Ingram is averaging 25.9 PPG and 3.9 APG. He’ll be a restricted free agent next summer and if he maintains this level of play, the Pelicans will have to offer or match a maximum contract for him, Kushner adds.

Southwest Notes: Jackson, Murray, Walker, Ingram

After being traded to the Grizzlies in a salary-dump deal over the summer, former No. 4 overall pick Josh Jackson had his 2020/21 rookie scale option turned down by his new team. However, Memphis isn’t giving up entirely on the 22-year-old, having sent him to the G League for an assignment with the Memphis Hustle to start the season. As David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal relays, Jackson is hoping the change of scenery will benefit him.

“I think this year we have a lot more structure (with the Grizzlies) as opposed to what we did in Phoenix,” Jackson said. “The team was just a little bit too young. And with that comes a lot of things that you don’t know, that you have to learn. Here I feel like we’ve got great guys in place as far as a coaching staff and training staff to kind of coach us a little bit more as to how to be a pro.”

The G League regular season will get underway a week from today, on November 8. Presumably, the Grizzlies plan on having Jackson stay with the Hustle through that date to ensure he’ll play regular minutes in live games. However, the team hasn’t publicly offered many specifics about its plan for the former Sun. And, as Cobb details, Jackson is somewhat in the dark as well.

“As of now, no specific benchmarks,” the Grizzlies forward said. “No timeline, either, of when or if I’ll be called up. Right now, it’s just all about putting in the work, getting better. That’s all I’m focusing on.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Coming off his torn ACL, newly-extended Spurs guard Dejounte Murray has been on a minutes restriction, playing between 22-24 minutes in each of the team’s four games so far. He’s looking forward to having that restriction lifted at some point, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link).I love to hoop. I love to compete, so it is frustrating,” Murray said. “But like I said, it has nothing to do with me trusting them and trusting their plan or whatever they got for me. But, yeah, I am frustrated. I think about it a lot. I’m not going to lie.”
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was critical of second-year guard Lonnie Walker after Thursday’s loss, Orsborn tweets. I expect better effort, better awareness and a better attempt to take advantage of the minutes that he gets,” Popovich said of the 2018 first-rounder. “I thought he was non-competitive.”
  • In a conversation with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram spoke about his contract situation, being the subject of trade rumors last season, his reaction to being dealt, and his first impressions of New Orleans, among other topics.

Southwest Notes: Rockets, Ingram, Curry, Lyles

While offseason reports of tension between James Harden and Chris Paul were viewed as one motivating factor for the Rockets‘ decision to acquire Russell Westbrook, general manager Daryl Morey has consistently denied that. Morey tells Sam Amick of The Athletic that Harden initially wanted to know if there was any way to acquire Westbrook without sending out CP3.

“Yeah, because I mean his mind is always (going) first to ‘How (can we be) completely stacked?’ So I had to sort of explain,” Morey said. “He gets it roughly, but obviously he leaves the details to us. Besides the high-level (talks) where he thought that Russ would be a great fit here, there’s not a ton of interaction after that point. He knows there’s a back and forth, just like we respect what he does I think he respects what we do and he sort of leaves the execution to us.”

While Morey spoke to Amick extensively about how that trade for Westbrook materialized and his first impressions of how the former MVP is fitting in with the Rockets, he declined to comment at all on the NBA/China controversy that was ignited by his tweet supporting Hong Kong protestors.

Here’s more out of the Southwest:

  • With Zion Williamson out to start the season, new Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram is prepared to carry more of the offensive burden, as he tells Mark Medina of USA Today. Ingram also views New Orleans as a better fit for him than the Lakers were. “I would say this is a better environment,” he said. “There are a lot of genuine people here that are pretty solid. No shame to the Lakers because they are a high-class organization. They do everything well and have a good fan base. But I like this spot.”
  • Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, who had Seth Curry on his roster last season, views the sharpshooter as a “really good fit” for the Mavericks, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Trey Lyles, who as a child extensively studied film of Tim Duncan, is thrilled to get the chance to learn from the Spurs‘ new assistant coach this season, as Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News details. “I was definitely nervous,” Lyles said. “Somebody that you idolized growing up, and then you’re face to face with him, able to ask him whatever you want, whenever you want? It definitely helped settle me down, just to get the first question out.”
  • Chad Smith of Basketball Insiders explores which teams might make sense as a potential trade partner for the Grizzlies in an Andre Iguodala deal.

Southwest Notes: Ingram, Grizzlies, Barea, D’Antoni

Brandon Ingram‘s 2018/19 season came to an early end in March when he was diagnosed with a blood clot that required thoracic outlet decompression surgery. The health issue derailed perhaps the best stretch of Ingram’s career, as he had averaged 22.5 PPG on .558/.406/.748 shooting in the 17 games leading up to the diagnosis.

However, on Media Day in New Orleans, Ingram told reporters – including Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link) – that he’s no longer taking medication for his blood clot issue and expects to be healthy going forward.

That’s good news for the young forward and for the Pelicans, who could offer Ingram a rookie scale extension before an October 21 deadline. Head of basketball operations David Griffin acknowledged that possibility on Monday, but said New Orleans wants to see what Ingram looks like on the court with the team before engaging in any extension talks (Twitter link via Will Guillory of The Athletic).

Although the Pelicans should get the opportunity to see Ingram in action in some preseason games, the extension deadline falls before their regular season opener, so it would be a surprise if Griffin and the Pels seriously attempt to lock up the newly-acquired forward long-term before he reaches free agency in 2020.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Longtime Grizzlies executive John Hollinger has transitioned back into the media world, announcing this week that he has joined The Athletic. When Memphis shook up its front office in the spring, Hollinger was re-assigned to an advisory role, but he has apparently decided he’d rather return to his media roots — he formerly worked for ESPN, where he developed the Player Efficiency Rating (PER) stat.
  • After saying on Monday that he wasn’t ready to fully participate in training camp, Kyle Anderson reversed course and was a full go today, per head coach Taylor Jenkins (Twitter link via Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian). The Grizzlies‘ forward is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.
  • Veteran Mavericks guard J.J. Barea suffered an Achilles tear less than 10 months ago, but he says he “feels great” and doesn’t expect many limitations with the preseason around the corner, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. “I’m going to go,” Barea said. “Depends how I feel [if I] take some shortcuts here and there, but I’m going to try to get ready like normal.”
  • With newly-renewed championship aspirations, an expiring contract, and a former MVP to incorporate into his lineup, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni may be facing his biggest challenge yet this season. Kelly Iko of The Athletic explores how D’Antoni is preparing for it.