Brook Lopez

Los Angeles Notes: Lopez, Nance, Ball, Jordan

As we heard multiple times throughout the offseason, Southern California native Brook Lopez was thrilled to be acquired by the Lakers in June, and Robin Lopez says his brother continues to enjoy the experience of playing for his hometown team. As Bill Oram of The Orange County Register details, Robin said this week that the Lakers were the “definition of the NBA” for him and his brother growing up, adding that Brook still hasn’t gotten over the fact that he’s the Lakers’ starting center.

“I know he’s definitely enamored with that aspect of it,” Robin said. “I don’t think it will ever fade with him.”

Here’s more out of Los Angeles:

Lakers:

  • When Larry Nance Jr. was diagnosed with a fractured hand in early November, the Lakers indicated that he big man would likely miss four to six weeks. However, Nance is ahead of schedule in his recovery and could be back on the court as soon as this coming Monday, according to Oram.
  • With a showdown against fellow rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox on tap for Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee takes an in-depth look at the enormous expectations placed upon this year’s second overall pick.

Clippers:

  • DeAndre Jordan‘s name “has been coming up in trade conversations,” with “multiple teams” talking about possible deals, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Based on Bontemps’ wording, it’s not clear whether the Clippers are entertaining those discussions, or whether potential suitors are simply discussing trade scenarios internally. If the Clips continue their losing ways, the team will probably have to consider the possibility of moving Jordan, who can become a free agent in 2018.
  • With the Clippers looking to snap a nine-game losing streak, a handful of NBA.com scribes, including Shaun Powell and John Schuhmann, explore what the team can do to turn things around.
  • Clippers owner Steve Ballmer will have a lot to think about over Thanksgiving weekend, as Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times outlines.
  • Earlier today, we passed along word that Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley underwent a surgical procedure on his knee and will be sidelined for a while.

Lakers Notes: Kuzma, Lopez, KCP, Nance Jr.

Rookie power forward Kyle Kuzma had a feeling the Lakers would draft him after his stock rose, Shams Charania of The Vertical reports. Kuzma, who declared after his junior season at Utah, was originally pegged as second-round material who might even go undrafted. Kuzma wound up getting picked 27th overall and has taken the league by storm, posting three double-doubles and three 20-point games. “I knew I was way better than that, better than how people pegged me,” he told Charania. “After I killed draft workouts and the combine, I knew I would go in the first round. I had a good hint that it would be L.A., just because of the workout and my combine interview with them, but I didn’t know until draft night.”

In other items concerning the Lakers:

  • The offense has perked up in recent games and center Brook Lopez has played a big role in that improvement, as Joey Ramirez of the team’s website notes. Lopez, who was acquired in an offseason deal with the Nets, is the NBA’s sixth-highest scorer over the last three games, averaging 27.3 PPG. Kuzma believes improved health has led to Lopez’s offensive outburst, as he told Ramirez. “The whole preseason he was really bad with a back injury and little nicks and bruises,” Kuzma said. “You can tell he’s getting back to the Nets version of Brook Lopez.”
  • Lopez and shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope have helped to stabilize a mostly youthful roster, coach Luke Walton told NBA.com’s David Aldridge. Lopez has provided a steadying force on offense, while Caldwell-Pope has helped establish a defensive mindset, Aldridge adds. Caldwell-Pope signed a one-year, $18MM free agent contract after the Pistons renounced his rights during restricted free agency. “I think KCP coming over, just a hard-nosed player,” Walton told Aldridge. “He’s been in that Eastern Conference, hard worker. He kind of helps set that tone. Brook’s been a solid vet in this league for a long time.”
  • Larry Nance Jr. is frustrated by his latest injury setback, as he told Bill Oram of the Orange County Register and other media members. Nance Jr., who missed multiple games with knee injuries the last two seasons, is out 4-6 weeks with a fractured left hand. He was averaging 10.6 PPG and 7.4 RPG in 23.1 MPG before suffering the injury Thursday. “I was given a really good chance, was making the most of it,” he said. “So I’m just anxious to get back and keep making a good impression.”

Pacific Notes: Johnson, Sarver, Lopez

The Clippers opted for flexibility by turning down the third-year option on Brice Johnson‘s rookie contract, Elliott Teaford of the Orange County Register writes.

Team president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank says that the decision was made because the Clippers didn’t have a full body of work on which to base Johnson’s value. The 23-year-old North Carolina standout has played in just six games over the course of his NBA career, two of them this past week.

We still think Brice is a talented player,” Frank said. “There wasn’t a great body of work due to some difficult circumstances, obviously, with the back injury. This year, we have great depth at his position.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Contrary to a Washington Post report that suggested Suns owner Robert Sarver was looking to sell the franchise, the executive has “zero interest” in cashing out, Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic writes. Sarver bought the team for $401MM in 2004 and it’s now, per Forbes, valued north of $1B.
  • A move to the second-unit may have helped Buddy Hield find his rhythm with the Kings. Kyle Ramos of the team’s official site discussed the sophomore’s solid showing off the bench on Wednesday.
  • Often the subject of trade rumors, Brook Lopez wasn’t particularly surprised to find out that the Nets had traded him to the Lakers last June, Greg Logan of Newsday writes. He was, however, excited. “I’m a huge Magic Johnson fan, so having him around — to be a little fan boy — it’s awesome for the little kid Brook inside,” Lopez said.

Pacific Notes: Bogdanovic, Reed, Bell

The Kings made 2014 draft-and-stash prospect Bogdan Bogdanovic the highest paid rookie in NBA history this summer and now will look to incorporate him into their core, James Ham of NBC Sports writes.

The 25-year-old shooting guard recently helped guide the Serbian national team to a silver medal at EuroBasket 2017 showcasing the perimeter skillset that he’ll be bringing with him to the Kings next month.

Bogdanovic will earn $9.5MM this season and $27MM over the course of his three-year deal. That’s twice the amount of money fifth overall pick De’Aaron Fox will make with the Kings this season.

While it’s possible Bogdanovic sees time at the three, his natural position will be at the two, where he’ll compete with Buddy Hield for opportunities to lead the Kings’ offense. Expect him to struggle slightly on the defensive end, Ham writes, but to make a case for himself as a prolific deep threat early on.

It’s possible that Bogdanovic either slides into the Kings’ starting lineup or serves as one of the club’s key reserves off the bench.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

Los Angeles Notes: Bogut, Lakers, Gallinari

After reaching an agreement on Monday to sign Andrew Bogut, the Lakers are starting to create a logjam at the center position, where Bogut figures to join youngsters Ivica Zubac and Thomas Bryant as backups to Brook Lopez. However, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register suggests there are at least a couple reasons why it make sense for the club to add Bogut to complement Lopez.

As Oram explains, Lopez is more of an offensive-minded player, so Bogut will add more rim protecting and rebounding to the roster. Oram also suggests that Bogut will provide insurance against Lopez’s health. The former Net has dealt with some back issues this summer and may miss part of the preseason as a result.

Of course, while Lopez was once considered injury-prone, he has been healthy enough to appear in at least 72 games in each of the last three seasons, while Bogut has been the one battling more frequent and more recent injury issues. We’ll have to wait to see whether either veteran center can stay on the court for the entire 2017/18 season.

Here’s more from out of Los Angeles:

  • In his breakdown of the Bogut deal, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton (Insider link) acknowledges that the fit with the Lakers is somewhat “perplexing.” Pelton doesn’t want to see Zubac or Bryant denied any opportunities to earn playing time, since they’re better bets than Bogut to stick with the Lakers beyond 2017/18.
  • The Lakers announced a handful of basketball operations hires and promotions this week, confirming the moves in a press release. Among the most notable promotions was Jordan Wilkes being named the club’s director of player development.
  • New Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari is just “days away” from returning from the hand injury he suffered in July, and should be ready to go for training camp next week, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).

Los Angeles Notes: Rivers, Jordan, Lopez, Simon

Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers is denying a report that an ongoing feud between his son, Austin, and Chris Paul led to Paul’s trade to Houston today, according to Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. In a series of tweets, Doc Rivers thanked Paul for his years of service and called his departure a “big loss” for the team. He also said there have been rumors floating around that Paul was clashing with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan as well as Austin Rivers.

“We’ve heard all the stories about Blake and DJ and Austin,” Doc Rivers said (Twitter link). “I can’t comment just on Austin because it’s just not right. We’ve heard he left because of all three today (Twitter link). There is a lot of speculation on why he left. The one thing I know is he didn’t leave because of any of those three guys (Twitter link). He left because he felt like he would have a better chance to win somewhere else.” (Twitter link)

There’s more today out of Los Angeles:

  • The Clippers may re-examine the idea of trading Jordan now that Paul is gone, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. Jordan and Griffin are something of an awkward pairing with both preferring to play near the basket, and Lowe suggests that the problem will worsen without an elite point guard on the floor. L.A.’s front office took several calls about Jordan last week and may decide to move him if the organization is headed toward a rebuilding project. Jordan has a player option worth a little more than $24MM for 2018/19.
  • The Lakers‘ trade for Brook Lopez last week was about more than just cap relief, relays Mark Medina of The Orange County Register. Lopez, who grew up in North Hollywood, was acquired from the Nets along with the 27th pick in the draft in exchange for D’Angelo Russell and the three years and $48MM left on Timofey Mozgov‘s contract. “A lot of those emotions turned into general excitement with this opportunity to come back home and chance to lead the franchise back to success,” Lopez said today as he met the L.A. media. “I want to be out there teaching the young guys and being a guy that [coach] Luke [Walton] can rely on and do whatever he asks.”
  • Despite talk that the Lakers will save their big free agency moves for next summer, new GM Rob Pelinka told Medina that he wants to contend right away (Twitter link). “We don’t see next year at all as a rebuilding year,” Pelinka said. “We see next year as a Lakers year.”
  • Miles Simon has been added to the Lakers‘ coaching staff, the team announced on its website. The Most Outstanding Player of the 1997 NCAA Tournament, Simon has recent coaching experience with USA Basketball, capturing gold medals at several junior levels.

Lakers Acquire Brook Lopez For Russell, Mozgov

JUNE 22: The trade is finally official, the NBA announced tonight during the draft. The Lakers used their newly-acquired 27th overall pick on Kyle Kuzma.

JUNE 20: The Lakers and Nets have reached an agreement on a trade that will send Brook Lopez to Los Angeles, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). Wojnarowski reports that the Lakers will also receive the No. 27 pick in this week’s draft, and will send D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets.BrookLopez vertical

This deal is a fascinating one on several levels. For the Lakers, they manage to cut long-term costs by getting out from under Mozgov’s contract, which still has three years and $48MM left on it. In Lopez, the Lakers will acquire a more productive player on the court, and one whose deal expires at the end of the 2017/18 season, setting the franchise up to create an extra chunk of cap room when LeBron James, Paul George, and other stars reach free agency.

In addition to picking up Lopez, the Lakers will also get a third first-round pick in this Thursday’s draft. The team now holds the second, 27th, and 28th overall selections, and with Russell no longer in the fold, it appears more certain than ever that Los Angeles has its eye on Lonzo Ball with that No. 2 overall pick.

Meanwhile, the Nets will finally bring years of Lopez trade speculation to an end, sending him to Los Angeles with one year remaining on his contract. In exchange for Lopez, a first-round pick, and their willingness to assume Mozgov’s huge contract, the Nets will land their point guard of the future in Russell, the second overall pick from the 2015 draft. The team also hangs onto its second 2017 first-round pick (No. 22).

Russell, who is still just 21 years old, has faced scrutiny about his work ethic and his drive, but his talent is undeniable. In 63 games last season for the Lakers, the young point guard averaged 15.6 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.5 RPG, and 1.4 SPG in a modest 28.7 minutes per contest. He has also developed into a reliable three-point threat, averaging 2.1 threes per game at a rate of 35.2%. He’ll be under contract for at least two more years, becoming extension-eligible in 2018 and RFA-eligible in 2019.

With Russell and Jeremy Lin now in the mix, the Nets are unlikely to be in the market for a point guard this summer, which means another potential suitor is off the board for top free agents at the position seeking a payday. Brooklyn had been viewed as a potential player for George Hill, among other free agent point guards.

Finally, the Celtics will be watching the outcome of this trade with a close eye, since Boston may end up with both the Nets’ and Lakers’ first-round picks in the 2018 NBA draft. With the draft and free agency still to play out, it’s hard to tell at this point whether either team will improve significantly in 2017/18, but Lopez was the Nets’ most productive player last season, so this isn’t exactly a win-now move for Brooklyn — that bodes well for the C’s.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lakers-Nets Trade: Notes, Reactions, More

The Lakers started clearing the future cap room necessary to add stars to their roster with Tuesday’s trade that sent D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in Thursday’s draft.

L.A. would need about $66.3MM in cap space to sign both Paul George and LeBron James to max deals next summer, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. The Lakers currently project to have about $36MM in cap room for 2018 but they can push that figure past $48MM by unloading Julius Randle, who will have a $12.4MM cap hold. Options to create the rest of the needed space include finding a taker for Jordan Clarkson – who will make $12.5MM in 2018/19 – or stretching Luol Deng, who has three years and $53MM+ left on his contract.

If the Lakers wind up trading for George by sending Clarkson and the 27th and 28th picks in this year’s draft to Indiana, then restructures George’s contract to give him a max extension, that would only leave $17.7MM to offer James without another move, Pincus notes.

Several other media members have weighed in on Tuesday’s deal, including what it means for the long-term future of both teams, so let’s round up some more notes…

  • The Lakers no longer believed Russell could be part of their core group moving forward, relays Bill Oram of the Orange County Register. Oram adds that the team is now free to draft Lonzo Ball without worrying about a possible conflict with Russell.
  • New Lakers president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka are already proving to be better at building a team than the old regime was, opines Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. Pelinka’s familiarity with agents, Ding notes, gives him a significant advantage over former GM Mitch Kupchak.
  • The Nets wanted Russell because they were concerned they might wind up without a point guard next summer, according to a tweet from NetsDaily. Brooklyn had been facing a 2018 decision on whether to re-sign Lopez, along with the possibility that Jeremy Lin would opt out.
  • There was little interest around the NBA in Lopez and Mozgov, tweets NetsDaily. That’s unsurprising in Mozgov’s case, though somewhat surprising for Lopez, who continues to play well and doesn’t have an albatross of a contract.
  • Trading Lopez increases the possibility that the Nets will take a big man with the No. 22 pick on Thursday, per NetsDaily (via Twitter). Still, Mozgov will get a chance to play — he’s the third Russian to play for the franchise in recent years, and team ownership hopes he views that as a unique opportunity (Twitter link).
  • ESPN’s Kevin Pelton (Insider-only link) assigns grades for the deal, giving the Nets (A-) a slightly better mark than the Lakers (B).

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Eastern Notes: Lopez, Thompson, LeBron, Bucks

The Nets have a combined 41-123 record over the last two seasons, but Brook Lopez remains optimistic about the franchise’s direction, and doesn’t seem eager to go anywhere, despite the trade rumors that have consistently swirled around him as the club has struggled. As Randolph B. Leongson of Inquirer.net details, Lopez believes there’s “a lot of positivity” in Brooklyn as the team builds a new foundation.

“Moving forward, I’m just all-in, trying to do all I can to help my team be successful,” Lopez said. “We’ve got a great group of guys who really have that team-first attitude and we really believe that we can do something special as long as we put the effort out and we put the work in.”

Here are a few more items from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson is by no means a prolific scorer, but he has developed into a key rotation piece for the club due to his ability to rebounding and defensive ability, as well as his high motor. Zach Lowe of ESPN.com takes a closer look at Thompson, providing a handful of interesting tidbits on the big man’s history with the Cavs, who considered taking Jonas Valanciunas over him in 2011.
  • LeBron James will be the subject of countless Michael Jordan comparisons by the time he retires, and those comparisons may eventually extend to endeavors beyond his playing career. As Ken Berger of Bleacher Report writes, the Cavaliers star has interested in being part of an NBA team ownership group down the road. Jordan, of course, is currently the principal owner of the Hornets.
  • Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder, who played professional ball in Germany before arriving in Atlanta, believes current Brose Bamberg big man Daniel Theis is capable of making the leap to the NBA — preferably to Atlanta. Emiliano Carchia of Sportando has the details, providing an English translation of a German report.
  • Jabari Parker is eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason, but it would make sense for the Bucks to table contract talks until the summer of 2018, after the former No. 2 pick has recovered from his latest ACL injury, writes Bobby Marks of The Vertical.

Nets Notes: Free Agents, Lin, Dinwiddie, Goodwin

The Nets are optimistic that they can improve in free agency this summer, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn will enter the July bidding with the ability to clear enough cap space to offer two max deals, along with a feeling of momentum after going 11-13 in its last 24 games. Jeremy Lin, who signed with the team as a free agent last summer, said several players have already contacted him about coming to Brooklyn. “Players are asking about us because they saw the way that Kenny [Atkinson] coached,” he said. “They saw how hard these guys played night-in and night-out, how unselfish we played. They want to be a part of that, so there’s already been a lot of interest. People are already asking questions, whether it’s to me or Brook [Lopez] or other players.”

There’s more news out of Brooklyn:

  • One of the Nets’ offseason objectives will be finding a backup for Lin, Lewis writes in a separate story. Lin played well in his first season in Brooklyn, averaging 14.5 points and 5.1 assists per night, but a lingering hamstring problem limited him to 36 games. The Nets had the league’s worst record at 20-62, but they were 13-20 with him as a starter and 10-12 after the All-Star break with their preferred starting lineup. Brooklyn added Greivis Vasquez as a backup point guard last summer, but he played just 39 minutes before ankle problems led to his buyout. “When we started the season, I thought we had Jeremy and the backup settled,’’ Atkinson said. “Now with Spencer [Dinwiddie], Archie [Goodwin] and Isaiah Whitehead], we have to answer, ‘Do we have the solution in-house now?’ I think we do, as the backups have played well. [But] we’ll have to look and see what offseason and next year moves we need to make.”
  • Dinwiddie, who played 59 games after signing with the Nets in December, hopes his long-term future is in Brooklyn, relays NetsDaily.com. Dinwiddie’s contract calls for him to make $1.05MM next season and $1.125MM in 2018/19, but both years are non-guaranteed. “You never know in this business how anything can happen or how it will all shake out,” he said, “but I’ve loved my time here and hopefully look forward to being here for a long time. The organization is great. The staff is great and hopefully we can turn this thing around and just make the playoffs next year. That’d be nice.”
  • Goodwin, who joined the team in mid-March, also has a non-guaranteed deal for next season, tweets NetsDaily. He will receive a $200K guarantee on his $1.58MM salary if he is still with the team October 31st.
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