Danny Green

Western Notes: Caruso, Green, Lue, Mitchell

The Lakers are planning to start guard Alex Caruso in place of Dwight Howard in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, Shams Charania of Stadium reports.

Los Angeles will likely spend more time playing Anthony Davis at center on Sunday, an adjustment that’s caused some problems for Miami this series. The team could also task LeBron James with being the primary on-ball defender for Jimmy Butler, Charania adds. Butler poured in a 35-point triple-double in the Heat’s Game 5 win on Friday night.

Starting Caruso in place of Howard will allow the Lakers to play a quicker brand of basketball while adding another shooter around James offensively. Caruso has averaged 6.7 points off the bench in 20 playoff games, shooting 43% with respectable defense.

The Lakers will be seeking their 17th championship in franchise history on Sunday, with Tuesday’s potential Game 7 looming in the background if the team loses.

There’s more out of the Western Conference today:

  • Lakers guard Danny Green and his fiancée have received death threats following the aftermath of Game 5, as relayed by Bill Oram of The Athletic. Green missed an open three-pointer that would’ve given the Lakers the lead with just seconds remaining, culminating in an offensive rebound and a Markieff Morris turnover shortly thereafter. “I don’t pay attention,” Green said. “I had to ask, ‘Are you getting death threats?’ And she said, ‘Yeah, you are too,’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know’ because I don’t really pay attention or care. Nor am I upset, shaken or worried about it. I’m just not one of those types of people.”
  • Tyronn Lue arrived in Houston this weekend to interview for the Rockets’ head coaching job, as relayed by Mark Berman of Fox 26 (Twitter link). When asked what Lue’s message was to his interested teams, he replied, “Just who I am as a person, as a coach. How I’m able to hold guys accountable, but still get the best out of guys..let guys play free, put them in position to be successful.” The Rockets will formally interview Lue on Monday, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.
  • Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell is being fueled by the team’s seven-game loss to the Nuggets, eagerly setting his sights on next season, as relayed by ESPN. “Those guys really did their thing,” Mitchell said of the Nuggets. “But at the end of the day it really kind of pisses you off, I’m not going to lie. You know, we were right there. At the end of the day, that’s what it is — we were right there.”

Lakers Notes: Rondo, LeBron, Vogel, Green

It wasn’t long ago that Rajon Rondo seemed destined for journeyman status, playing for six teams in five years, but now he’s a fixture on a Lakers squad that’s two wins away from an NBA title, writes Jackie MacMullan of ESPN. The veteran guard averaged a career-low 20.5 minutes per game during the regular season, but “Playoff Rondo” has been on display since he returned from a fractured thumb in August.

“I honestly believe his return to the bubble saved the Lakers’ season,” said ESPN analyst and former teammate Kendrick Perkins. “They were struggling without him. He takes pressure off LeBron (James) and (Anthony Davis), and he turns the key in the back of role players like (Kentavious) Caldwell-Pope and (Kyle) Kuzma because he’ll put them in the best position to succeed.”

Helping others succeed has been one of Rondo’s defining qualities throughout his 14-year NBA career. He has handed out more than 7,200 assists and has been an on-court strategist whom Alvin Gentry calls the smartest player he has ever coached. Rondo told MacMullan that he hopes to play four more seasons and eventually transition into a coaching or front-office job.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Rondo says of being close to his second career championship. “I want to be the best role player there is. I don’t need acknowledgement from other people on whether they consider me a winner or a great teammate.”

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • Michael Lee of The Athletic reviews the six NBA Finals that James has lost and looks at how each has motivated him to become better. “There’s nothing out on the floor that I cannot do at this point in my career. That’s all because of the competition and the adversity and the losses and everything I’ve been through throughout the course of my career,” said James, who has been to the Finals in 10 of the past 14 seasons. “The best teacher in life is life experience, and I’ve experienced it all.”
  • Long-time coach Rick Pitino believes his former graduate assistant, Frank Vogel, has been an ideal leader for the Lakers, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. “It’s a player’s league, and he’s with two of the top five players,” Pitino said. “Frank is the perfect coach for those two guys and the team. He’s going to do all his work behind the scenes, get them ready, never be on camera, never get any credit. And he wants it that way. His perfect scenario is them winning a championship, never mention his name and get ready for next season.”
  • Danny Green sounds determined to play in Game 3 despite his injured hip, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “I’m not worried about my body,” Green said. “I’ll worry when it’s over… We’ll see tonight how it goes.”

Lakers Notes: Davis, Green, LBJ-AD, Dwight

Good news for Lakers fans: All-NBA big man Anthony Davis wants his inaugural Finals appearance to be his first of many, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Davis, who will most likely out of his $28.8MM player option for the 2020/21 season to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, is widely expected to return to the Lakers — especially in light of the team’s current Finals run. Davis had high praise for his fellow All-NBA Lakers forward LeBron James.

“You see the work and preparation LeBron puts in every day, and you understand why this is his 10th NBA Finals appearance,” Davis told Haynes. “He never stops. I plan to follow this motherf—er to hopefully nine more Finals.”

There’s more out of Lakerland:

  • Veteran Lakers swingman Danny Green, in the first year of a two-season, $30MM contract inked over the summer, had a stellar two-way performance during Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Helene Elliot of the Los Angeles Times discusses how Green has turned out to be the player that the Lakers hoped he would be when they signed him to his deal last year.
  • Lakers All-Stars Davis and James have enjoyed a unique bond during their first season together, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN“We’re not jealous of each other. I think that’s the best thing,” James said ahead of a team practice today. “I believe jealousy creeps in a lot. And that is the absolute contrary of what we are.”
  • Lakers center Dwight Howard, who has been elevated from a bench role to a starter during the Finals, has struggled with depression during his tenure on the NBA’s Orlando restart campus, according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. Some of Howard’s isolation-derived depression was alleviated when Howard’s son, David, was allowed to visit him at the Disney campus recently. Howard, an unrestricted free agent this summer, will probably be able to parlay his excellent on-court performance within a winning culture into a new NBA opportunity during the offseason.

Western Notes: Lakers, Looney, Ball, Nuggets

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel told reporters on Wednesday that Alex Caruso and Danny Green are listed as probable for Thursday’s Western Conference Finals Game 4 against the Nuggets, per Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).

According to Vogel, Caruso is dealing with soreness in his right wrist and is getting a precautionary MRI. Green has an injured left ring finger. The 26-year-old Caruso only scored two points in 25 minutes off the bench in the Lakers’ Game 3 loss, while Green had four points in 20 minutes.

If Caruso or Green cannot play on Thursday, the Lakers may need to increase point guard Rajon Rondo‘s minutes.

Here’s more from across the Western Conference:

  • According to John Dickinson of 95.7 The Game (Twitter link), Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said Wednesday that center Kevon Looney is healthy and was a full participant at the team’s practice. Kerr added that Klay Thompson and Eric Paschall didn’t practice, as they were going through the NBA’s COVID testing protocol.
  • William Guillory of The Athletic takes a look at the pros and cons of the Pelicans keeping Lonzo Ball. Earlier this week, Ball announced that he signed with Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. The 22-year-old point guard had a solid first season with New Orleans, averaging 11.8 PPG, 7.0 APG, and 6.1 RPG. Furthermore, Guillory explores what a potential extension could like for Ball after next season.
  • Ethan Strauss of The Athletic writes about the similarities between the 2013 Warriors and this season’s Nuggets team. For starters, Strauss points out how current Denver head coach Mike Malone was under then-head coach Mark Jackson in Golden State. He also explores how both teams built their rosters in the age of free agency and feature an unlikely superstar player.

Pacific Notes: Ayton, Oubre, Warriors, Lakers

The Suns are excited about the progress of Deandre Ayton during their early workouts in Orlando, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. The second-year center was dealing with an injured ankle when the shutdown began, but he’s fully healthy now and feels ready to make a greater impact.

“I feel like I’m in my, damn, I don’t know, third or fourth year, and I know what I’m doing now,” Ayton said. “It’s not really me being told what to do. It’s me understanding and finding what’s available and being a playmaker. (Devin Booker) and Coach (Monty Williams) seen it so we just collaborate our differences and make things happen. Whatever is best for the team.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns haven’t given up hope that Kelly Oubre can play in Orlando, Rankin adds in the same story. Oubre has a knee issue and there have been reports that he will opt out of the restart, but general manager James Jones said this week that Oubre may be ready before the season ends. “Kelly’s doing fine,” Williams said Saturday. “He’s rehabbing. He does a little bit of court work, but for the most part, he’s on the side rehabbing and trying to get himself in tip-top (shape). He’s in good shape, but he’s not in the type of game shape that he wants to be in.”
  • Despite their historic five-year run, the Warriors‘ stars still feel like they have something to prove, Damion Lee said this week on the Runnin’ Plays podcast (hat tip to Kerith Burke of NBC Sports). “Steph (Curry) revolutionized the game,” Lee said. “But if you look at him, Klay (Thompson), Draymond (Green), a lot of guys on this team, we’re all guys that have a chip (on our shoulders).” He explained that all three players had doubters when they came into the league.
  • Dwight Howard and Danny Green both missed the Lakers’ practice Saturday for testing-related reasons, tweets Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. Howard was required to take an extra COVID-19 test because he didn’t travel to Orlando with the team, while Green had an error in his last test.
  • Two Kings players who tested positive for the virus have recorded two straight negative tests and have been cleared to join the team, tweets James Ham of NBC Sports. Coach Luke Walton refused to confirm their identities, but Buddy Hield was spotted getting on a plane today, according to Jason Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Pacific Notes: Green, Oubre, Bagley, Lakers

Lakers teammates Dwight Howard and Avery Bradley have expressed concerns about playing in the Orlando bubble during troubled times, but Danny Green believes that NBA players can make a stronger social statement by playing. Green made his comments in an interview with Caron Butler on the NBA’s Twitter account (hat tip to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps). “I think we can use the platform to our advantage and enhance it,” Green said. “I mean, I see both sides. …  There are going to be cameras all over Orlando, so they can see exactly what we want and what we’re trying to do. So I think it’s an advantage to us to get down there and use that platform to keep the movement alive.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Although he’s not expected to be healthy enough to participate, Suns forward Kelly Oubre is grateful his team was given the opportunity to play again this season, as he told Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype. He believes it will be beneficial for the club’s development. “We have to continue to get better each and every day,” he said. “We haven’t done anything yet. So our main goal should be to just lock in and just continue to just focus on getting better and coming back next year, better than ever.”
  • The Kings will likely go smaller in their starting lineup with Richaun Holmes at center and Harrison Barnes playing power forward, according to Jason Jones of The Athletic. In that scenario, Marvin Bagley III — the second overall pick in the 2018 draft — would come off the bench. Coach Luke Walton could also employ some three-guard looks in Orlando with De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic on the court at the same time.
  • The Lakers have hired Dr. Karida Brown as Director of Racial Equity & Action, according to a team press release. Dr. Brown will create a curriculum to help the Lakers staff enrich their knowledge on urgent topics, as well as helping to identify ways the team can be more active and efficient in creating change.

Hiatus Notes: Howard, Rivers, Green, Beverley

Lakers center Dwight Howard believes the NBA should reconsider its plans of returning next month due to the ongoing racial injustice problems in the United States, claiming that the resumption of a season could prove to be a distraction.

Howard, an eight-time NBA All-Star, issued the following statement on the matter (as relayed by CNN’s Jill Martin):

“I agree with Kyrie [Irving]. Basketball, or entertainment period, isn’t needed at this moment, and will only be a distraction. Sure it might not distract us players, but we have resources at hand [the] majority of our community don’t have. And the smallest distraction for them can start a trickle-down effect that may never stop. Especially with the way the climate is now. I would love nothing more than to win my very first NBA Championship. But the unity of My People would be an even bigger Championship, that’s just to [sic] beautiful to pass up. 

“What better time than now for us to be focusing on our families. This is a rare opportunity that, I believe, we as a community should be taking full advantage of. When have we ever had this amount of time to sit and be with our families. This is where our Unity starts. At home! With Family!! European Colonization stripped us of our rich history, and we have yet to sit down and figure us out. The less distractions, the more we can put into action into rediscovering ourselves. Nations come out of families. Black/African American is not a Nation or Nationality. It’s time Our Families became their own Nations. No Basketball till we get things resolved.”

Multiple players (including Irving) agree on the matter, with Irving voicing his concerns during a conference call that included dozens of the league’s players on Friday. Several other players are in disagreement, however, citing financial implications, competitive aspects, and a dire need for sports in such an unprecedented time.

The NBA is still working on finalizing details for the resumed 2019/2020 season, which was suspended indefinitely in March due to COVID-19. The league is currently eyeing a July 30 return date, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Here are some other notes related to the NBA’s hiatus:

  • Rockets guard Austin Rivers holds a different opinion than Howard about whether the NBA season should resume, posting his comments in an Instagram reply (as relayed by ESPN). “Us coming back would put money in all of our (NBA players’) pockets,” Rivers said as part of a larger quote. “With this money you could help out even more people and continue to give more importantly your time and energy towards the BLM movement. Which I’m 100% on board with. Because change needs to happen and injustice has been going on too long.”
  • Lakers guard Danny Green detailed the different aspects of the NBA’s restart plan in a Q&A with Mark Medina of USA Today. Green touched on a number of subjects, including concerns about the NBA’s “bubble,” player feedback, and his level of optimism on the league’s expected return.
  • Clippers guard Patrick Beverley had a rather interesting take on whether the NBA should return, posting the following on social media. Hoopers say what y’all want. If @KingJames said he hooping. We all hooping. Not Personal only BUSINESS #StayWoke.” Beverley is part of a talented Clippers team seeking its first ever championship this year, with both the Clippers and the Lakers battling for bragging rights in Los Angeles.

L.A. Notes: Lakers, Green, Clippers, Morris

As the top-seeded team in the Western Conference when the NBA went on hiatus in March, the Lakers have a vested interest in what form the league will take upon its return this summer. With that in mind, Brett Dawson, Bill Oram, and Brian and Andy Kamenetzky of The Athletic explore how each of the proposed playoff formats would impact the Lakers and discuss which ones the team might favor.

The Athletic’s panel agrees that the Lakers, who are already losing home-court advantage – assuming the NBA resumes play in Orlando with no fans in attendance – would be opposed to a World Cup-style, play-in pool, which would increase the likelihood of a top team being knocked out early in the postseason.

However, The Athletic’s writers think L.A. would be all over the idea of reseeding the playoff teams one through 16, regardless of conference. In that scenario, the Lakers wouldn’t have to get past the Clippers to get to the NBA Finals — they’d instead be pitted against the Jazz or Rockets in round two and likely the Nuggets or Raptors in the semi-finals.

Here’s more on the NBA’s Los Angeles teams:

  • Lakers guard Danny Green has stayed busy during the NBA’s layoff in part due to his role as the team’s union representative, writes Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. It’s a responsibility Green takes seriously, having kept his teammates up to date on the latest discussions between the NBA and NBPA. “I care about the game of basketball and the next generation and want to make it better for them,” Green said of his NBPA role. “I’ll be, in the future, the old guy. It’s a fraternity you gotta make sure that it comes full circle where everybody is getting taken care of.”
  • Jovan Buha and John Hollinger of The Athletic dig into the Clippers‘ outlook beyond this season, with Hollinger arguing that retaining Marcus Morris should be a top priority for the club after surrendering a first-round pick for him at the trade deadline. The team also figures to try to re-sign Montrezl Harrell, though Hollinger notes that there are a number of potential center alternatives on the free agent market if the Clips get outbid for Harrell.
  • In case you missed it a few weeks ago, we previewed the Lakers‘ and Clippers‘ salary cap outlook for the 2020/21 season, taking a closer look at how much spending flexibility each team will have this offseason.

Pacific Notes: Kings, Cook, Warriors, Clippers

The Kings will place more than one third of their full-time workers on four-month furloughs beginning June 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee reports. The employees were informed in an email from President of Business Operations John Rinehart.  The furloughs will impact approximately 100 workers but the front office, health and performance, and scouting/analytics staffs will not be affected.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers guard Quinn Cook detailed all the precautions being taken at the team’s practice facility after it was reopened. In an Instagram post relayed by The Los Angeles Times’ Tania Ganguli, Cook said even his shoes were not exempt. “We had to leave whatever we wore, whatever shoes and flip-flops we wore, we had to leave them outside,” he said. “We had to wash our hands as soon as we walk in the door. Once we get inside, all of our stuff is kind of right there on the court.” Cook and Devontae Cacok were the only two players to use the facility on Saturday, according to Ganguli. Veterans Jared Dudley and Danny Green were planning to use the facility on Monday.
  • Guards Derrick Rose, Tomas Satoransky and Reggie Bullock are among the guards the Warriors could target with their $17MM trade exception, Grant Liffmann of NBC Sports Bay Area opines. The Warriors obtained the large exception in the Andre Iguodala trade with Memphis last summer.
  • The Clippers’ workout plan during the stoppage of play should have them well-prepared whenever practices and games resume, as Jovan Buha of The Athletic details. The Clippers held weekly group workouts over Zoom as well as chats with famous athletes, along with creating personalized home workout rooms for each player. The organization ordered equipment to ensure each player could work out from home via video calls with individualized player-coaches and strength trainers.

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Pelinka, Bryant, Green

In a conference call today with reporters, LeBron James said he has been training four or five times each day during the shutdown and shooting with his children on his outdoor court, tweets Mark Medina of USA Today. James also addressed the wait for the league to start playing again, saying he understands that the health of safety of everyone involved comes first, but he’s strongly hoping the season can be completed (Twitter link).

“I don’t think I’ll be able to have any closure if we’re not able to finish the season,” he said.

James referred to the pandemic as “a roadblock for all of us” and “a test,” adds Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum Sportsnet (Twitter link). With the Lakers holding the West’s best record, they have extra motivation to resume the season, but James said he hasn’t spoken directly to commissioner Adam Silver about the situation.

“(In a perfect world), it would be with fans in the stands,” James said. “It just makes the game that much better.” (Twitter link).

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • General manager Rob Pelinka takes inspiration from Kobe Bryant while dealing with the pandemic and its effects on the team, writes Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register“He would always say that the trials of life are kind of when greatness is forged,” Pelinka said today during a Zoom call with reporters. “If you were on a knight’s journey with him and a huge fire-breathing dragon ended up in the pathway ahead, he would say, ‘OK, this is why this is good right now. We’re going to meet this challenge and here’s how we’re going to get around it and here’s how we’re going to defeat it.’ That was just his nature, that obstacles or hard times would lead somehow to growth, and I think that’s the way I’m going to look at 2020.”
  • The Lakers are also using Zoom, a videoconferencing service, to allow their players to work out together even though they can’t be in the same place, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. The strength and conditioning staff delivers fitness equipment to the players for workout sessions. “These guys just have a great chemistry of being together,” Pelinka said. “So they’ve tried to stay as connected as possible in the ways they can, working out together virtually.”
  • Danny Green said on his recent podcast that players will use “any means necessary … to try and salvage the season,” relays Scott Polacek of Bleacher Report“Right now we’re fighting,” Green said. “Most guys think that for sure we’re going to have a season, it’s just going to start later than we expected, and just trying to get the next season to be pushed back is not going to be as easy as people think it’s going to be.”