Johnathan Williams

Lakers Notes: Walton, Lue, Pelinka, Caruso

Luke Walton‘s fatal mistake with the Lakers was not insisting that everyone else defer to LeBron James, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Tyronn Lue, who won a title with LeBron in Cleveland and is considered among the top candidates to replace Walton in L.A., established a clear order when he took over for David Blatt in 2016. Lue demanded that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love set aside any individual agendas and let James run the show.

Walton never made similar demands after LeBron came to the Lakers, according to Vardon. He was fine with several players serving as the primary ball-handler and didn’t adjust the offense much to feature his new weapon.

“We had our system coming into training camp, and it was similar to the last few years,” former Lakers center Ivica Zubac said after being traded in February. “We all knew LeBron was the guy, but no, that’s not how it was. Luke wants to play fast and he said it right after camp started. I think we played the right way until LeBron got hurt, and then we just didn’t have enough to win.”

There’s more news from Los Angeles:

  • The Lakers haven’t contacted Lue about their coaching job yet, but he is in much better health now than when he had to take a leave of absence last season, Vardon adds. Lue has lost 35 pounds, changed his diet and works out twice a day.
  • GM Rob Pelinka will be in charge of the search for a new coach, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. That’s one more sign that Pelinka’s position with the organization is secure after the departure of team president Magic Johnson. The front office talked briefly to Walton’s representatives to see if they could work out an agreement to retain him as coach, Shelburne adds (Twitter link). However, discussions didn’t go very far.
  • Alex Caruso, Johnathan Williams and Jemerrio Jones may not return next season, but they provided an inspiring effort after the Lakers’ playoff hopes were extinguished, relays Kevin Ding of NBA.com. After making his NBA debut March 31, Jones thanked Walton after each game for giving him a chance to play. Caruso expressed similar gratitude to Walton and Pelinka in his exit interview on Wednesday. Caruso also credits South Bay Lakers president Joey Buss for helping him to land a two-way contract last season. “Might not be here now,” Caruso said. “It’s all butterfly effect getting to this point.”

Lakers Notes: Davis, James, Williams

The Lakers secured LeBron James this summer, which has led to speculation about which elite talents can potentially be paired with the four-time Most Valuable Player. Mark Heisler of the Orange County Register looks at Pelicans’ superstar Anthony Davis, who tops the Lakers’ wish list, according to Heisler.

Speculation of Davis’ possible desire to eventually land in L.A. was fueled when he fired his longtime agent to hire Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, who also represents James. For his part, the Chicago native downplayed the switch in representation means that he’s eyeing the Lakers. Instead, his focus is to be part of a winning culture.

“Winning definitely helps everything, helps with your legacy, helps be on the top of the list,” Davis said. “But going to the playoffs every three years doesn’t help my case.”

  • When the Lakers did sign James, the entire dynamic of the team’s on-court expectations changed. With a superstar of James’ caliber, expectations rise, attention is commanded, and every move is scrutinized. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports writes that the organization is still getting acclimated to the “LeBron Effect.” The team started 0-3 and it seemed that panic mode was all but the norm, but after two straight wins, that flurry of doubt has simmered, but with James around, this will be the culture to get used to.
  • Despite being waived by the Lakers, Johnathan Williams re-signed to a two-way pact and has made the most of his NBA opportunity. Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times look at Williams’ journey from college to the professional level and how he is fueled by the initial disappointment of being waived.
  • In our earlier edition of L.A. Notes, we looked at Lance Stephenson‘s early play for the Lakers, Luke Walton‘s fine and more.

Pacific Notes: J. Williams, Clippers, D. Jones

It has been an eventful month for Johnathan Williams, who participated in camp and the preseason with the Lakers, was waived, re-signed on a two-way contract, and played key minutes in the team’s third game of the season.

After racking up eight points, four rebounds, and three blocked shots in just 14 minutes during his NBA debut vs. San Antonio, the Lakers’ newest big man said he had to keep reminding himself how to handle the situation, as Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times relays. “Stay in the moment,” Williams said. “Just stay in the moment. Just stay locked in during the game. Just always stayed locked in when I’m on the bench.”

The Lakers don’t have a ton of reliable options at the five, so it will be interesting to see if Williams continues to be a part of the club’s rotation going forward — because NBA G League training camps are underway, the 45-day clock on his NBA service time will continue to run as long as he remains with the team.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Clippers head coach Doc Rivers believes he has “up to 11 guys” in his rotation who warrant end-of-game consideration, which is both a blessing and a curse. Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times takes a closer look at Rivers’ efforts to make the most of the club’s impressive depth.
  • After declining Kevon Looney‘s fourth-year rookie scale option last year at this time, the Warriors seem unlikely to go that same route with Damian Jones, says Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area. According to Shiller, it’s “probably” safe to assume that Golden State will exercise Jones’ $2.3MM team option for 2019/20 by next Wednesday’s deadline.
  • Kings head coach Dave Joerger thinks a stretch four like Nemanja Bjelica is a better fit alongside starting center Willie Cauley-Stein, which is why Marvin Bagley III is coming off the bench, per Jason Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). However, as Jones writes, Bagley continues to impress the franchise as he carves out a larger role in Sacramento.

Lakers Sign Johnathan Williams To Two-Way Deal

Less than 24 hours after their first game of the 2018/19 regular season, the Lakers have made a change to one of their two-way contract slots, announcing today in a press release that they’ve signed power forward Johnathan Williams and waived forward Travis Wear.

[RELATED: 2018/19 NBA Two-Way Contract Tracker]

Williams, who was in camp with the Lakers, averaged 6.8 PPG and 4.3 RPG in six preseason games (14.5 MPG) with the team. The Gonzaga product was released last Saturday by Los Angeles when the team initially cut its down roster down to the regular season limit, but didn’t remain a free agent for long.

As for Wear, the former UCLA standout has had multiple stints with the Lakers, appearing in 17 regular season contests for the franchise last season. The 28-year-old is a solid three-point shooter, having converted 36.4% of his three-point attempts in the NBA and 38.1% in the G League. The South Bay Lakers still hold Wear’s rights in the event he decides to return to the NBAGL, notes Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link).

It’s not clear if the Lakers envision an NBA role for Williams, but it’s worth noting that the team is fairly thin at the center position, with few viable options behind JaVale McGee. Williams could get a look at the five before reporting to South Bay.

Lakers Waive Johnathan Williams, Scott Machado

The Lakers officially announced that they have waived forward Johnathan Williams and guard Scott Machado, leaving the club with 16 players, including two two-way players, on what is likely their final regular season roster. Shams Charania of The Athletic first reported the news on Williams.

Williams, 23, went undrafted out of Gonzaga after averaging 13.5 PPG and 8.3 RPG during his senior season and earning first team All-WCC honors. He played for the Lakers’ during Summer League in Las Vegas before he signed with the club back in July.

Machado, 28, was looking for a return to the NBA after he appeared in six games for the Rockets during his rookie season in 2012/13. He spent last season with the South Bay Lakers, L.A.’s G League affiliate, where he may very well end up again this season alongside Williams.

Johnathan Williams Lands Camp Deal With Lakers

The Lakers have signed Johnathan Williams to a training camp contract, the team announced on its website. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, so it’s not certain if Williams will receive any guaranteed money.

Williams went undrafted out of Gonzaga after averaging 13.5 PPG and 8.3 RPG during his senior season and earning first team All-WCC honors. He played for the Lakers’ entry in the Las Vegas Summer League, putting up 4.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per night in seven games.

Williams is the third training camp signing for the Lakers this week, joining Joel Berry and Jeffrey Carroll. L.A. now has 19 players headed to camp with one spot still open.

Draft Notes: R. Williams, Nuggets, Clips, Wizards

Texas A&M center Robert Williams, who previously worked out for the Bulls, Hornets, and Knicks, continues to earn looks from teams picking in the top half of the first round. According to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News (Twitter link), Williams still has workouts on tap with the Clippers, Nuggets, Wizards, who hold the picks from 12 through 15.

Williams’ session with the Nuggets will take place today, according to a press release from the club. In addition to scheduling an individual session with Williams, Denver has also lined up a group workout which will feature Hayden Dalton (Wyoming), Jacob Evans (Cincinnati), Arnoldas Kulboka (Capo d’Orlando), Dzanan Musa (Cedevita), Ajdin Penava (Marshall), and Johnathan Williams (Gonzaga).

Meanwhile, the Bucks – who hold the No. 17 selection – also wanted to bring in Williams for a workout, but he expects to be off the board before Milwaukee picks and has passed on the team’s invitation, per Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times. According to Woelfel, Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith, another good bet to be drafted in the top 16, also won’t work out for the Bucks.

Here’s more on the 2018 NBA draft:

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Gordon, Wizards

The Hawks will host another pre-draft workout tomorrow morning with six participants, per an official release from the team. The headliners include Bruce Brown from Miami and De’Anthony Melton from USC.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has Brown being selected by the Knicks in the second round at No. 36 overall in his current mock draft, while he has Melton going in the first round at No. 25 overall to the Lakers. The Hawks select at No. 3, 19, 30, and 34.

In addition to Brown and Melton, the Hawks will host Thon Maker‘s younger brother Matur Maker, Cameron Reynolds (Tulane), Yuta Watanabe (George Washington), and Johnathan Williams (Gonzaga).

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • As reported by John and Hugh of 92.9 The GameHawks’ GM Travis Schlenk is confident that he knows who Phoenix is planning to take at No. 1, meaning the team need only concern itself with Sacramento’s decision. Per Schlenk, the Hawks are down to “three or four guys” who they are contemplating taking with the No. 3 selection, but they are also open to trading back.
  • The Magic, armed with a new and experienced head coach in Steve Clifford, are turning their focus to the draft and free agency, analyzes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Most importantly, the team must decide what its plan is with the impending restricted free agency of forward Aaron Gordon. Marks opines that the Magic should sign Gordon as a future tradeable asset, if nothing else.
  • Candace Buckner of The Washington Post takes a look at the options the Wizards are thinking about with the No. 15 pick in this month’s NBA Draft. Three prospects that Buckner specifically mentions are point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, shooting guard Lonnie Walker IV, and big man Robert Williams.

Draft Decisions: McDaniels, Cody & Caleb Martin

Forward Jalen McDaniels will return to San Diego State for his sophomore season, tweets Jeff Goodman of ESPN. McDaniels is part of a crop of late decision makers who waited until shortly before tonight’s deadline of 11:59pm Eastern to announce whether they are staying in the draft.

“After thoughtful consideration with my family and coaching staff, I have decided to return to San Diego State for my sophomore year.” McDaniels posted on Twitter“I’m looking forward to furthering my education and returning to the NCAA Tournament. Go Aztecs!”

McDaniels averaged 10.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in his first year at San Diego State. He held workouts with Cavaliers, ClippersTimberwolvesJazz, Warriors, CelticsNets, Hawks, Bucks, Spurs and Bulls, according to Mark Zeigler of The San Diego Union-Tribune.

In another significant last-minute decision, Nevada stars Cody Martin and Caleb Martin will both return to school, tweets Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. Cody is ranked 90th and Caleb is 91st in the list of top 100 prospects compiled by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, but Jeff Goodman of ESPN suggests the Wolf Pack could be a top 10 team next season with both staying (Twitter link).

There’s also news to pass along on pre-draft workouts:

East Draft Notes: Wizards, Raptors, Bulls, Magic, Nets

UCLA point guard Aaron Holiday heads the list of six players the Wizards will work out on Wednesday, according to the team’s website. Holiday is ranked No. 17 by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. He will be joined by two Kansas guards, Devonte’ Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, along with forwards Johnathan Williams (Gonzaga), Moritz Wagner (Michigan) and Zach Thomas (Bucknell).

In other draft news regarding Eastern Conference teams: