Josh Hart

Lakers Notes: Simmons, Hart, Ball, Zubac

The Lakers released a statement stating that the Sixers had sought their permission for floor leader Ben Simmons to speak with team president Magic Johnson, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. Philadelphia emailed the Lakers in November, according to the statement, asking if Simmons could speak with Johnson about his Hall of Fame career. Lakers GM Rob Pelinka subsequently told Sixers GM Elton Brand that Johnson could only do that with Philadelphia’s written pre-approval. That was the end of the matter, the release adds. The league has launched an investigation to determine if any communication between the parties violated league rules.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • Guard Josh Hart received a PRP injection to treat tendinitis in his right knee, according to a team press release. Hart will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break, the release adds. Hart didn’t play in blowout losses against Indiana and Philadelphia and only lasted eight scoreless minutes against Boston.
  • Lonzo Ball isn’t considered a defensive specialist but the Lakers have missed him at that end of the court, Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times notes. The Lakers’ defensive rating is the third-worst in the league in the nine games since Ball was sidelined by a severe ankle sprain. “He allows us to switch a lot,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “If they want to run any pick and roll minus the center, the 1-5 pick and roll, we can just switch it. And we feel confident Lonzo can guard most of the other players there. We have Lonzo picking up full-court the other team’s points guard. He’s great at instincts, getting deflections.”
  • Trading young center Ivica Zubac to the Clippers to ‘rent’ power forward Mike Muscala doesn’t make much sense, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report argues. Zubac could have been an inexpensive, long-term contributor for the Lakers, Pincus continues. He would have been a restricted free agent with a modest cap hold of $1.9 million. Muscala’s cap hold is $9.5MM and he might not be any more productive than Zubac would have been the rest of this season.
  • LeBron James claims the reason he drafted Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis for his All-Star team had nothing to do with recruiting, according to another Ganguli story. “That’s all part of the speculation that continues to drive our sport,” he said. “It’s all good and well and dandy, but for me I picked according to my draft board and I picked according to who was the best available.”

Latest On Anthony Davis

Some members of the Pelicans organization want to get the Anthony Davis trade done today to eliminate the public relations distraction, but those feelings don’t go all the way to the top, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). The NFL’s Saints remain the priority for owner Gayle Benson and VP Mickey Loomis, who aren’t bothered by the Davis situation.

There’s more news about the top name on the trade market:

  • The Lakers’ last offer to the Pelicans involved Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, Josh Hart and a pair of first-round picks, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. He suggests the Celtics are prepared to offer Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, Al Horford (assuming he opts in) and possibly three first-round picks this summer.
  • Davis will pressure the Pelicans to start playing him if he’s not dealt before the deadline, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (Twitter link). “Every game,” a source said. Davis has been sidelined with a fractured left index finger, but recently received medical clearance.
  • Gambadoro expects Davis to be in the lineup for tomorrow’s game against Minnesota (Twitter link).

Lakers Reportedly Pull Out Of Anthony Davis Trade Talks

The Lakers have pulled out of negotiations with the Pelicans about a trade for Anthony Davis, a source with knowledge of the situation tells Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. According to the source, the Lakers balked at New Orleans’ “outrageous” requests for Davis.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski follows up on Turner’s report, tweeting that the Lakers would be willing to re-engage with the Pelicans before Thursday’s trade deadline, but no longer want to bid against themselves. They’ll wait for New Orleans to make a counter-offer, per Wojnarowski, who calls the Lakers’ approach a negotiating tactic pushing the Pelicans to be more active in the process (Twitter link).

According to Turner, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson informed Pelicans GM Dell Demps on Tuesday that the team had made its best offer for Davis and would be moving on rather than continuing to add to that package.

Late on Monday night, the Lakers increased their offer for Davis once more, according to Turner, who says that the Lakers were willing to send their entire young core of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and Ivica Zubac to New Orleans. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and two first-round picks would also have been included in the swap, and the Lakers were willing to take on Solomon Hill‘s pricey multiyear contract, per the Times’ report.

While it’s hard to see how the Lakers could add much more to that offer, the Pelicans have reportedly sought four first-round picks and multiple second-round picks from L.A. as part of the package. The Lakers don’t intend to send six (or more) draft picks to the Pelicans, per Turner’s source.

“(The Pelicans) wanted more and more and more,” one source told Turner. “There was no more to give. They had cap relief with Hill being in the deal. But the more they wanted, the more it because outrageous and unrealistic.”

Reports we relayed earlier today suggested that the Pelicans felt they needed to be “overcompensated” to seriously consider sending Davis to the Lakers this week, since they think there will be more options available to them in the summer — particularly since the Celtics can enter the mix at that point.

The Pelicans also reportedly believe that the current Lakers offer will still be available in the offseason, though Turner notes that L.A. has indicated that won’t be the case. The Lakers don’t want to get into a bidding war with Boston in the offseason, according to Turner, who has previously suggested that the club may shift its focus to star free agents if it doesn’t acquire AD this week.

Turner adds that one person told him that New Orleans is hopeful that Davis will reverse course and recommit to the Pelicans if he remains on the roster through the deadline, though that seems pretty unlikely. According to Scott Kushner of The Advocate (Twitter link), multiple sources “strongly deny” that the Pelicans are still holding out hope for a long-term union with Davis.

In related news, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported this morning that Davis feels “healthy” following his finger injury and had hoped to return to action for the Pels on Monday night against Indiana, but the organization elected to keep him inactive. The All-Star big man almost certainly won’t suit up for New Orleans again until after the deadline, assuming he returns to the club at all.

Woj: Davis May Only Sign Extension With Lakers

League sources expect Anthony Davis and his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, to inform the rest of the league that he only plans to sign an extension with the Lakers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

That means Davis would be just a short-term rental for anyone else who tries to acquire him. He has a $28.75MM player option for the 2020/21 season and can become a free agent next summer.

The Pelicans won’t rush into a deal, Wojnarowski adds, writing that it will take an “overwhelming” offer to get Davis out of New Orleans before the February 7 trade deadline. The Lakers plan to try to reach that standard, with trade talks between the two teams expected to begin soon. L.A. is in position to offer a max contract in free agency this summer, but sources say the team would give that up to acquire Davis. The Lakers are willing to part with draft picks and some combination of young players Kyle KuzmaBrandon IngramJosh Hart and Lonzo Ball in their trade proposal.

The Celtics, who have been collecting assets in hopes of making a deal for a star, are reportedly among the teams willing to take the risk of trading for Davis without a guarantee of a long-term arrangement. Sources tell Wojnarowski that president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has been calling the Pelicans for more than a year to let them know of his interest in Davis. There is also a tight bond between Davis and Kyrie Irving, who would be virtually assured of re-signing in Boston if Davis becomes part of the team.

Although he doesn’t identify them, Wojnarowski adds that several other teams are considering a deal for Davis, even if it’s only for the rest of the season. They could use him to make a run at the title, then flip him for other assets this summer.

Lakers Notes: Ball, LeBron, Young Talent, B. Lopez

Lonzo Ball feared the worst when he collided with the Rockets’ James Ennis last Saturday, relays Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Ball wound up with a grade 3 left ankle sprain and a recovery time of four to six weeks, but he thought he had a broken bone as teammates carried him to the locker room.

“It happened kind of fast,” he said. “I remember my leg pretty much just going like that and kind of popping out.”

Ball made a bit of progress Friday, getting off crutches and shifting to a walking boot, and now plans to work in the weight room and engage in intensive film study as he prepares to return to the court. He laments the timing of the mishap, which came amid some of his best performances of the season, and the string of injuries that have affected the team in recent weeks.

“You’re asking people to play out of position. You’re asking people to play more minutes than usually they play. And we’ve never really had a full team for the whole year,” Ball said. “So hopefully after All-Star we can all come together and go on a nice little run.”

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • LeBron James went through contact drills in practice today for the first time since suffering a groin strain on Christmas, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. James’ agent, Rich Paul, said he could return to action now if needed, but is working his way back to being a dominating presence. L.A. is 5-10 since LeBron’s injury and has dropped to ninth place in the West.
  • The trade value of the Lakers’ young players has declined over the past six months, a Western Conference executive tells Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. Woike asked several league executives and scouts to evaluate Brandon Ingram, Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Ivica Zubac. They were split on Ingram or Kuzma as the most coveted, with mixed opinions on the other three.
  • The Lakers don’t have a center who can shoot 3-pointers to keep up with the league-wide trend, but they let one get away in Brook Lopez, Woike writes in a separate story. A move to the Bucks has turned Lopez into a dangerous 3-point weapon who is on pace to take more this season than he did in his previous eight years. He spent last season in L.A. before accepting a modest one-year, $3.382MM offer to go to Milwaukee.

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Kings, Divac, Carmelo

The Warriors’ decision on what to do with their open roster spot depends on which teams they view as their biggest threats, Anthony Slater of The Athletic opines. While GM Bob Myers recently stated that adding another big was a priority, that could change if small-ball teams like Houston, Boston and Toronto are viewed as the primary threats to another championship. It makes more sense for Golden State to obtain another big if Utah, Denver and Oklahoma City are viewed as potential stumbling blocks. A deadline deal is unlikely, so the buyout market is a more likely source for a roster addition, Slater continues. Atlanta’s Dewayne Dedmon is a name to watch on the buyout market if the Hawks are unable to deal him, Slater adds.

We have more from around the Pacific Division:

  • The Kings are in the market for a small forward with more size and a quality backup to point guard De’Aaron Fox, according to Jason Jones of The Athletic. The Kings have been linked to Washington’s Otto Porter but the Wizards don’t appear to be in sell mode, Jones continues.  Dallas’ Harrison Barnes, Orlando’s Jonathon Simmons and Atlanta’s Kent Bazemore are some of the other wings the Kings could pursue, while Atlanta’s Jeremy Lin would be a good fit at the point.
  • The perception of Kings GM Vlade Divac has changed dramatically for the better over the past two years, Marcos Breton of the Sacramento Bee points out. Divac was heavily criticized for the DeMarcus Cousins deal with New Orleans but it turned out Sacramento’s favor. The Kings have been one of the league’s surprise teams this season despite a modest payroll. “We’ve made a huge step forward and I’m very happy where we are now,” Divac told Breton. “We need to grow. We need time … (But) we’re not in a hurry. We’re going to go step by step.”
  • Carmelo Anthony would be a poor fit for the Lakers, according to Kevin Pelton of ESPN. Los Angeles has been mentioned as a possible destination if the agreed-upon deal between Houston and Chicago becomes official and the Bulls waive him. Anthony would be competing for limited minutes with Michael Beasley, who is a superior rebounder and more efficient scorer. He might also take minutes away from wing players Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Josh Hart, who are better 3-point shooters and defenders. They’re also more comfortable playing off the ball than Anthony.

O’Connor’s Latest: Ariza, Suns, Lakers, Love, Knicks

Earlier this morning, we relayed a report from Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer suggesting that the Jazz are among the teams with interest in Bulls forward Jabari Parker. O’Connor’s full article for The Ringer includes a number of other interesting tidbits worth passing along, so we’ll round up some of the highlights in the space below…

  • Many NBA executives expect it to be a quiet trade season in 2018/19, since there will be a ton of buyers and the sellers don’t have all that many attractive trade assets, says O’Connor.
  • After Friday’s three-team Trevor Ariza trade fell apart, the Lakers jumped back in by offering Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a second-round pick, but the Suns wanted a young player – likely Josh Hart – instead of the draft pick, according to O’Connor. The Lakers, as previously reported, refused to include Hart or any of their other top prospects.
  • One of the other variations of an Ariza deal that was discussed before the Suns sent him to the Wizards featured the Rockets and Hawks, league sources tell O’Connor. In that scenario, Ariza would have gone to the Lakers and the Rockets would have acquired Caldwell-Pope. The Suns would have received Jeremy Lin and an additional asset, while the Hawks got Brandon Knight and a first-round pick.
  • Reports have suggested that the Cavaliers don’t plan to trade Kevin Love unless they’re blown away by an offer. Even if that stance changes, front office executives don’t expect Cleveland to receive any viable offers for Love unless the big man looks healthy and productive before the deadline, O’Connor writes.
  • The Knicks‘ clearest path to a maximum-salary slot for the 2019 offseason would involve trading Courtney Lee or Tim Hardaway Jr. However, according to O’Connor, front office sources believe New York would need to attach an asset in order to move either player without taking back multiyear salary.

Pacific Notes: Ingram, Cousins, Bjelica

As the Lakers‘ young players continue to adjust to playing alongside LeBron James, Brandon Ingram has struggled to take the next step in his development. While others such as Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma have thrived this season, Ingram has taken a step back, averaging fewer points, rebounds and assists per game than last season — his efficiency has also taken a dip.

Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer explores the issues plaguing Ingram and the troubling fit he has with James. While Hart and Kuzma have more complementary skill sets, Ingram doesn’t have such a game as a result of his limited shooting and the fact that he thrives with the ball in his hands.

Tjarks explores the notion of the Lakers trading Ingram if they sense that they can make a run in a crowded Western Conference. It will be interesting to follow how Ingram continues to adapt his game alongside James or if it eventually spells the end of his Lakers tenure.

There’s more from the Pacific division:

Woj: Lakers Keeping Young Players To Pursue Anthony Davis

The Lakers refused to break up their young core to acquire Trevor Ariza from the Suns because they’re saving their assets for a run at Anthony Davis, NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski said today on ESPN (Hat tip to Real GM).

Davis will be eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension from the Pelicans next summer, which could pay him a record-setting $239.54MM over five seasons. However, if Davis decides not to accept that offer, he is guaranteed just one more season in New Orleans before his player option arrives in the summer of 2020.

The Lakers are among several teams preparing for that scenario, stockpiling as much young talent as they can to offer the Pelicans in a potential trade.

“Here’s the line they have to walk: they’re not going to give away picks and their top young players in some deal that makes them incrementally better this season,” Wojnarowski said, “because they have to save all those assets for Anthony Davis, a big trade this summer either pre or post free agency.”

L.A. has been careful about preserving cap room for next season to be able to make a max offer in a talented free agent class that will include Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson and several other stars. The pursuit of Davis won’t affect that plan, according to Wojnarowski.

“The absolute dream scenario, people talk about (how) they can trade for Anthony Davis or sign a free agent,” he said. “The dream scenario is they do both.”

ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who co-hosted the show with Wojnarowski, explained that the Lakers plan to take a shot at free agency first, then will try to swing a deal for Davis. If it works, that could produce a Big Three that would eclipse what LeBron James had in Miami or Cleveland.

Assuming none of them are traded away during the season, L.A. will have Lonzo Ball ($8.72MM for next year), Brandon Ingram ($7.27MM), Kyle Kuzma ($1.97MM) and Josh Hart ($1.93MM) available to offer in a potential deal for Davis.

Lakers Won’t Give Up Top Young Players For Ariza

The Lakers have made four key young players unavailable in their pursuit of wing Trevor Ariza, Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times tweets. The team will not include Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma or Josh Hart in a potential trade, according to Turner. The Suns turned down a three-team proposal, Turner adds.

The Lakers’ keen interest in working out a deal with the Suns for Ariza, an unrestricted free agent after the season, surfaced in an ESPN report over the weekend. That report indicated Phoenix was seeking playmaking guard, presumably either Ball or Hart, and a draft asset.

Los Angeles has plenty of competition for Ariza as at least eight teams have reached out to Phoenix. Ariza can’t be traded until Saturday, when restrictions on trading players who signed free agent contracts this summer are lifted. Ariza inked a one-year, $15MM contract with the Suns after being a key member of the Rockets last season.

He is averaging 9.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG and 3.3 APG in 33.9 MPG this season for the floundering Suns.

Acquiring Ariza would not only help the Lakers in the short run, his expiring contract would also give them more flexibility in the summer when they pursue top-tier free agents.

Sources confirmed to Turner that the Rockets called about Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s availability two weeks ago but no trade is imminent. A report from The Athletic on Wednesday revealed the Rockets were trying to put together a multi-team trade to acquire the Lakers’ shooting guard, who has veto power over any deal.