Josh Hart

Pelicans Notes: Hart, Ball, Ingram, Melli

Josh Hart spoke with EVP of basketball operations David Griffin shortly after the Anthony Davis, pleading with the executive not to trade him, as he wanted to play for the Pelicans. During a press conference today that introduced Hart, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, Griffin said that it “meant a lot” to the team to have players who were “equally committed” to the franchise.

“We’re deep with selfless winners,” Griffin said (via Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register). “We’re deep with selfless high-character guys who wanna play any role they need to.”

Rival teams have called the Pelicans about all three former Lakers, according to Griffin, but the franchise has turned down inquiries for each player. The front office feels the trio can be part of the team’s future.

Here’s more from New Orleans:

  • Ball said it was “tough” dealing with trade rumors last season but he learned to deal with those distractions and others while playing in Los Angeles, Will Guillory of The Athletic relays on Twitter. Ball added that he’s excited to get back to playing the style of basketball he’s accustomed to.
  • Ingram said he is “pretty close” to resuming regular basketball activities, as ESPN relays. Ingram is recovering from surgery on his right arm that was performed to address a blood clot. Ingram added that he hasn’t played basketball since March. “I’m eager to pick up a basketball,” the forward added (via Guillory’s Twitter feed).
  • Nicolo Melli, who signed with the Pelicans this offseason, underwent knee surgery this offseason, Emiliano Carchia of Sportnado passes along. Melli agreed to sign with New Orleans via the room exception.

Lakers Officially Acquire Anthony Davis In Three-Team Trade

The Lakers, Pelicans, and Wizards have officially completed the three-team trade that makes Anthony Davis a Laker. All three teams issued press releases tonight to announce the deal. The structure of the trade is as follows:

  • Lakers acquire Anthony Davis.
  • Pelicans acquire Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, the draft rights to De’Andre Hunter (No. 4 pick), the Lakers’ 2021 first-round pick (9-30 protected; unprotected in 2022), the Lakers’ 2024 first-round pick (unprotected), the right to swap 2023 first-round picks with the Lakers, and cash ($1.1MM; from Wizards).
    • Note: The Pelicans will also have the option to defer the 2024 first-round pick to 2025.
  • Wizards acquire Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga, Jemerrio Jones, and the Lakers’ 2022 second-round pick.

The long-awaited deal was held up slightly today as the Lakers officially finalized a series of signings using their cap room. In order to maximize its cap space, the club had to sign free agents first before acquiring Davis. Danny Green, DeMarcus Cousins, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Quinn Cook, and JaVale McGee all signed their contracts with the Lakers since the July moratorium ended this afternoon.

The Pelicans, meanwhile, will now flip the rights to Hunter to the Hawks in a separate deal, putting the No. 4 pick on track to join his new team for Summer League action. Once the deal is done, Atlanta will also be able to complete its trade with the Sixers involving Bruno Fernando and Jordan Bone, then Philadelphia will be able to flip Bone to the Pistons.

For more details on one of the summer’s biggest trades, be sure to check out our previous stories on the Lakers/Pelicans aspect of the deal, as well as the Lakers/Wizards part of the swap.

Davis Deal Could Be Delayed If Leonard Remains Undecided

The Anthony Davis trade could be delayed if Kawhi Leonard doesn’t choose a team by noon ET on Saturday, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk and Bobby Marks report.

The complex, four-way series of deals involving the Lakers, Pelicans, Hawks and Wizards can become official Saturday. The Lakers would lose their ability to give Leonard a max contract if any of the other teams involved decline to delay the trade. However, those teams are expected to cooperate, according to Marks.

The Lakers and Pelicans agreed on the initial trade in which Los Angeles sent Lonzo BallBrandon IngramJosh Hart and three first-round picks to New Orleans for Davis. Los Angeles opened up a $32MM salary slot by agreeing to ship Moritz WagnerIsaac BongaJemerrio Jones and a 2022 second-round pick to Washington, which sent cash to New Orleans. Davis also agreed to waive his $4MM trade kicker.

New Orleans and Atlanta made a big draft-night swap as an offshoot of the Davis trade. New Orleans agreed to move the No. 4 overall pick, forward De’Andre Hunter, they received from the Lakers as well as a late second-rounder along with Solomon Hill‘s contract to the Hawks for two first-rounders, center Jaxson Hayes and guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker, an early second-round pick and a first-rounder next year.

Without the delay, the Lakers could only offer Leonard a four-year, $127MM contract — $11MM less than the max over the life of the deal.

Leonard’s indecision also may cause some other delays.

The Pelicans won’t be able to sign free agent guard J.J. Redick until the Hill trade is finished. Hill is ticketed to the Grizzlies in another trade once the Davis deal is completed. The rookies involved in those proposed transactions, as well as the three young players headed to the Wizards, aren’t allowed to play summer league ball until everything is finalized.

Lakers Notes: Johnson, Hart, Summer League, Offseason

Former Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson expects the new LeBron JamesAnthony Davis pairing to be successful, he said this week at the 2019 BET Experience Genius Talks, as relayed by Alexis Mansanarez of Sporting News.

“LeBron is still, you know, the best in basketball,” Johnson said. “And I think that when you put another superstar with him, an Anthony Davis, both of them will allow each other now to really play their game and dominate, because what happens, the floor will open up.

“And LeBron is such an incredible passer and driver, and he always makes his teammate better. So look for Anthony really to have probably one of his greatest seasons.”

Johnson resigned from his position toward the end of the 2018/19 season, but remains a strong supporter of the team he spent his entire playing career with.

Los Angeles traded away a major haul to acquire Davis from New Orleans: Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks. With general manager Rob Pelinka taking over the day-to-day duties in Johnson’s absence, the team must now work to effectively fill the holes around Davis and James entering the 2019/20 season.

Here are some other notes out of Los Angeles tonight:

  • Former Lakers guard Josh Hart bid farewell to the team on social media after he was traded to New Orleans. “I want to thank the Laker organization, Jeanie Buss & Magic Johnson for taking a chance on me & believing in me,” Hart wrote. “To my teammates thank you for teaching me how to play & grow in this league. To the fans….THANK YOU! Thank you for embracing me and for supporting me through all the ups and downs! One of the best fan bases in the league. It was a dream come true to wear the purple and gold! It’s always love on this side but now N.O ‘Let’s dance.'”
  • Free agents Joe Young and Dakota Mathias have committed to playing summer league with the Lakers, Jonathon Givony of DraftExpress reports (Twitter link). Los Angeles opens summer league play on July 5 against Chicago.
  • Ameer Tyree of Sporting News outlines three things the team needs to add in order to be successful next season. Among the improvements needed is more outside shooting, a category the team lacked in this past season.

More On Anthony Davis-To-Lakers Trade Agreement

Just days after the NBA Finals and less than a week before the annual draft, the Pelicans and Lakers shook up the basketball world with one of the biggest blockbusters in league history. New Orleans agreed to trade disgruntled superstar Anthony Davis to the Lakers for guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, forward Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft.

We have more details and developments regarding the trade, which can’t be made official until next month.

  • The other two first-rounders the Pelicans will receive are a 9-30 protected pick in 2021 – which subsequently becomes unprotected in 2022 – and an unprotected pick in 2024. New Orleans will also have the right to swap unprotected first-rounders in 2o23 and will have the option to defer the 2024 pick until 2025, according to reports from Tim Bontemps of ESPN and Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter links).
  • The Pelicans are already receiving significant interest in the fourth overall pick, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.
  • Ingram is expected to get back on the court next month and be ready for training camp, according to Wojnarowski. He did not play after March 2 due to a blood clot in his right shoulder.
  • ESPN Jonathan Givony updated his mock draft in the aftermath of the deal, with Texas Tech shooting guard  Jarrett Culver going to New Orleans at No. 4, Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland heading to the Cavaliers at No. 5, North Carolina shooting guard  Coby White ticketed to the Suns at No. 6 and Virginia power forward  De’Andre Hunter winding up with the Bulls at No. 7 (Twitter link).
  • Former Lakers president Magic Johnson, who called GM Rob Pelinka a backstabber in a recent TV interview, praised his former front office partner after the deal. Johnson tweeted, “Great trade Rob Pelinka! Job well done.”
  • The Celtics’ chances of re-signing free-agent-to-be Kyrie Irving took a major hit with Davis heading to L.A. instead of Boston, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated tweets.
  • New Orleans will have $18.8MM in cap space after the trade is finalized, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.
  • LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s outspoken father, called the trade “the worst move the Lakers ever did in their life” and guarantees they won’t win another championship, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets.

Pelicans Agree To Trade Anthony Davis To Lakers

The Pelicans have reached an agreement to trade All-Star big man Anthony Davis to the Lakers for guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, forward Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

The rest of the Pelicans’ haul includes a 9-30 protected first-rounder in 2021, which becomes unprotected in 2022, and an unprotected first-rounder in 2024.

New Orleans will also have the right to swap unprotected first-rounders in 2o23 and will have the option to defer the 2024 pick until 2025, according to reports from Tim Bontemps of ESPN and Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter links).

[UPDATE: Davis trade will become a three-team deal]

The Lakers immediately become championship contenders with Davis joining forces with LeBron James. Davis’ agent Rich Paul, also James’ agent, had tried to steer trade talks toward the Lakers over the winter after Davis’ desire to be traded was made public. But Davis didn’t get his wish at the time.

Paul and Davis recently met with the Pelicans’ new top executive, David Griffin, who tried to convince Davis to rescind his trade request. Davis declined and expressed his desire to play long-term for either the Lakers or Knicks.

GM Rob Pelinka, who has been under fire after criticism from former Lakers president Magic Johnson, pulled off a major coup by winning the Davis sweepstakes over the Knicks and Celtics, among others. Los Angeles gave up plenty in the deal but didn’t have to include another talented big man, Kyle Kuzma.

Davis could sign an extension with the Lakers but still intends to test free agency next summer, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.

The Lakers will have either $27.8MM or $32.5MM in cap room after the deal to pursue a high-level free agent, depending upon timing and Davis’ willingness to waive his $4MM trade bonus, ESPN salary cap expert Bobby Marks tweets.

The trade cannot be officially finalized until after the new league year begins in July. It may be even be completed as late as July 30 — newly-drafted players can be traded immediately without signing a rookie scale contract, but if they sign that contract, they aren’t eligible to be dealt for 30 days. Waiting those 30 days would be advantageous to the Lakers for cap-related reasons, as Marks notes (via Twitter).

The Lakers still don’t have quite enough cap room to max out a free agent like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker but they’re close to it, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Naturally, one of those free agents might take a little less to form a superstar trio in Los Angeles or the Lakers could make other moves to clear more cap room. Walker will be the Lakers’ top free agent target, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

Boston refused to part with its top young player, forward Jayson Tatum, in trade talks with the Pelicans, Stein add in another tweet. That put the Lakers in the driver’s seat for Davis’ services.

With Ball and Hart joining Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans have greatly enhanced their backcourt. They now have the No. 1 and No. 4 picks in Thursday’s draft. It’s a slam dunk they’ll select Duke forward Zion Williamson with the top pick and theyll get another high-level prospect, unless they have another trade in the works. Williamson and Ingram should be a formidable duo at the forward spots and the Pelicans can now concentrate on bringing in another big man to make all the other pieces work.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lakers Notes: Hart, Caldwell-Pope, LeBron, Culver

In a recent interview on Danny Green‘s podcast, Josh Hart said he felt that LeBron James and fellow Rich Paul client Kentavious Caldwell-Pope were the only untouchables when the Lakers tried to deal for Anthony Davis in February (hat tip to Christian Rivas of Silver Screen and Roll).

Caldwell-Pope had the equivalent of a no-trade clause because he signed back-to-back one-year contracts and would have lost his Bird rights with any team that dealt for him. Even so, Hart described the experience as disruptive.

“It was just different because guys feel like, ‘All right, we rocking together,’” Hart said. “Beginning of the year, we rocking together and then we had the injuries and A.D., who’s obviously with Klutch, so it’s like, ‘All right, we don’t know what’s going on with this one.’ So it’s just different.”

There’s more today from Los Angeles:

  • Former Celtics great Paul Pierce isn’t surprised that James’ first year in L.A. turned out poorly, telling Steve Bullpet of The Boston Herald that James chose the Lakers for reasons other than basketball. “Based on the roster, this was an after-basketball decision,” Pierce said. “They had an opportunity to make the team better, but based on how the team was when he went there, that wasn’t about basketball.” Pierce also claims that LeBron never fully won the acceptance of Lakers fans.
  • James was on hand to watch Jarrett Culver‘s pre-draft workout, tweets Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. Coming off a magnificent performance in the NCAA tournament, Culver is in the mix to be selected by the Lakers with their No. 4 pick. “He was just kind of sitting back and watching,” Culver said of James. “You know, you’ve got LeBron in the gym. That’s amazing to have as a young kid like me. After the workout, he just told me to keep working.”
  • More embarrassing stories continue to lower the public perception of the Lakers’ front office, writes Mark Heisler of The Orange County Register. This week’s look inside the organization by ESPN’s Baxter Holmes uncovered more charges of nepotism and cronyism, along with a picture of Magic Johnson as an abusive executive.

Lakers Rumors: Magic, Pelinka, R. Paul, L. Rambis, More

Shortly after Magic Johnson abruptly resigned as the Lakers‘ president of basketball operations in April, Sam Amick of The Athletic wrote about the “ESPN elephant in the room,” suggesting that there had been rumblings for much of the year that ESPN was working on a story that would be “extremely unflattering” for Johnson and would focus on his mistreatment of employees.

Johnson denied at the time that such a report had anything to do with his decision, admitting to reporters that he could be demanding, but insisting that he “never disrespected” anyone.

More than a month and a half after Johnson stepped down, it seems that ESPN report has finally surfaced. Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com published a fascinating, in-depth look at the Lakers today, citing team employees who said that Magic used “intimidation and bullying as a way of showing authority” during his two years as the head of basketball operations in L.A.

“He comes off to the fan base with the big love and the smile,” an ex-Lakers athletic training official told Holmes. “But he’s not — he’s a fear monger.”

Holmes’ many sources – which include several current and former Lakers staffers – described Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka as leaders who made major roster decisions unilaterally, berated staffers, and created a culture that marginalized many employees and generated fear among staffers — at least two employees suffered panic attacks, per Holmes.

“It’s f—-ng crazy over there,” one former Lakers star told confidants, according to Holmes.

Holmes’ story is packed with so many interesting details that it would be impossible to pass them all along without approaching his 6,000+ word count ourselves, so we recommend checking out the piece in full. Here are several of the highlights:

On Lakers’ roster moves:

  • Members of the basketball operations department and coaching staff told Holmes that Johnson and Pelinka completed many of last summer’s free agent signings after having sought little to no input from them. Some members of the organization learned about the moves through media reports.
  • “We all had the same reaction that the basketball world did, like what the f— are we doing?” one Lakers coaching staff member said, referring to a series of signings that included Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, and JaVale McGee. “Not only are we not getting shooting, but we’re also getting every basket-case left on the market.”
  • During the 2018 draft, the Lakers set up two “war rooms,” with Johnson and Pelinka in one and other front office executives and scouts in the second. Staff members in the second war room were anticipating the team would use its No. 25 pick on Villanova’s Omari Spellman, the top player left on their board. Instead, the club drafted Moritz Wagner, shocking scouts and other staff members, per Holmes.
  • Pelinka later told staffers that he had heard negatives about Spellman and spoke to Lakers player Josh Hart about them before deciding to pass on the Villanova forward. Some members of the organization told Holmes that the pick represented the kind of unilateral decision that the Lakers’ top executives made without looping in key figures who would typically be involved. “For him to covertly go to a player and go behind everybody’s else’s back, that’s the problem,” a coaching staff member said.

On Luke Walton and the head coaching search:

  • After being told by Johnson prior to the 2018/19 season not to worry if the Lakers got off to a slow start, Luke Walton was admonished by Magic two weeks into the season when the club had a 3-5 record. The Lakers’ head coach was confused about why the team had suddenly changed its message, but members of the staff later came to believe that LeBron James‘ agent Rich Paul played a role, as Holmes explains.
  • In November, Paul approached NBA commissioner Adam Silver at a lunch and complained about Walton, telling him that he believed Tyronn Lue – not Walton – was the right coach for the Lakers, sources tell Holmes. Paul also let it be known via back channels that he wasn’t pleased with Walton’s inconsistent lineups and his allotment of minutes, says Holmes.
  • After the Lakers moved on from Walton, they missed out on their top two head coaching targets – Lue and Monty Williams – before hiring Frank Vogel. Multiple staffers who spoke to Holmes said the process left the team in a state of “shock” and “confusion.”

On the Lakers’ handling of players:

  • Members of the organization had problems with the Lakers allowing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to continue playing during the 2017/18 season while he was serving a 25-day jail sentence for violating the terms of his DUI probation. The judge’s work-release rules allowed KCP to practice and play in-state games with the team, but staffers weren’t impressed with the decision, which they viewed as the Lakers trying to curry favor with agent Rich Paul, according to Holmes.
  • “Anybody [else] would have put him on personal leave or suspended him,” one coaching staff member said of the KCP decision, per Holmes. A front office executive added: “I had a major problem with that.”
  • Sources close to some specific Lakers players tell Holmes that those players’ trust in management had “all but evaporated” after the details of the team’s Anthony Davis proposals repeatedly leaked to reporters prior to the trade deadline. “Guys know there’s no trust there,” a Lakers coaching staff member told ESPN before the end of the season. “Guys know the new [administration] has completely bent over to the agent world and were overly sensitive to having these one-sided relationships with these guys where they kind of control our every move because we’re ‘big-game hunting.'”
  • Some players felt that LeBron was complicit in the handling of the Davis situation, given his connection to the Pelicans star through Paul, sources tell Holmes.

On Rob Pelinka:

  • Pelinka would often sit in on pregame and halftime coaches’ meetings, which is unusual for a GM, writes Holmes. “It’s weird from the player’s standpoint,” a coaching staff member told ESPN. “The players are not able to open up and speak freely, because you’ve got the guy in the room who supposedly controls your future, so why would you open up and be honest and confrontational when that might be what is required for that moment?”
  • Current and former staff members expressed serious concerns about Pelinka’s credibility and the flow of information in the franchise, says Holmes. “We think, more often than not, he’s not being truthful,” a coaching staff member said. “That goes throughout the organization.”
  • Despite the concerns about Pelinka, he has a strong backer in Linda Rambis, who has long been a major supporter and ally of the GM, according to Holmes. Rambis, a close friend of owner Jeanie Buss, has been referred to as the Lakers’ “shadow owner,” and one front office staffer says Rambis “loves” that role.

Lakers Notes: Butler, Vogel, Draft, Moser

Sixers forward Jimmy Butler wouldn’t hesitate to join the Lakers if they made a max offer, tweets Arash Markazi of The Los Angeles Times. Butler likes the idea of playing in L.A., and LeBron James has reportedly already reached out to gauge his interest.

Because Philadelphia owns Butler’s Bird rights, the Sixers can offer the 29-year-old a longer contract and larger annual raises than anyone else. However, Philadelphia has two other free agent starters to address in Tobias Harris and J.J. Redick, and there are durability concerns for Butler, who has topped 67 games in a season just once in the past six years. He played a combined 65 games this season for the Timberwolves and Sixers.

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • New coach Frank Vogel offers his first public comments on several players in a video tweeted by the team. Vogel calls Lonzo Ball “one of the most unique players I’ve ever studied” and said he wants Ball’s passing to serve as a blueprint for the whole team. He says “the sky’s the limit” for Brandon Ingram because of what he has accomplished at a young age. Vogel also shares his thoughts on James, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart.
  • The Lakers are believed to have strong interest in Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter and Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland with the No. 4 pick in next month’s draft, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. The fourth choice is believed to be the first spot of uncertainty in the draft after Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and R.J. Barrett are off the board.
  • Assistant coach Clay Moser has left the Lakers’ staff to take a job at Arkansas, according to Pete Roulier of HawgSports. Moser, who was with L.A. for seven and a half years, will be an assistant to long-time cohort Eric Musselman“Clay and I have worked together in the NBA, with the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings, and in the NBA Development League with the Reno Bighorns and Los Angeles Defenders,” Musselman said. “We also worked together with the Dominican National Team. Clay is an incredible ‘X and O’ coach and he has been at the forefront of basketball analytics. He loves player development and brings the NBA experience that our players look for and will soak up.”

Lakers’ Josh Hart Undergoes Knee Procedure

The Lakers will finish the season without Josh Hart, who had a procedure on his right knee patellar tendon today, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Doctors say Hart should be able to resume full basketball activities in 12 weeks.

This is the second operation of the month for Hart, who underwent surgery to fix a small fracture in his left hand in early March.

Hart played 67 games in his second NBA season after appearing in 63 as a rookie. He started 22 times and posted a 7.8/3.7/1.4 line for the year. He hasn’t played since logging 17 minutes against the Bucks on March 19.

The Lakers picked up Hart’s third-year option last fall, so he will return to the team next season at a salary of $1,934,160. L.A. has a team option on Hart worth nearly $3.5MM for 2020/21.