Julius Randle

Pacific Notes: Ball, Randle, Reed, Williams

Before he even suits up for a regular season game with the Lakers, Lonzo Ball has already made an impact on the team, J.A. Adande of ESPN writes. The scribe notes that the Lakers just sold the rest of its season ticket inventory and a recent season ticket viewing open house — which only yielded 175 sales last season — sold over 600 available seats for next season.

Ball certainly made an impression in the Las Vegas Summer League, taking home Most Valuable Player honors and generating headlines by simply wearing different brands of sneakers. Also, Adande notes that five summer league contests that generated the highest ratings were Lakers games. Despite being just 19 years old, Ball has become a polarizing figure and, in the early stages, living up to the hype generated by his outspoken father, LaVar Ball.

It will not be an easy feat to secure Rookie of the Year honors, or speak his father’s words of bringing the Lakers to the playoffs in 2017/18 into existence. However, playing a city and for a team that prides itself on Showtime, Ball has given the organization and its fans something to get excited about.

Here are additional notes from around the Pacific Division:

  • Julius Randle is entering his fourth NBA season and coming off a season where he averaged 13.2 PPG and 8.6 RPG in 74 contests. Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News writes that Randle is hoping to find improvement next season after altering his conditioning program and trimming down his body weight.
  • The Clippers signed Willie Reed to a team-friendly one-year, $1.5MM deal and he’s happy to be with the team, Basketball Insiders’ Cody Taylor writes. Blake Griffin and Patrick Beverley were among the teammates to welcome Reed to L.A. and he’s excited to begin playing with the club.
  • Alan Williams has parlayed a lack of college interest, international play, and shoddy NBA workouts into a three-year, $17MM deal with the Suns. As Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports writes, Williams is grateful to have both cashed in with the deal and remained with the team he rooted for as a kid.
  • Speaking of Williams, the Suns’ cap space after the signing is $6.3MM though the team also owns a $12.1MM hold on 24-year-old international talent Alex Len, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter).

Lakers, Pacers Engage On Paul George Talks

8:40pm: The Lakers engaged the Kings on a potential trade that would have involved the No. 2 pick going to Sacramento in exchange for Nos. 5 and 10, reports TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter links). According to Aldridge, the Lakers’ goal was to package one of those Kings’ picks with one of the Lakers’ late first-rounders and a player in an effort to get George. However, the Kings turned them down.

Meanwhile, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter links) hears that the Lakers and Pacers are currently at a “standstill” in their talks, though it remains “highly likely” that Indiana will move George this week.

6:11pm: In the wake of their trade agreement with the Nets, the Lakers have offered the Pacers either Jordan Clarkson or Julius Randle along with the No. 27 and No. 28 picks in exchange for George, according to Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). ESPN’s Marc Stein also reported the details of that package (via Twitter).

1:56pm: The Lakers and Pacers have engaged on trade talks for Paul George, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne. No deal is imminent at this point.

Los Angeles is considered George’s likely destination in 2018, raising questions about how aggressive the Lakers would be on the trade market for him. If the Lakers expect George to sign with them as a free agent a year from now, there would be little reason for the club to pursue him now and give up key assets to land him. However, it appears the Lakers are at least kicking the tires on what it would take to acquire George and get him in the fold sooner rather than later.

As for what the Lakers may be willing to offer, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical suggested earlier this week that the club isn’t expected to put the No. 2 overall pick or Brandon Ingram on the table. Wojnarowski said that a combination of Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and the No. 28 pick might be the most the Lakers are open to giving up, though there’s no indication yet that those are the players being discussed by the two teams.

D’Angelo Russell is another player the Lakers could make available in George talks — ESPN’s Chad Ford reported (via Twitter) that the team may be dangling Russell in an effort to pick up another lottery pick. However, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders suggests (via Twitter) that’s not accurate, noting that Russell and George share an agent, who would likely prefer to see his two clients together in L.A. (Twitter link) — Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link) confirms as much. For what it’s worth, Randle is an Aaron Mintz client as well.

If the Lakers and Pacers make a serious effort to work out a deal, don’t expect Luol Deng or Timofey Mozgov to be involved. The Lakers are resisting that sort of salary dump at this point, since it would cost them draft picks or a young player, tweets Wojnarowski. Pincus adds (via Twitter) that removing Deng and/or Mozgov from the Lakers’ cap likely won’t become a priority until 2018, when the team goes after free agents.

While the Lakers are George’s preferred destination, a number of teams are reportedly exploring the possibility of landing the star forward, even as a one-year rental. The Clippers, Cavaliers, and Rockets have been cited as possible trade partners for Indiana, and according to Amico Hoops, the Wizards are also investigating the possibility of a deal.

Woj’s Latest: Pacers, George, Lakers, Knicks

Before Paul George‘s camp informed the Pacers that George expects to opt out and leave Indiana next year, the team had been considering pursuing some notable free agents, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. On his latest podcast with Bobby Marks, Wojnarowski identifies point guard Jrue Holiday and forward Danilo Gallinari as a pair of veterans being eyed by the Pacers.

However, according to Wojnarowski, George didn’t want the Pacers to make major moves for his benefit this offseason, locking themselves into big free agent contracts in the hopes that he would be willing to re-sign. With George’s days in Indiana now numbered, the club will likely forgo its potential pursuit of free agents like Holiday and Gallinari.

Here are some more highlights from Wojnarowski’s conversation with Marks, which centered on George but touched on a few other topics as well:

  • Although Larry Bird is no longer the Pacers‘ president, he’s still a consultant for the team, and he likely wants to avoid sending George to his old rivals in Los Angeles for pennies on the dollar, Wojnarowski observes. Still, Wojnarowski and Marks don’t expect George’s camp to help accommodate a trade to any team besides the Lakers, since the star forward may simply prefer to stay with the Pacers for one more season rather than being sent to a team he’ll likely leave in a year.
  • The Lakers won’t offer Brandon Ingram or the No. 2 overall pick in a package for George, according to Wojnarowski, who predicts that L.A. wouldn’t offer the Pacers more than some combination of Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and the No. 28 pick.
  • As the Lakers look ahead to the 2018 offseason, which could see them going after top free agents like George and LeBron James, they’ll want to clear Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng from their books. However, Wojnarowski says the only way that will happen is if the club is willing to attach a first-round pick or a talented young player like D’Angelo Russell to one of those bad contracts. Using the stretch provision on the duo in the summer of 2018 probably makes more sense for L.A.
  • In Wojnarowski’s view, the door was open for the Knicks to be in the Chris Paul discussion this summer, since there’s no perfect fit for CP3 if he wants to leave the Clippers. In theory, the Knicks could have been that fit, but with Phil Jackson and the triangle around, nobody is talking about wanting to play in New York, says Woj.
  • Continuing his discussion of the Knicks, Wojnarowski suggests that Jackson’s treatment of Carmelo Anthony has soured many veterans on New York. In particular, Anthony’s friends like Paul, LeBron, and Dwyane Wade view Carmelo’s situation as a cautionary tale, and that view seems to be widely shared around the NBA.

Lakers Rumors: Ball, Russell, Randle, LeBron

ESPN’s Chad Ford reported earlier today that sources believe the Lakers moved “closer and closer” over the weekend to making Lonzo Ball their pick at No. 2, Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report shares a similar sentiment in his latest column. According to Ding, the Lakers are “nearing a final decision” to use the second overall pick on Ball.

Team sources tell Ding that there are still some additional discussions and final planning that will take place before the Lakers are on the clock on Thursday, but Ball’s second pre-draft meeting with the club on Friday was a productive one. An “appreciation for Ball’s all-around upside” has emerged within the Lakers in recent weeks, according to Ding.

Here are a few more Lakers-related notes and rumors:

  • There are ongoing questions within the Lakers’ organization about how D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle take criticism, team sources tell Ding within the article linked above. Neither player advanced as far in 2016/17 as Luke Walton had hoped, according to Ding, who says Russell was “inconsistent with his professionalism” while Randle “often lost messages given to him if they were delivered harshly.”
  • Trading Jordan Clarkson for a current or future draft pick would make “a ton of sense” for the Lakers, given their desire to continue stockpiling assets and maintaining cap flexibility, says Ding. Clarkson is rumored to be on the trade block.
  • Ding also touches on the LeBron James rumors that have surfaced within the last week or two, citing sources who say that James’ wife would like to live in Los Angeles full-time. Multiple recent reports have suggested that LeBron opting out and joining one of the L.A. teams in 2018 is a possibility.
  • League sources tell Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link) that the Lakers have expressed no interest in trading the No. 2 overall pick at this juncture. We heard last week that L.A. was “taking and making calls” related to that selection, but it seems those calls may not be happening anymore.
  • Mark Medina of The Orange County Reigster spoke to former Gonzaga big man Zach Collins following his Monday workout with the Lakers, suggesting that Collins will likely only be on L.A.’s radar if the team makes a trade. We heard this morning that the Lakers may be trying to acquire a second lottery pick.

Clippers Express Interest In Paul George

The Clippers have expressed interest in Paul George, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. For Los Angeles to be a serious contender in the George sweepstakes, the Pacers would likely have to be willing to wait until July to finalize a trade.

As Deveney writes, the Clippers’ best chance to make a trade involving a highly-paid player like George would involve signing-and-trading one of their top free agents. While Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will be among those free agents, the Clips’ dream scenario would likely be using another UFA, J.J. Redick, in a sign-and-trade, then forming a Big Four with Paul, Griffin, George, and DeAndre Jordan.

That scenario is probably a long shot, since the Clippers don’t have first-round picks in 2017 or 2019, and acquiring Redick on an expensive new deal may not appeal to Indiana. But if any team besides the Lakers should feel confident in its ability to lock up George beyond 2018, the Clippers might might be that team, given their ability to get PG13 to his preferred city.

Here are several more George rumors or notes, in the wake of Sunday’s report that he plans on leaving the Pacers:

  • The Cavaliers and Pacers have been immersed in trade talks regarding George, league sources tell Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net. According to Amico, Cleveland’s interest in George has been described as “legit,” but pulling off a deal could be “very complicated.”
  • Two NBA sources who spoke to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (Twitter link) expect the Lakers to get involved in George trade talks if it appears the Cavaliers are moving close to a deal. However, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links) is skeptical that the Lakers would move young players like D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle for George, suggesting that Jordan Clarkson is a more likely trade candidate. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports that the Lakers currently appear unwilling to part with any of their young assets in a trade with the Pacers.
  • The Rockets are worth keeping an eye on in the George sweepstakes, according to Sean Deveney, who observes that Daryl Morey is generally willing to roll the dice on impact players without getting a long-term commitment.
  • The Heat like George, but – given their lack of tradeable first-round picks – probably don’t have the assets to acquire him, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Lakers Notes: George, Ball, Russell, Workout

The Lakers will have to unload some salary before next summer to offer Paul George a maximum contract, tweets Bobby Marks of The Vertical. George has informed the Pacers that he plans to opt out after next season and hopes to sign with L.A. The franchise would need roughly $30.6MM in cap room to fit in a full max deal for 2018/19, and right now there’s only about $15.6MM available (Twitter link). That number assumes they make both of their first-round picks this year and renounce all their free agents this summer and next summer except for Julius Randle.

To create more space, the Lakers would have to either renounce Randle, a valuable young talent, or trade one of their big-money contracts in Luol Deng ($18MM for 2018/19) Timofey Mozgov ($16MM) or Jordan Clarkson ($12.5MM), according to Marks (Twitter link). Another option is to use the stretch provision, which would amount to paying Deng $7.2MM and Mozgov $6.4MM over the next five years (Twitter link)

There’s more today out of Los Angeles:

  • The news about George makes the Lakers more likely to draft Lonzo Ball, tweets Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. The team is reportedly deciding between Ball and Kansas forward Josh Jackson, but the expected addition of George reduces the need for Jackson.
  • Immaturity remains a concern with incumbent point guard D’Angelo Russell, according to Mark Heisler of The Los Angeles Daily News. Russell, who might be moved to shooting guard if Ball is selected, doesn’t have point guard instincts after switching to the position during his single season at Ohio State. Heisler also shares concerns that Russell is partying too much and that coach Luke Walton has grown tired of the “post-adolescent” nature of the team.
  • Johnny Buss tells Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times that he lost his passion for owning the Lakers when his father Jerry died in 2013. Johnny Buss resigned as members of the board of directors during the season after a failed attempt to take over control of the team. “If anybody thought that Johnny or Jeanie or Jimmy or any of his kids could fill his shoes, they’re grandly mistaken,” Buss said. “He’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of person. So all we could do was try to stay together and do what he asked us to do and that was to make as much money as possible. Create a franchise that was worth billions.”
  • The Lakers will bring in six players Monday for a pre-draft workout, the team announced via Twitter. They are Gonzaga’s Zach Collins, Clemson’s Avry Holmes, Creighton’s Cole Huff, Cal-Irvine’s Luke Nelson, Columbia’s Luke Petrasek and Alabama-Huntsville’s Seab Webster.

Paul George Tells Pacers He Plans To Leave, Wants To Join Lakers

Paul George has told Pacers officials that he will leave the franchise when he becomes a free agent next summer and the Lakers are his preferred destination, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

George hasn’t asked the team for a trade, but said he wanted to be open with management about his plans. He had his agent, Aaron Mintz, break the news to Kevin Pritchard, Indiana’s new president of basketball operations.

George can opt out of his contract for next summer and sign a four-year deal worth $130MM with another organization. There have been rumors for months that George would head to L.A. to try to help his hometown Lakers become contenders again. Signing George would represent a coup for L.A.’s new management team of president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka as he would be the first significant free agent to join the Lakers in several years.

Wojnarowski notes that pressure is expected to increase on the Pacers to work out a trade with the Lakers to avoid losing George with no return. He mentions Julius Randle as a possibility, along with draft assets. The Lakers own the No. 2 pick in Thursday’s draft, but probably wouldn’t part with it for a player who will soon belong to them anyway.

George’s announcement limits the opportunity to trade him to other teams when they know he will likely leave for the Lakers next July.

League sources tell Wojnarowski that George no longer believes he can win a title in Indiana and sees a better shot in Los Angeles. The Pacers lost a major negotiating advantage when George failed to make an All-NBA team, taking away his eligibility for a five-year, $207MM contract under the Designated Player Veteran Exception.

Latest On Paul George And The Lakers

Paul George has been talking about playing for the Lakers for years, an anonymous former teammate tells Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News. The small forward never made his desire to play for Los Angeles a secret within the team’s locker room, according to George’s former Pacers teammate.

Lakers team president Magic Johnson will likely pursue George and look to build a title contender around him, sources tell Lawrence. Johnson alluded to such plans during a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Lawrence acknowledges that George is a tremendous talent but hears that his leadership ability is being questioned around the league. Rival teams noticed how George handled himself in the media following the team’s Game 1 loss where C.J. Miles took the last shot instead of passing it to George. “C.J. took it upon himself,” George said following the game. “I’m confident in all my guys taking shots, that’s not the issue. But in that situation like that, I’ve gotta get that.”

A star should want the ball at the end of the game, but taking issue with teammates through the media is not the way top players should lead. “He’s not a winner by saying that [stuff] in public,” one GM told Lawrence. “That’s no way to support a teammate, but that’s how Paul rolls.”

Those comments after Game 1, along with George’s statements about Lance Stephenson‘s body language, have irritated members of the Pacers organization, particularly coach Nate McMillan and team president Larry Bird.

Several NBA executives are under the belief that George’s unhappiness and public blaming of teammates is a result of the Pacers not surrounding him with the right pieces.  Lawrence believes the Lakers need to surround George with “strong-willed” veterans should they trade for him this year or sign him next summer. One GM told Lawrence that the Celtics would be a much better fit than the Lakers because of Boston’s personnel.

Lawrence speculates that the team could part with D’Angelo Russell and/or Julius Randle in a hypothetical trade for George. The scribe adds that Brandon Ingram may not be on the table due to his high ceiling.

George said publicly that he hasn’t yet made a decision on his future with Indiana. “I ain’t even at that point, yet,” George said. He can become a free agent next summer by turning down a player option, which is worth approximately $20.7MM.

Pacific Notes: Labissiere, Randle, Suns

The Kings have done a fine job giving their young big men an opportunity to develop this season, as Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee recounts. For 2016 28th overall pick Skal Labissiere, the opportunities let him show all the teams that passed on him what they’re missing.

Sparsely used in the first three months of the season as the Kings flirted with the idea of the competing for the postseason, Labissiere has seen more time on the court as the year has progressed. In three April games, the 21-year-old has played 29.0 minutes per.

I’m feeling a little more comfortable out there,” the Kings center said. “It’s me learning at my own pace, not getting rushed, learning how to see things on the court. […] I’m nowhere near [physically] where I want to be. But this should be a fun summer. Lots of time with the weights, and working on all aspects of my game.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • It’s harder to deny the appeal of tanking when your draft picks are tied up in previously negotiated trades. Such was the case when the Lakers and Kings met Friday, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports. The Lakers had incentive to lose in order to keep their top-3 protected pick. The Kings had incentive to lose to keep their top-10 protected pick. (The Lakers won).
  • The Suns have undergone an extensive evaluation period over the course of the final months of the regular season. Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic takes a thorough look at what we’ve been able to learn from it.
  • Count Kentucky head coach John Calipari among Julius Randle‘s biggest supporters, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News writes. Calipari recently spoke with Lakers coach Luke Walton about the forward. “If you can just get a bunch of guys that will fight every possession, you’re winning,” Calipari told Walton. “The dude is going to fight.

Lakers Notes: Silver, Buss Fallout, Upcoming Draft

NBA commissioner Adam Silver echoed the sentiments of Lakers fans, telling Ramona Shelburne of ESPN that he is “pleased that this matter [Buss family struggle for ownership] has been resolved.” Earlier today, Jeanie Buss and her brothers, Jim and Johnny, agreed that Jeanie would serve as controlling owner, and on the team’s board of directors as long as the family owns the franchise.

Silver continued, lauding Jeanie as a logical choice to lead the team.

“Jeanie is as knowledgeable and experienced as any owner in sports and the Lakers are in great hands,” said Silver (Twitter link).

More from the Lakers…

  • Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times discussed the Lakers’ strategy now that Jeanie Buss has been confirmed as the team’s head of operations. “This is also where Jeanie Buss will first show her basketball grit,” Plaschke writes. “Is she willing to sign off on the trading of some of the recent high draft picks who everyone thought would be saviors? It’s clear that D’Angelo Russell would be better off elsewhere, and Julius Randle may have more value in a trade, and maybe even Brandon Ingram should not be safe.” Plaschke also wonders if Jeanie would pass on Lonzo Ball in the draft; an “obvious and popular choice,” in favor of Josh Jackson, Markelle Fultz, or De’Aaron Fox.
  • Mark Heisler of the O.C. Register reflected on Shaquille O’Neal’s legacy- Shaq’s statue was unveiled last week- before musing on the Lakers’ future. While Magic Johnson seems to think highly of Lonzo Ball- attending his Sweet 16 loss over Shaq’s ceremony- Heisler wonders if Ball’s stock  has been diminished in the tournament. Josh Jackson of Kansas, Heisler writes, may have become the consensus No. 2 pick in the upcoming draft with his March Madness performance. “Ball is hard to project, even aside from his defense, which everyone knows is a problem,” Heisler writes. “Gifted young playmaker that he is, a UCLA insider told me he had been trying to figure out how much of what made him great at that level would apply in the pros.”
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