Kemba Walker

Lakers Optimistic About Adding Kyrie Irving?

The Nets appear to be the favorite to land Kyrie Irving, but other teams still hold out hope that they can sign the point guard. The Lakers remain optimistic that they could sign Irving, a source close to LeBron James told Sam Amick of The Athletic prior to the Anthony Davis deal.

For months, Irving has expressed a desire to play alongside Davis, sources tell David Aldridge of The Athletic. While the Lakers intend to bring in a third star, adding to the Davis-James pairing, it’s unclear where Irving ranks in the franchise’s preferred signings.

Kemba Walker is reportedly the top target. Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard are other options, though both could be hard to pry from their incumbent team (and in Leonard’s case, the Lakers appear to be trailing the Clippers if he does depart Toronto).

Inking one of those players to a full max deal will be a challenge for the Lakers. The franchise is projected to have between $23.6MM and 27.7MM in cap space depending on whether Davis waives his trade bonus. If the team finds a taker for Moritz Wagner and Isaac Bonga (could be the Pelicans in revised Davis deal), the Lakers are looking at upwards of $29.4MM in room. The starting salary on a max deal for players like Irving or Walker is $32.7MM.

A path to opening up the amount needed to offer a full max deal involves the Lakers signing a free agent with cap space and then waiting until July 30 to officially complete the Davis trade. That would allow Los Angeles to aggregate the No. 4 pick’s salary in the Davis deal and operate as an over-the-cap team. Such a strategy would bring the Lakers roughly $32.5MM in room, assuming Davis waives his trade bonus. The figure remains slightly short of the max for this tier of players, though Los Angeles could make additional moves to get all the way there.

Brooklyn will have no issue offering Irving a full max deal. The Hornets possess Walker’s Bird rights and can offer him a super-max deal that tops out around $221MM in total value. Butler believes he’s getting a full max no matter which team signs him and the Raptors will hand Leonard whatever contract he wants should the Finals MVP decide to remain in the North.

The Lakers have an attractive situation for a star on the market. They can offer a title contender in one of the league’s premier markets and depending on Rob Pelinka‘s salary cap gymnastics, they may have to hope a star believes the situation is worth forgoing potential earnings.

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 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.

Free Agent Rumors: Clippers, Nets, Knicks, Kyrie, KD, More

While the Clippers are generally grouped together with the rest of the Los Angeles and New York teams leading up to free agency as the big-market franchises looking to make a major splash on the free agent market, the Clips’ plans may look a little different than what those other clubs have in mind, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

As Buha explains, the Clippers are unlikely to pursue top point guards like Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker due to their “steadfast belief” in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who has been considered untouchable in trade talks.

Additionally, the Clippers likely won’t attempt to sign a second- or third-tier free agent like Khris Middleton or Tobias Harris unless it’s on a short-term deal, according to Buha, who points out that the team traded away Harris because it didn’t want to cap the roster’s ceiling at “good” instead of “great.”

Instead, the Clippers will focus on the top two free agents in this year’s free agent class – Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard – as well as top trade candidate Anthony Davis. If L.A. is unable to land one of those superstars, the organization figures to remain patient, avoiding a reactionary signing or trade and instead shifting its attention to re-signing its own free agents and making smaller moves, says Buha.

As we wait to see how that plan plays out, let’s round up a few more rumors and notes related to free agency:

  • Within his full report on Kyrie Irving‘s agent change, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski shares some intriguing tidbits on two of this summer’s top free agents. Sources tell Wojnarowski that Irving remains “intensely interested” in the Nets, with the Knicks expected to remain competitive for the star point guard. Both New York teams are still interested in signing Irving and Kevin Durant together, even after KD’s Achilles tear, according to Woj.
  • There’s a feeling in both NBA circles and in the Nets‘ front office that Brooklyn will land at least one star free agent this offseason, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.
  • Marc Berman of The New York Post explores some potential Plan Bs for the Knicks in the event that they miss out on Durant or back off their pursuit of the two-time Finals MVP at all following his Achilles injury.
  • The Jazz appear likely to lose veterans Ekpe Udoh and Thabo Sefolosha in free agency, according to Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune, who examines the impact the duo had on Utah’s locker room over the last couple seasons.

Kemba Walker Discusses Free Agency, Super-Max

All-NBA point guard Kemba Walker spoke today to reporters about his upcoming free agency and dropped a a couple interesting details about his thought process as he prepares for the summer.

As Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer relays (via Twitter), Walker reiterated that the Hornets are his first priority in free agency, which is something he said a couple weeks ago. However, that doesn’t mean re-signing with Charlotte will be automatic. Walker plans to meet with other teams before making his decision, Bonnell notes.

Additionally, while Walker’s spot on the All-NBA Third Team this season ensured that he’s eligible for a super-max contract from the Hornets, the 29-year-old said today that he won’t necessarily be demanding that full amount from his longtime team. Asked if he’d accept a lesser salary to help Charlotte build around, Walker confirmed he’s open to that idea, as Nick Carboni of WCNC tweets.

“Yeah I would take less,” Walker said. “Sure, why not? I would take less.”

Given the Hornets’ cap situation, even a relatively team-friendly deal probably wouldn’t help the team much from a flexibility standpoint — assuming Michael Kidd-Gilchrist exercises his player option, Charlotte’s team salary will increase to $94MM for 2019/20 even before taking a new Walker deal into account.

Based on the NBA’s current salary cap projections, which call for a $109MM cap, a super-max deal for Walker would be worth about $221.3MM over five years. A standard max contract from the Hornets could be worth up to $189.7MM over five years, while a rival suitor would be limited to a projected $140.6MM for four years.

Although the Hornets will attempt to retain Walker, they’ll face stiff competition from several other clubs. Earlier this week, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski identified the Lakers, Knicks, and Mavericks as top contenders for Kemba. The former UConn star could also be a target for smaller-market teams with cap flexibility who need a point guard, such as the Pacers and Jazz.

Lakers Among Teams Interested In Kemba Walker

Kemba Walker will hit the open market for the first time in his career this offseason and he’ll have plenty of teams to choose from. The Lakers, Mavericks, and Knicks are among the teams interested in signing the point guard, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said on the network’s mock draft special.

The Lakers are hoping to make major upgrades this summer starting with an Anthony Davis trade. If Los Angeles can’t acquire Davis, the organization may find it difficult to convince a top free agent to join them. Walker will be among the several free agents the Lakers attempt to woo.

Prying Walker from Charlotte will have to be about more than money since the Hornets can offer him roughly $221MM over five years, while rival teams are capped at four years and slightly less than $141MM.

The Knicks are positioned to have two max salary slots available. The Lakers don’t quite have enough cap space without making an additional move, as our Salary Cap Digest shows. The Mavericks are also at least one move away from carving out enough salary cap space to accommodate a max deal for Walker.

Team USA Announces 20-Player Camp Roster For World Cup

USA Basketball has officially announced the group of 20 players that will participate in training camp this summer in advance of the 2019 FIBA World Cup. The camp will take place from August 5-9, and will be used to select the 12-man roster for this year’s World Cup in China.

The 20-man training camp roster is as follows:

  1. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  2. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  3. Anthony Davis (Pelicans)
  4. Andre Drummond (Pistons)
  5. Eric Gordon (Rockets)
  6. James Harden (Rockets)
  7. Tobias Harris (Sixers / FA)
  8. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  9. Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)
  10. Brook Lopez (Bucks / FA)
  11. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  12. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  13. CJ McCollum (Trail Blazers)
  14. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  15. Paul Millsap (Nuggets)
  16. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  17. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  18. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  19. P.J. Tucker (Rockets)
  20. Kemba Walker (Hornets / FA)

“I am excited about getting to training camp in August and working with all of the players that have been selected to attend the USA National Team training camp in Las Vegas,” Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich said in a statement. “We’ve got an excellent cross-section of veteran USA Basketball and NBA players, as well as some exciting younger players who possess amazing versatility.

“I’m appreciative of commitment that our National Team players continue to make, and the eagerness of the new players to become involved,” Popovich continued. “Selecting a 12-man team will be extremely difficult.”

It will be an eventful summer for many of the players on the 20-man Team USA training camp roster. Besides Harris, Lopez, and Walker, who are all headed for unrestricted free agency and could be on new teams by August, players like Barnes, Middleton, and Millsap could reach the open market if their player or team options are declined. Others – including Davis, Gordon, Kuzma, Tatum, and Tucker – have been mentioned in trade rumors.

Kuzma and Mitchell are the only players on the roster who haven’t played internationally for Team USA in the past. Five player on the roster (Barnes, Davis, Harden, Love, and Lowry) have won gold medals for USA Basketball at the 2012 or 2016 Olympics, while two others (Drummond and Gordon) have taken home gold at previous World Cups.

Previous reports indicated that Zion Williamson, John Collins, and Marvin Bagley are expected to be among the players named to a 10-man select team that will scrimmage with Team USA’s 20-man roster at the training camp in August.

Knicks Notes: Barrett, Walker, Durant, Robinson

Kevin Knox, the Knicks‘ first-round pick last season, is lobbying for R.J. Barrett to get that designation this year, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Knox, who attended Game 4 of the NBA Finals with a small Knicks contingent, may be on hand tomorrow for Barrett’s workout in New York. They have faced each other before as high school opponents in Florida.

“If we get the opportunity (to be teammates), I think we’d jell really well,’’ Knox said. “He’s a great player. He can pass well, score the ball well. I think we’d complement each other.’’

Barrett is generally considered the third best player in the draft and the likely selection for the Knicks with the No. 3 pick. It’s also possible that Knox and Barrett could be teammates with the Pelicans if both are included in a trade for Anthony Davis.

There’s more today from New York:

  • It appears Kemba Walker won’t be the solution for the Knicks’ backcourt, according to Ian Begley of SNY.TV. Rival executives tell Begley they don’t believe going to New York is a likely outcome for Walker if he decides to leave Charlotte. The three-time All-Star recently said that the Hornets are his “first priority” in free agency. They have the ability to offer Walker a five-year super-max deal worth up to $221.3MM, while other teams will be limited to four years at $140.6MM.
  • The Knicks have become so “brazen” in their belief that they are landing Kevin Durant that other free agents are getting upset, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. He states that the organization is behaving as though a deal is already in place, even though Durant has strongly denied making a decision, and the Warriors seem resigned that he will be gone after the playoffs.
  • New York should try to avoid giving up Mitchell Robinson in a trade for Davis, states Zack Rosenblatt of NBA.com. The second-round pick had a remarkable rookie season, averaging 2.4 blocks per night in 66 games. Rosenblatt sees Robinson as a perfect complement to play alongside Davis if the Knicks can make a deal happen without him.

Hornets Notes: Zeller, Kemba, Draft Workouts

Hornets center Cody Zeller had some fun with Kemba Walker‘s impending free agency by jokingly setting up a lemonade stand to raise the necessary $221MM for his teammate’s new super-max contract, as Roderick Boone of The Athletic details in an entertaining story. While Zeller’s fundraising efforts were obviously in jest, he recognizes the importance of Kemba’s upcoming decision, acknowledging that it’s a “pretty serious situation” for the franchise.

“I mean, our careers and a lot of the organization, to be honest with you, depends on what Kemba decides this summer, whether he stays or goes,” Zeller said. “I think it really depends on his choice. But our team and our future can go two very different ways depending on what he decides. So I was kind of trying to make light of a serious situation.

“I think he likes Charlotte,” Zeller said of his All-Star teammate. “I think he’s a good fit here. But the reality of it is we haven’t been able to make deep runs in the playoffs. So hopefully that will still come in the future. But at the end of the day, Kemba has to do what’s best for him. And I’m going to support him, whatever decision he makes.”

Here’s more on the Hornets:

More Names Revealed For Team USA World Cup Tryouts

Team USA’s training camp roster for the FIBA World Cup will be announced next week, but four players have already been confirmed, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Anthony Davis, James Harden, Donovan Mitchell and Kemba Walker will definitely be part of the team, while the other 14 slots are still being worked out. The roster will be trimmed to 12 when the players gather in Las Vegas in early August to prepare for the tournament, which takes place from August 31 to September 15 in China.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski drops a few more names in a full story on the World Cup tryouts, which sources tell him are also expected to include Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Bradley Beal and Kevin Love. Others planning to be part of the camp include Eric Gordon, Jayson Tatum, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Drummond and Kyle Kuzma.

P.J. Tucker will attend training camp as well, tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, and league sources tell Woj that Paul Millsap also plans to be there. Other names leaked for the camp are Tobias Harris (Twitter link from Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer) and Myles Turner (Twitter link from Scott Agness of the Athletic).

Zion Williamson, expected to be the first pick in the draft later this month, has been invited to camp as part of the 10-man select team that will scrimmage against the 18-man roster, Stein tweets. Williamson will be given a chance to play his way onto the final roster if he has a standout performance in that role, according to USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo (Twitter link).

The select team will also include John Collins and Marvin Bagley, tweets Tim Bomtemps of ESPN.

The camp will be held from August 5-8, with exhibition games to follow before the start of World Cup play. Gregg Popovich will serve as head coach.

Kemba Walker Commits To World Cup; Anthony Davis Considered Probable

A pair of players who have other important things going on this summer will likely be part of Team USA’s entry in the FIBA World Cup, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. Hornets guard Kemba Walker has already committed to play in the tournament in China, while Pelicans big man Anthony Davis has offered “strong indications” that he would like to be involved.

Walker will be part of a stellar class when free agency begins at the end of the month, while Davis hasn’t budged on his desire to be traded and will probably be involved a blockbuster deal at some point during the offseason.

Team USA officials would also like to add James Harden to the roster (Twitter link). Zion Williamson, expected to be the first selection in this year’s draft, will be contacted as well (Twitter link).

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will guide the team in the tournament, which will run from August 31 to September 15. That leaves a small gap until NBA training camps, which open September 27 for teams making overseas trips and September 30 for everyone else (Twitter link).