Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Lakers Notes: Davis, James, Injuries, DeRozan

The Lakers aren’t technically out of playoff contention yet, but after falling two games (and a tiebreaker) behind San Antonio in the Western Conference standings on Sunday, their odds of claiming a spot in the play-in tournament are increasingly slim — in fact, the Lakers could be officially eliminated as soon as Tuesday if they lose in Phoenix and the Spurs win in Denver.

Following Sunday’s loss, Anthony Davis sounded like someone who recognized that L.A.’s season is all but over, as he reflected on “what could have been” if the team had been healthier.

“I think the biggest thing that I think about personally is what we could have been, had we stayed healthy all year,” Davis said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “What could we have been. … Guys feel like, ‘OK, what could we have been if I was healthy all year, [LeBron James] was healthy, [Kendrick] Nunn was healthy.’ You think about those things. We put this team together and it looked good on paper, but we haven’t had a chance to reach that potential with guys in and out of the lineup.”

Davis, who has only played in half of the Lakers’ 78 games so far this season, has been bothered throughout his career by injuries, but he bristled at the perception that he’s fragile, telling Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times that he hasn’t been sidelined due to “little ticky-tack injuries.”

“This is what I’ve learned about injuries,” Davis said. “Last year when I wasn’t playing, people were saying, ‘AD’s giving up on his team. It’s the playoffs. AD has to play. He’s got to play.’ And when I went out there to play, got hurt again, they said, ‘Who was his trainer? Who let him play?’

“So, what the [expletive] do you want me to do? When I play, it’s a problem. It’s a problem when I don’t play. At the end of the day, I’ve got to do what’s best for me and how my body feels. And we go from there. I’m not worried about who’s saying what or who thinks this about me because none of them have stepped on the floor and played. And the ones that did play, they should understand.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • A source familiar with James’ status told Dave McMenamin of ESPN that the star forward is “unlikely” to play on Tuesday vs. Phoenix. However, according to McMenamin, the source said there’s still a chance that could change if LeBron’s ankle improves more than expected by tomorrow night.
  • Jovan Buha of The Athletic and his colleague John Hollinger both pushed back against the idea that injuries have been the primary cause of the Lakers’ disappointing season. Buha observed that even in games when Davis and James played, the team was just 11-11, while Hollinger said the team’s offseason plan needs to be better than simply running it back and hoping its two superstars stay healthy in 2022/23.
  • Appearing on ESPN’s Get Up and First Take on Monday, former Lakers president Magic Johnson criticized the club for not acquiring DeMar DeRozan last offseason instead of Russell Westbrook (link via Jenna Lemoncelli of The New York Post). While that’s not an unreasonable take, given that DeRozan had interest in playing for his hometown team, Johnson’s assertion that the Lakers could’ve had DeRozan, Buddy Hield, Alex Caruso, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope instead of Westbrook is a fantasy that doesn’t pass muster. Unless DeRozan had been willing to sign for the taxpayer mid-level exception (which wasn’t viewed as a viable option at the time), L.A. would’ve become hard-capped by acquiring him and would have had no way of carrying all those contracts in addition to James’ and Davis’ maximum salaries. Acquiring both DeRozan and Hield without giving up Caldwell-Pope also likely wouldn’t have been possible due to salary-matching rules.

Los Angeles Notes: Beverley, James, Jackson, Kuzma, Caldwell-Pope, Pelinka

Patrick Beverley felt the contract extension offer he received from the Clippers before they traded him last offseason was “borderline disrespectful,” he said on J.J. Redick’s “The Old Man and the Three” podcast (hat tip to Darryn Albert of Larry Brown Sports).

“Me being there from the beginning, I’m thinking that this contract extension, I’m thinking it’s going to be easy. I walk in and they throw me a number that I felt was borderline disrespectful,” Beverley said.

Clippers executive Lawrence Frank worked out an amicable solution by trading him to Memphis, who then shipped him to one of his top destinations, Minnesota. Beverley signed a one-year extension with the Timberwolves last month.

We have more on the Los Angeles teams:

  • LeBron James carried the Lakers to victory over Washington on Friday with another 50-point performance, and coach Frank Vogel wonders if James best suited to be a center at this stage of his career, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. “Maybe after all these years, him playing center was really the best way to utilize him,” Vogel said. “Because that’s where he’s been doing it, by playing the center position with (Anthony Davis) out. Doing whatever the team needs to win games. And just an incredible, unbelievable, epic performance by LJ.”
  • Reggie Jackson lavished praise on Clippers fans, calling them the heart of the city, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register writes. “I understand what it is in this city, it definitely is overwhelmed by Lakers fans. But I feel like Clippers Nation is like the heart,” he said. “It truly is L.A. It’s more so. No shot to them over there, but they’re the lights. They’re bright lights. They’re Hollywood. That’s the Lakers. … But I feel like we’re definitely the heart of the city – or that’s something we want to embody.”
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope felt that getting traded by the Lakers was almost inevitable, as he told Mark Medina of NBA.com“Every single year with the Lakers, I was in trade talks,” Caldwell-Pope said. Kyle Kuzma, who was also a part of the Russell Westbrook deal, said he’ll always have a place in Lakers history. “I’m cemented as a winner, and I’m cemented as a Lakers champion,” he said. “For me, it’s not about ‘what if.’ It’s time to move on. It’s time to improve my game.” The Lakers honored the duo with a video tribute on Friday, according to Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times.
  • The Lakers are suffering from “organizational fatigue” due to the demands of putting a championship-caliber team around James, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN (video link). Windhorst doubts GM Rob Pelinka can do anything significant to fix the team’s issues this offseason, since the Lakers have already dealt most of their assets. “They have nothing they can really trade of huge value,” Windhorst said.

Harrell, Caldwell-Pope Speak Out About Wizards’ Slide

The mood in the Wizards‘ locker room continues to sour, and Montrezl Harrell let his frustrations boil over after Saturday’s lopsided loss to the Suns, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The Wizards, who have now dropped seven of their last eight games, trailed by as many as 36 points and registered their lowest point total in four years.

“It sucks, bro. That’s the mood of the team. It [expletive] sucks. Coming in here and teams are basically beating our [expletive] from start to finish. So, it sucks, man,” Harrell said. “Nobody likes losing. Everyone in our locker room is competitive-minded people and love to compete and get after it. But it just sucks right now because over the last eight games we’ve played, we lost seven of them. That’s tough for anybody to withstand or have on their plate. So, that’s the energy in the room right now, it just [expletive] sucks.”

The numbers were terrible across the board for Washington Saturday night before a late rally brought the final score to a deceptively close 95-80. The Wizards managed just 11 points in the second quarter as they trailed by 27 points at halftime. For the game, they shot 35.3% from the field and made just 5-of-24 three-point attempts.

Although he didn’t single out the coaching staff, Harrell suggested that his team wasn’t ready to play when the game tipped off. First-year head coach Wes Unseld Jr. has been emphasizing the need for more energy and effort, but Harrell doesn’t believe that should be a concern.

“I don’t know, but I’m tired of hearing the energy thing, bro,” he said. “If you can’t energize yourself or fire yourself up to be able to come here to play the game of basketball, bro, which is your job and you make a lot of money to do it, brother, then you’re in the wrong field, man. I’m tired of hearing that.”

Washington’s 10-3 start seems like a long time ago for a team that’s now 24-28 and in danger of missing the play-in tournament. Hughes points out that the Wizards have just one game left before Thursday’s trade deadline and the front office might consider Harrell’s comments as it discusses potential deals.

With a $9.72MM expiring contract, Harrell is among the candidates to be moved. After Thomas Bryant returned from an ACL injury last month, the Wizards have been trying to find playing time for three centers.

Harrell wasn’t the only player to speak out in frustration after the loss, Hughes adds in a separate storyKentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was acquired in the same trade that brought Harrell to Washington, said the team doesn’t have a defensive identity and isn’t talking enough on that end of the court.

“A lot slips with communication, I don’t know what it is,” he said. “We love talking to each other, but when we get on the court, no one talks to each other. That communication, it helps a lot. It helps on the defensive end, getting guys in position to defend or help. Offense, just talking everybody through it. …We just don’t have that consistency in the communication and playing hard.”

Wizards’ Harrell, KCP Had Halftime Altercation On Tuesday

Wizards big man Montrezl Harrell and swingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a physical altercation during halftime of Tuesday’s win over Oklahoma City, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic.

According to Charania, Harrell was upset that Caldwell-Pope didn’t pass him the ball on a play at the end of the first half, and the two teammates began jawing at one another on their way to the locker room. The confrontation eventually escalated to the point where they took swings at each other (neither player connected) and had to be separated by teammates, Charania adds.

Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington shared video of the play that seemingly led to the incident.

Harrell and Caldwell-Pope played together in Los Angeles last season before being traded by the Lakers to the Wizards in the Russell Westbrook blockbuster over the summer.

The two veterans have had key roles on a 21-20 Washington team that remains firmly in the playoff mix in the Eastern Conference. Harrell is averaging 14.4 PPG and 7.3 RPG in 34 games (25.4 MPG), while Caldwell-Pope has put up 11.6 PPG and a .389 3PT% in 38 appearances (29.7 MPG).

I’d expect the Wizards to downplay Tuesday’s altercation and look to put it behind them. Still, it’s worth noting – with the trade deadline just four weeks away – that both Harrell and KCP have pretty team-friendly contracts and their names could come up in trade discussions if Washington looks to upgrade its roster in the coming weeks. Harrell is on an expiring $9.7MM salary, while Caldwell-Pope is making $13MM this season and has a partial guarantee (about $5MM) on his $14MM salary for 2022/23.

COVID-19 Updates: Wizards, Trail Blazers, Heat, Rockets, Sixers, I. Thomas, More

The league continues to be battered by players entering and exiting the health and safety protocols. If any of the players entering the protocols registered a confirmed positive COVID-19 test, they’ll remain sidelined for at least six days or until they can return two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

Here are the latest updates from around the NBA:

Caldwell-Pope, Gallinari, Capela, Others Enter Protocols

Wizards wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Washington had been one of 10 teams that didn’t currently have any players in the protocols, but that’s no longer the case.

According to Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr., Caldwell-Pope returned a positive COVID-19 test on Monday evening (Twitter link via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington). He’ll be sidelined for 10 days or until he can return consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

Here are a few more protocol-related updates from around the league:

  • Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari and center Clint Capela been placed in the health and safety protocols, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links). An earlier report stated that two Atlanta players were entering the protocols today — now we know that Gallinari and Capela are those two players.
  • Lakers center Dwight Howard and guard Talen Horton-Tucker have exited the health and safety protocols, the team announced today (Twitter link via Dave McMenamin of ESPN). That doesn’t necessarily mean that both players have been cleared to return to action, but they’re able to rejoin the team for practices and should be available soon.
  • Bulls two-way guard Devon Dotson is now in the health and safety protocols, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic (Twitter link). Chicago has had some players return since the team’s initial COVID-19 outbreak, but still has five other players in the protocols in addition to Dotson.
  • Kings two-way center Neemias Queta is the latest Sacramento player to enter the COVID-19 protocols, tweets Wojnarowski. The club now has seven players in the protocols.
  • The NBA has told the 10 teams scheduled to play on December 25 that some of their games could be shifted to new times if any Christmas Day contests have to be postponed, tweets Wojnarowski. As Woj explains, the league is prioritizing the 2:30pm ET, 5:00pm, and 8:00pm windows, so if one of those games is postponed, either the early or late game would likely be moved.

Wizards Notes: Hachimura, Bryant, Dinwiddie, Caldwell-Pope

The slumping Wizards are due for lineup changes when Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant are ready to start playing again, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Washington was one of the NBA’s early-season surprises with a 10-3 start, but has gone just 4-7 since then and has fallen to the middle of the Eastern Conference pack.

In a recent radio interview, general manager Tommy Sheppard said Hachimura, who is away from the team on a personal absence and hasn’t played yet this season, could begin practicing after a three-game road trip ends Wednesday. Sheppard expects Bryant, who is recovering from a torn ACL, to be back at practice within two weeks.

Once they’re available, Robbins expects coach Wes Unseld Jr. to make adjustments to his rotation. Davis Bertans is likely to see his minutes reduced, along with rookie Corey Kispert. Kyle Kuzma, who has been playing power forward in Hachimura’s absence, will probably see more time at small forward, and Deni Avdija will have a smaller role.

There’s more from Washington:

  • The Wizards are being cautious with Spencer Dinwiddie, who will be rested tonight in the second game of a back-to-back, Robbins tweets. The free agent addition is only 11 months removed from ACL reconstruction surgery on his right knee.
  • Even though Washington lost to the Raptors on Sunday, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope delivered his best game since being acquired from the Lakers in an offseason trade, notes Andrew Gillis of NBC Sports Washington. Caldwell-Pope delivered 26 points on 8-of-9 shooting, even though he said he felt less than 100%. KCP is one of four Wizards who haven’t missed a game this season. “You just gotta try to gut it out,” Caldwell-Pope said. “You’ve got to try to find that energy from somewhere and try to finish the game. Just do your job and do what you can do out there. Just give it all you’ve got until you can’t give it no more. We talk about effort so much, it’s a big part of how we play the game.”
  • The Wizards haven’t lost three straight games this season, and Unseld is eager to see how they respond after two straight blowouts, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “Early in the season, we bounced back from these stretches,” he said. “This has kind of been the longest duration where things are kind of tenuous for us, so it’s certainly a test. We have no choice. We’ve gotta pull together, we’ve gotta dig ourselves out and we’ve gotta find a way.”

Southeast Notes: Wizards Preview, Avdija, Cooper, Hornets Injuries

In his ongoing series of team previews, John Hollinger of The Athletic writes that the Wizards might not be a better overall team this season than they were in 2020/21, but he thinks they’re in a decent position to build around star Bradley Beal going forward.

By moving John Wall for Russell Westbrook, and then trading Westbrook to the Lakers, the Wizards acquired multiple players on smaller deals with less guaranteed money, thus gaining financial flexibility for 2022/23.

Hollinger identifies one area the team should definitely be improved: three-point shooting. The Wizards were dead last in three-point attempts per 100 possessions last season, even with renowned shooters Beal and Davis Bertans. New additions Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (.410 3PT%), Kyle Kuzma (.361), and Aaron Holiday (.368) all shot better than the Wizards’ team mark (.351) last season, and rookie Corey Kispert was considered one of the best pure shooters in the draft.

However, Hollinger thinks the team might regress defensively, as Bertans and Montrezl Harrell are both poor defenders who figure to see a good chunk of minutes together.

Hollinger projects the team to finish 38-44, 10th in the East, but thinks they’ll have their work cut out for them to actually hit that mark.

Here’s more from out of the Southeast:

  • Second-year forward Deni Avdija made his long-awaited return from a fractured ankle in Saturday’s preseason game, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The Wizards are high on Avdija and he’s expected to have more play-making opportunities this season, Hughes adds.
  • Hawks rookie Sharife Cooper is having an impressive preseason, according to Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Cooper, the 48th pick in the draft, is on a two-way contract, and coach Nate McMillan likes what he’s seen so far, per Spencer. “I love the energy that he’s bringing,” McMillan said of Cooper. “He’s scrappy. He’s playing scrappy basketball out there. He’s trying to make a statement. He’s stepping up, and he’s not pacing himself.”
  • In two separate tweets, the Hornets announced Terry Rozier sprained his ankle and will be re-evaluated later in the week, while Gordon Hayward and Mason Plumlee are both out for tomorrow’s game at Miami due to health and safety protocols.

Wizards Notes: Dinwiddie, Bryant, Holiday, Hachimura, Avdija

Speaking today to reporters, Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said that Spencer Dinwiddie is further along in his recovery from an ACL tear than Thomas Bryant is, as Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets. Dinwiddie sustained a partially torn ACL in late December, while Bryant suffered the same injury just a couple weeks later.

According to Sheppard, Dinwiddie is on track to progress to 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 scrimmages, while Bryant has not been fully cleared for basketball activities yet.

I can’t see Thomas necessarily being in our first game,” Sheppard said.

A previous report indicated that the Wizards may be targeting a December return for Bryant.

Here’s more out of D.C.:

  • Sheppard confirmed a report that the Wizards tried to trade for Aaron Holiday in the past before acquiring him this offseason. “Usually, trade deadline calls, trades that don’t work out kinda resurface in the summer,” Sheppard said (Twitter link via Katz).
  • Sheppard was asked today about whether the roles for young forwards Rui Hachimura and Deni Avdija will changes in 2021/22 as a result of the Wizards’ influx of depth. As Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays (via Twitter), the Wizards’ GM said he thinks Hachimura will remain in the starting lineup, but Avdija – who started 32 of his 54 games as a rookie – is more likely to be part of the second unit.
  • Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, acquired from the Lakers in the Russell Westbrook blockbuster, will bring specific skill sets to a revamped Wizards roster, writes Kareem Copeland of The Washington Post. Caldwell-Pope, in particular, is the kind of three-and-D wing the team has been lacking.

Five-Team Russell Westbrook, Spencer Dinwiddie Trade Now Official

The five-team trade involving the Lakers, Wizards, Nets, Spurs, and Pacers, headlined by Russell Westbrook (to Los Angeles) and Spencer Dinwiddie (to Washington) is now official, according to press releases from multiple clubs.

The deal began as a two-team trade sending Westbrook from the Wizards to the Lakers, an agreement that was completed around the start of the draft last Thursday. Later that night, the Wizards and Pacers agreed to a deal sending Aaron Holiday that would be folded into the Westbrook blockbuster.

Subsequently, during free agency, the Wizards and Dinwiddie wanted to find a way to get the point guard to D.C. and ultimately convinced the Nets to accommodate a sign-and-trade. The Spurs entered the mix late to accommodate Washington’s salary-dump of Chandler Hutchison.

Here’s the full breakdown of the deal, based on reports to date:

  • To Lakers:
    • Russell Westbrook (from Wizards)
    • The Bulls’ 2023 second-round pick (from Wizards)
    • Either the Wizards’ or Grizzlies’ 2024 second-round pick (whichever is least favorable; from Wizards)
    • The Wizards’ 2028 second-round pick (from Wizards)
  • To Wizards:
  • To Nets:
    • Either the Wizards’ or the Grizzlies’ 2024 second-round pick (whichever is most favorable; from Wizards)
    • The right to swap the Warriors’ 2025 second-round pick for the Wizards’ 2025 second-round pick (from Wizards)
    • The draft rights to Nikola Milutinov (from Spurs)
  • To Spurs:
    • Chandler Hutchison (from Wizards)
    • Either the Bulls’, the Lakers’, or the Pistons 2022 second-round pick (whichever is most favorable; from Wizards)
  • To Pacers:

The Nets also generated the most significant trade exception of any team in the deal — it’ll be worth about $11.5MM.

While it was a fairly minor move for Brooklyn, San Antonio, and Indiana, the deal will significantly reshape the Lakers’ and Wizards’ rosters for the 2021/22 season. Los Angeles consolidated its depth, acquiring a star player who wanted to team up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, then filled out its roster in free agency.

The Wizards, meanwhile, traded one star for several depth pieces and managed to replace their old point guard with one who will earn less than half of Westbrook’s salary for the next couple seasons. The deal should increase the club’s cap flexibility while fortifying its bench.