Kyle Kuzma

VanVleet, Bembry, Horton-Tucker Receive One-Game Suspensions

The NBA has suspended three players – Raptors guards Fred VanVleet and DeAndre’ Bembry, along with Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker – for one game apiece, the league announced today in a press release.

The three players left the bench area during an on-court altercation during the Raptors/Lakers game on Tuesday (video link). After Dennis Schröder committed a foul on a OG Anunoby shot attempt, the two players got tangled up and Anunoby grabbed Schroder by the leg, flipping him to the ground. Players from both teams entered the fray at that point.

According to today’s announcement, Anunoby received a $30K fine for initiating the incident, while Lakers big man Montrezl Harrell has been docked $20K for aggressively entering the altercation and shoving Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, the one-game suspension will be costliest for VanVleet, who will forfeit $146,552 of his salary. Bembry ($11,980) and Horton-Tucker ($10,469) will also each lose one game’s worth of pay.

Horton-Tucker and Bembry will serve their suspensions tonight, while VanVleet will serve his one-game ban once he’s healthy and ready to return from his hip ailment.

Although they’ll be missing Horton-Tucker, and Kyle Kuzma is listed as questionable with calf tightness, the Lakers will get some reinforcements for Thursday’s contest vs. Miami, as head coach Frank Vogel said today that both Ben McLemore (protocols) and Andre Drummond (toe) will be available (Twitter link via Mike Trudell).

Pacific Notes: CP3, Lakers Cap, Hield, THT

Suns All-Star point guard Chris Paul has a $44MM player option for the 2021/22 season, but John Hollinger of The Athletic wonders if the 35-year-old may consider an extension before the year ends or possibly a Gordon Hayward-esque move during the offseason.

Hollinger suggests that, just as the Hornets forward did during the 2020 offseason, Paul could opt out of the final year of his extant deal this summer for longer-term money, at a slightly lower yearly number.

Hollinger expects ambitious clubs like the Mavericks, Heat, Knicks and even Pelicans to be interested in Paul, who is still seeking a title in his 16th NBA season out of Wake Forest.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Should the Lakers want to retain new center Andre Drummond, reserve big man Montrezl Harrell (likely to opt out of the $9.7MM second year of his current deal in the offseason), point guard Dennis Schröder, and guards Talen Horton-Tucker and Alex Caruso, they could face significant cap challenges, as Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report outlines. Pincus notes that the best route to retaining all three would be if the Lakers could get Drummond, currently grappling with a toe injury, to agree to a team-friendly deal worth the taxpayer mid-level exception (worth a projected $5.9MM).
  • The NBA announced on Monday (Twitter link) that it has fined Kings swingman Buddy Hield $20K after an exchange of words with referees during a 129-128 defeat to the Bucks on April 3.
  • Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma is looking for more court awareness out of shooting guard Talen Horton-Tucker, writes Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. “He’s been blessed with a gift to be able to get into the paint anytime he wants,” Kuzma raved. “With that being said, getting into the paint means reaching opportunities to find other guys shots.”

Lakers Notes: Trade Deadline, Center, Caruso

Several key Lakers contributors, including Dennis Schröder, Alex Caruso, and Talen Horton-Tucker are up for new deals this offseason, and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said in the latest episode of The Woj Pod that he has the sense the team would like to move some long-term money off its books to create more flexibility to re-sign those players.

“I do think they would like to free up some of that money they owe down the line to put themselves in position to keep the guys they have there,” Wojnarowski said, per RealGM. “I think that’s kind of at the center of some of their talks here around the trade deadline.”

While Woj didn’t specifically name Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as players the Lakers are discussing in trades, he observed that they’re the non-stars on the roster who have multiyear contracts. Kuzma would be tricky to move this year because he has a contract extension going into effect in 2021/22, so if L.A. wants to move some long-term money, KCP could be the team’s top trade candidate by default.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Jovan Buha of The Athletic breaks down the defensive performance of Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell, weighing whether the Lakers need to pursue a center upgrade via trade or on the buyout market. Buha contends that the concerns about the club’s interior defense have been overblown and that the return of Anthony Davis could sufficiently address the issue.
  • Lakers guard Alex Caruso, who has missed the team’s last two games, has been cleared from the NBA’s concussion protocol and will be available vs. Charlotte on Thursday night, as ESPN’s Dave McMenamin relays (via Twitter).
  • In case you missed it, the Lakers are reportedly among the teams to watch if free agent Isaiah Thomas gets another NBA opportunity.

USA Basketball Expands Finalist List for Olympic Roster

Fifteen players have been added to the list of finalists for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team, USA Basketball announced today in a press release. The group will eventually be pared down to 12 players who will participate in the Olympic Games, which are set for July 23 to August 8 in Tokyo.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will serve as coach for the U.S. team, with Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Villanova coach Jay Wright and former Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce as his assistants.

No tryouts will be held this year. Instead, USA Basketball will choose the final roster by early summer. Training camp is scheduled to being in early July before the conclusion of the NBA playoffs.

“With the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics from 2020 to 2021, it’s important that we continue to remain flexible and consider all players who can contribute to our efforts to field the best USA team possible,” USA Basketball men’s national team managing director Jerry Colangelo said. “These additions we are announcing today will help ensure that we are doing that. Having a larger player pool than what we normally have is critical because of all of the uncertainties we face about availability. But for USA Basketball to receive the commitment of so many outstanding players remains an indicator of the great honor of representing your country means to these men.”

The new names under consideration are:

  1. Jarrett Allen (Cavaliers)
  2. Eric Gordon (Rockets)
  3. Jerami Grant (Pistons)
  4. Blake Griffin (Nets)
  5. Jrue Holiday (Bucks)
  6. DeAndre Jordan (Nets)
  7. Zach LaVine (Bulls)
  8. Julius Randle (Knicks)
  9. Duncan Robinson (Heat)
  10. Mitchell Robinson (Knicks)
  11. Fred VanVleet (Raptors)
  12. John Wall (Rockets)
  13. Zion Williamson (Pelicans)
  14. Christian Wood (Rockets)
  15. Trae Young (Hawks)

Forty-two players remain from the original list, which was announced in February 2020:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Nets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Lakers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Hornets)
  22. Dwight Howard (Sixers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Cavaliers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Rockets)
  36. Chris Paul (Suns)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Pistons)
  38. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  39. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  40. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  41. Russell Westbrook (Wizards)
  42. Derrick White (Spurs)

Two players removed from that list are Warriors guard Klay Thompson, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, and Celtics guard Marcus Smart. Sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic that Smart turned down an invitation because of injury concerns due to having a short offseason and playing late into consecutive seasons (Twitter link).

Pacific Notes: Kuzma, Walton, Saric, Durant

Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma signed a three-year, $40MM rookie scale extension in December. All other players who signed similar extensions before the season got bigger contracts but Kuzma has no regrets, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic.

“Of course, guys got paid,” the Lakers forward said, “and obviously as a competitor of who you are as a player, you always look at things like that. But at the end of the day, I love the situation that I’m in. … I know a lot of guys that are making $20, $23, $24 million and they’re not really that happy because they go to work every day, you may not be winning, you have to deal with certain other things. For me, I’m happy.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Kings coach Luke Walton doesn’t mind taking heat if it takes pressure off his players, Jason Jones of The Athletic writes. “When we’re behind closed doors and we’re in film sessions and we’re in practices and we’re in team meetings we’re going to be honest and brutal about where we need to get better at, who’s messing up, how do we fix it and we’re going to drill it, drill it, drill it,” Walton said. “But to me, that type of information doesn’t need to be given out in a way that’s going to make any of our players feel bad about themselves,” he said. “That’s not part of the culture we want to build here. … So I’ll take the hits all day long as long as we’re getting the type of work and effort from the players that we need.”
  • Suns forward Dario Saric confirmed that he tested positive for COVID-19 last month, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic tweets. Saric hasn’t played since January 11 and his return was further delayed by an ankle sprain, Gina Mizell tweets. He took a bad step during sprints after recovering from the virus but he was active against Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon.
  • Kevin Durant faces the Warriors on Saturday, the first time he’ll play against his former team in Golden State since signing with the Nets. ESPN’s Nick Friedell takes a look back at what caused the breakup between Durant and the Dubs.

Lakers Notes: Kuzma, LeBron, Gasol, Star Minutes

Even after inking a lucrative three-year, $40MM contract extension on Sunday, Lakers power forward Kyle Kuzma remained uncertain about his precise role with Los Angeles, according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. After starting all of the Lakers’ four preseason games, Kuzma came off the bench last night for the club’s regular season opener, a 116-109 loss to the Clippers.

Ahead of last night’s game, head coach Frank Vogel offered his thoughts on how Kuzma would contribute to the club regardless of whether or not he started.

“So, the No. 1 thing with Kuz in terms of this team is to bring energy on both ends of the floor,” Vogel said. “He knows what we’re asking him to do with regard to offensively, being more aggressive in catch-and-shoot situations, playing through him some but also complementing [LeBron James] and [Anthony Davis] and continuing to grow on the defensive end… Where he’s going to fall in terms of starting role or coming off of the bench is still to be determined and will likely be fluid throughout the year.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • After suffering an ankle sprain in the fourth quarter of last night’s season opener, Lakers All-Star LeBron James still expects to be ready for L.A.’s next game, a Christmas Day contest against the Mavericks, per Jovan Buha of the Athletic. “I turned it pretty good, but I don’t think it’s gonna stop me from playing on Friday,” James said.
  • New Lakers starting center Marc Gasol has a long history with LA, despite playing his first game with the team yesterday, as Bill Oram of the Athletic details. Gasol was originally drafted with the No. 48 pick in the 2007 draft by former Los Angeles GM Mitch Kupchak, then was traded in an infamous deal with the Grizzlies for his older brother, then-All Star Pau Gasol, before ever suiting up for the Lakers. He signed a two-year, veteran’s minimum deal this offseason to add his defense, shooting and passing acumen to the reigning champs.
  • The Lakers are exercising caution with their minutes allotments for James and Anthony Davis, according to The Los Angeles Times’ Dan Woike. Davis played 31 minutes in L.A.’s season opener, while LeBron was limited to just 28 after his ankle sprain early in the fourth quarter. “We’re going to be conservative with their minutes early on in the season, and we have the depth to do it,” head coach Frank Vogel commented.

Lakers Sign Kyle Kuzma To Three-Year Extension

4:46pm: Kuzma has officially signed his extension with the Lakers, the team announced on social media (Twitter link).


3:56pm: The Lakers and forward Kyle Kuzma have agreed to terms on a three-year contract extension worth $40MM, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The deal will include a third-year player option for the 2023/24 season, Wojnarowski reports.

Kuzma, 25, is the latest in a line of Lakers players that have agreed to lucrative new contracts this offseason. LeBron James and Anthony Davis signed maximum-salary deals that will keep them under team control through 2023 and 2024, respectively, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope signed a contract similar to Kuzma’s, though the final year of KCP’s three-year, $39MM pact isn’t fully guaranteed.

Those multiyear commitments to other key players likely helped open the door for a rookie scale extension for Kuzma in advance of Monday’s deadline, since the Lakers no longer had to consider whether to try to carve out cap room during the next couple offseasons.

Kuzma, who averaged a career-high 18.7 PPG in 2018/19, played a reduced role last season following the arrival of Davis. His 12.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, .436 FG%, and 25.0 MPG were all career-lows, as he struggled at times to establish a clear-cut role for the eventual champions.

However, the Lakers clearly still believe in the fourth-year forward, as exhibited by their willingness to lock in a deal that will guaranteed him $13MM+ per year once his current contract expires in 2021. Kuzma, the 27th overall pick in the 2017 draft, will earn $3.56MM in the final year of his rookie deal this season.

Kuzma is the fifth player to agree to a rookie scale extension so far this offseason, joining Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo, and De’Aaron Fox.

While Kuzma didn’t get a maximum-salary commitment like those stars, he becomes the first player to receive a player option on a non-max rookie extension, according to Wojnarowski (via Twitter). That option will allow Kuzma to enter the unrestricted free agent market at age 28 if he outperforms his new deal.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), Kuzma won’t become ineligible to be traded this season as a result of his new extension. However, the poison pill provision would apply in a hypothetical deal, complicating salary matching and reducing the odds that he’ll be moved anytime soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Future, Kuzma, Howard

It has been an eventful week for the Lakers, who have agreed to new deals with both of their two superstars — LeBron James is signing through 2023, while Anthony Davis will be under contract through at least 2024.

In an Insider-only article for ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton explores what those two new contracts mean for the Lakers’ long-term future, observing that Rob Pelinka and the front office can now focus on how to fill out the roster around the team’s two stars in the coming years. While the Lakers’ 2020/21 roster is set, only two players besides James and Davis (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Marc Gasol) have guaranteed contracts beyond this season.

With little to no projected cap room for 2021 and beyond, the Lakers will likely prioritize re-signing their own free agents next year rather than shaking up the roster too significantly, Pelton writes. Dennis Schröder, Alex Caruso, and Kyle Kuzma are among the younger players who will be up for new deals in 2021.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • In his look at LeBron’s extension, Bill Oram of The Athletic suggests that comparisons to the two-year, $48MM deal Kobe Bryant signed with the Lakers at age 35 are misplaced. Oram says Kobe’s extension was a “gift” to Bryant, who was coming off a torn Achilles at the time. James’ extension comes after he finished second in MVP voting and was named Finals MVP in 2020.
  • Kyle Kuzma said today that his agent and the Lakers have talked about a contract extension, but he declined to offer any additional specifics (Twitter link via Dave McMenamin of ESPN). “We’ll see,” Kuzma said. As Bobby Marks of ESPN points out (via Twitter), L.A. could be more open to a rookie scale extension for Kuzma now that the team isn’t as concerned about retaining cap flexibility for 2021.
  • Asked about the message he tweeted – and then deleted – on the first night of free agency about returning to the Lakers, new Sixers center Dwight Howard essentially confirmed the explanation reported at the time by Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. “At one point, I thought I (had an offer from the Lakers),” Howard said, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. “And so that’s when you saw the infamous tweet because I really thought I was going back, but there was no offer.”

Spurs Shopping Mills, Aldridge, DeRozan?

As we detailed on Wednesday, there has been increasing chatter as of late about the possibility that the Spurs will have an active offseason. Addressing that possibility within his latest mock draft, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reports that San Antonio is shopping point guard Patty Mills and is also “looking to unload” veterans LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan.

All three players are entering contract years in 2020/21, with Mills set to earn $13.3MM, Aldridge to make $24MM, and DeRozan on the books for $27.7MM.

According to O’Connor, the Bucks and Sixers are among the teams that have expressed interest in Mills. If the Spurs were to make a deal with Philadelphia, Josh Richardson would likely head to San Antonio in the swap, O’Connor notes.

As for Aldridge and DeRozan, O’Connor confirms that there is buzz – first reported by ESPN’s Zach Lowe – about the possibility of the Warriors pursuing Aldridge in a deal that would involve the No. 2 pick in the draft. It’s not clear exactly what such a trade would look like, but Andrew Wiggins would presumably have to be included for salary-matching purposes.

Meanwhile, O’Connor has also heard that the Lakers have some interest in acquiring DeRozan, suggesting that Danny Green and Kyle Kuzma would be part of a hypothetical deal. In order to match DeRozan’s $27.7MM cap hit, the Lakers would have to add a few million more dollars to that package.

The Spurs typically don’t make major splashes on the trade market unless their hand is forced, as in the case of 2018’s Kawhi Leonard blockbuster. However, with virtually all of their veteran players – including Rudy Gay – expected to be on expiring contracts next season, the team could have some interesting options available as it looks to pivot to building around its younger generation of players.

Lakers, Pistons May Resume Derrick Rose Trade Talks

The Lakers talked to the Pistons about a Derrick Rose trade before the February deadline, and a deal is more likely now that the offseason has arrived, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy.

The teams never got close to reaching an agreement, Deveney adds. L.A. offered Alex Caruso and a draft pick, but Detroit was asking for Kyle Kuzma. He adds that even if the Lakers were willing to part with Kuzma, the Pistons may not have said yes. Rose wanted to stay in Detroit, and the front office believed Rose’s trade value would rise after the season ended.

The 32-year-old guard is under contract for one more year at $7.68MM. He averaged 18.1 points and 5.6 assists in 50 games this season, mostly as a reserve.

“I think both sides were reluctant when they went into in January, February,” an unidentified general manager told Deveney. “I don’t think the Lakers wanted to make a major move because they thought they could do something on the buyout market. And I don’t think the Pistons wanted to make a major move because Derrick was happy there. You know, the Lakers wanted to be involved in case the Clippers got involved or someone else, the Bucks or the Nuggets, whoever. So there was interest but not too serious. Now, everything has shifted a little. Now, they’re both in a position to where a deal is much more likely.”

The Lakers addressed their backcourt depth by signing Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith, but neither saw much playing time in Orlando. The team is in need of guard help again as Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are both opting out of their deals for next season. Deveney notes that Rondo may return if he’s willing to accept a one-year contract, but Caldwell-Pope wants a longer deal that the Lakers may not be willing to offer.

Detroit has taken steps toward rebuilding since those winter trade talks and may be more comfortable with giving up Rose. The Pistons traded Andre Drummond to the Cavaliers at the deadline and reached buyout agreements with Reggie Jackson and Markieff Morris.

Deveney believes the Lakers may be more inclined to move Kuzma now because he’s headed for restricted free agency next offseason. The team is preserving cap flexibility for the 2021 offseason to potentially add another impact player, and giving Kuzma a rookie-scale extension would interfere with that plan.