Kyle Kuzma

Lakers Notes: Davis, Kuzma, LeBron, Free Agents

The Lakers would have benefited by waiting longer, but it appears their deal with the Pelicans for Anthony Davis will be completed when the moratorium ends July 6, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. He adds that there’s still a chance it won’t be finalized until July 30, which would enable L.A. to operate over the cap and count its No. 4 pick, which is headed to New Orleans, as salary. As Wojnarowski explains in a full story, the Lakers would have $32.5MM in cap room to chase free agents under that scenario, but only $27.8MM if the trade becomes official earlier.

That figure would be reduced even further if Davis insists on a $4MM trade kicker, which he has the option to waive. Accepting it would leave L.A. with just $23.8MM, not nearly enough to compete for an elite free agent. Wojnarowski notes that delaying the deal wouldn’t benefit the Pelicans, who would have $19MM in cap space if the trade becomes official July 6, but only $15MM if they have to wait until July 30.

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • The Pelicans wanted Kyle Kuzma to be included in the deal, but the Lakers opted to part with future first-round picks so they could keep him, according to Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Kuzma, who posted an 18.7/5.5/2.5 line in his second NBA season, was among the players rumored to be on the table when the teams negotiated in February.
  • Lakers GM Rob Pelinka had to make four phone calls yesterday before Pelicans executive David Griffin responded, Turner tweets. Pelinka’s willingness to include three first-round picks turned out to be too enticing for New Orleans to pass up.
  • The Lakers’ last attempt to combine two stars failed because of a personality conflict between Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard, but Ben Golliver of The Washington Post doesn’t believe that will happen this time. Davis already has a good relationship with LeBron James, appearing on his HBO show “The Shop,” and James has an added incentive to make the partnership work because they share the same agent in Rich Paul.
  • The Lakers will be seeking low-cost veterans to round out their roster, which might be good news for Reggie Bullock, observes Kevin Pelton of ESPN. Bullock, who was acquired from the Pistons at the trade deadline, has a cap hold of just $4.8MM. L.A. holds his full Bird rights and can exceed the cap to re-sign him.
  • If the Lakers don’t land a third star in free agency, they will likely pursue another shooter such as J.J. Redick, Seth Curry or Bojan Bogdanovic, suggests Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

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, Celtics Engaged In Anthony Davis Trade Talks

The Lakers and Celtics are each engaged with the Pelicans in trade talks involving Anthony Davis, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

While the Lakers were unable to land Davis at the trade deadline in February, they continue to be viewed as a strong contender in the AD sweepstakes. Wojnarowski referred to them as the leader in the clubhouse during a SportsCenter appearance earlier this week, while Ian Begley of SNY.tv hears from a league source that the Lakers have made some progress toward a multi-team deal Davis deal.

According to Wojnarowski, the No. 4 overall pick in next week’s draft – currently held by L.A. – has been discussed as a trade chip that could help New Orleans acquire a high-level player in a multi-team deal. Wojnarowski had reported earlier this week that new Pelicans head of basketball operations David Griffin was exploring scenarios involving multiple teams in an effort to get New Orleans the sort of assets the team is seeking.

Marc Stein of The New York Times reports (via Twitter) that the Lakers have made both Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram available in trade talks for Davis, in addition to the No. 4 overall pick, which may be re-routed to a third team if a deal comes to fruition. Stein adds (via Twitter) that the viability of the Lakers’ offer may hinge on what kind of player that No. 4 pick could attract. If the Pelicans can get another player they really like on top of Ball or Ingram, it would help tip the scales.

It also appears possible that Kyle Kuzma may be a deal-breaker for the Pelicans. Los Angeles is trying to keep Kuzma out of any trade package, per Stein and Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter links). However, the Pelicans want Kuzma as part of the return for Davis if they make a deal with L.A., according to Ganguli and Turner, who say that the forward is the young Laker most coveted by the Pelicans.

In their full report, the Times’ duo even suggests that the Lakers may have the opportunity to keep the No. 4 pick if they include Kuzma in their offer, though it sounds as if they’d probably have to add other extra assets in that scenario. The Lakers are trying to exercise some level of restraint in trade talks, given their leverage as Davis’ preferred destination, per Wojnarowski.

As for the Celtics, they apparently haven’t been deterred by the public comments made by agent Rich Paul, who has made it clear that Davis would prefer to end up with the Lakers or Knicks and would just be a rental if he goes to Boston.

“They can trade for him, but it’ll be for one year,” Paul said of the Celtics and his client. “I mean: If the Celtics traded for Anthony Davis, we would go there and we would abide by our contractual [obligations] and we would go into free agency in 2020. I’ve stated that to them. But in the event that he decides to walk away and you give away assets? Don’t blame Rich Paul.”

While the Celtics remain in the mix, Ganguli and Turner write that Boston and New York may not be willing to gut their respective rosters in a trade for Davis, since they’re concerned about not having enough leftover talent to be legit contenders.

The Nets and Clippers are among Davis’ other potential suitors, but they haven’t been able to gather any traction in discussions with New Orleans, according to Wojnarowski.

No matter which team Davis plays for in 2019/20, he’s expected to reach free agency next summer, but his camp has strongly suggested that the odds of the All-Star big man re-upping with the Lakers or Knicks are much higher than they’d be with any other team.

If the Celtics or Lakers reach an agreement with the Pelicans on a trade for Davis, it wouldn’t be officially finalized until sometime after the new league year begins in July, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter links). Boston isn’t permitted to acquire AD at all while Kyrie Irving is still on his current contract, and the Lakers wouldn’t be able to make salary-matching work at this point.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

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.

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.”

Jeanie Buss Has Faith In Lakers’ Front Office Despite Lost Season

The Lakers failed to put the right pieces around LeBron James during year one of The King’s reign in Los Angeles. Despite the disappointment, owner Jeanie Buss still has complete faith in both team president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka, a source close to the situation tells Bill Oram of The Athletic.

The two executives have had their share of missteps during their time with the team. For instance, as Oram details, when the Lakers signed James, neither Pelinka or Johnson put in the kind of research that rival organizations typically do when landing a top star.

When the Celtics traded for Kyrie Irving, the team made calls to former coaches and those around him in pursuit of intel on the point guard. Had the Lakers put in that type of work, they may have known, for example, that LBJ playing off the ball wasn’t going to be something they should plan around even if the four-time MVP had signed off on the strategy during July 2018 discussions.

The team will chase stars like Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson this summer, though the Lakers don’t appear to be atop any of those players’ lists, per Oram’s piece, which Shams Charania, Joe Vardon, Sam Amick, and Frank Isola also contributed to.

The thinking process may be shifting behind the scenes in Los Angeles as a result of the lack of interest in the Lakers. “You don’t need names, you need games,” a source close to James tells Oram. That differs from Johnson declaring last year that this summer would bring another superstar.

Regardless of which players the Lakers roster, Luke Walton is unlikely to coach them. Johnson clashed with Walton throughout the season with tension rising during an early-season meeting. Oram writes that Johnson delivered Walton with a “closed-door tongue lashing.” From that point on, Walton had reason to be concerned about his job security.

According to Isola, the Lakers reached out to former Bucks coach Jason Kidd during the season. However, a high-ranking official within the organization refutes the claim.

Oram shares more details from a lost season in the extensive piece, which is worth a read on its own. Here are some more of the highlights:

  • Kyle Kuzma was told prior to his trip to Charlotte for All-Star weekend that he would be a key part of the Lakers and that unless the team was acquiring one of the league’s best three players, it wasn’t trading him. Pelinka delivered a similar message to Larry Nance Jr. prior to the deadline last season. According to Oram’s source, Pelinka reassured Nance of the team’s plan for him and told the big man to buy the house he was pursuing in Los Angeles — Nance luckily was unable to complete all the necessary steps to buying the home before the team traded him to Cleveland.
  • Some within Walton’s circle felt that agent Rich Paul was attempting to use the Anthony Davis saga to get the team to fire Walton. If the team acquired Davis, the franchise would need a more decorated coach. However, the Lakers heard through back channels that Davis liked Walton and that bought the coach more time.
  • Members of the Lakers’ coaching staff had hoped that management would bring back the Julius RandleBrook Lopez pairing last offseason. The team allowed both to walk in free agency. Sources tell Oram that Walton and his staff were not consulted about potential free agent targets last year until late in the process.
  • Oram writes that Johnson is seen as an “absentee executive,” as evidenced by Johnson’s lack of response when LaVar Ball made allegations that Walton was losing control of the locker room last season. Johnson was in Hawaii at the time and didn’t publicly back his coach.
  • Pelinka has been active in his involvement with the Lakers. He’s hands-on with scouting and coaches’ meetings, though his level of micromanagement has drawn criticism.
  • Johnson caught the attention of James for his comments during an interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio. Johnson said the team needed to get the ball out of James’ hands because otherwise, the situation would be “Cleveland all over again and we don’t want that.” LBJ publicly said he wasn’t sure what Johnson meant.

Lakers Notes: A. Davis, Deadline Deals, LeBron

Despite Jeanie Bussinsistence that the Lakers‘ reported offers for Anthony Davis last month were “fake news,” Shams Charania of The Athletic reiterates that L.A. made “several aggressive offers” for the Pelicans’ star, with Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart all included in at least one proposal. However, sources told Charania that the Pelicans had no intent of moving Davis before the offseason, and especially not to the Lakers.

As we previously relayed this week, Buss and the Lakers reportedly believe that rival teams were leaking stories in order to hurt L.A.’s chemistry. However, Charania suggests that Buss may not have been aware of “every aspect of the play-by-play” of those trade discussions, and writes that the Pelicans were also frustrated by the public nature of the talks.

“We get off the phone with (the Lakers), and a minute later, offers are out there,” a Pelicans source said to Charania.

The idea that the Pelicans were leaking the trade offers to hurt the Lakers has become a popular – and somewhat logical – theory, but it hasn’t been confirmed, so the comments by Charania’s source shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. It’s worth noting that most of the reports on those specific offers came from a Los Angeles-based source, the L.A. Times.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Sources tell Charania that the Lakers’ coaching staff and front office both wanted to add more shooting to the roster at the trade deadline, which was what led to the deals for Reggie Bullock and Mike Muscala. Bullock has been solid, but the trade for Muscala, which cost the team Ivica Zubac, hasn’t been a success so far.
  • Speaking to Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), LeBron James expanded on what he means when he says that “inexperience” has been a problem for the Lakers this season: “You have four guys in our top-eight rotation that you have to really rely on and it’s unfair to them to ask for so much when they’re in their second or third year.”
  • In a discussion on the Lakers’ season and future, a panel of ESPN.com writers primarily assigned the blame for a disappointing 2018/19 showing to the front office.

Injury Updates: Zion, Anderson, Embiid, Kuzma

Duke star Zion Williamson appears unlikely to play in Saturday’s showdown vs. North Carolina, but fans hoping to watch Williamson during March Madness shouldn’t be worried. In fact, head coach Mike Krzyzewski believes Williamson could return before the NCAA Tournament, dismissing speculation that the forward might shut it down for the season after his recent knee injury.

“He’s getting more confidence, and we just have to get him in shape,” Krzyzewski said, per David M. Hale of ESPN.com. “I don’t think he’ll be ready for [UNC] … but I would be surprised if he wasn’t ready by the ACC tournament.”

As we wait to get another look at the player who will be selected first overall in 2019’s draft, here are a few more injury updates on guys who are already in the NBA:

  • Grizzlies forward Kyle Anderson will receive an anesthetic injection in the hopes of alleviating soreness in his right shoulder, the team announced in a press release. Anderson, who hasn’t played since January 30, will be re-evaluated in about two weeks.
  • Joel Embiid still isn’t quite ready to return to action for the Sixers. As Martin Frank of The Delaware News Journal relays, head coach Brett Brown is still hoping that Embiid will play this week, but the star center didn’t travel to Chicago for Wednesday’s game. “I believe there’s a chance that he may meet us in Houston (where the Sixers play on Friday),” Brown said of Embiid.
  • A precautionary MRI for Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma confirmed that he’s dealing with a minor ankle sprain, according to Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, who tweets that Kuzma could be sidelined for up to a week.

Jeanie Buss: Lakers’ Anthony Davis Offer Was “Fake News”

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss says reports of what her team offered to the Pelicans in an attempt to land Anthony Davis were exaggerated, tweets Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. Buss addressed the rumors in a speech today at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. She couldn’t mention Davis by name because of tampering rules, but said leaks that the Lakers were willing to trade “our entire roster” for “a certain player” were “fake news.”

A report just before last month’s trade deadline said L.A. was prepared to give up all its young talent, offering Brandon IngramLonzo BallKyle KuzmaIvica Zubac and Josh Hart to New Orleans, along with a pair of first-round draft picks.

The denial from Buss meshes with a report yesterday by ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, notes Christian Rivas of Silver Screen and Roll.

“My sources have told me within the last 48 hours that what we’ve heard the Lakers offered may not be true,” MacMullen said in an appearance on “The Jump.” “… I think there’s some question about just how much did they offer. Did they even get a chance to offer anything?”

There were rumors in the week before the deadline that former Pelicans GM Dell Demps was refusing to take calls from the Lakers to give them a chance to talk about Davis, so MacMullan may be right when she speculates that a formal offer was never made.

No one has confirmed which players L.A. would have been willing to part with to acquire Davis, but there have been reports that the trade talk had a negative effect on many of those whose names were mentioned. The Lakers haven’t played well since the deadline, falling into 10th place in the West with a 30-32 record.

L.A.’s trade plans involving Davis should become clearer once the season is over and negotiations can resume. However, the Lakers will find a more competitive playing field, with the Celtics and Knicks expected to become actively involved, along with other teams.