LeBron James

Pacific Notes: Beasley, James, Livingston, Temple

In a somewhat surprising move, the Lakers plan to sign veteran forward Michael Beasley to a one-year, $3.5MM deal, using a significant portion of their room exception. Beasley enjoyed a rejuvenated season with the Knicks in 2017/18, averaging 13.2 PPG and 5.6 RPG in 74 games (30 starts).

Beasley reportedly had opportunities to sign with teams that offered more playing time, but a tough free agent market made the $3.5MM salary hard to pass up, tweets David Aldridge of NBA.com. Also, Beasley has familiarity with LeBron James, as he played alongside the four-time NBA MVP with the Heat.

Since the Lakers signed James away from the Cavaliers, the team has further added Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and now Beasley. While it may not be the super team fans had hoped for, it’s an interesting conglomerate of talent.

Check out more Pacific Division notes:

  • Speaking of James, he made his first public appearance last Sunday to watch his new team in action at NBA Summer League. Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report spoke to several Lakers’ executives who were on hand and discussed the prospect of James in Los Angeles and his role on the team. One executive actually believes the Lakers’ best lineup would be with James at center.
  • Shaun Livingston has been a valuable reserve for the Warriors as the team has dominated the NBA the past half-decade, winning three championships in the past four years. Michael Scotto of The Athletic (subscription required) spoke to Livingston during his basketball camp in New York City, where Livingston addressed the Warriors’ success and the perception that Golden State has “ruined” the league with their super team.
  • Ever since Zach LaVine‘s offer sheet was matched by the Bulls, the Kings have not made any major additions to the team this offseason. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes that the Kings’ low-key approach thus far is okay and helps the team in the future.
  • The Grizzlies sent $1.5MM to the Kings as part of the trade for Garrett Temple , tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. That figure is the equivalent of Deyonta Davis‘ salary, which would therefore be covered by Memphis if the Kings choose to waive him.

Clark Crum contributed to this post.

Central Notes: Love, Middleton, Perkins, Pistons

Earlier tonight, we heard talk of the Cavaliers sending Kyle Korver to Philadelphia in exchange for Jerryd Bayless. While we wait to see if anything materializes in Cleveland, let’s take a look at some notes from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers are not shopping Kevin Love, though he could be on the move if the right offer presents itself, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst mentions on the Lowe Post podcast. The scribe adds that Khris Middleton is in the same boat with the Bucks not deeming him untouchable nor looking to deal him.
  • Cleveland waived Kendrick Perkins to “do right” by the big man and allow him to pursue training camp deals, a source tells Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. The Cavaliers signed Perkins on the final day of the 2017/18 regular season back when LeBron James was still on the roster. The team had hoped to use Perkins’ contract as part of an offseason trade.
  • The Pistons have added Tim Grgurich and Micah Nori as assistant coaches to Dwane Casey‘s staff, Ansar Khan of Mlive.com relays.
  • Alex Boeder of NBA.com examines what Brook Lopez will bring to the Bucks. Lopez should be able to help the team stretch the floor with his three-point shot, as over 40% of his shots from the field last came from behind the arc.
  • FIBA has banned Bucks center Thon Maker for three games in international play for his part in a brawl during a game in the Philippines earlier this month, according to an ESPN report. Maker said he disagreed with the decision in a written statement that was released on his Twitter account.

Pacific Notes: Walton, Nwaba, Clippers, Jerebko

LeBron James and Lakers coach Luke Walton held their first face-to-face meeting this weekend, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reports. They had only communicated by text prior to chatting in Las Vegas when James visited the summer league playoffs. So far, so good between the young coach and the league’s premier player, according to Shelburne.

“He’s about the team. He’s about doing things the right way, and he’s about winning,” Walton said. “I can work with those qualities.” The Lakers’ head coach had previously reached out to some of James’ former coaches and teamates to get a better handle on what to expect when coaching James, Shelburne adds.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Restricted free agent Rodney Hood and unrestricted FA guard David Nwaba are potential targets for the Kings in the dwindling market, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area speculates. Sacramento could also ease its frontcourt logjam via a deal or simply wait until the market heats up again during the February trade deadline, Ham adds.
  • The Clippers’ moves have put them in a position to contend for a playoff berth but they might be better off falling out of the race quickly, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times opines. Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Avery Bradley and Luc Mbah a Moute could turn into valuable trade pieces that could land them some prospects and additional draft picks, Woike explains. That would likely be a better outcome for the franchise’s long-term health than squeaking into the playoffs, Woike adds.
  • Veteran forward Jonas Jerebko jumped at the chance to join the Warriors, Logan Murdock of the San Jose Mercury News tweets“My agent called and said the Warriors were interested and after that, it was a wrap,” Jerebko told Murdock. “When the best team in the world calls, you answer.” Jerebko signed a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal with Golden State shortly after being waived by the Jazz.

And-Ones: Billups, LeBron, Free Agency, Budinger

ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups wants to run an NBA team in the near future, according to an Associated Press report. Billups turned down the Cavaliers’ GM job last summer, saying then it would tough to rebuild the team if LeBron James bolted. Rumors flew this summer that he’d be a candidate for a Pistons’ front-office post but he wasn’t seriously considered. “My desire is to one day run a team, be in a front office and try to build a champion,” Billups said. “I know that I will and I know I’m going to do a good job. When that opportunity presents itself, and it’s a good opportunity, I’ll be ready to go.”

In other news from around the league and overseas:

  • LeBron James will skip next week’s USA Basketball minicamp, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. It will be the first official session for USA Basketball with the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich as the head coach.
  • Dwyane Wade could be a bargain for the Heat or another team still shopping for a free agent guard, according to another AP story. Wade could probably be signed in the $5MM range. Vince Carter, Michael Beasley and restricted free agent Marcus Smart are three other veteran free agents who could offer value at a bargain rate, the story adds.
  • Former NBA forward Chase Budinger is pursuing a career in volleyball, Drew Ruiz of HoopsHype reports. Budinger is chasing an Olympic dream and has become a partner with two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal on the AVP Beach Volleyball circuit. “That’s been a goal of mine since I was in high school, to be on an Olympic team and playing for the USA,” Budinger told Ruiz. Budinger’s NBA career ended after he played 17 games for the Suns in the second half of the 20015/16 season.
  • Former NBA guard Mike James has signed a lucrative offer sheet with Italy’s Olimpia Milano through the 2021 season, international expert David Pick tweets. James started 10 games for the Suns last season and appeared in 32 games overall, averaging 10.4 PPG and. 3.8 APG. After getting waived, he played four games with the Pelicans before getting waived again. He then had a second stint with Greece’s Panathinaikos Athens and won a championship.

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Magic, Roster

Much has been made of LeBron James‘ league-changing decision to leave the Cavaliers and sign with the Lakers. Whether it be a change of scenery where James can play a different style of basketball or simply lucrative opportunities in Hollywood, his decision has widespread impacts.

However, during an appearance on NBA TV, James’ longtime agent, Rich Paul, explained that his client choosing the Lakers was a “basketball decision” which made him happy, per USA TODAY.

“It was basically about what he wanted to do and what made him happy. And he earned that being in his 16th season,” Paul said. “You don’t have athletes in their 16th season be the No. 1 free agent.”

 James, entering his age 34 season, is coming off arguably his best campaign to date. The former four-time NBA Most Valuable Player averaged 27.5 PPG, 9.1 APG, and 8.6 RPG while playing in all 82 regular season games for the first time in his career. James then led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season but was ultimately unsuccessful in defeating the reigning champions.
While playing in Hollywood will undoubtedly open new doors for James, Paul said that was not the main factor in his decision.”
People say, ‘Well, it’s about movies, it’s about this.’ It’s LeBron James. He’s already a global entity, so it wasn’t necessarily about that,” Paul said.
Check out more LeBron-related Lakers notes below:
  • Magic Johnson‘s one-on-one meeting with James is what sealed his decision to sign with Los Angeles and the Lakers’ president discussed how that meeting unfolded, USA TODAY’s Sam Amick writes. Johnson described himself and James as mirror images of one another in terms of “championship DNA” and a focus on winning.  “He was really happy that Rob [Pelinka] and I were not rushing, not making mistakes by rushing, and I told him that we had a three-year plan, we had a plan that we wanted to execute and that he could really take that plan to a whole ‘nother level,” Johnson said.
  • Johnson also said that the Lakers will consult with James on signings and trades, as his input and experience holds a lot of value, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk writes. “We’re gonna go to LeBron and say if there’s a deal to be made for guys available, we’ll say to him, ‘What do you think about this guy? You know him. You play against him. You know the backstory and everything about the guy.'” Johnson said.

Free Agent Rumors: Sixers, N. Young, Celtics, More

It didn’t take long once free agency began for LeBron James to announce that he would become a Laker — his agency issued a press release confirming his decision on the evening of July 1, less than 24 hours after the new league year officially got underway. Still, the Sixers felt as if James gave them serious consideration before he opted to head to L.A., as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com writes.

“I think they considered us very strongly,” Sixers principal owner Josh Harris said of James and his camp. “I think he – I would be speculating on how he makes his decisions, and I don’t want to do that – but I think that they were really serious [about Philadelphia]. The fact that they took the meeting with us was something that they didn’t view lightly, so I think that they were very serious about it.”

Sixers head coach Brett Brown, who said before free agency began that the team would be “star hunting,” isn’t walking back those comments and sounds committed to taking the same approach going forward, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Even if the 76ers can’t pull off a trade for Kawhi Leonard or another star, they should have plenty of cap flexibility in 2019, when many more All-Stars will reach the open market.

Here are a few more free agent notes and rumors:

  • About six teams, including the Rockets, continue to express interest in free agent swingman Nick Young, tweets Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston. A report earlier this week specifically identified Houston, Minnesota, Utah, Cleveland, Memphis, and Sacramento as teams with interest in Young, though it’s not clear if those are the same six that remain in the mix.
  • While Marcus Smart‘s free agent outlook remains up in the air, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge calls the RFA guard Boston’s “highest priority” (Twitter link via Brian Robb of Boston Sports Journal).
  • Asked today about the Celtics‘ plans for two-way restricted free agent Jabari Bird, Ainge replied, “We don’t know yet” (Twitter link via Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald). Bird has been Boston’s best player in Summer League action so far, averaging 18.0 PPG on 57.9% shooting, but it remains to be seen if the C’s will find room for him on their 15-man roster.
  • After pouring in 19 points in his NBA debut as a 32-year-old in April, Andre Ingram isn’t satisfied with his brief NBA cameo. As Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated relays, even after being renounced by the Lakers, Ingram is seeking another NBA opportunity, and has received some interest – but no offers – from the league’s 30 clubs.
  • Zach Lowe breaks down the winners and losers of free agency in an entertaining piece for ESPN.com.

Lakers Rumors: LeBron, Lineup, Ball, Randle

While LeBron James is – of course – a lock to open the season in the Lakers‘ starting lineup, the team isn’t ready to pencil in the rest of its starting five quite yet, general manager Rob Pelinka said today. As Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com (Twitter link) relays, Pelinka told reporters that the other four spots in the Lakers’ lineup will be up for grabs. That includes the point guard position, where Rajon Rondo and Lonzo Ball are expected to engage in open competition.

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

  • Lonzo Ball and his management group are evaluating options for his injured knee, according to Pelinka (Twitter link via Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet). None of the options being considered would involve a long-term recovery though, so Pelinka expects the second-year point guard to be “100% available for training camp.”
  • Asked if the Lakers considered signing Julius Randle to a long-term deal this offseason, Pelinka pointed out that the team didn’t give multiple years to anyone except LeBron, tweets Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. “We did identify going into this offseason to keep cap flexibility going into 2019,” Pelinka said.
  • ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Ohm Youngmisuk pass along some Lakers contract details, with Lowe tweeting that James’ new four-year contract includes a 15% trade kicker, while Youngmisuk writes that Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk‘s 2018/19 salary of $1.5MM is guaranteed, but his second and third years are non-guaranteed. It looks like L.A. gave Mykhailiuk a larger-than-usual first-year salary in exchange for allowing the team to maximize its 2019 flexibility.
  • Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com and Lee Jenkins of SI.com both published excellent, in-depth looks at LeBron’s free agent decision. Each piece is packed with interesting tidbits and is worth checking out in full.

Western Notes: Capela, Stephenson, Jazz

The Rockets and Clint Capela may not be that far apart in negotiations toward a new deal, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link) is hearing that the team’s initial offer was not as low as previously reported. Sources tell Feigen that the July 1 offer was for $85MM over five years with Capela having the ability to earn up to $90MM based on incentives.

Rumors claiming the center wanted an offer in the neighborhood of $100MM over four years, similar to Steven Adams‘ pact, surfaced recently. Previous reports had Houston offering approximately $60MM over four years.

One source tells Feigen that the Rockets are optimistic about reaching a deal. Houston has the ability to match any offer, as Capela is a restricted free agent.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Magic Johnson said he consulted LeBron James before bringing Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, and JaVale McGee to the Lakers, as Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet relays (Twitter link). “LeBron’s won championships, been to eight straight Finals. You think Rob [Pelinka] and I are not going to ask him? No, we’re going to definitely ask him his opinion because he knows those players better than us,” Johnson said.
  • Stephenson said the Lakers want him to “bring intensity” every night, as Spectrum SportsNet’s Mike Trudell passes along (Twitter link). The 27-year-old wing officially signed his one-year deal today.
  • Chemistry was a major reason why the Jazz decided to keep their core intact. “Chemistry is a hard thing,” GM Dennis Lindsey said (via the Associated Press). “It’s a hard thing to predict. You can get five great people in the room and have it just not click for whatever reason, so we didn’t want to overthink that.”

LeBron James Signs Four-Year Deal With Lakers

JULY 9, 7:23pm: James has officially signed the contract, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

JULY 1, 7:11pm: LeBron James is headed to Los Angeles, with his agency Klutch Sports Group issuing a press release to confirm that James will sign a four-year contract with the Lakers (hat tip to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today). The plan all along, Zillgitt tweets, was to keep the announcement as low-key as possible.

According to Klutch Sports, James’ new deal will be worth $154MM, though the maximum four-year salary for a player with 10+ years of NBA experience who changes teams as a free agent is technically $153,312,846.

James’ new contract with the Lakers will start at $35.65MM, with subsequent salaries of $37.44MM, $39.22MM, and $41MM. That final year will be a player option, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, who tweets that LeBron will have the opportunity to opt out in 2021.

The four-year contract represents a departure from James’ last few seasons in Cleveland, when he signed shorter-term deals to maximize his earnings and his flexibility. He’ll be at least a Laker for the next three seasons, creating some stability for his family in Los Angeles and giving the Lakers time to build a championship-worthy roster around him.

The decision represents the culmination of a year-long saga. The Lakers, who had more cap space than any other NBA team heading into the 2018 offseason, were long rumored to be a potential landing spot for James, though several other teams – including the Cavaliers, Sixers, Rockets, Clippers, Heat, Celtics, Nuggets, and even the Warriors – were cited as possible suitors along the way.

[RELATED: More On LeBron’s Decision]

The Lakers were unable to secure a commitment today from Paul George, who will be headed back to Oklahoma City on a four-year deal of his own, but the team lands free agency’s big prize in James, who will join a roster featuring several up-and-coming prospects, including Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart.

With LeBron in the mix, it’s not clear if all those youngsters remain a part of the Lakers’ long-term plans. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Kawhi Leonard remains highly motivated to become a Laker, and the Lakers may be motivated in turn to increase their efforts to acquire him in a trade with the Spurs. That would mean breaking up the Lakers’ young core.

While the Lakers’ odds of landing another top free agent like DeMarcus Cousins or Clint Capela aren’t as high now that they’ve committed $35MM+ to James and are reportedly re-signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a $12MM deal, the team still has cap flexibility.

Accommodating James’ new max deal would reduce L.A.’s cap space to about $13.4MM, as cap experts Albert Nahmad and Bobby Marks detail, and adding KCP’s new $12MM salary would further eat into that room. However, the team could re-open substantial space by trading or stretching Luol Deng, or by renouncing Julius Randle. Deng has an $18MM salary for 2018/19, while Randle’s cap hold is $12,447,727. The Lakers will also have the $4.4MM room exception available once they use up all their cap space, which is expected to be used to sign Lance Stephenson.

[RELATED: DeMarcus Cousins expected to meet with Pelicans, Lakers]

[RELATED: Lakers to meet with Clint Capela]

As the Lakers complete their first steps toward a potential super-team, the Cavaliers will have to regroup now that James is leaving Cleveland for the second time in eight years. While the franchise was blindsided in 2010 when LeBron took his talents to South Beach, general manager Koby Altman and the Cavs’ front office had prepared for this eventuality by adding young, controllable players like Larry Nance, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson, and Collin Sexton within the last year.

Even without a max salary for James to consider, the Cavs already have $102MM+ in guaranteed money on their books for 2018/19, a figure that doesn’t account for a new deal for Hood. Recent reports indicated that the club didn’t plan on trading Kevin Love or blowing up its roster if LeBron left, so we can assume for now that the Cavs will still aim to compete for the playoffs in ’18/19.

Although Cleveland will obviously take a significant step backward without its four-time MVP, the path to the postseason should be easier in the Eastern Conference than in the hyper-competitive West, which will welcome another All-NBA player as a result of James’ decision. Eastern contenders like the Celtics, Raptors, and Pacers will likely be thrilled to see LeBron head west.

Meanwhile, the Sixers – who met with James’ representatives earlier today – will be another team to watch in the wake of LeBron’s agreement with the Lakers. Philadelphia was the only other suitor with a significant chunk of cap room available, so the team will have to turn its attention elsewhere as it debates how to use that space.

Currently, the 76ers have nearly $27MM in space, and the team could increase that number if it waives or buys out Jerryd Bayless, who is on an $8.5MM+ expiring contract. That gives the Sixers plenty of flexibility to pursue a top free agent or to focus on re-signing J.J. Redick and adding one or two more rotation pieces.

James’ decision caps an extremely eventful first day of the 2018 NBA free agent period. Each of the top five players on our list of 2018’s best 50 free agents have now agreed to deals, though many notable names in the top 15 remain available. That list includes Capela, Cousins, Randle, Aaron Gordon, Jabari Parker, Zach LaVine, and Tyreke Evans.

Austin Kent contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Central Notes: Stephenson, Love, Polinsky, Evans

The Pacers offered a better contract to swingman Lance Stephenson than he received from the Lakers, Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said on Friday (Twitter link via Mark Monteith). Stephenson agreed to a one-year, $4.5MM deal from the Lakers. A phone call from LeBron James influenced Stephenson’s decision to choose L.A., Monteith adds. However, the Pacers declined Stephenson’s team option of $4.36MM prior to free agency, so it seems odd Pritchard then turned around and offered more in the open market.

In other news around the Central Division:

  • The Cavs don’t plan on tanking or trading their top remaining player Kevin Love, Joe Vardon of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. GM Koby Altman said he’s intent on keeping the team competitive despite the loss of LeBron James“Kevin is an All-Star and you don’t get better by moving Kevin,” Altman said. “Kevin’s been incredible for us for four years and he wants to be here, and to me that’s a big part for guys that are here and the guys that we’re gonna acquire, is that they want to be here and be a part of this new chapter and culture that we’re creating.”
  • The Pistons have hired Nets executive Gregg Polinsky as their director of player personnel, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. Pistons senior advisor Ed Stefanski and Polinsky worked together in Brooklyn, Wojnarowski adds. Polinsky had the same title with the Nets but his role will expand in Detroit. Pat Garrity and Andrew Loomis, who were assistant GMs under former team president Stan Van Gundy, will continue in their roles, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News. The Pistons could bring in another assistant GM to focus on analytics, Beard adds.
  • Tyreke Evans is content with coming off the bench for the Pacers, Monteith writes for the team’s website. Evans joined the Pacers on a one-year, $12MM deal. Pritchard didn’t have to coax Evans into being a sixth man. “Not one bit,” he said. “We told him, ‘Here’s your role, does that interest you?’ He said, ‘Yes, I’m in.’ I think in his mind he’s going, ‘Boy, I’ve been scoring a lot of points and doing a lot of good stuff against starters, this is going to be fun.'”
  • Tim Grgurich is likely to join Dwane Casey’s coaching staff with the Pistons, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Grgurich, 76, has a long career as an NBA assistant and most recently was a consultant with the Bucks.