LeBron James

Pacific Notes: Paul, Durant, James, Westbrook

Addressing reports that the Suns were willing to trade him in a package to the Nets for Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul took the news like a pro, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic tweets.

Paul knows all about being traded, so he didn’t seem blindsided by the news.

“It’s a business. I’ve seen crazier,” he said. “The way I found out I was traded from Houston. You just show up to work and be a pro day in and day out. Nobody’s exempt from being traded. Find out just like everybody else.”

Coach Monty Williams expressed disappointment that the future Hall of Famer has to deal with these rumors and reports at this stage of his career, Rankin adds in another tweet.

“I don’t think it’s fair when guys have their names thrown out there,” Williams said. “Kind of bothers me, ’cause Chris, his name should never be thrown out there in that way.”

We have more Pacific Division news:

  • While they may have struck out for Irving, the Suns are prepared to make another offer to Brooklyn if Kevin Durant becomes available, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. It’s unknown just what Phoenix would be willing to part with for Durant, but The Arizona Republic’s Jeremy Cluff cobbles up some speculative pieces around the Internet that suggest Deandre Ayton would likely be part of the package.
  • LeBron James expressed disappointment that the Lakers were unable to land Irving, he told ESPN’s Michael Wilbon (hat tip to Rachel Nichols). “Definitely disappointed. I can’t sit here and say I’m not disappointed on not being able to land someone…I’ve got great chemistry on the floor with, that can help you win championships,” James said.
  • Lakers coach Darvin Ham said that Russell Westbrook just needs to do his work as trade rumors continue to swirl around him, Mark Medina of NBA.com tweets. “This is an unforgiving business in terms of different coverage and in terms of covering scenarios and dealing with rumors and different things happening,” Ham said. “All you can do is put your head down and do the work and try to remain as professional as possible. He’s done that.”

Kyrie Irving Trade Notes: Durant, Doncic, LeBron, Grades

The Kyrie Irving trade may lead to a flurry of deals before Thursday’s deadline, but John Hollinger of The Athletic expects most teams to hold onto their first-round picks in case three of the NBA’s biggest stars become available this summer.

It’s barely been seven months since Kevin Durant‘s last trade demand, and even if he doesn’t request it, Hollinger believes the Nets may consider moving him in the offseason. Durant will turn 35 in September, and Hollinger points out that he’s the only star left on a Brooklyn team that no longer looks like a contender and may not have the draft assets to pull off a major addition.

Hollinger also expects rival teams to start monitoring Luka Doncic‘s happiness in Dallas, especially if the Irving deal backfires. He cites league executives who speculated over the past week that acquiring Irving could be toxic for the Mavericks on the theory that he could eventually cause Doncic to ask to leave, the same way James Harden did in Brooklyn when he was paired with Irving. Even if Irving turns out to be a short-term addition, Dallas parted with two rotation players plus draft capital in the deal and doesn’t have an obvious path to improve.

The third star worth watching, according to Hollinger, is LeBron James, who tweeted “Maybe It’s Me” on Sunday after seeing the Lakers miss another opportunity to add talent. James was reportedly a strong proponent of trading for Irving, his former teammate in Cleveland.

There’s more on the Irving deal:

  • Even though they gave up the best player in the deal, Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer believes the Nets are in a better position. Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith provide additional depth, giving the team possibly 12 players capable of handling regular rotation minutes. O’Connor adds that Brooklyn could still use a backup center and states that the organization still has interest in the TimberwolvesNaz Reid.
  • The Durant-Irving era, which began when both players signed with the Nets in 2019, will go down as a disappointment, says Adam Zagoria of NJ.com. Even after adding another All-Star by trading for Harden in 2021, Brooklyn managed to win just one playoff series. Zagoria notes that this time will always be a “what if?” for Nets fans.
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN considers the trade a “win-win” for both teams (video link). He argues that Brooklyn got at least one starter, and maybe two, in return for Irving, while Dallas is taking an understandable chance to upgrade its talent level.
  • In grading the deal, Zach Harper of The Athletic gives the Mavericks a C-plus because of the risk involved and the Nets a B, as long as the deal doesn’t alienate Durant.

Latest On Kyrie Irving

Although Kyrie Irving ostensibly missed Saturday’s Nets game – a dramatic comeback win over Washington – due to right calf soreness, it’s safe to assume his Friday trade request was the reason he wasn’t on the court in Brooklyn.

The Nets are scheduled to play three more home games before Thursday’s trade deadline – Monday vs. the Clippers, Tuesday vs. the Suns, and Thursday vs. the Bulls – but we shouldn’t expect Irving to be available for any of those ones either. According to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report (Twitter link), Brooklyn plans to keep Irving sidelined until a trade is finalized.

And what if the trade deadline comes and goes without the Nets finding a suitable deal for Irving? According to Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link), the 30-year-old hasn’t made a decision yet on whether he’d sit out the rest of the season in that scenario, but Lewis says it’s a “nuclear option” that has been discussed.

Here’s more on Irving:

  • Although the Lakers are widely considered a frontrunner to land Irving, having been linked to him since last summer, sources with knowledge of the situation who spoke to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times expressed pessimism about the odds of Kyrie being dealt to the Lakers.
  • As Woike explains, Irving’s expectations for his next contract are a factor working against a trade to the Lakers — the All-Star guard is expected to seek a four-year, maximum-salary deal, while the Lakers would prefer no more than a two-year commitment. A similar disconnect between Irving and the Nets is reportedly what led to his trade request in the first place.
  • Asked about the possibility of the Lakers acquiring Irving, LeBron James said it was a question for Rob Pelinka and the front office, but made it clear he wouldn’t be against a reunion with his former Cavs teammate. “Obviously, that’s a — what’s the word you use — ‘duh’ question when you talk about a player like that,” James said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
  • Russell Westbrook would have to be part of an outgoing package in any Irving deal involving the Lakers, but he said on Saturday that he’s not feeling any added pressure hearing his name in trade rumors once again, according to McMenamin. “That’s not up to me. Like I said, I’ve known this was a business since I was 18, 19 years old, since I got into it,” Westbrook said. “My dad taught me that at that age, getting to this league is a business, and people make whatever decision they make. And I’ll make sure I’m ready and professional, like I always have been and always will be.”
  • Law Murray of The Athletic explores the Clippersreported interest in Irving, noting that L.A.’s up-and-down season has made the team more open to pursuing Kyrie than it would have been last summer. Murray hears that the Clippers have made a “strong offer” for Irving.
  • While there’s no indication that Kevin Durant will follow Irving’s lead and request a trade before this Thursday, rival executives are hopeful that the Kyrie drama will help expedite Durant’s own exit from Brooklyn, perhaps as soon as this offseason, writes Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. “I know (Nets owner) Joe Tsai came into this year looking at it like, ‘Let’s see how this plays out,'” an Eastern Conference GM said to Deveney. “Well, he’s seen how it has played out. … No matter what happens with Kyrie in the next few days, you have to think that Joe Tsai is going to say it is time to tear it all down and start over. And that means KD is next up.”

L.A. Notes: LeBron, T. Bryant, Lakers, Conley, Clippers

After missing Monday’s game in Brooklyn due to left foot/ankle soreness, Lakers star LeBron James has been listed as questionable to play on Tuesday in New York, tweets Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times.

While that status indicates that his availability for tonight remains up in the air, sources tell ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (Twitter link) that LeBron will play against the Knicks. He’s just 117 points away from catching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two Los Angeles-based teams:

  • While his production fell off last week with Anthony Davis back, Lakers center Thomas Bryant showed on Monday that he remains a crucial – and highly effective – insurance policy, scoring 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting with Davis unavailable, Turner writes for The Los Angeles Times. “I’m willing to do whatever the team needs me to do in order to win,” Bryant said. “Whether that’s coming off the bench, I’m with it. Or if that’s starting, I’m ready as well.”
  • Now that the Lakers have traded away their 2029 second-round pick, Eric Pincus of Sports Business Classroom considers how the team could add protections to their 2029 first-round pick if it’s traded this season. Protections aren’t allowed to be added to picks beyond seven years, so if the Lakers trade their 2029 first-rounder with protections at February’s deadline, they won’t be able to include language that pushes it to 2030.
  • ESPN’s Tim MacMahon is the latest reporter to throw cold water on the idea of the Clippers acquiring point guard Mike Conley from the Jazz. After Jake Fischer reported last week that the idea of the Clips landing Conley was probably “unrealistic,” MacMahon said on an episode of The Lowe Post podcast that it’s unlikely to happen because L.A. is reluctant to give up a first-round pick. “If they are (going to give up a first-rounder) for a point guard, I think it’s more likely (Fred) VanVleet than it is for Conley,” MacMahon said (hat tip to Scott Polacek of Bleacher Report).
  • It took some time for the Clippers‘ star combo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to hit their stride this season, but the pairing is finally paying dividends, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. The team had won five straight games before Leonard and George sat out the second half of a back-to-back set on Sunday. L.A. won’t have another back-to-back until March.

Injury Updates: Anunoby, Simmons, Warren, James, Doncic, Young, Butler

OG Anunoby is one of the bigger names churning through the trade rumor mill, so the latest injury news regarding the Raptors forward could complicate those discussions.

The team has ruled out Anunoby for the remainder of its road trip, a seven-game journey which concludes with stops in Utah, Houston and Memphis this week, Michael Grange of Sportnet.ca tweets. He sprained his left wrist against Golden State on Friday.

We have more notable injury updates:

  • The Nets’ Ben Simmons (left knee soreness) and T.J. Warren (left shin contusion) sat out Monday’s win over the Lakers, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. Coach Jacque Vaughn is hopeful both will be “ready to go” for Wednesday’s matchup against Boston, Adam Zagoria tweets.
  • LeBron James sat out that game with what Lakers coach Darvin Ham describes as “some really significant soreness” in his left foot, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register tweets. The Lakers play against the Knicks on Tuesday.
  • Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic returned to action after a one-game absence due to an ankle sprain and continued his scoring rampage. He notched 53 points against Detroit, his league-best fourth 50-point game this season, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press notes (Twitter link).
  • Hawks guard Trae Young sat out Monday’s game against Portland due to right ankle soreness, Lauren Williams of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets. He had 31 points in 36 minutes against the Clippers on Saturday.
  • Heat forward Jimmy Butler (right quad contusion) is listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game against Cleveland, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets. Butler scored 28 points against Charlotte on Sunday.

Injury Updates: Davis, James, Doncic, Wiggins, Gobert, Haliburton

The Lakers will play without both of their superstars against the Nets on Monday, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes.

LeBron James has a sore left ankle ankle, while Anthony Davis will rest his right foot. It’s the first game of a back-to-back, so they both could return on Tuesday against the Knicks.

We have more notable injury updates:

  • Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic is listed as questionable to play against Detroit on Monday, the team’s PR department tweets. Doncic suffered a left ankle sprain three minutes into their game against Phoenix on Thursday. He missed their loss to Utah on Saturday.
  • Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins, who missed the last two games due to a non-COVID illness, is not listed on the injury report for Monday’s game against Oklahoma City, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets.
  • Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert is listed as questionable to play against Sacramento on Monday due to right groin soreness, the team’s PR department tweets. Gobert played 36 minutes in Minnesota’s victory over the Kings on Saturday.
  • Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton hopes to practice Tuesday and Wednesday with “the aim to play this weekend,” according to coach Rick Carlisle, Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star tweets. Indiana plays home games against the Lakers, Kings and Cavaliers later this week. Haliburton has missed 10 games due to knee and elbow injuries.

Antetokounmpo, James Head All-Star Starters; Embiid Falls Short

Lakers forward LeBron James tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Thursday with his 19th NBA All-Star selection. James, who currently shares the record with Abdul-Jabbar for most All-Star Games played with 18, was chosen as a starter, according to a league press release.

All of the starters were revealed on Thursday night.

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic were the other starters chosen out of the Western Conference. James will serve as a team captain for the sixth straight year, since he received the most votes.

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, named a team captain for the third time, heads the list of starters out of the Eastern Conference. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, Nets forward Kevin Durant, Nets guard Kyrie Irving, and Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell will join him, but the league’s second-leading scorer, Sixers center Joel Embiid (33.4 PPG), didn’t garner enough votes.

The starters are selected by a weighted voting process with the fan vote accounting for half of the final outcome. The player and media portions of the vote each counted for 25 percent. Three frontcourt players and two guards were selected from each conference.

Embiid finished third in the player and media voting among Eastern Conference frontcourt players but fourth in the fan voting. All voting results can be found here.

The game will be played Feb. 19 in Salt Lake City. James and Antetokounmpo will choose their teams shortly before the game begins. James will set the league record for most All-Star appearances if he plays, since Abdul-Jabbar did not play in the 1973 game after being chosen.

The reserves, which are chosen by the league’s coaches, will be announced Feb. 2.

LeBron James, Jrue Holiday Named Players Of The Week

Lakers forward LeBron James and Bucks guard Jrue Holiday have been named the NBA’s players of the week, the league announced (via Twitter).

James led the Lakers to a 3-1 week with averages of 35.0 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 7.0 APG and 1.3 BPG on .510/.323/.842 shooting. He continues to play at an incredibly high level at 38 years old, having won the award a couple weeks ago as well. The Lakers are currently 22-25, the West’s No. 12 seed, but are only 2.5 games back of the No. 5 seed Mavericks.

Holiday had an outstanding week himself, leading Milwaukee to a 2-1 record with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton sidelined. He averaged 33.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 9.3 APG and 1.7 SPG on a stellar .569/.478/1.000 shooting slash line. The Bucks are currently 29-17, the East’s No. 3 seed, and are expected to get both of Holiday’s aforementioned teammates back on Monday.

According to the NBA (Twitter link), the other nominees in the West were Mikal Bridges, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kawhi Leonard and Jamal Murray, while Joel Embiid, Darius Garland, Kyrie Irving, Dejounte Murray and Fred VanVleet were nominated in the East.

Lakers Notes: Davis, Nunn, James, Trade Deadline

Lakers star big man Anthony Davis had an encouraging practice session on Thursday, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets.

“He did jump in with the group today, did some non-contact stuff, pick-and-roll drills, a little offensive scripting,” head coach Darvin Ham said. “He’s looking good. Moving well. … Got a great sweat in [during an] individual workout … He’s progressing really, really, really well.”

Davis has a general timeline of early February to suit up again. He has been out since December 16 after suffering a stress reaction in the navicular bone in his right foot.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • Guard Kendrick Nunn is one of the most tradable pieces on the team, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. Nunn is on an expiring contract and could be part of a package for a frontcourt player. “He could help someone,” one executive told Deveney. “But they need to show he is healthy. He’s got a very manageable contract and they’re dying for size on that team.”
  • The Lakers have lost three close games over the past week and LeBron James laments how injuries have impacted the team, noting they have “zero room for error,” according to McMenamin. “We are limited with bodies,” James said. “So until some of our big guys or some of our key guys get back … we’ve got to continue to play how we’ve played the last couple games. Play mistake-free basketball.”
  • James has averaged 34.9 points while playing 37.8 minutes per game so far in January. Ham would like to reduce his aging superstar’s minutes, McMenamin writes in the same story. “He’s playing at an amazing level, but we can’t run him in the ground,” Ham said.
  • If the Lakers remain committed to chasing championships with Davis and James, they may be better off adding multiple role players prior to this year’s trade deadline, according to Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype. Even if they let all their projected free agents walk at season’s end, they might be priced out of the market for a top-level free agent while still having many roster spots to fill, as Gozlan explains.

Pacific Notes: Johnson, Payne, George, LeBron

A return to the floor for Suns starting power forward Cameron Johnson appears to be imminent, reports Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Johnson has been sidelined for Phoenix since November 4 with a torn right meniscus that required surgery.

“Just sometime when I get back from the [team’s just-wrapped road trip], but I feel pretty good,” Johnson said when asked about his return timeline. “Taking it one day at a time right now, but I’m looking forward to getting back soon, very soon.”

In his eight healthy games this year, Johnson has averaged 13.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.8 APG and 1.1 SPG. The Suns have gone 15-21 since Johnson’s injury, though other major absences to Phoenix players have played a role in that record, too.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Suns reserve point guard Cameron Payne is set to have his right foot sprain reassessed later in January, Rankin notes (Twitter link). “I haven’t started doing anything,” Payne said. “I think [Monday] when I get back into Phoenix, we should be doing our next checkups and check off a few things for me to get back on the court.” Payne has played just twice since December 13.
  • Injured Clippers star forward Paul George has been cleared for full team practices, but head coach Tyronn Lue is unsure of an exact timeline for his return to the floor, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.
  • All-Star Lakers forward LeBron James took to social media today to register his discontent about what he sees as inconsistent game officiating. “And all year they keep telling me to my face on the court, ‘I didn’t see it’ or ‘It wasn’t a [foul],'” James tweeted. “It’s not making sense to me seriously! Frustrating as hell man! Anyways keep going Squad!” James seemed particularly upset during L.A.’s two latest losses, to the Mavericks on Thursday and the Sixers Sunday.