Lonzo Ball

Lakers Notes: Ball, Redick, Zubac

Lonzo Ball‘s ability as a passer has never been questioned but his ability to shoot has been a concern ever since the 2017 NBA Draft.  As Ball prepares for his sophomore campaign, it appears he has simplified the release on his jumper, Joe Morgan of Sporting News writes.

In his first season, Ball shot 36% from the field and 30.5% from beyond the arc. Those numbers are going to need improvement as he prepares to play with LeBron James, a notorious playmaker who relies on outside shooters. There is reason to believe that Ball can be an effective shooter as he shot 55.1% from the floor and 42.1% from three-point range in his lone season at UCLA.

Based on videos of Ball in preseason workouts, it appears he has dropped the hitch in his release that had been a concern. With a simplified jumper, it should help Ball have a quicker — and hopefully more accurate — release.

Check out more Lakers notes below:

  • Speaking of reliable shooters, after LeBron James signed with the Lakers, the team reportedly intensified its pursuit of veteran sharpshooter J.J. Redick. Appearing on Zach Lowe’s The Lowe Post podcast (via USA Today), Redick said there was an opportunity to join the Lakers, but he also had offers from the Pacers and Suns. Redick ultimately re-signed with the Sixers.
  • Both Ivica Zubac and Svi Mykhailiuk are with their respective national teams as they both approach a berth in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, per NBA.com. Zubac is with the Croatian team while Mykhailiuk is with the Ukranian team

And-Ones: Sophomores, Future Rankings, Christon

The 2017 NBA Draft class has thus far turned out to be one of the most impressive crops in recent memory. In addition Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum, poised freshmen that played significant roles in the playoffs, there are also a handful of lottery picks with tremendous opportunity for future growth.

ESPN’s Mike Schmitz (Insider) recently profiled a few players from last year’s draft class who showed impressive glimpses during their first year in the pros. Schmitz writes that Lonzo Ball deviated from what made him great at UCLA. If he’s to thrive with the Lakers he’ll need to step up as a spot-up shooter. Last year, the guard spent too much time trying to create in pick-and-roll situations.

Schmitz also discusses Josh Jackson, Dennis Smith and De’Aaron Fox, opting to exclude Markelle Fultz due to the unique circumstances of his rookie year.

There’s more from around the league:

  • Sorry Hornets fans, the Charlotte franchise has been ranked as the team with the bleakest forecast over the next three seasons. Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider) writes that turnover in the front office, coupled with limited financial flexibility, won’t bode well for the team heading forward.
  • At a time when journalists scrap to be the first media personalities to tweet about player movement in the NBA, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard has broken the news for two recent sportswriter job changes. He, alongside CJ McCollum form the most journalistic backcourt the NBA has ever seen.
  • After playing one season in China and Puerto Rico, former Thunder guard Semaj Christon is open to playing in Europe, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando tweets.

Lakers Notes: Ball, Stephenson, Bosh, Thompson

Lakers guard Lonzo Ball wasn’t concerned with his name being in trade rumors this past summer, relays Christian Rivas of USA TODAY’s Lonzo Wire. Ball was rumored as potential trade candidate in a deal involving Kawhi Leonard before the Spurs moved him to Toronto.

“There’s trade rumors every year,” Ball said. “Athletes in general, you’re never really 100 percent safe. Wherever you’re at. Anything can happen, especially in the offseason, so all I can do is just make sure I’m ready to play at the best of my abilities.”

The Lakers ultimately opted to keep Ball on their roster, and it’s unclear if the team ever seriously pursued a trade involving him. Los Angeles reached a buyout agreement with Luol Deng this past week, which gives the team the cap flexibility to pursue Leonard again once he becomes a free agent in July.

Ball, 20, is set to enter his second season with the Lakers. He’ll compete with veteran guard Rajon Rondo for the team’s starting point guard position when camp opens in three weeks.

There’s more from the Lakers:

  • Lance Stephenson is focused on helping the Lakers earn a winning season, studying game film of LeBron James and other teammates throughout the summer, Scott Agness of The Athletic notes. “He worked harder than most guys that I’ve ever seen over a summer period,” NBA trainer Rob Blackwell said.
  • Free agent Chris Bosh continues to eye an NBA comeback, but a number of hurdles would stand between him and the Lakers on a potential deal, writes Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus. Bosh must show a significant improvement in his condition or any potential treatment options in order to be cleared by the league.
  • While he may be a long shot to leave the Warriors in 2019, Klay Thompson shouldn’t be overlooked as a potential free agent target for the Lakers, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. As Anthony Irwin of Silver Screen & Roll details, Shelburne observed during an appearance on ESPN Radio that Thompson’s skill set would be an ideal fit for the Lakers, but acknowledged that the All-Star guard “feels like a Warrior for life.”

Lonzo Ball Undergoes Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

JULY 17, 7:41pm: Ball had surgery on Tuesday and is expected to make a full recovery by training camp, the team tweets.

JULY 13, 5:08pm: Lakers second-year point guard Lonzo Ball will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday, the Lakers’ PR department tweets. An update on his prognosis will be made after the surgery, the team adds.

Ball is still expected to be ready for training camp, Sam Amick of USA Today tweets.

News of the surgical procedure doesn’t come as a surprise. Ball dealt with left knee issues for a good portion of his rookie season. It was revealed late last month that Ball had torn meniscus in the knee.

The Lakers gave themselves some protection at the point guard spot by signing Rajon Rondo to a one-year, $9MM deal.

A sprained left medial collateral ligament and a left knee bruise limited Ball to 52 games in his rookie campaign. Ball was a triple-double threat every time he took the court, averaging 10.2 PPG,  6.9 RPG and 7.2 APG but shot just 36% from the field.

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.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Ball, Cousins, Warriors

While the Lakers‘ agreements with free agents like Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee drew plenty of confusion and some criticism, the deals represent the rollout of the plan that Magic Johnson outlined to LeBron James when they met late Saturday night, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne.

As Windhorst and Shelburne detail, James’ Cavaliers squad was heavily on shooters and offensive-minded players, but lacked genuine play-makers and strong defenders. By contrast, Johnson pitched LeBron on the idea of stocking the Lakers’ roster with “tough-minded play-makers” who can free up James to work in the post and finish in the lanes, rather than having to generate all the team’s offense himself. According to Windhorst and Shelburne, some league executives are fans of the approach.

“I know some people are rolling their eyes but I like what the Lakers have done,” one rival Western Conference exec told ESPN. “You can find shooters. They’ve taken some in the last few drafts. Play-makers matter and are harder to find.”

While the Lakers haven’t focused on shooters with their first round of free agent moves, “all parties agree” that the roster could use more outside shooting, so that need still figures to be addressed, ESPN’s report notes.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Addressing news of Lonzo Ball‘s torn meniscus, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on his podcast that Lakers management didn’t want that information out there. According to Wojnarowski, there’s a belief that Ball’s camp leaked word of the injury in an effort to discourage teams from trading for him. Woj adds (via Twitter) that there’s a chance the second-year point guard will require surgery.
  • With a Warriors notebook, Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes that Golden State will have an “intriguing escape hatch” if the DeMarcus Cousins experiment doesn’t work out. If Cousins is healthy by the trade deadline but isn’t fitting in with the Warriors, his modest salary and expiring contract would make him a fascinating trade chip, Slater observes.
  • In case you missed it on Wednesday, we relayed several Clippers updates, writing that the team has signed Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, met with Kyle O’Quinn, and remains interested in bringing back Montrezl Harell.

L.A. Notes: Leonard, James, Rondo, Rivers

The Spurs continue to seek a high price from the Lakers in exchange for Kawhi Leonard, salary cap expert Larry Coon said in an appearance today on Spectrum SportsNet (Twitter link). Sources tell Coon that San Antonio is asking for Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, two first-rounders and the right to swap two other draft choices. “They’re just saying give us everything,” Coon said.

Coon also outlined the Lakers’ remaining cap situation, noting that the signing of Lance Stephenson with the mid-level exception will probably be the final move in free agency after all other cap space is used up.

There’s more news from Los Angeles:

  • LeBron James‘ decision to join the Lakers may give Leonard more incentive to become a Clipper, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports suggested in an appearance on Colin Cowherd’s radio show (Twitter link).
  • The Lakers are turning their attention to next summer for their next big free agent move, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. The organization’s emphasis on one-year deals helps explain the odd collection of moves that have come down since James committed to L.A. Sunday night. The Lakers re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, then reached agreements with Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo, all on one-year contracts. The team expects to have about $76MM in guaranteed money next summer, possibly less if Luol Deng is waived and stretched, leaving enough to offer another max deal.
  • Rondo, whom Deveney states has wanted to join the Lakers since 2015, could take the starting point guard job away from Lonzo Ball, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. A source tells Amick that the L.A. front office has promised Rondo the chance to compete for a starting spot.
  • During an impromptu interview with TMZ, Doc Rivers explained the decision to trade his son, Austin Rivers, to the Wizards. The Clippers coach called it “the right thing for all of us” and predicts that Austin will excel in Washington.

Lakers Guard Lonzo Ball Has Torn Meniscus

Lakers guard Lonzo Ball has a torn meniscus in his left knee, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets. Ball is expected to be ready for training camp, Charania adds.

Ball’s injury thickens the plot as the club attempts to sign or acquire superstar talents. LeBron James had decided to opt out of his contract and the Lakers are the favorite to land him. They’re also engaged in talks with the Spurs to acquire Kawhi Leonard. Though it doesn’t appear Ball is part of those trade discussions, the injury increases the chances he’ll stay put.

Ball dealt with left knee issues at various points of his rookie season. A sprained left medial collateral ligament and a left knee bruise limited the point guard to 52 games. Ball was a triple-double threat every time he took the court, averaging 10.2 PPG,  6.9 RPG and 7.2 APG but shot a woeful 36% from the field.

Lonzo Ball The ‘One Constant’ In LeBron James Talks

Lonzo Balls name has been the one constant mentioned as an outgoing trade piece in the event that LeBron James decides to join the Lakers, per ESPN’s Chris B. Haynes (Twitter link).

While it’s possible that James declines his $35,607,968 player option to become a free agent, that salary actually exceeds his projected maximum salary based on a $101MM cap ($35.35MM). James could conceivably opt in and then be shipped elsewhere and the Lakers have long been connected as a potential suitor.

Ball, 20, posted a solid rookie campaign in 2017/18, averaging 10.2 PPG, 7.2 APG, and 6.9 RPG for the Lakers. However, Ball is not the lone young asset the Lakers wield as Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and even RFA Julius Randle are all potential trade chips.

After yesterday’s news that Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard is seeking a trade, the Lakers once again jumped to the forefront of trade discussions. To potentially acquire either one or both of Leonard and James, the Lakers will need to part with significant young talent. Those discussions likely begin with their starting point guard.

Leonard Trade Rumors: Lakers, Kings, Knicks, Celtics, Odds

It would be a tight squeeze financially but the Lakers could conceivably acquire Kawhi Leonard in a trade and sign both LeBron James and Paul George as free agents, according to Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com. Leonard’s desire to be traded from the Spurs, with Los Angeles being his preferred destination, was made public on Friday. The trade would have to be completed before any free agent signings and the Spurs would have to be willing to take back Luol Deng‘s bad contract, Pelton continues. A package of either Lonzo Ball or Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma might be enough to entice the Spurs to do that, though a third team might be needed in order to match up salaries. The Lakers could then sign James and George, and fill out the roster using their room mid-level exception along with veterans agreeing to minimum contracts, Pelton adds.

In other notes involving Leonard trade chatter:

  • The Kings could be a darkhorse to land Leonard, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports tweets. Sacramento is desperately seeking a star-level talent and is willing to part with the No. 2 pick in the draft to get one, according to Mannix.
  • The Knicks would have to part with Kristaps Porzingis to have any chance of securing Leonard, Marc Berman of the New York Post speculates. The only other major assets the Knicks possess are their lottery pick (No. 9 overall), their potential lottery pick in 2020 and last year’s lottery selection, point guard Frank Ntilikina. But the Knicks could only trade one of those picks under CBA rules and they’d also have to give up another big salary to make the trade work, Berman notes.
  • The Celtics are expected to express interest in Leonard in their quest to land superstars, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe reports. However, a league source told Himmelsbach that the timing of the leak might actually be a negotiating ploy to secure a five-year, $219MM maximum extension from the Spurs.
  • The Lakers are the heavy favorites to land Leonard, according to the Bovada Sportsbook as relayed by Adam Zagoria of the New York Times (Twitter link). The Lakers are less than even money at 5-7 to have Leonard in their opening-night lineup. The Celtics are rated at 15-4, a little less than 4-1, to acquire Leonard. The Sixers and Spurs are next as 5-1 proposition, followed by the Cavaliers and Clippers at 10-1.