Lonzo Ball

Lakers Notes: Ball, Trades, Walton

Before finding himself sidelined for the remainder of the season, Lonzo Ball showcased his ability on defense, something that’s winning over some of his doubters.

“He’s an impact player on that side of the ball,” a Western Conference executive tells Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. “I’m surprised he’s that good defensively. Coming out of UCLA, that was a question.”

Pincus notes that Ball and LeBron James shared the floor in 34 games this season, winning 20 of those contests. Over a full season, that pace would put the Lakers in the middle of the playoff picture instead of the gutter where Los Angeles currently resides.

The defense is there but the offense is still a work in progress for Ball. Pincus argues the point guard must add a reliable three-pointer to his arsenal in order to take the next step in the evolution in his game.

Here’s more from Los Angeles:

  • Ball seems destined to be included in an Anthony Davis-to the-Lakers trade, but if that deal never occurs, the point guard would fit well alongside a potential free agent signing such as Kyrie Irving, Pincus argues (in the same piece). Ball has the size to guard opposing shooting guards, which would take a burden off of someone like Irving.
  • Poor shooting is the Lakers‘ biggest issue, Bill Oram of The Athletic contends. The front office attempted to correct this deficiency at the trade deadline by acquiring Reggie Bullock and Mike Muscala in a pair of deals. Bullock has made just 39.2% of his shots from behind the arc since coming to the Lakers. Muscala has made just 26.3% while barely seeing the floor.
  • Luke Walton will likely take the fall for the Lakers‘ struggles this season but Oram (in the same piece) argues that the coach is putting players in position to be successful. The team is making just 35.5% of “wide open” three-pointers, which ranks last in the league.“ We’ve had so many 3s where it could be dagger [and force] timeouts,” Rondo said. “We haven’t capitalized on those yet.”

Lakers Notes: Ball, Ingram, LeBron, Trade Talks

Lonzo Ball was hoping it wouldn’t be necessary, but he understands the Lakers‘ decision to shut him down for the rest of the season, writes Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times.

Ball hasn’t played since January 19 when he injured his ankle driving to the basket. He feared it was broken at first, but it turned out to be a Grade 3 sprain, which involves a torn ligament. He was given a four- to six-week prognosis to return, but a bone bruise in the ankle is keeping him out longer.

“It’s just the situation I’m in right now,” Ball said of the Lakers’ decision to end his season early. “So I have no problem with it.”

Ball, who saw his rookie season cut short because of a knee injury, is still traveling with the team and is looking forward to an opportunity to train this summer, which he couldn’t do last offseason. He said he had finally started playing the way he hopes to about five games before hurting his ankle.

There’s more news from Los Angeles:

  • The blood clot issue that forced the Lakers to shut down Brandon Ingram is affecting his trade value, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN. L.A. offered Ingram to the Pelicans last month as the centerpiece of an Anthony Davis deal, but Windhorst doubts that New Orleans would be as interested in Ingram now, even if doctors were to find that he has a low chance for the blood clots to recur. Ingram’s status is also complicated because he’s eligible for a contract extension this summer, and Windhorst doesn’t believe any team could get insurance to cover future blood clot issues.
  • LeBron James is still “fully committed” to the Lakers despite a rocky first season in L.A. and the uncertainty of whether the team can land another star or two, Windhorst adds in the same story. James told Michael Lee of the Athletic that he believes the Lakers will return to the playoffs during his time there and he has given no thought to shutting down this season. “I live being a professional,” James said. “I live playing every game like it’s my last, no matter what’s going on. You finish up strong. That’s just who I am.”
  • Sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe that the Davis trade talks “sapped morale” for some players. He adds that team president Magic Johnson’s lecture after the deadline about treating players “like babies” had the same effect.

Lakers Shut Down Lonzo Ball

Lakers guard Lonzo Ball won’t play any more this season, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Bell had a doctor’s appointment today to get his left ankle examined, and both sides agreed that the best decision was to end his season early.

The second-year guard hasn’t seen any game action since January 19 because of a Grade 3 ankle sprain and bone bruise. With the Lakers six-and-a-half games out of a playoff spot, there’s little reason to bring Ball back and risk further injury.

The move will give Ball a chance to get fully healthy headed into the offseason and use the summer for training, Charania adds (Twitter link). A knee injury limited what he was able to do last offseason.

L.A. was a playoff contender with Ball, but is just 5-13 since he hurt his ankle (Twitter link). The Lakers had recently become resigned to the probability that Ball was done for the year.

Ball appeared in just 47 games this season, posting a 9.9/5.3/5.4 line. That follows a rookie season in which he played 52 games.

Pacific Notes: Bagley III, Ball, Johnson

There’s no set return date scheduled for Marvin Bagley III but the standout Kings rookie has at least returned to basketball activities, Sean Cunningham of ABC10 Sacramento tweets. Bagley has been sidelined since spraining his left knee on Feb. 27.

Earlier this week, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee wrote about the 20-year-old’s recovery status after a scary injury, noting that he was “feeling good” and walking without a limp. That’s good news for a Kings team on the outside of the postseason looking in.

The ninth-seeded Kings have managed to keep their heads above water in their pursuit of a playoff berth since Bagley has been out, managing .500 basketball in the four games that they’ve been without him. In 10 February contests, Bagley averaged 17.5 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • We wrote yesterday that Lakers coach Luke Walton said there was a chance point guard Lonzo Ball would miss the remainder of the season. Now, in the wake of the announcement that forward Brandon Ingram will miss the final month of the season, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN tweets that the “expectation” is that Ball will also be shut down following a doctor’s appointment scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
  • The addition of scrappy veteran Tyler Johnson has brought a new sense of stability to the young Suns, Katherine Fitzgerald of The Arizona Republic writes. Head coach Igor Kokoskov anticipates that the 26-year-old trade deadline acquisition will start at the point guard position for the rest of the season.
  • The Lakers will not fine Rajon Rondo for sitting in a courtside seat removed from his teammates, Dave McMenamin of ESPN reports. “I was just in my head contemplating the game. That’s kind of what I do. I don’t think I have to explain myself as far as my relationship with the team, the players and the coaches,” Rondo said.

Walton: No Guarantee Lonzo Ball Will Return This Season

Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball still isn’t close to returning to the court, according to head coach Luke Walton, who told reporters today that there’s a possibility Ball misses the rest of the 2018/19 season (Twitter links via Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times and ESPN’s Dave McMenamin).

Ball, who will be re-evaluated on Saturday, hasn’t done any on-court work besides dribbling drills and stand-still shooting, per McMenamin. Ganguli notes that the Lakers’ priority is to make sure Ball gets 100% healthy and has a full offseason, rather than rushing him back to play in a few games at the end of ’18/19.

A left ankle injury has sidelined Ball since January 19, during which time the Lakers have slumped badly and fallen to 11th in the Western Conference. Entering that January 19 contest in which the former No. 2 overall pick got hurt, the Lakers were 25-21. Since then, they’re 5-14.

While the Lakers were always weighing the long-term view for Ball, the team is presumably even more willing to be patient now that its playoff chances have been all but extinguished. We heard on Thursday that LeBron James‘ minutes will be monitored going forward, a strong signal that the franchise is waving the white flag on a postseason push.

Speaking of James, Walton confirmed today that the Lakers will be keeping a close eye on LeBron’s minutes going forward. However, as Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet tweets, Walton said that there’s no official, set-in-stone restriction on the star forward’s minutes. There might be games in which James sees normal minutes if the Lakers are playing well, according to Walton.

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.

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.

Pacific Notes: Ball, Jackson, Brewer, Rondo

Lakers guard Lonzo Ball will miss at least one more week of action with his sprained ankle, the team announced on Thursday.

Ball underwent additional examination this week, with team physicians determining that he’ll need more rest due to a bone bruise related to the ankle injury. He’s missed the team’s last 14 games, with the Lakers holding a 5-9 record during that stretch.

“We obviously miss another ball handler, another playmaker,” teammate LeBron James said recently of Ball, as relayed by ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “A guy that’s very, very good defensively. With his ability to get a steal and pressure the offensive point guard and then push the pace for us, get into our early offense. So we miss that a lot.”

The Lakers are currently three games behind the No. 8 seed Clippers with 21 contests remaining. Los Angeles has often looked to veteran point guard Rajon Rondo in Ball’s absence, but the team’s need for another ball-handler has been clear over the past month.

There’s more from the Pacific Division tonight:

  • Suns forward Josh Jackson was fined $20K by the organization today, according to Gina Mizell of The Athletic (Twitter link). Jackson failed to show up at a team meet-and-greet autograph session on Wednesday, causing the team to discipline him for his actions.
  • Veteran forward Corey Brewer appears to have found a home with the Kings, with the 32-year-old explaining that Sacramento is his top option right now. “This is option No. 1 right now,” Brewer said, as relayed by Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. “I like it here. I love it here. I’m having a great time.” Brewer signed a rest-of-season contract with the Kings today after inking a pair of 10-day deals.
  • Lakers guard Rajon Rondo met with head coach Luke Walton before the team’s win against New Orleans on Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. Rondo and Walton held a long one-on-one discussion to explore how the team can get back on track, leading to Rondo starting in the victory with Lonzo Ball still out. “It was an honest conversation,” Walton said. “It was healthy and positive.”

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Ball, Open Roster Spot

The Lakers‘ push for a playoff spot took another step back on Monday night, as LeBron James‘ squad dropped a 110-105 decision to the Grizzlies in Memphis. The loss dropped the Lakers’ record to 29-31, putting them two games behind the Kings for ninth place in the West, and three games behind the No. 8 Spurs.

After the game, James was asked if the pressure of living up to expectations for the 2018/19 season and earning a spot in the postseason was becoming a distraction for the Lakers, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com relays.

“At this point if you are still allowing distractions to affect how the way you play, then this is the wrong franchise to be a part of and you should just come and be like, ‘Listen, I don’t [think this is for me]. I cannot do this,'” James said. “Like, seriously, if you’re distracted by playoff pushes out of all the stuff that’s been talked about this year, nah. Just come and do your job. We do our job at a high level and that’s not a distraction. That’s what you want. … You want to feel like you’re fighting for something.”

While LeBron’s comments could be construed as veiled criticism of some of his teammates, Bill Oram of The Athletic, who posed the question to James, didn’t interpret them that way. In Oram’s view (Twitter link), James was rejecting the notion that the playoff push was a distraction, rather than calling out any of his teammates for being distracted.

Here’s more out of Los Angeles on the Lakers:

  • Lakers head coach Luke Walton said on Monday that there’s still no timeline for Lonzo Ball‘s return to the lineup, per Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Ball has been sidelined since January 19 due to a left ankle sprain and bone bruise.
  • The Lakers continue to consider potential options for the open spot on their 15-man roster, Turner notes in the same article, citing sources who say the team wouldn’t mind acquiring another big man. Walton indicated that he has spoken to the front office about possible targets. “I’ve had conversations with them about a lot of things, but they’re looking to see how they can help improve the team with that last spot,” Walton said. “But no decision from what I’ve been told so far on what that’ll be.”
  • For all of the latest news and rumors on the Lakers, be sure to check out their team page right here.

Lonzo Ball May Miss Extended Stretch With Bone Bruise

Lonzo Ball has been sidelined since Jan. 19 when he suffered a sprained left ankle and his absence may be extended due to a bone bruise in the same ankle, Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times reports.

While Ball’s initial rehab progressed swiftly, the setback of the bone bruise has limited the Lakers‘ point guard. As Ganguli notes, Ball’s absence through 11 games has been noticeable, especially on defense. Los Angeles has permitted an average of 123 PPG to teams during Ball’s injury.

In 47 games, Ball averaged 9.9 PPG, 5.4 APG and 5.3 RPG — all of which were down from his rookie season. However, the UCLA product showed improved shooting, evidenced by his 40.6% from the field and 32.9% from beyond the arc.

The Lakers began the second half with a come-from-behind win over the Rockets Thursday. If Ball’s absence stretches beyond the four-to-six week initial estimate, the Lakers will need to rely heavily on veteran Rajon Rondo. The Lakers (29-29) are currently three games back of the Clippers (33-27) for the eight seed in the Western Conference.