Los Angeles Clippers

Los Angeles Notes: Ball, Bryant, Teodosic, Gallinari

After Lonzo Ball‘s outspoken father, LaVar Ball, recently made critical comments of the Lakers and head coach Luke Walton, the organization held a private meeting with LaVar, asking him to tone down his remarks, ESPN’s Ramon Shelbourne writes.

The elder Ball confirmed the meeting — which was organized by Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka — took place and said both sides finding common ground is critical to both his son and the team.

“It was the best thing, man. Everybody’s going to try to make it an ego thing, like I’m trying to tell them what to do or they’re trying to tell me to tone it down,” LaVar said of the meeting. “It’s not about that. It’s about coming together and to get a solution to this problem.”

Among LaVar’s criticisms were Walton not playing Lonzo for long enough stretches, adding that he could coach his son better. Walton downplayed LaVar’s comments in recent days and has praised Lonzo’s team-first mindset and contributions. As the season — and Lonzo’s career progresses — LaVar said he would continue speaking his mind with the goal of helping his son improve.

“It may sound crazy to other people, but I really just want the best for Lonzo, and the best for Lonzo is going to be what’s best for the organization,” LaVar said. “Because if everybody winning, we good.”

Read up on more news coming out of Los Angeles:

  • Former Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has made several comments about Lonzo in recent days and his latest take on the 20-year-old point guard directly addressed his father, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register writes. Bryant said that pressure placed on Lonzo is “completely inconsequential” as long as he proves himself on the court. “The only time that matters is when he has to think of an answer,” Bryant said. “What matters is what he does in the gym before practice, during practice and after practice. That’s the only thing that matters.”
  • Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports profiled Clippers rookie point guard Milos Teodosic, chronicling his journey from one of the most creative passers in the game as an international player to a starter in the NBA.
  • Danilo Gallinari returned to the Clippers lineup after missing 13 games with a glute injury and he will now likely miss several games with a new glute injury, ESPN’s Lawrence Murray writes. Injuries have allowed Gallinari to appear in just 11 games this season, averaging 13.4 PPG. “It’s been that type of season thus far,” head coach Doc Rivers said. “Things can change. Right now, they are, they keep changing back to somebody getting hurt.”

DeAndre Jordan's New Agent Has Strong Ties To Bucks

  • The fact that DeAndre Jordan hired an agent with a close connection to Jason Kidd could give the Bucks an advantage in any trade negotiations with the Clippers, Ken Berger of Bleacher Report writes. Agent Jeff Schwartz represented Kidd for much of his playing career.

Clippers Unsure When Teodosic Will Return

Outside of a few standout performances, Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball‘s first professional season has been inconsistent at best. The Lakers’ season has mirrored Ball’s inconsistency as the team is 10-15, good for 10th place in the Western Conference. If the franchise and Ball want to achieve success, Lakers legend Kobe Bryant believes the 20-year-old point guard needs to improve now.

Speaking to Chris McGee on Spectrum SportsNet’s ‘Connected With’, Bryant said that Ball and the Lakers cannot wait and plan for several years to see improvements. Instead, Ball — and several of his young teammates — needs to take initiative and improve on his own accord.

“He needs to get better now,” Bryant said (via ForTheWin’s Nick Schwartz). “Kuzma, better now. Randle, better now. Players, you want that now. We never thought, ‘OK, we’re going to win four years from now. We really thought this is our year. We’re going to get this done. We’re going to push, push, push, push, push to get better now.’ And in the process of having that impatience, you develop. If you’re just patiently going about it, you’ll never get there. For players, it’s kind of patient impatience.”

In 25 games, Ball is averaging 8.6 PPG, 7.1 APG and 6.8 RPG. However, Ball has struggled on offense, shooting .321% from the field and .246% from beyond the arc.

Check out other news from around the Pacific Division:

  • In a well-written and well-crafted feature, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk dissected Luke Walton’s transition from player to assistant coach to head coach. Walton, currently in his second season as head coach of the Lakers, has learned under legend Phil Jackson, current Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, and his legendary father, Bill Walton. As Youngmisuk writes, all three men have shaped the way Walton conducts himself as head coach.
  • While Andre Iguodala is 33 years old, his ability to impact a game on both ends of the floor has made him invaluable to the Warriors. Head coach Steve Kerr said that, in particular, Iguodala’s defense reminds him of Scottie Pippen, Mark Medina of The Mercury News writes.
  • While Clippers rookie Milos Teodosic is close to returning from a plantar fascia injury to his left foot, the team is still unsure when he will be back, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports. “He’s close, I’ll say that,” head coach Doc Rivers said. “Watching him yesterday, I just didn’t think he was ready. But he’s close. It’s a tough one.”
  • Suns rookie Josh Jackson said his adjustment from college to the NBA has gone well, Dennis Chambers of Basketball Insiders writes.

Milos Teodosic Practicing Without Limitation

It may not be long before the Clippers see Milos Teodosic back in action, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes. The rookie point guard has been sidelined with a plantar fascia injury since the second game of the season but is nearing his return.

DeAndre Jordan Trade Speculation

Danilo Gallinari Set To Return For Clippers

Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari is set to get back on the court after missing a month due to a strained left glute, he confirmed on Wednesday (Twitter link via Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times). Gallinari, who suffered the injury in a November 5 game against the Heat, will make his return tonight against the Timberwolves.

Gallinari, acquired via a three-way sign-and-trade in July, was the Clippers’ most noteworthy free agent addition this offseason, but he has been one of many of the team’s newly-added players who has faced health problems so far. Point guards Milos Teodosic and Patrick Beverley have missed time too, with Beverley’s knee injury sidelining him for the rest of the season. Blake Griffin, who signed a new five-year contract with the Clips over the summer, is also on the shelf.

DeAndre Jordan has been the Clippers’ lone starter who has stayed healthy throughout the year, a fact he alluded to today after word broke that Gallinari is set to return. “We’ve got a starter back,” Jordan said, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “That makes two of us.”

With the Clippers plagued by the injury bug and struggling to an 8-14 record, there has been increasing speculation that the team could become a seller prior to the trade deadline. Perhaps Gallinari can help right the ship in Los Angeles, but even if the Clips continue to struggle, it’s hard to imagine the club moving the former Nugget this season. Gallinari, who becomes trade-eligible on December 15, is one of just two Clippers (Griffin is the other) whose salary is fully guaranteed through 2020, so he appears to be part of the team’s long-term plans.

Clippers Granted Disabled Player Exception

The league has granted the Clippers a $2.75MM disabled player exception after the franchise lost Patrick Beverley for the season, Shams Charania of The Vertical reports (Twitter link). The point guard missed several games for the franchise with knee troubles before undergoing surgery.

Los Angeles has several players on the mend, which is contributing to their disappointing 2017/18 campaign to date. Blake Griffin is currently sidelined with a knee injury and he’s not expected back for a least another four or five weeks. Danilo Gallinari and Milos Teodosic both could be back much sooner, with the Italian forward eyeing Wednesday as a possible return date and the point guard likely a week away from seeing action.

While the $2.75MM exception gives the Clippers the ability to add another piece, an acquisition might not be in the cards, as the team sits approximately $122.5K below the luxury tax line. Los Angeles has finished over the tax line in each of the previous three seasons, meaning the franchise would have to pay $2.50 in taxes for every dollar spent should it cross the threshold yet again.

Clippers Recall Gallinari, Teodosic, Johnson

Gallinari Very Close To Return

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers’ Job Seems Safe

Clippers coach Doc Rivers will likely hold onto his job the remainder of the season, multiple sources told USA Today’s Sam Amick. Owner Steve Ballmer feels the team’s rash of injuries has made it difficult to judge Rivers’ performance this season, Amick continues. The team’s top player, power forward Blake Griffin, is out at least a month with an MCL sprain. Point guard Patrick Beverley underwent season-ending knee surgery, while newcomers Milos Teodosic and Danilo Gallinari have barely played because of ailments. “You’ve just got to hang in there,” Rivers told Amick. “People get down on the team. They get down on you. They get down on everybody. That’s what happens, and you can’t waver. You’ve just got to keep doing your job, and the players have to just keep playing.”

Other notable items from Amick’s story:

  • The club is taking calls on center DeAndre Jordan but not actively shopping him. Jordan is expected to opt of the final year of his contract next summer, leaving $24.1MM on the table. The front office believes it can re-sign him, so they’re asking price for any potential deal is high. The market could heat up on December 15th, when many players who signed new contracts last summer are eligible to be dealt. Jordan hired an agent on Monday, which could facilitate trade talks.
  • The team remains committed to building around Griffin, who re-signed with them over the summer. Griffin doesn’t have an opt-out on his massive five-year, $171.1MM deal until the summer of 2021.
  • Productive role players, such as guard Lou Williams, could be dealt for draft picks. The team still has its first-rounder in June but dealt away its 2019 pick.
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