Morris, 31, has given Los Angeles a steady level of production in his 10th NBA season. In 49 games with the team (25 starts), the veteran has averaged 7.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 20.5 minutes per contest, shooting 44% from the floor and 35% from deep.
“I mean, (expletive), look at my production throughout my career,” Morris said. “I would think they would know I could be this consistent. Everybody’s trying to judge you off of how the season starts, but the tide always turns.”
As Goon notes, Morris has reached double-digit scoring in 10 of his last 13 games. The Kansas alum is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
There’s more from the Western Conference tonight:
- Another player who’s produced for the Lakers is Andre Drummond, Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times writes. Drummond has averaged 16.5 points, 12.6 rebounds and 27.9 minutes in six games since joining the Lakers, performing at a high level as the team’s starting center.
- Grizzlies guard Tyus Jones earned a $817K bonus after the team beat Milwaukee 128-115 on Saturday, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Jones had an incentive in his contract for 33 wins, but the total was prorated down to 29 due to the shortened season. Memphis currently holds the eighth-best record in the Western Conference at 29-26.
- Warriors guard Juan Toscano-Anderson has been diagnosed with a concussion, Mark Medina of USA TODAY tweets. Toscano-Anderson suffered a brutal fall in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against Boston and left the contest early. As a result, he’s now in the league’s concussion protocol.
Lakers star Anthony Davis has been cleared to participate in full-contact practices and is close to returning to action, head coach Frank Vogel told reporters on Thursday (link via ESPN’s Dave Mcmenamin).
The eight-time All-Star, who has been dealing with a right calf strain and tendinosis, has now been sidelined for over two months, having last played on February 14. According to Vogel, Davis is unlikely to suit up for either of the Lakers’ games against Utah on Saturday and Monday, but the head coach didn’t entirely rule out that possibility, McMenamin writes.
When Davis does return, the plan is to incorporate him back into the lineup slowly, beginning with a playing-time limit in the 15-minute range, per Vogel.
“Whenever it is that he returns, it’s not going to be a full return to playing 30-something minutes a night,” Vogel said. “Especially with the nature of practice and how shorthanded we are, he’s going to have to use some games to try to get himself back in shape. So the first two games he’s back will likely be short-minute performances.”
Here’s more on the NBA’s two Los Angeles teams:
- Lakers center Marc Gasol sustained a volar plate fracture in his left pinky finger on Thursday, but he may not miss much – or any – time, according to Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group, who tweets that Gasol has been listed as questionable for Saturday’s game vs. Utah. “It’s my left hand, I don’t use it much anyways,” Gasol said. “So we’ll see.”
- Before DeMarcus Cousins‘ 10-day contract with the Clippers expired on Wednesday night, head coach Tyronn Lue said the team was looking forward to continuing on with the veteran center, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets. The Clippers didn’t re-sign Cousins to a new deal on Thursday, so we’ll see if they do so today before tonight’s game in Philadelphia.
- The Clippers paid a high price at the trade deadline for Rajon Rondo (Lou Williams, two second-round picks, and cash), but the veteran point guard has made that deal look like a smart one so far, as Mirjam Swanson of The Southern California News Group details. Since Rondo made his debut on April 4, L.A. is 7-0 and has a staggering +32.0 net rating when the 35-year-old is on the court.
Andre Drummond is giving the Lakers a lot of what they expected, but he still hasn’t found his scoring touch, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Drummond scored just four points Tuesday in Charlotte and three points Monday at New York. He’s averaging 9.2 PPG in his five games with L.A.
“Offensively, this is probably the worst I’ve played in my career,” he said. “I’m still trying to figure it out here. I’m not allowing it to take me out of my game. I know why I’m here, which is to help this team defensively. Offensively, it will come for me.”
Part of the problem is the absence of Anthony Davis and LeBron James, who have been injured since Drummond signed with the team late last month. Drummond believes he’ll settle into a more natural role once the two stars return.
“We’re going to find a way to get it done when guys come back healthy,” he said. “Because you got to think, we’re playing with a different five every night when we’re stepping on the court. So you can’t expect us to have much chemistry when we don’t know who we’re playing with each and every night. So we’re hanging our hat on defense and allowing that to project us to a win.”
There’s more from Los Angeles:
- Marc Gasol became the Lakers‘ third center after Drummond was signed, but Jovan Buha of The Athletic contends there are games where he should play ahead of Montrezl Harrell. Gasol has outplayed Harrell lately, Buha notes, and is a better fit in certain matchups.
- Clippers forward Paul George is determined to not let his injured toe affect him mentally, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. George knows the pain may last for the rest of the season, but he has learned to accept it, scoring at least 30 points in each of his last four games. “The injury allowed me to kind of make an excuse for myself,” he said. “But then I put it in perspective … if I’m gonna play, then don’t let it limit me. I feel like I’ve had a breakthrough because of that mindset.”
- By playing in 33 games this season, Rajon Rondo is in line for a $750K bonus if and when the Clippers reach the first round of the playoffs, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The bonus was switched from unlikely to likely when Rondo was traded to L.A. last month.
It’s been nearly two months since we checked in on the status of 2021’s traded first-round picks, and there have been plenty of shifts in the NBA standings since then. Those changes have an impact on where in the draft certain traded picks will land, as well as whether or not some protected picks will change hands at all.
With just over a month left in the 2020/21 regular season, it’s worth revisiting the traded first-round picks for 2021. With the help of our reverse standings tool, here’s our latest look at which of those traded picks are most and least likely to change hands, and which ones are still up in the air:
Picks that will definitely change hands:
- Knicks acquiring Mavericks‘ pick (unprotected).
- Rockets acquiring Bucks‘ pick (top-nine protected swap).
The only unprotected traded pick for the 2021 draft, the Mavs’ selection currently projects to be the No. 21 overall pick. That would be a reasonably good outcome for the Knicks, but there’s even more upside here — since Dallas is currently the No. 7 seed in the West, a win in the play-in tournament may be necessary to secure a playoff spot.
The NBA has yet to clarify exactly how draft positioning will be affected by the play-in results, but presumably if the Mavs don’t clinch a postseason berth in the play-in, that pick would move into the lottery.
Meanwhile, the Rockets will acquire the Bucks’ pick, currently projected to land at No. 24 overall, in a swap for their own second-rounder (No. 32, for now).
Picks that definitely won’t change hands:
- Grizzlies acquiring Jazz‘s pick (1-7 and 15-30 protection).
- Pelicans acquiring Lakers‘ pick (8-30 protection).
- Rockets acquiring Pistons‘ pick (top-16 protected).
The Jazz are definitely making the postseason and the Pistons definitely aren’t, so their picks (currently projected to be No. 30 and No. 4, respectively) won’t change hands.
The Grizzlies should at least be able to count on getting Utah’s first-rounder in 2022, when it will become top-six protected. It may be a while before the Rockets get a pick from Detroit though — that first-rounder remains heavily protected in 2022 (top-16), 2023 (top-18), and 2024 (top-18) before those protections start to loosen a little.
As for the Lakers‘ pick, it isn’t technically a lock yet — there’s theoretically a scenario in which L.A. misses the playoffs and then moves into the top four in the lottery, sending its pick to the Pelicans. But that’s an extreme long shot. The Lakers’ pick is at No. 23 for now.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Knicks have the ability to swap their own 2021 first-rounder for the Clippers‘ pick. At the moment though, New York’s pick would be No. 15 and L.A.’s would be No. 26, so that won’t happen.
Still up in the air:
- Warriors acquiring Timberwolves‘ pick (top-three protected).
- Magic acquiring Bulls‘ pick (top-four protected).
- Thunder acquiring Warriors‘ pick (top-20 protected).
That Timberwolves pick will be a fascinating one to watch in the lottery. If Minnesota finishes with a bottom-three record, there will be a 40.1% chance it remains in the top three.
The Warriors will actually be rooting for the Wolves to finish with the NBA’s worst record, since in that scenario, there’s a 59.9% chance the pick lands at No. 4 or No. 5. If the Wolves instead have the third-worst record, the pick would be just as likely to land in the top three, but could slip as far as No. 6 or No. 7.
The Magic will have a good chance of landing the Bulls‘ pick, which currently projects to be the No. 10 overall selection. If Chicago remains in that spot, there would only be about a 14% chance of the pick moving up into the top four.
Golden State’s own pick, which currently projects to be No. 13, is unlikely to be sent to the Thunder unless the Warriors get hot late in the season. Assuming the Warriors’ first-rounder is protected, Oklahoma City would instead receive Minnesota’s second-round pick (currently No. 31).
Latest on the Rockets/Thunder/Heat/Blazers/Nets situation:
As a reminder, this series of trades and pick swaps is too convoluted to fit cleanly into any of the above sections. Here’s a breakdown of how it works:
- The Thunder will have the right to swap either their own first-round pick or the Heat’s first-round pick for the Rockets‘ first-round pick, but only if Houston’s pick doesn’t fall in the top four. In other words, if Houston gets a top-four pick, the Rockets will keep their own first-rounder; if not, the Thunder will get the two most favorable picks of their own, the Heat’s, and the Rockets’, and Houston will get the least favorable.
- Once the first step is complete, the Rockets will be left with at least one first-round pick, and almost certainly two, since they’re also owed the Trail Blazers‘ first-rounder (top-14 protected). They would then have the right to swap either of those picks for the Nets‘ first-rounder (unprotected).
As of today, the Rockets have the second-worst record in the league, giving them a 52.1% chance of having their pick land in its top-four protected range on lottery night. In that scenario, Houston would keep its first-rounder (tentatively No. 2) and would get the Trail Blazers’ pick at No. 22. The Thunder would keep their own pick (No. 6, pending lottery results) and receive the Heat’s first-rounder (No. 17), while the Nets would hang onto their own selection (No. 27).
On the other hand, if the Rockets’ pick falls outside of the top four, the Thunder would acquire it along with their own first-rounder, while Houston would get Miami’s pick at No. 17.
No matter how the rest of the season plays out, it’s safe to assume that lottery night on June 22 will have massive implications for the Timberwolves, Warriors, Rockets, and Thunder, and potentially for the Magic and Bulls as well.
While the Pistons, Cavaliers, and a handful of other lottery teams will also be invested in the results that night, the outcome won’t be quite as all-or-nothing for those clubs.
After being linked to a number of point guards leading up to the trade deadline, the Knicks ultimately didn’t address the position. However, they’re expected to revisit the point guard market in the offseason, and Lakers veteran Dennis Schröder is one player on their radar, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv.
Schröder is in the final year of his current contract and has reportedly turned down a four-year extension offer worth $80MM+ from the Lakers. That’s a strong indication that he’ll be seeking at least $20MM per year in free agency.
As Begley observes, the Knicks should be able to open up in excess of $50MM in cap room this summer, though it remains to be seen how aggressive the team would be with Schröder. The team will be considering other point guard options as well, including Lonzo Ball of the Pelicans, according to both Begley and Marc Berman of The New York Post.
Unlike Ball, who will be a restricted free agent, Schröder will be unrestricted, meaning the Knicks wouldn’t have to worry about their offer being matched if they get a commitment. However, the Lakers will likely be very motivated to re-sign their starting point guard — even if Schröder walks, the Lakers will be over the cap next season, meaning they wouldn’t be able to easily add a comparable replacement.
After a career year in Oklahoma City in 2019/20 (18.9 PPG on .469/.385/.839 shooting), Schröder’s numbers this season are more in line with his career rates. He has averaged 15.3 PPG, 5.3 APG, and 3.5 RPG with a .432/.338/.848 shooting line in 50 games (31.7 MPG) for the Lakers.
- Lakers forward Alfonzo McKinnie has been placed under the league’s health and safety protocols and will miss Monday’s game against the Knicks, Jovan Buha of The Athletic tweets. McKinnie played a season-high 27 minutes against Brooklyn on Saturday, recording 10 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
Drummond finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds in just over 22 minutes of action. He served as an enforcer on both ends of the floor, controlling the interior and pounding Brooklyn on the glass.
“He can do that against opposing centers,” coach Frank Vogel said of Drummond. “He can beat them up with his physicality, on the post or on drives, on the offensive glass and then he can more than hold his own and guard his position defensively as well as all the pick-and-roll defensive coverages that we put him [in] as well. He’s a two-way player and it’s a great sign to see him stepping up as a leader the way he did tonight.”
There’s more from Los Angeles today:
- The Clippers plan to start Reggie Jackson at point guard for “the long haul” with Patrick Beverley sidelined, coach Tyronn Lue said, as relayed by Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Beverley is expected to miss at least three-to-four weeks after suffering a fracture of the fourth metacarpal bone in his left hand.
- Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe explores Clippers veteran Rajon Rondo‘s case for the Hall of Fame. Rondo is a two-time NBA champion, four-time All-Star and has made four All-Defensive teams in his career, playing 15 seasons with eight teams.
- Mark Medina of USA TODAY examines LeBron James‘ ankle injury, with the help of opinions from various medical experts. James sustained a high ankle sprain on March 20 and has missed 11 straight games for the Lakers, though a recent report from ESPN indicated that he’s likely to return in three weeks.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra refused to speculate on how much time Victor Oladipo might miss with an injured right knee and declined to say whether he thinks Oladipo will play again this season, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Oladipo suffered the injury Thursday and didn’t accompany the team on its four-game road trip. He is considered out indefinitely with “right knee soreness.”
After today’s practice in Portland, Spoelstra told reporters the organization is still in the “information gathering stage” regarding Oladipo.
“I don’t have a new update,” he said. “He’s not with us on this trip and he won’t be with us (Sunday). I don’t have any new information.”
Oladipo’s injury occurred on a non-contact play when he landed after a dunk. He underwent an MRI Friday, but the Heat haven’t released the results. X-rays taken Thursday came back negative.
“He really wanted to be with us and this team and we really like what he brings to our group,” Spoelstra said. “He complements who we are and what we do already so much on both sides of the floor. You do feel for guys, particularly this time of the year. The competition is going to another level. Players want to be out there.”
Here are some more injury updates from around the NBA:
- Wizards guard Bradley Beal missed tonight’s game with tightness in his back, but the team doesn’t believe the condition is related to his hip issue, according to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post (Twitter link). “Don’t think it’s going to be lasting,” coach Scott Brooks said. “I’m hoping that a day off today and a day off tomorrow, he’ll be back against Utah … that’s the hope.”
- The Lakers expect to have LeBron James back in about three weeks, sources tell ESPN. He has missed about three weeks so far with a high right ankle sprain.
- An MRI confirmed that Warriors forward Kelly Oubre has a sprained wrist, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN. Oubre is sitting out tonight’s game, but the team hasn’t said how much time he might miss.
- George Hill hasn’t been able to play for the Sixers yet, but he participated in warm-ups before tonight’s game, tweets Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Hill is recovering from thumb surgery in February.
- Bulls forward Garrett Temple suffered a setback in his rehab from a right hamstring injury and could be out a while longer, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports (Twitter link). Coach Billy Donovan said Temple experienced an issue while running.