Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers Notes: FA Priorities, Nwaba, Ball

Speaking to the media, including Mark Medina of the Orange County Register, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said that the Lakers were relentless on the draft day trade market and even spoke with the Pacers about a possible Paul George deal.

While they didn’t ultimately manage anything of a similar magnitude to their Brook Lopez trade days before, they did manage to move the No. 28 pick for a pair later in the draft and are expected to continue seeking ways of improving.

That will continue until we get in a position again where we feel like this roster is a championship-level roster,” Pelinka said. “We’re not there yet. So we’re going to be relentless with the work and we’re going to pursue every opportunity until we reach our goal.”

  • When free agency begins next week, expect the Lakers to target shooters, Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet tweets. General manager Rob Pelinka is said to have shooting at the top of his priority list.
  • The Lakers have until Saturday to decide if they’d like to pick up David Nwaba‘s $1.3MM option for next season, Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet tweets. Update: Bresnahan has sent an updated tweet, correcting the deadline to Thursday (as opposed to Saturday)
  • General manager Rob Pelinka thinks that the Lakers will need two superstars to compete for a championship and intends to go out and get them. “I think with the leading teams in the league today, we felt like, to be able to look them in the eye and challenge them, we need two superstar players to come here and join this platform and join our core group of players we now have,” he told Baxter Holmes of ESPN. “That’s our plan, and we’re going to put all of our energy and all of our hard work toward that.”
  • A contributing factor to the Lakers taking Lonzo Ball with their second overall pick was the unconventional workout the two parties went through prior to the draft. The Vertical’s Shams Charania has details of the day the Lakers spent observing the eventual No. 2 overall pick’s daily routine.

Lowe’s Latest: Butler, Nuggets, Wolves, Ibaka

Before they accepted the Timberwolves‘ offer for Jimmy Butler, the Bulls canvassed the league in search of a more appealing offer, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.com.

Lowe writes in his latest piece for ESPN that the Bulls spoke to the Suns about a package centered around Eric Bledsoe and the No. 4 overall pick, but the two sides never really got close. Chicago also had discussions with the Nuggets and Celtics, but Denver drew the line at including Jamal Murray in any potential deal, and Boston wouldn’t include the No. 3 pick, according to Lowe.

As Lowe notes, teams like the Suns and Nuggets had to consider the fact that Butler may not have re-signed with them in free agency in 2019 if they acquired him. Although Butler’s contract would give teams an extra year of control over someone like Paul George, the star forward might still have ultimately been a rental if he didn’t love where he ended up. That cooled the market somewhat, as the Bulls explored potential trade scenarios.

Here’s more from Lowe’s latest piece:

  • The Bulls were never entirely comfortable with the idea of Butler as their foundational player, says Lowe. A source tells ESPN that Butler’s bristling at Fred Hoiberg‘s instructions made some people on the team uncomfortable. Lowe suggests that Hoiberg’s calm personality wasn’t a good match for Butler, who requires a coach more like Tom Thibodeau.
  • At one point, the Timberwolves were intrigued by the possibility of pursuing Serge Ibaka in free agency, but their interest “has faded a bit,” according to Lowe, who adds that most teams expect Ibaka to re-sign with the Raptors.
  • The Lakers were dangling a future unprotected first-round pick to teams with cap room recently in an effort to move the Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng contracts, per Lowe. The earliest first-round pick the Lakers could trade at this point is 2020’s selection, so it’s understandable that D’Angelo Russell appealed more to the Nets than a pick that far down the road.

Lakers Agree To Sign P.J. Dozier

The Lakers have reached an agreement with undrafted free agent P.J. Dozier, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN.com, who reports (via Twitter) that the former South Carolina guard will sign a free agent contract with Los Angeles. Details of the deal aren’t yet known.

Dozier, who declared for the draft this spring following his sophomore year, averaged 13.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 1.7 SPG for South Carolina last season. Although he wasn’t selected on Thursday night, he was viewed as a top-60 prospect by DraftExpress, ranking 52nd on Jonathan Givony’s big board.

The Lakers won’t be able to make Dozier’s deal official until the new league year begins in July, but when they do, he’ll join a promising group of rookies in Los Angeles. The club added Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, and Thomas Bryant in Thursday’s draft, which was Magic Johnson‘s first as president of basketball operations.

Jazz Acquire Tony Bradley From Lakers

11:10pm: The deal is now official, according to the NBA. The Lakers used their picks on Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant.

9:33pm: The Jazz have agreed to acquire the No. 28 overall pick from the Lakers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter). Wojnarowski reports that Utah will use its newly-acquired pick to grab UNC’s Tony Bradley.

In exchange for giving up the No. 28 pick, the Lakers will move back two spots and pick up an extra selection. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Utah is sending the 30th and 42nd overall picks to L.A. in the swap.

[RELATED: Complete 2017 NBA Draft Results]

The Lakers already used two first-round picks, selecting Lonzo Ball at No. 2 and Kyle Kuzma at No. 27. Now, the team will have two more selections to use, as Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka continue to stockpile assets.

As for the Jazz, it’s the second time they’ve traded up tonight. Utah used Trey Lyles in a deal with Denver to move up from No. 24 to No. 13 and select Donovan Mitchell. Now, they’ve used the 42nd overall pick to move up from No. 30 to No. 28 for Bradley.

Lakers Acquire Brook Lopez For Russell, Mozgov

JUNE 22: The trade is finally official, the NBA announced tonight during the draft. The Lakers used their newly-acquired 27th overall pick on Kyle Kuzma.

JUNE 20: The Lakers and Nets have reached an agreement on a trade that will send Brook Lopez to Los Angeles, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). Wojnarowski reports that the Lakers will also receive the No. 27 pick in this week’s draft, and will send D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets.BrookLopez vertical

This deal is a fascinating one on several levels. For the Lakers, they manage to cut long-term costs by getting out from under Mozgov’s contract, which still has three years and $48MM left on it. In Lopez, the Lakers will acquire a more productive player on the court, and one whose deal expires at the end of the 2017/18 season, setting the franchise up to create an extra chunk of cap room when LeBron James, Paul George, and other stars reach free agency.

In addition to picking up Lopez, the Lakers will also get a third first-round pick in this Thursday’s draft. The team now holds the second, 27th, and 28th overall selections, and with Russell no longer in the fold, it appears more certain than ever that Los Angeles has its eye on Lonzo Ball with that No. 2 overall pick.

Meanwhile, the Nets will finally bring years of Lopez trade speculation to an end, sending him to Los Angeles with one year remaining on his contract. In exchange for Lopez, a first-round pick, and their willingness to assume Mozgov’s huge contract, the Nets will land their point guard of the future in Russell, the second overall pick from the 2015 draft. The team also hangs onto its second 2017 first-round pick (No. 22).

Russell, who is still just 21 years old, has faced scrutiny about his work ethic and his drive, but his talent is undeniable. In 63 games last season for the Lakers, the young point guard averaged 15.6 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.5 RPG, and 1.4 SPG in a modest 28.7 minutes per contest. He has also developed into a reliable three-point threat, averaging 2.1 threes per game at a rate of 35.2%. He’ll be under contract for at least two more years, becoming extension-eligible in 2018 and RFA-eligible in 2019.

With Russell and Jeremy Lin now in the mix, the Nets are unlikely to be in the market for a point guard this summer, which means another potential suitor is off the board for top free agents at the position seeking a payday. Brooklyn had been viewed as a potential player for George Hill, among other free agent point guards.

Finally, the Celtics will be watching the outcome of this trade with a close eye, since Boston may end up with both the Nets’ and Lakers’ first-round picks in the 2018 NBA draft. With the draft and free agency still to play out, it’s hard to tell at this point whether either team will improve significantly in 2017/18, but Lopez was the Nets’ most productive player last season, so this isn’t exactly a win-now move for Brooklyn — that bodes well for the C’s.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Celtics’ Paul George Talks Stalled After Gaining Momentum

8:07pm: Discussions between the Pacers and Celtics on George have stalled for now, according to Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

7:06pm: The Pacers and Celtics are engaged in “serious” discussions about a potential Paul George trade, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). While the sides remain apart on a potential deal, talks have gained momentum, per Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

The Celtics used their third overall pick tonight to select Jayson Tatum. If the Pacers and C’s can come to an agreement on a George deal, it’s not clear whether or not Tatum will be involved in the swap.

George is one of the top trade candidates available now that Jimmy Butler is now off the board, with the Bulls having reached an agreement to send him to the Timberwolves. Before finalizing that deal, the Pacers and Wolves discussed a deal involving George, tweets Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 in Minneapolis. The Pacers asked for Zach LaVine and more in return, which Minnesota refused, opting for Butler instead.

The Rockets also haven’t given up their pursuit of George, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. I’d expect the Lakers to check back in as well if a deal appears close.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Draft Notes: Ball, Ntilikina, Bulls, Mavericks

The Lakers are widely expected to take Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick after trading D’Angelo Russell on Tuesday, but Ball tells Adam Zagoria of FanRag Sports that he hasn’t received a guarantee from the team. Ball worked out twice for L.A., with the second time reportedly at the request of the Lakers after a disappointing showing in the first session. “I think they were both fine,” he said. L.A. is still giving “real consideration” to Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.

There’s more news as teams lock in their draft strategies:

  • French point guard Frank Ntilikina held a last-minute workout for the Knicks this morning, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Sources tell Berman that the Mavericks, who are also in the market for a point guard, talked to the Timberwolves about trading up from the ninth pick to the seventh to have a shot at Ntilikina, but talks collapsed because of Minnesota’s high asking price. The Wolves would prefer to use that pick as part of a package to get Jimmy Butler from the Bulls. Today’s workout was conducted by former Knicks player developmental coach Chris Brickley, who tutored Ntilikina last summer.
  • If the Bulls do move Butler, they will likely target Fox or Josh Jackson, tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune.
  • The Celtics are also interested in the seventh pick and have spoken to the Wolves about a possible deal, tweets Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. Boston may want an extra draft choice to sweeten its offer to the Knicks for Kristaps Porzingis.
  • Responding to Damian Lillard‘s request for a better supporting cast, the Trail Blazers are trying to acquire a lottery pick, tweets Mitch Lawrence of The Sporting News. Portland’s priority in any deal is getting rid of a bad contract, according to Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The Blazers made an offer for Paul George, but it “doesn’t move the needle” for the Pacers, relays Jason Quick of CSNNW (Twitter link).
  • The Raptors, who hold the No. 23 pick, are gauging interest around the league and are willing to trade down, according to Scotto (Twitter link).
  • The Nuggets, who have the 13th selection, are another team that may try to move down, tweets Jonathan Givony of Draft Express. He notes that Denver has a history of making draft-night trades.
  • Several teams have expressed an interest in moving into the late part of the lottery, according to Givony (Twitter link). He lists the Lakers, Hawks, Nets, Bucks, Trail Blazers and Rockets as teams that might try to acquire a pick in the 10-14 range.

Trade Rumors: Jackson, George, Porzingis, Kanter

Numerous teams are trying to obtain a top-4 pick in order to select Kansas swingman Josh Jackson, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical tweets. With the Sixers having obtained the top overall pick to select Markelle Fultz, that means a blockbuster deal involving the Lakers, Celtics or Suns could be on the horizon. It also strongly suggests that the Celtics have settled on Duke forward Jayson Tatum as their preferred choice, since Jackson wouldn’t be available at No. 4 if Boston wants him.

Here are some of other trade rumors floating around as the draft approaches:

  • There is a growing sense that unless the Pacers get a suitable offer for Paul George today, President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard will wait until next month to re-engage talks regarding the 2018 free agent, according to Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler. However, the latest projected salary cap of $99MM could motivate Indiana and the Lakers to get a deal done today, as Kyler details. The Spurs and Blazers are also making a run at George, Kyler adds in another tweet.
  • The Knicks believe Kristaps Porzingis would have been the top selection in today’s draft and next year’s draft and desire a package of picks that reflect his value, David Aldridge of NBA.com tweets. Team President Phil Jackson confirmed Wednesday he is listening to offers for the disgruntled big man. Talks between the Knicks and Suns have not gained any traction because Phoenix is unwilling to part with shooting guard Devin Booker, Wojnarowski tweets.
  • The Thunder could deal center Enes Kanter as early as today, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman speculates. The team has enough big men to take over his minutes, though Kanter is the most offensively-gifted frontcourt player they have, Carlson continues. It makes sense to obtain more shooters and veterans to help out Russell Westbrook, which makes Kanter expendable, Carlson adds. Kanter will make approximately $17.9MM next season and holds an $18.6MM player option on the final year of his contract next summer.

Latest On Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks

10:19pm: The Knicks have talked with each team in the top five of Thursday’s draft about Porzingis, in an effort to extract a pick and a young potential star, sources tell Ian Begley and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. According to the ESPN report, the Knicks have had “substantive” talks with two teams, plus the Suns.

Sources tell ESPN that the Knicks have also spoken Oklahoma City about a possible Porzingis trade, but one source says the Thunder “don’t have enough” to be a viable trade partner.

8:40pm: Asked about what it would take to trade Porzingis, Jackson suggested the Knicks may be seeking two starters and a draft pick (Twitter link via Al Iannazzone of Newsday).

8:27pm: In an interview tonight on MSG, team president Phil Jackson confirmed that the Knicks are listening to calls on Porzingis. “As much as we love this guy, we have to do what’s best for the club,” Jackson said of the big man (Twitter links via Ian Begley of ESPN.com).

Jackson also suggested that he was somewhat bothered by Porzingis skipping his exit meeting. Still, he cautioned that the Knicks aren’t yet “intrigued” enough by what’s out there to make a move (Twitter links via Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders).

8:15pm: After a flurry of Kristaps Porzingis trade rumors surfaced on Tuesday, a follow-up report suggested that the trade talk was somewhat overblown, and that the Knicks were simply listening to calls rather than actively shopping the big man.

However, on The Vertical’s Facebook Live show on Wednesday, Adrian Wojnarowski said that the Knicks aren’t simply listening to inquiries, reporting that they’ve also been making outgoing calls about Porzingis. While Wojnarwoski acknowledges that New York’s asking price is high, and that a deal won’t necessarily happen, he notes that the Knicks appeared to be legitimately exploring the possibility, and haven’t told Porzingis he’s not going anywhere.

Here’s more on Porzingis:

  • According to Wojnarowski, the Knicks would be seeking a top-four draft pick and a starting guard in exchange for Porzingis. Marc Berman of The New York Post (Twitter link) reports something similar, having heard that New York would want a top-four pick plus a “strong” asset for Porzingis.
  • We heard on Tuesday that the Knicks asked the Suns for Devin Booker and the No. 4 selection, so that sounds like the sort of package Wojnarowski and Berman are talking about. Besides Phoenix, the Celtics would seem to be the most logical trade partner for the Knicks.
  • If they were able to land a top-four pick in a deal for Porzingis, the Knicks would likely aim to draft Josh Jackson, says Wojnarowski.
  • Ian Begley of ESPN.com (Twitter link) follows up on an item he reported on Tuesday, clarifying that members of the Knicks organization have been in touch with Porzingis since the end of the season, though that contact has been “very minimal.”

Lakers’ Nick Young Declines 2017/18 Player Option

Nick Young has turned down his player option with the Lakers for the 2017/18 season, reports Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). As a result of the move, Young will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.Nick Young horizontal

[RELATED: NBA Player Option Decisions For 2017/18]

Last offseason, Young was viewed as a potential release candidate for the Lakers. At the time, he was coming off a season in which he averaged career-worst marks in PPG (7.3) and FG% (.339). However, he enjoyed a solid bounce-back season in 2016/17, starting 60 games for Los Angeles, averaging 13.2 PPG, and posting a shooting line of .430/.404/.856.

Young’s deal with L.A. included a 2017/18 player option that would have paid him approximately $5.67MM. Heading into the free agent market, he should be able to comfortably top that figure. This year’s group of free agent shooting guards isn’t particularly strong, and Young’s 2.8 three-pointers per game was a top-10 mark in the NBA — that outside shooting ability should be coveted by a number of teams.

Young has talked in the past about how much he enjoys playing in Los Angeles, so it’s possible that he and the Lakers work out a new contract to keep him in the mix. However, the Lakers already have an eye toward their 2018 cap flexibility, and won’t want to add much guaranteed money to their books, since it could compromise their pursuit of impact players next year.

Assuming Young lands elsewhere, adding shooting will be a priority for the Lakers this offseason. Young and D’Angelo Russell, who is headed to Brooklyn, were the team’s top two three-point shooters in 2016/17.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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