Lakers Rumors

Lakers Notes: Jersey Patch, Offseason, Expectations

The Lakers have a new jersey sponsor, announcing in a press release that they’ve partnered with Bibigo, a brand by the top food company in Korea. The Lakers’ uniforms, which previously featured an advertisement patch by the company Wish, will have a Bibigo patch going forward.

The new agreement will be a more lucrative one for the Lakers, who were taking in a reported $12-14MM per year as a result of their jersey ad deal with Wish. According to Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times, the organization’s deal with Bibigo is worth in excess of $100MM over five years.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • The Lakers overhauled their roster more than virtually any other NBA team this offseason, bringing back just three players from last year’s roster (LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Talen Horton-Tucker). However, Zach Harper of The Athletic liked what the team did, assigning Los Angeles a grade of B-plus for its offseason moves.
  • In Harper’s view, the Lakers got better from a talent standpoint, even if there are still questions about how the pieces will fit together. While the team sacrificed some depth this summer, the addition of another star player (Russell Westbrook) creates some injury insurance, since the club will still have two stars on the court if one of James, Davis, or Westbrook gets injured.
  • Frank Urbina of HoopsHype, who recaps the Lakers’ offseason transactions and previews the team’s strengths and weaknesses for the season ahead, projects L.A. to be the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference in 2021/22.

2021/22 NBA Over/Unders: Pacific Division

The 2021/22 NBA regular season will get underway in less than a month, so it’s time to start getting serious about predictions for the upcoming campaign and to resume an annual Hoops Rumors tradition.

With the help of the lines from a handful of sports betting sites, including Bovada and BetOnline, we’re running through the predicted win totals for each of the NBA’s 30 teams, by division. In a series of team-by-team polls, you’ll get the chance to weigh in on whether you think those forecasts are too optimistic or too pessimistic.

In 2020/21, our voters went 17-13 on their over/under picks. Can you top that in ’21/22?

As a reminder, the NBA played a 72-game schedule in 2020/21, so a team that won 41 games last year finished with a 41-31 record. This year, a club that wins 41 games would be a .500 team (41-41). For added clarity, we’ve noted the record that each team would have to achieve to finish “over” its projected win total.

We’ll turn today to the Pacific division…


Los Angeles Lakers


Phoenix Suns


Golden State Warriors


Los Angeles Clippers


Sacramento Kings


Previous voting results:

Atlantic:

  • Brooklyn Nets (55.5 wins): Over (63.2%)
  • Philadelphia 76ers (51.5 wins): Under (70.0%)
  • Boston Celtics (46.5 wins): Over (58.1%)
  • New York Knicks (42.5 wins): Over (65.1%)
  • Toronto Raptors (36.5 wins): Under (50.6%)

Northwest:

  • Utah Jazz (52.5 wins): Over (61.7%)
  • Denver Nuggets (48.5 wins): Over (69.3%)
  • Portland Trail Blazers (44.5 wins): Over (53.0%)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (34.5 wins): Under (57.1%)
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (23.5 wins): Under (65.0%)

Central:

  • Milwaukee Bucks (54.5 wins): Over (63.7%)
  • Indiana Pacers (42.5 wins): Under (58.2%)
  • Chicago Bulls (42.5 wins): Over (68.3%)
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (26.5 wins): Under (50.5%)
  • Detroit Pistons (25.5 wins): Under (52.6%)

Darren Collison May Be Waiting For An Offer From The Lakers

  • Darren Collison worked out for the Warriors earlier this month and remains an option for the 15th roster spot, but there’s speculation that he’s hoping for a training camp invitation from the Lakers, Slater adds in the same piece.

Pacific Notes: Davis, Lakers, Moore, Clippers

Add Lakers legend James Worthy to the growing list of people who believe Anthony Davis should play more at center this season. While speaking on Spectrum SportsNet (hat tip TalkBasket), Worthy was adamant about Davis playing at the five, citing a variety of reasons why it would make sense.

“I think initiating Anthony Davis in the post is the best option,” he explained. “I’ve never been one of those players to say ‘I don’t wanna play three, I wanna play four. I wanna play.’ I don’t know what the problem is, maybe who he defends or where he is on the floor. I think the five is a good spot for him. Because other fives don’t have a shot at guarding him.

“You want to make opponents make adjustments. Him at the five shooting three is going to pull Gobert out and they’re going to have to put somebody small on him and he can take advantage of that. I think he needs to look at what position best suits the team and what position best suits how they wanna play before he just says ‘Ahh, one or the other.’”

Giving Davis more minutes at center could also help with the Lakers’ potential floor-spacing issues. The team added Russell Westbrook to its core this offseason, wisely signing shooters such as Trevor Ariza, Carmelo Anthony, Kent Bazemore and Wayne Ellington to fill around its star trio.

There’s more from the Pacific Division today:

  • Speaking of the Lakers, Jovan Buha of The Athletic examined a number of topics related to the team in his latest mailbag, including Davis, Talen Horton-Tucker and more. Buha also examined which new addition (outside of Westbrook) could have the biggest impact on the club this season.
  • New Magic guard E’Twaun Moore had hoped to re-sign with the Suns after reaching the NBA Finals last season, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes. Moore also believes Phoenix would’ve had a better chance at winning the Finals if he played. “Just being another playmaker,” he said. “Somebody else that can make shots. Somebody else that can handle. Man, I felt like we would’ve gave Milwaukee some problems if I would’ve played. I felt like I could’ve helped us win for sure in the Finals. So, I definitely do wish I played more towards the end of the season and into the playoffs. I ain’t going to lie. I was itching for it.”
  • Clippers owner Steve Ballmer recently brought up an interesting point about his team sharing Staples Center with the Lakers, as relayed by Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times. “I attended a whole lot of 12:30 p.m. games with sleep-deprived players rubbing bleary eyes in timeouts,” Ballmer said. “Don’t like those 12:30 p.m. games on Saturdays and believe me, in our own building we don’t have to play as many.” Team consultant Jerry West echoed the same sentiment. “The Clippers have been in a great building in Staples but when you are the third tenant in the building, I mean, my goodness, we have the worst schedule every year.” The Clippers held a groundbreaking party on Friday to celebrate the team’s new Intuit Dome arena, which will open in 2024.

Clippers’ Ballmer Unsure Whether Kawhi Will Play In 2021/22

After undergoing surgery in July to repair a partial tear of his right ACL, Clippers star Kawhi Leonard has no set timetable for his return to the court. Addressing Leonard’s health in a conversation with Mark Medina of USA Today, team owner Steve Ballmer said it’s “possible” the star forward will be back on the court before the end of the 2021/22 season, but he isn’t willing to make any guarantees.

“Nobody knows at this stage,” Ballmer said. “Nobody knows. It’s possible. For sure, it’s possible. But it will depend on what the doctors say and what Kawhi says.”

When a player suffers an ACL tear during the fall or winter, it typically ends his season, but a player’s recovery timeline is less clear when the injury occurs at or near the end of the prior season. For now, it seems safe to assume that Leonard will at least be sidelined for most of the 2021/22 campaign. However, Ballmer still believes the Clippers are a “very good team,” telling Medina that he expects to be in the hunt for a championship again if Kawhi can make it back in the spring.

“We’re coming in this year looking for a title,” Ballmer said. “Obviously not having arguably one of our two best players, that hurts. We’ll see when we get Kawhi back. But you think through a three-year stretch, we got all of these guys under contract for this year and next year. I think it gives us a lot of opportunity to compete.”

Ballmer, who made the media rounds in advance of breaking ground on the Clippers’ new Inglewood arena, conveyed a similar sentiment to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

“Every year I want to win,” Ballmer said. “Some people will talk about, ‘We’re taking a step back’ or ‘We got an injured year.’ No. Our fans can count on the fact that we are going to try to win as many ballgames as we can every year. Now, we took a little setback. We got to get Kawhi healthy. And when he’s back, we’re back at full strength.”

In conversations with Medina, Shelburne, and other reporters, Ballmer stressed that moving out of the Staples Center and into the Intuit Dome in 2024 represents the Clippers’ desire to create their own “identity” outside of the Lakers’ shadow.

The Clippers’ have long had a reputation as the Lakers’ overlooked little brother, but Ballmer told Medina he thinks his team has become a “great free agent destination” in its own right. The next steps for the Clippers, Ballmer says, are winning a championship and getting their own building.

“There’s 30 teams in the league. There’s 29 others. And we got one that happens to be based in L.A.,” Ballmer told Shelburne. “And we got our fans. We use our expression, ‘L.A. Our Way.’ And we’re building our own presence, identity. And if the other guys (the Lakers) feel a little threatened — the other guys’ fans, I mean; the players are actually a little different deal — but if they feel a little threatened, that’s OK. It means we’re doing good.”

Lakers To Sign Cameron Oliver To Exhibit 10 Contract

The Lakers are signing free agent forward Cameron Oliver to an Exhibit 10 deal, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Oliver, 25, has played primarily in the G League and overseas since going undrafted out of Nevada in 2017. However, he did sign with the Rockets at the end of the 2020/21 season, appearing in four games for the team down the stretch and averaging 10.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 1.0 BPG on .576/.308/.636 shooting in 21.8 minutes per contest.

The Lakers are currently only carrying 13 players on guaranteed contracts, so Oliver could theoretically be a candidate to make the 15-man regular season roster. However, like fellow Exhibit 10 recipients Chaundee Brown and Mac McClung, Oliver seems more likely to end up playing for the South Bay Lakers, L.A.’s G League affiliate.

Oliver nearly averaged a double-double during his last stint in the G League, putting up 15.5 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 2.2 BPG in 26 games (26.6 MPG) for the Delaware Blue Coats in 2018/19.

Lakers Notes: Anthony, LeBron, Nunn, Coaching Staff

Carmelo Anthony was hoping to return to the Trail Blazers this summer before LeBron James urged him to join the Lakers, writes Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Appearing on Haynes’ “Posted Up” podcast, Anthony said he was waiting to see if Portland was interested in bringing him back when James reached out to him. Anthony spent the last two years with the Blazers, but said management didn’t contact him about a return.

“No, not the way I thought. But honestly, I wasn’t expecting it,” he said. “… Not to say Portland did anything wrong, but I was sitting around because I’m a loyal person. I didn’t want to leave (Damian Lillard) and CJ (McCollum) and those guys. But I know the business.”

In addition to his long friendship with James, Anthony chose the Lakers because he sees the team as his best hope to cap off his career with a championship. He told Haynes that several other organizations expressed interest, which felt good after being out of the league two years ago.

“New York was always there, always a story,” Anthony said. “I told my son when he made it to high school, I’d be there. Philly, I didn’t get a chance to converse with Philly, but there was interest. New Orleans had interest. It felt good to see that again and being a part of teams being interested in me when 18-20 months again, it was nobody.”

There’s more from L.A.:

  • James has played fewer minutes per game each season since 2016/17, and Jovan Buha of The Athletic expects that trend to continue this year. James will turn 37 in December and the Lakers will be try to be careful with him to avoid the kind of long-term injury he had last season.
  • Of all the players the Lakers added in free agency, Kendrick Nunn was probably the most surprising, Buha adds in the same piece. The former Heat guard signed for the taxpayer mid-level exception, and Buha speculates that he could have gotten a better offer from another team. Buha also questions whether Nunn will get the playing time he’s used to with Russell Westbrook handling most of the minutes at point guard.
  • The Lakers have officially announced the additions of David Fizdale and John Lucas III as assistant coaches (Twitter link). Both hires were previously reported.

Kenneth Faried Will Work Out For Lakers

The Lakers are set to take a look at free agent veteran forward Kenneth Faried in a workout this week, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Faried, 31, was selected by the Nuggets with the No. 22 pick out of Morehead State University in the 2011 draft. An All-Rookie First Teamer, Faried would go on to spend his first seven NBA seasons in Denver as a valuable, versatile rotation player.

The athletic big man split his final league season to date, 2018/19, between the Nets and Rockets. After being unable to carve out much of a role as a reserve small ball center for Brooklyn, the 6’8″ Faried was waived by the Nets in January of 2019. He then joined the Rockets to conclude the year. Faried averaged 12.9 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 0.8 BPG across 25 games with a playoff-bound Houston team.

Faried linked up with the Zhejiang Lions, a CBA club, for the 2019/20 season. Most recently, Faried played for the Trail Blazers’ 2021 Summer League squad, in the hopes of gaining traction for an NBA comeback. With the Lakers now expressing interest, Faried may get that chance on a roster loaded with other veterans in their 30s hoping for championship glory.

The new-look Lakers have 13 players signed to guaranteed contracts thus far, two players on Exhibit 10 training camp deals, and both of their two-way contract slots occupied. If he’s anything like his Nuggets self, Faried could help shore up the club’s big man depth.

Lakers Hire John Lucas III As Assistant Coach

John Lucas III has joined the Lakers‘ coaching staff, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. The team plans to have him work with player development and serve as a “voice in the locker room,” according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register (Twitter link).

Lucas, 38, has previous coaching experience with the Timberwolves, serving as an assistant under Tom Thibodeau from 2017-19. He was in a player development role in Minnesota and was the head coach of the Wolves’ Summer League team.

Before that, Lucas played eight NBA seasons with the Rockets, Bulls, Raptors, Jazz, Pistons and Timberwolves and spent time overseas and in the G League as well. His father, John Lucas II, is currently a player development coach with Houston and has had a long career as an NBA coach.

The Lakers had two openings this summer on Frank Vogel’s staff when Jason Kidd left to become head coach of the Mavericks and Lionel Hollins wasn’t re-signed after his contract expired. David Fizdale previously agreed to fill one of those openings. L.A’s other assistants are Phil Handy, Miles Simon, Mike Penberthy and Quinton Crawford.

Drummond's Entrance Led To Gasol's Departure

The Lakers’ signing of Andre Drummond after the trade deadline soured the franchise’s relationship with Marc Gasol, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic (Twitter link). Gasol lost his starting job and that created a rift that could not be resolved, Oram adds. Gasol was traded to the Grizzlies on Friday, though he’ll be waived and will remain in Spain with his family.

Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register runs with the same theme, noting that Gasol called his season with the Lakers “chaotic.” The Lakers signaled this week that Gasol wouldn’t return when they signed DeAndre Jordan.

  • The Lakers are sending their own 2024 pick with no protections in the Gasol deal with the Grizzlies, Bobby Marks of ESPN confirms (via Twitter). The Grizzlies are also receiving $250K in the deal, Marks adds.