Coming off a rare season in which no coaches were fired, the NBA may be preparing for a shakeup that will affect a third of the league, writes Frank Isola of The New York Daily News.
Isola suggests as many as 10 teams could be looking at coaching changes at the end of the season, if not sooner. The actual number will depend on how things play out, but several more names may join David Fizdale of Memphis and Earl Watson of Phoenix as coaching casualties for 2017/18.
Both Los Angeles teams could be open to changes, with the Lakers far out of the playoff race at 16-29. The front office was slow to defend Luke Walton after recent derogatory comments by LaVar Ball, and ESPN’s Brian Windhorst recently suggested that hiring former Fizdale, a former assistant with the Heat, would give the organization a better shot at LeBron James. However, Walton still has an important ally in majority owner Jeanie Buss.
Across town, Doc Rivers is doing a remarkable job with a depleted roster, but he may not remain with the Clippers if they decide to rebuild by following through with rumored trades involving DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams. Rivers, who has one more year left on the extension he signed in 2014, was removed from his front office duties before the start of the season. Isola says Rivers may return to television if he leaves the Clippers, though he would become a candidate for possible openings in New York and Orlando.
There will be no shortage of prominent candidates if the Knicks decide to move on from Jeff Hornacek. Isola identifies ABC/ESPN analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy as potential replacements, along with former Pelicans coach and Knicks player Monty Williams, reigning G League Coach of the Year Jerry Stackhouse and Villanova coach Jay Wright, although there is speculation that Wright would only leave the college ranks to take the Sixers’ job.
- Frank Urbina of HoopsHype identifies six teams that he believes should be active at the trade deadline, including three sellers (Bulls, Lakers, Grizzlies) and three buyers (Cavaliers, Pacers, Bucks).
JANUARY 19: The Lakers have officially signed Hayes to a 10-day contract, the team announced today in a press release. The deal will run through next Sunday.
JANUARY 18: The Lakers plan to sign forward Nigel Hayes to a 10-day contract, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. The 23-year-old went undrafted out of Wisconsin last summer but did end up briefly catching on with the Knicks in training camp.
Hayes averaged 14.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game across three seasons with the Badgers and will slot into a Lakers depth chart that could use depth down low.
In 30 games with the G League’s Westchester Knicks this season, Hayes has averaged 14.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per contest.
Lonzo Ball‘s balky left knee kept him out of the Lakers‘ loss to the Grizzlies on Monday and will likely sideline him for at least another game, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk writes. Ball underwent an MRI on Sunday after he complained of discomfort and he will not be able to return until the swelling subsides.
“I know my body the best,” Ball said. “So as long as I can run, that is pretty much all I need. So as soon as I can run and the swelling goes down a little bit, then I should be ready to go.”
Ball, 20, had played well since he returned from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for six games from late December through early January. In total, Ball has averaged 10.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG, and 7.1 APG in 36 games for Los Angeles. The Lakers are 0-6 without Ball and are also currently without Brandon Ingram who is day-to-day with a sprained ankle.
Check out other Pacific Division notes below:
- Before the melee that ensued during and after in the Rockets‘ matchup against the Clippers in Los Angeles on Monday, former Clipper Chris Paul did not want to be the focus of the game, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes. Paul spent six seasons with the Clippers before he was traded this past offseason to Houston, pairing him with perennial Most Valuable Player candidate James Harden. However, after the game was over, it was Paul and several of his Rockets teammates entering the Clippers locker room looking for a confrontation with several L.A. players that was the story.
- Michael Lee of The Vertical examines the Clippers dynasty that never was. While Los Angeles compiled an impressive list of stars, such as Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and others, the team was never able to escape the first round of the playoffs.
- Several Kings player have voiced their displeasure with the way things are going for the team and that could be beneficial for the organization’s rebuild, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. Jones argues that if players continue speaking up, the team will have to speed up its efforts to put forth a contending team with winning players.
- With the trade deadline approaching, James Ham of NBC Sports takes a look at which Kings veterans could be on the move and the impact they could have on the market.
Not many NBA teams currently project to have maximum-salary cap room this offseason, but for those teams with space, DeMarcus Cousins figures to be a top target. Appearing on Nate Duncan’s Dunc’d On Podcast this week, Marc Stein of The New York Times identified the Mavericks and Lakers as two teams expected to push the Pelicans for Cousins, though he cautioned that New Orleans still looks like the frontrunner.
“I think most teams around the league believe that the Pelicans will re-sign Cousins unless he doesn’t want to stay there,” Stein said, according to RealGM. “I think the Pelicans are the clear favorites. Now, I would say there’s an expectation – and maybe it’s even speculation on the part of rival teams – but I’ve heard Dallas and the Lakers mentioned most frequently. Those are teams that are expected, whatever ‘expected’ means, to make a run at him.”
The Lakers figure to have enough room for at least one max player, if not two, but as Stein acknowledges, LeBron James and/or Paul George may rank higher than Cousins on L.A.’s list of potential targets. As for the Mavs, options for Wesley Matthews and Dirk Nowitzki would cut into their space significantly, but the team may still have enough flexibility to put a max offer on the table. Noting that there has been Cousins-related chatter for a while in Dallas, Stein suggests that a pursuit of the big man “would be a very Mark Cuban move.”
While it’s worth surveying the potential free agency landscape for Cousins, it’s probably still too early to get a real sense of which teams will pursue him most aggressively and where he could realistically land. The Pelicans’ success – or lack thereof – during the rest of the 2017/18 season figures to play a major part in the 27-year-old’s summer decision. New Orleans will also be able to offer more years and more money than any other team.
Cousins is currently in the midst of perhaps his best all-around season, averaging an impressive 25.5 PPG, 12.6 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.6 BPG, and 1.5 SPG to go along with a .474/.356/.749 shooting line.
JANUARY 15: The Lakers have officially signed Payton to a two-way contract, the team announced today in a press release.
JANUARY 14: The Lakers are planning to sign Gary Payton II to a two-way contract, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. Payton began the 2017/18 campaign with the Bucks, but despite starting six games for the team, averaged just 2.5 points and 1.4 rebounds per game.
Per Bill Oram of the Orange County Register, Payton is expected to join the team in Memphis ahead of the Lakers-Grizzlies tilt on Monday.
Payton has yet to make much of a mark at the NBA level but drew attention at Oregon State thanks to his Hall of Fame father. Gary Payton Sr., of course, suited up for the Lakers in the twilight of his career.
Payton was waived by Milwaukee on December 18 when the Bucks opted to bring Sean Kilpatrick aboard on a two-way contract.
Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball is headed for an MRI on his left knee after he experienced soreness this morning, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. There is no word on the severity of Ball’s soreness but Youngmisuk noted that the MRI is “precautionary.”
Ball, 20, has already missed time this season due to injury. The second overall pick from last year’s NBA Draft missed six games in late December-early January due to a right shoulder injury. Los Angeles will face the Grizzlies on the road on Monday and depending on the MRI, the team may be without Ball.
The rookie has played well since he returned from the aforementioned injury. All told, Ball is averaging 10.2 PPG, 7.1 APG, and 7.1 RPG in 36 games this season. In addition to facing scrutiny about his play, Ball has had to answer questions about his outspoken father, LaVar Ball, who has criticized the Lakers’ organization and its coaches.
Check out other Lakers news below:
- After the Lakers waived Andrew Bogut, Croatian big man Ivica Zubac believed he would see an increased role for the Lakers, but that has not been the case, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register writes. Zubac, 20, has appeared in just 11 games for the Lakers — something that’s hard to believe since he entered the summer at the Lakers’ starting center. Instead, Zubac has seen frequent action in the G League. “I think I really improved in those games,” Zubac said. “It’s harder when you’re not playing in the NBA but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
- Tomorrow is the deadline for two-way deals and one name connected to the Lakers recently has been Wisconsin product Nigel Hayes, tweets Adam Johnson of 10Days2Ways.