Lakers Rumors

Free Agent Stock Watch: Los Angeles Lakers

For the rest of the regular season and postseason, Hoops Rumors is taking a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents during the 2023 offseason. We consider whether their stock is rising or falling due to their performance and other factors. Today, we’re focusing on a handful of Lakers players.

Note: We also covered a couple other Lakers earlier this month.

Dennis Schröder, G

  • 2022/23: Minimum salary
  • 2023/24: UFA
  • Stock: Up

Before the 2022/23 season started, Schröder said he had “unfinished business” with the Lakers after reportedly being unwilling to discuss a lucrative extension in his first stint with the team a couple of seasons ago. The rumored four-year, $80MM offer was never signed, and Schröder instead inked a one-year, $5.9MM contract with Boston in 2021 free agency.

Despite a tepid market in ’21, I was surprised it took Schröder so long to find a team last offseason. He didn’t sign until September, when he was running the show for Germany during EuroBasket, helping lead his national team to a bronze medal.

A reunion with the Lakers has worked out well for both sides, as Schröder has been one of the league’s better bargains on his minimum-salary contract.

The Lakers had an abysmal start this season in part due to injuries to Schröder and Thomas Bryant, who both underwent thumb surgeries right before the season began. The team went just 3-10 in the 13 games they missed (Bryant was traded to Denver at last month’s deadline).

Since he returned, Schröder has only missed one game and the Lakers have gone 34-28 with him in the lineup. He leads L.A. in total minutes played and the team has been better on both ends of the court when he’s playing — and significantly worse when he’s not. He only trails LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Austin Reaves in net rating differential among players with a large sample size.

I’ve been impressed with Schröder’s point-of-attack defense this season. He has also cut down on his turnovers and has generally just been willing to do the little things necessary to win games. He’s not a great three-point shooter (33.8%), but he remains extremely quick and is a very good ball-handler who can create shots and draw fouls. Schröder is also highly accurate on free throws, converting 87% of his looks this season – an important factor when trying to close out games.

The Lakers only have his Non-Bird rights, so they will be limited to offering the 29-year-old 120% of the veteran’s minimum, which would amount to $3.8MM. If the two sides go that route, it would almost certainly be a one-year deal or a two-year pact with a player option. That would give him Early Bird rights in 2024 and make it easier for the Lakers to give him a more lucrative longer-term contract, if they’re so inclined. They could also give him a bigger raise this summer by using one of their exceptions (either the bi-annual or the mid-level).

Rui Hachimura, F

  • 2022/23: $6.26MM
  • 2023/24: RFA
  • Stock: Down

When the Lakers traded three second-rounders (and Kendrick Nunn) to acquire Hachimura, I don’t think they envisioned him averaging 9.2 points and playing just 22.3 minutes per night, but that’s what he’s put up through 27 games.

The former lottery pick is a talented mid-range scorer, but he’s sort of a one-trick pony in that his game isn’t very well-rounded. His three-point accuracy (33.9%) has been virtually identical to what it was with the Wizards this season (33.7%), which is disappointing.

Hachimura has looked better on defense than I’ve seen in the past, but it’s still merely passable, and he doesn’t always play with a lot of energy. His role has been reduced of late, as he received one healthy scratch and averaged 5.3 PPG and 2.5 RPG in the six contests (16.0 MPG) he did play over the past seven games.

Hachimura’s $7,744,600 qualifying offer isn’t prohibitive, and he’s only 25 years old. Are the Lakers really gung-ho about bringing him back? Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t see a huge market for him in restricted free agency based on his relative lack of development over his first four NBA seasons. One report said he might get something around the full mid-level exception, which is projected to start at $11.37MM — I would wish him luck and let him walk at that price.

Troy Brown, G/F

  • 2022/23: Minimum salary
  • 2023/24: UFA
  • Stock: Up

There’s nothing about Brown’s game that really jumps out at you, nor do his modest numbers — he’s averaging 7.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 1.2 APG in 70 games (45 starts, 24.9 MPG).

What Brown provides is prototypical size on the wing at 6’6″ and 215 pounds and a strong understanding of the game. He can do a little bit of everything, but doesn’t stand out in any one particular area. The 23-year-old is shooting a career-high 37.3% from deep, tries hard on defense, and is an unselfish passer.

Despite giving forth solid effort, Brown isn’t the greatest athlete by NBA standards, and is only around league average on defense. He hasn’t been much of a scoring threat, but the Lakers only really ask him to shoot when he’s open.

As with Schröder, Brown is another player the Lakers added on a minimum deal last summer, so unless they use one of their exceptions, they can only offer him 120% of the minimum using his Non-Bird rights – that would be about $2.77MM.

Could he get more than that from another team? I think something in the $3-6MM range could be in play, but I’m not sure. Either way, he has provided positive value considering his compensation this season, and I would imagine there’s motivation from both sides to bring him back – he’s getting regular minutes, which wasn’t the case the past couple seasons.

Malik Beasley, G/F

  • 2022/23: $15.49MM
  • 2023/24: $16.52MM team option
  • Stock: Down

Beasley is a long-range shooting specialist and the Lakers rank just 26th in the league in three-point percentage, which is why they traded for him. The problem is, he’s only shooting 35.6% from deep in 2022/23 (34.7% in 20 games with the Lakers), which is his worst conversion rate since he became a rotation regular in ‘18/19.

The 26-year-old is extremely streaky, and perhaps more than any other player on the team’s roster, he was negatively impacted by James’ absence due to a foot injury. LeBron has always been great at finding open shooters and Beasley has by far the best track record on the team as a high-volume outside shooter, despite his down season and inconsistency.

Free agents D’Angelo Russell and Reaves will likely higher on the team’s priority list this offseason than Beasley, and they won’t be cheap. However, it’s convenient to have mid-size contracts like Beasley’s on the roster, and his specialty is certainly more valuable than Hachimura’s.

How Beasley fares for the rest of the season will likely determine whether the Lakers exercise their team option on his deal, because it’s a hefty price tag considering he doesn’t provide a whole lot else beyond shooting and floor spacing. One report indicated the Lakers were likely to pick the option. They could potentially bring him back at a lower annual cost if they decline it, though there’s always a risk another team could swoop in with a better offer in that scenario.

L.A. Notes: Batum, Morris, Powell, D-Lo, Lakers, Schröder

Nicolas Batum is replacing Marcus Morris as the Clippers‘ starting forward and will stay in the role for the rest of the season, head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters, including Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times.

It was nothing that Marcus did wrong, just trying something different,” Lue said. “And when you’re not playing well, you want to try something different, and Marcus was all for it. We have to sacrifice if we want to win at a high level.”

As Greif writes, there’s less clarity about who will back up Batum. Morris and Robert Covington are the two primary options, and Lue was noncommittal on which player might have the edge. At least for the immediate future, Covington should receive playing time, as Morris has entered the league’s health and safety protocols and has been ruled out of Wednesday’s game in Memphis (Twitter link via ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk).

Here’s more on the two Los Angeles-based teams:

  • Clippers guard Norman Powell, who is questionable for Wednesday’s contest after missing the past 11 games with a left shoulder subluxation, will be reinserted into the rotation once he returns, Greif writes in the same piece. “We need him back. We need his juice. We need his scoring,” Lue said of Powell.
  • Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (hip) and big man Anthony Davis (foot) are probable to play in Wednesday’s game at Chicago, tweets Mark Medina of Forward LeBron James (foot) is questionable. Russell missed the past two games with his injury, while James just returned Sunday after a 13-game absence.
  • Guard Dennis Schröder, who is playing on a veteran’s minimum contract in his second stint with the Lakers, has provided a valuable spark all season long, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. “It’s a lot of energy, man. He plays with such a good passion. He’s energetic,” Davis said. “That’s how he plays, he’s scrappy and he saves a fastbreak, comes back down and draws a foul. He’s kind of another spark. Got the crowd into it. But that’s Dennis. That’s how he plays. … He’s leaving it all on the floor. Everyone is. I mean, the position that we’re in, you got to be able to leave it all on the floor, give 110%. And he’s giving like 150. He’s leaving it all on the floor, laying everything out on the line for us to get a win. And it’s contagious.”
  • Mirjam Swanson of the Southern California News Group is skeptical the Clippers and Lakers can make deep playoff runs in the West, noting that injuries have played a role in the two teams’ inconsistency. She believes the Nuggets, Grizzlies and even the Kings should be favored over the two L.A. teams due to their continuity.

LeBron James Had Torn Tendon

LeBron James had 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes during his return to action on Sunday, but the Lakers lost 118-108 to Chicago. James said if he had listened to some medical experts, he would have been shut down for the season, according to The Athletic’s Jovan Buha (Twitter links).

James, who missed 13 consecutive games, said he tore a tendon in his right foot — an injury that typically takes longer than just four weeks of recovery. Doctors told him he healed from the injury faster than they’ve ever seen. The Lakers superstar got recommendations from two doctors to undergo season-ending surgery, but he went to see the “LeBron James of feet,” who helped to get him back on the court.

LeBron James Returns For Lakers On Sunday

Lakers All-Star small forward LeBron James will make his first appearance in a month on Sunday afternoon against the Bulls, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

James had been on the shelf since suffering a right foot tendon injury against the Mavericks in late February. He has missed 27 games for the Lakers thus far this season, and had been sidelined for the past 13 straight. When he has played, he’s looked more or less like vintage LeBron, at least on offense. He’s averaging 29.5 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 6.9 APG and 0.9 SPG.

It had been previously reported that James would test his right foot during team warmups ahead of today’s contest to ultimately determine whether or not he would suit up for Los Angeles.

James will come off the bench today for just the second time in his 20-year NBA career, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN (via Twitter). Troy Brown Jr., who has proven himself as a capable starter in his stead, will get the nod once again as LeBron gets back up to speed. One would assume it’s only a matter of time until James reclaims his starting spot.

McMenamin tweets that starting L.A. point guard D’Angelo Russell will miss his second straight game with right hip soreness.

LeBron James’ Return Imminent?

After initially being upgraded from out to doubtful for Sunday’s game vs. the Bulls, Lakers forward LeBron James is now being listed as questionable to play this afternoon, according to the team (Twitter link via Marc Stein).

James is expected to test his injured right foot during pregame warmups today to see if he’ll be able to play, a source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

While the latest updates don’t mean James will definitely be activated on Sunday, they suggest his return to the court is closer than previously believed. Reports on Thursday indicated that James was optimistic about playing again during the final week of the regular season — if he’s able to suit up today, he’d be back with two full weeks still left in the season.

James last played exactly one month ago, on February 26 against Dallas. He sustained a foot injury in that game and was diagnosed with a tendon injury in his right foot a few days later, with the team ruling him out for at least three weeks. He has since resumed doing on-court work.

The Lakers have played well without James, going 8-5 in the 13 games he has missed, but they’d certainly welcome his return to the lineup as they attempt to secure a postseason berth. L.A. is currently in a three-way tie for seventh place in the West — the Lakers, Timberwolves, and Pelicans are all 37-37.

Lakers Notes: LeBron’s Status, Reaves, Walker

With reports indicating that LeBron James is nearing a return from his right foot injury, the Lakers have upgraded his status for Sunday’s game against the Bulls from out to doubtful, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

James has missed the last 13 games after suffering a tendon injury in late February. He tweeted on Thursday that he’s working out three times a day in an effort to return as soon as possible.

“Progressing as normal,” coach Darvin Ham said when asked about James after Friday’s game. “Just doing the work that needs to be done for him to get his foot all the way together.”

The Lakers have managed to remain competitive without James, posting an 8-5 record and climbing into eighth place in the Western Conference.

There’s more from L.A.:

  • Austin Reaves discusses his contract situation in an appearance on the Point Forward podcast with former NBA guard Evan Turner (video link). Reaves has become a breakout star in his second NBA season, but the Lakers have limitations on what they can offer when he becomes a restricted free agent this summer. “I would like to be here (with the Lakers),” Reaves said, “you know, but it’s the NBA, it’s a business at the end of the day. … I want to make as much money as I can and be as successful as I can, no matter where it’s at.”
  • Reaves may play for Germany in the World Cup, according to Robert Arndt of the German website Spox. Reaves’ grandmother is German, and he received a German passport several months ago.
  • The Lakers got a huge boost from Lonnie Walker on Friday night as they topped the Thunder to move to .500 for the first time this season, per Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Walker, who started 32 games earlier this season, has found himself outside the rotation after L.A. picked up D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Rui Hachimura before the trade deadline. Walker came off the bench Friday to score 20 points in 24 minutes and impressed his teammates with his mental toughness. “We don’t win this game without him,” Anthony Davis said. “He comes in, is playing well and I don’t know, I’ve never been through it where I’m playing and then get benched or whatever, but I can only just imagine how it messes with the mind. To be mentally strong to go from a starter to move to the bench, don’t play. Then come in and play big minutes, help the team win. You got to be a strong-minded individual for that.”

Hoops Rumors Glossary: Gilbert Arenas Provision

Gilbert Arenas hasn’t played in the NBA since 2012, but his legacy lives on in the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The NBA introduced the Gilbert Arenas provision in the 2005 CBA as a way to help teams retain their restricted free agents who aren’t coming off standard rookie scale contracts. While Arenas isn’t specifically named in the CBA, the rule colloquially known as the Arenas provision stems from his own restricted free agency in 2003.

At the time, the Warriors only had Early Bird rights on Arenas, who signed an offer sheet with the Wizards starting at about $8.5MM. Because Golden State didn’t have $8.5MM in cap room and could only offer Arenas a first-year salary of about $4.9MM using the Early Bird exception, the Warriors were unable to match the offer sheet and lost Arenas to Washington.

Introduced to help avoid similar instances of teams losing promising young free agents, the Arenas provision limits the first-year salary that rival suitors can offer restricted free agents who have only been in the league for one or two years.

The starting salary for an offer sheet can’t exceed the amount of the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, which allows the player’s original team to use either the mid-level exception or the Early Bird exception to match it. Otherwise, a team without the necessary cap space would be powerless to keep its player, like the Warriors were with Arenas.

An offer sheet from another team can still have an average annual salary that exceeds the non-taxpayer’s mid-level, however. The annual raises are limited to 5% between years one and two and 4.5% between years three and four, but a team can include a significant raise between the second and third years of the offer.

As long as the first two years of a team’s offer sheet are for the highest salary possible, the offer is fully guaranteed, and there are no incentives included, the third-year salary of the offer sheet can be worth up to what the player’s third-year maximum salary would have been if not for the Arenas restrictions.

Based on a projected $134MM salary cap for 2023/24, here’s the maximum offer sheet a first- or second-year RFA could receive this coming summer:

Year Salary Comment
2023/24 $11,368,000 Value of non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception.
2024/25 $11,936,400 5% raise on first-year salary.
2025/26 $36,850,000 Maximum third-year salary for a player with 1-2 years in NBA.
2026/27 $38,508,250 4.5% raise on third-year salary.
Total $98,662,650 Average annual salary of $24,665,663.

It’s important to note that in order to make the sort of offer outlined above, a team must have enough cap room to accommodate the average annual value of the contract. Because if the offer sheet isn’t matched, the player’s new club will spread the cap hits equally across all four years (ie. $24.67MM per season).

In other words, a team with $25MM in cap space could extend this offer sheet to a first- or second-year RFA. But a team with only $20MM in cap space would have to reduce the third- and fourth-year salaries in its offer sheet to get the overall average salary of the offer down to $20MM per year, despite being able to comfortably accommodate the first-year salary.

The application of the Arenas provision is infrequent, since first- and second-year players who reach free agency rarely warrant such lucrative contract offers. First-round picks sign four-year rookie deals when they enter the NBA, so the Arenas provision generally applies to second-round picks or undrafted free agents whose first NBA contracts were only for one or two years.

The Arenas provision hasn’t been used at all in recent years. Based on our data, it was last relevant during the 2016 offseason, when multiple teams made use of the Arenas provision as they attempted to pry restricted free agents from rival teams.

One notable example from that summer was Tyler Johnson‘s restricted free agency with Miami. The Heat had Early Bird rights on Johnson, who had only been in the NBA for two seasons. The Nets attempted to pry him away with an aggressive offer sheet that featured salaries of $5,628,000, $5,881,260, $19,245,370, and $19,245,370. It wasn’t the maximum that Brooklyn could have offered Johnson, but the massive third-year raise was a tough pill for Miami to swallow.

Overall, the deal was worth $50MM for four years. If the Heat had declined to match it, the Nets would have flattened out those annual cap hits to $12.5MM per year, the average annual value of the deal. However, due to the Arenas provision, Miami was able to match Brooklyn’s offer sheet with the Early Bird exception, even though the Heat wouldn’t have been able to directly offer Johnson a four-year, $50MM contract using the Early Bird exception.

When a team matches an Arenas-provision offer sheet, it also has the option of flattening those cap charges. However, that option is only available if the team has the cap room necessary to accommodate the average annual value of the deal. Otherwise, the club has to keep the unbalanced cap charges on its books. In the case of Johnson, the Heat didn’t have enough cap room to spread out the cap hits, so they were forced to carry those exorbitant cap charges in years three and four.

When Johnson’s cap hit for the Heat jumped from $5,881,260 to $19,245,370 in 2018/19, it became an albatross — the team eventually sent him to Phoenix in a salary-dump deal at the 2019 deadline.

This coming offseason, the best candidate for an Arenas-provision offer sheet is Lakers guard Austin Reaves, who has emerged as an important rotation player for the club during its push for a playoff spot.

If the Lakers negotiate with Reaves directly, they’d be limited to offering him a little over $50MM on a four-year deal using the Early Bird exception. However, a rival team with the necessary cap room could offer him up to $98MM+, as detailed above.

A four-year, $98MM+ deal seems awfully ambitious for Reaves, but it’s possible that a rival suitor could test the Lakers’ limits by using the Arenas provision to put an offer sheet of $60MM or more on the table for the young guard. If Los Angeles matched such an offer, the contract would look the same in the first two years as the one L.A. could offer, but would include larger salaries in years three and four.

Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu, Raptors guard Dalano Banton, and Heat center Omer Yurtseven are among the other players who will become eligible for restricted free agency this offseason with just two years of NBA experience under their belts and would be subject to the Arenas provision.

Finally, just because a club is given the opportunity to use the Arenas provision to keep its restricted free agent doesn’t mean that club will necessarily have the means. Here are a few situations in which the Arenas provision would not help a team keep its restricted free agent:

  • If a team only has the taxpayer mid-level exception or room exception available, it would be unable to match an offer sheet for a Non-Bird free agent if the starting salary exceeds the taxpayer mid-level, room exception, and/or Non-Bird exception amount.
  • A team would be unable to match an offer sheet exceeding the Non-Bird exception for a Non-Bird free agent if that team has used its mid-level exception on another player. The club could use Early Bird rights to match if those rights are available, however.
  • If the player is a Non-Bird or Early Bird free agent with three years of NBA experience, the Arenas provision would not apply — only players with one or two years in the league are eligible.
  • If the player is eligible for restricted free agency but doesn’t receive a qualifying offer, the Arenas provision would not apply.

Note: This is a Hoops Rumors Glossary entry. Our glossary posts will explain specific rules relating to trades, free agency, or other aspects of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ was used in the creation of this post.

Earlier versions of this post were published in past years by Luke Adams and Chuck Myron.

L.A. Notes: Russell, SGA, AD, George, Clippers

Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell will miss Friday’s key matchup against the Thunder due to a right hip injury. Dennis Schröder will start in his place.

It’s not too serious, but serious enough where we need to manage him,” Ham said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (Twitter link). Ham added that Russell is considered day-to-day.

The Thunder, meanwhile, will have their best player available, as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is active after previously being listed as questionable with a nagging abdominal strain (Twitter links via Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman).

The Mavericks, Lakers, Thunder and Pelicans are all currently tied at 36-37 in the Nos. 8-11 spots in the West. The Wolves (No. 7) sit at 37-37, while the Jazz (No. 12) are 35-37.

Here’s more from Los Angeles:

  • In a lengthy interview with McMenamin, Lakers star Anthony Davis expressed confidence in the team’s retooled roster, and it sounds as though he would like to see the group stick together beyond this season. “If we actually have a full summer, full training camp, go through an entire season, who knows the position we’ll be in,” Davis said. ” … The team we have now, we feel like not only can we make noise this year, and I like our chance against anybody to be honest. You put anybody against us, I like our chances. … Who knows what we could be, what threat we could be next year and then years to come if they work it out and are able to keep this group together.” As McMenamin notes, beyond Davis, LeBron James and Max Christie, no other player has a fully guaranteed contract for 2023/24, so the Lakers will have a lot of decisions to make this summer.
  • The Clippers were glad that Paul George avoided a major injury when he sprained his knee. He’s expected to be reevaluated in two-to-three weeks, but if the Clippers clinch a top-six seed and a berth in the playoffs, George potentially returning in a first-round series is considered “optimistic,” according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Eric Gordon will start in George’s stead for the rest of the season, Youngmisuk writes.
  • It’s impossible to replace a player of George’s caliber, so multiple players will have to step up to make up for his lost production on both ends of the court. Law Murray of The Athletic believes Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook, Gordon, Terance Mann and Norman Powell are the top candidates for more responsibilities with George sidelined. Powell has been out with a shoulder injury, but he has been getting on-court work in and is close to a return, per Murray.

Optimism LeBron James Could Return Before Regular Season Ends

1:48pm: James sent out a tweet saying he was not reevaluated today and there’s no target date for his return. He added that he’s “working around the clock” to give himself the “best chance of coming back full strength,” whenever that might be. However, he did not dispute that he was optimistic about returning before the regular season ends.

12:46pm: The Lakers announced on Thursday that LeBron James has started on-court work, but there’s no specific timeline for his return (Twitter link via Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times).

However, according to reports from Shams Charania of The Athletic, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, and Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report (All Twitter links), James is optimistic he could return in the final week of the regular season and play a few games. Head coach Darvin Ham previously said the Lakers expected James to return before the season ended.

As Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group notes (via Twitter), the Lakers play at Houston and at the Clippers on April 4 and 5, followed by home games against the Suns and Jazz on April 7 and 9. Goon believes the final three games are logic target dates for James, as they’re all in Los Angeles.

James last played on February 26 against Dallas after sustaining a foot injury. On March 2, he was diagnosed with a tendon injury in his right foot and was scheduled to be reevaluated in three weeks, hence today’s update.

Bolstered by trade deadline additions and strong play from Anthony Davis and Austin Reaves, among others, the Lakers have gone 7-5 since James went down with the injury. They’re currently 36-37, the No. 10 seed in the West, but the standings remain extremely tight — only one game separates the Nos. 7-12 seeds.

Getting the team’s leading scorer, second-leading rebounder and top assist man back would obviously be beneficial for the Lakers in their effort to make the playoffs. James, 38, has been limited to 47 games this season, but continues to play at a very high level, averaging 29.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 6.9 assists in 36.1 minutes per night

Lakers Notes: Reaves, Russell, LeBron, Davis, M. Leonard

After scoring a career-high 35 points Sunday night, Austin Reaves was rewarded with a spot in the Lakers‘ starting lineup, writes Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. With two days off between games, coach Darvin Ham and his staff had time to prepare Reaves for starting duties as he took the place of Malik Beasley. Woike notes that it’s Ham’s first change to the starting unit since the trade deadline that wasn’t forced by injuries.

Reaves delivered 25 points and a career-best 11 assists in his first start since January 4 as the Lakers topped the Suns to move into a tie for ninth in the Western Conference playoff race.

“It’s going to be hectic,” Reaves said of the competition for postseason spots. “But this is why you play the game. You want high-pressure moments and you really want to play under the lights.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • D’Angelo Russell says he’s “at peace” after returning to the Lakers in a trade last month, but he’ll also be able to adjust if his long-term future isn’t in L.A., according to Helene Elliott of The Los Angeles Times. Russell, who has provided a scoring spark, topped 25 points Wednesday for the fourth time in his 11 games with the team. He’s enjoying the chance to display how much he has grown as a player and a person since L.A. drafted him in 2015, but he also knows more change could be coming in a few months. “I’m a free agent this summer. I’ve been traded midseason, so to get comfortable somewhere it’s not easy for me,” he said. “So, until I am, I won’t be comfortable. I won’t feel like it’s home.”
  • LeBron James will have his right foot tendon injury reevaluated this week, but there’s still no set timetable for him to return, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Ham believes the team is benefiting by responding to challenges with James sidelined. “Bron, with him being out, it’s revealed that we have a lot of different weapons that are very capable players on both sides of the ball that can help us achieve the goal we’re trying to achieve,” he said. “And when he comes back, he’s just going to add to it.”
  • Buha notes that the medical staff still considers the right foot stress condition that caused Anthony Davis to miss 20 games earlier this season to be an “active injury,” and it hasn’t been decided whether he’ll play in both games of the team’s lone remaining back-to-back on April 4 and 5.
  • Sources tell Buha that the Lakers were interested in signing Meyers Leonard, who worked out with them in January, before he joined the Bucks. L.A. is opting to keep its open roster spot for now after workouts with Tristan Thompson and Tony Bradley earlier this week.