Lakers Rumors

Poll: Which L.A./NYC Team Is Most Likely To Land Top 2019 Free Agent?

The 2019 NBA offseason is shaping up to be a fascinating one. With plenty of big-name players poised to reach free agency and many teams around the league in position to create cap room, there could be a good deal of player movement on the free agent market.

Making things even more interesting is the fact that all four teams in Los Angeles and New York, the country’s two biggest media markets, are poised to be among those teams with significant cap space, and all four teams will be looking to land a top-tier free agent.

In certain recent years, the Lakers, Clippers, Nets, and Knicks may not have even received consideration from elite free agents. All four clubs have suffered from poor management and/or ownership at times during the last decade, but all four appear to have turned a corner as of late.

The Lakers, under new head of basketball operations Magic Johnson, secured a long-term commitment from LeBron James in free agency and have complemented him with an intriguing collection of young prospects. They should have the cap space necessary to sign another maximum-salary free agent in 2019.

The Clippers, led by owner Steve Ballmer, have transitioned out of the Lob City era by putting together a deep, talented roster, and will have veteran executive Jerry West in their corner as they look to make a splash on the 2019 free agent market. They’ll have more than enough room for one max free agent, and could potentially clear enough space for two.

The Nets are finally out from under their commitments to the Celtics and are trending in the right direction, having acquired young building blocks like Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert despite not having premium first-round picks for the last few years. They could also be in position to open up two maximum-salary contract slots this summer, depending on what happens with their own free agents (note: two max slots are far less likely after Spencer Dinwiddie‘s extension).

Finally, even the Knicks, who have endured more drama and made more questionable roster moves than just about any other NBA team in recent years, have been showing more patience and making smarter roster moves since Scott Perry assumed GM duties in 2017. Assuming they’re able to move a salary or two, the Knicks should have enough cap space for a max free agent in 2019.

All four of these clubs have big-market appeal and will be able to make strong pitches to next year’s best free agents. That’s a group that should include Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Khris Middleton, Klay Thompson, Tobias Harris, and Kemba Walker, as our recent free agent power rankings show.

Our question today is which of those four clubs has the best chance to land one of those marquee free agents. For the sake of this poll, we’re focused more on outside free agent signings, so the Clippers re-signing Harris or the Knicks re-signing Kristaps Porzingis wouldn’t really count.

What do you think? Which Los Angeles or New York club is in the best position to land an elite free agent in 2019?

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Lakers Eyeing Wayne Ellington, Terrence Ross

Trevor Ariza isn’t the only veteran trade candidate the Lakers have looked into acquiring, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. As Deveney details, the Lakers have also been eyeing players like Wayne Ellington and Terrence Ross as they look to shore up their depth on the wing.

Rival executives tell Deveney that the Lakers have been among the “most aggressive pursuers” of trades in the early going this season. While the front office doesn’t want to give up its top young prospects for a short-term fix and likely won’t make a deal that compromises the team’s 2019 cap flexibility, the Lakers want to fortify their rotation in order to give this year’s club a chance to make a deep playoff run, writes Deveney.

Ellington, who signed a one-year, $6.27MM deal with the Heat during the 2018 offseason, has the power to veto any trade, but might welcome a move to a contender if Miami continues to struggle. Sources tell Deveney that the Heat would be open to sending the veteran sharpshooter to a playoff team for a first-round pick — that’s a lot to ask for a role player on an expiring contract, but if the pick has protections and Miami takes back an unwanted contract, it may not be unrealistic.

Meanwhile, although Deveney identifies Ross as another potential target, he concedes that the 27-year-old Magic swingman may have too much value to be a realistic option for the Lakers, given what Los Angeles is willing to surrender in a potential trade. Ross, who is also in a contract year, is enjoying the best season of his career, with career highs so far in PPG (14.1) and FG% (.453), among other categories.

There has also been chatter that the Lakers may pursue another big man, per Deveney, though he acknowledges that’s unlikely. There aren’t as many viable frontcourt targets on the trade market, and after signing Tyson Chandler earlier this season, L.A. probably has a stronger need for wing depth.

Rondo To See Hand Specialist On Thursday

Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo will be examined by a hand specialist on Thursday to determine the next course of action for his injury, Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet tweets. Rondo didn’t travel with the team to its road game against Houston. He broke his right hand nearly a month ago and underwent surgery on November 15th. He was given a 4-to-5 week timetable for his recovery but has continued to experience swelling during the healing process.

Lakers Won’t Give Up Top Young Players For Ariza

The Lakers have made four key young players unavailable in their pursuit of wing Trevor Ariza, Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times tweets. The team will not include Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma or Josh Hart in a potential trade, according to Turner. The Suns turned down a three-team proposal, Turner adds.

The Lakers’ keen interest in working out a deal with the Suns for Ariza, an unrestricted free agent after the season, surfaced in an ESPN report over the weekend. That report indicated Phoenix was seeking playmaking guard, presumably either Ball or Hart, and a draft asset.

Los Angeles has plenty of competition for Ariza as at least eight teams have reached out to Phoenix. Ariza can’t be traded until Saturday, when restrictions on trading players who signed free agent contracts this summer are lifted. Ariza inked a one-year, $15MM contract with the Suns after being a key member of the Rockets last season.

He is averaging 9.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG and 3.3 APG in 33.9 MPG this season for the floundering Suns.

Acquiring Ariza would not only help the Lakers in the short run, his expiring contract would also give them more flexibility in the summer when they pursue top-tier free agents.

Sources confirmed to Turner that the Rockets called about Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s availability two weeks ago but no trade is imminent. A report from The Athletic on Wednesday revealed the Rockets were trying to put together a multi-team trade to acquire the Lakers’ shooting guard, who has veto power over any deal.

Rockets Emerging As Suitor For Caldwell-Pope

The Rockets are emerging as a potential suitor for Lakers wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. While no deal is imminent and Houston isn’t the only club interested in Caldwell-Pope, the Rockets appear to be targeting the 25-year-old in multi-team trade scenarios, according to Charania.

On Sunday, we heard that the Lakers and Suns had discussed trade scenarios in which Trevor Ariza would land in Los Angeles and the Lakers would trade away Caldwell-Pope. However, KCP has the power to veto any trade and almost certainly wouldn’t want to end up with the NBA-worst Suns, who in turn wouldn’t have much use for another wing. As such, the Lakers and Suns are said to be on the lookout for a third team to help facilitate a possible deal.

[RELATED: At least eight teams have inquired on Trevor Ariza]

The Rockets make some sense as that third team, given their need for another three-and-D player. Houston would also be a much more favorable landing spot than Phoenix for Caldwell-Pope if he hopes to play a regular role for a contending team this season.

However, the Rockets’ best salary-matching piece in the range of Ariza ($15MM) and Caldwell-Pope ($12MM) is Brandon Knight ($14.63MM), and Houston can’t send him back to Phoenix during the 2018/19 league year, since the Suns traded him away in August. As such, the Rockets, Lakers, and Suns would likely need to search for a fourth team to acquire Knight and draft picks, sources tell Charania.

Ariza and Caldwell-Pope will become trade-eligible on Saturday, so it’s possible that these talks will get more serious at that point.

Ariza Looks Like A Perfect Fit For The Lakers

  • The Lakers are trying to work out a three-team trade to acquire Trevor Ariza from the Suns, and Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype believes he would be a valuable addition in L.A. In addition to his defense and 3-point shooting, Ariza is one of the league’s best players at finishing in transition. He averaged 1.31 points per possession in transition with the Rockets last season, placing him ninth among players with at least 100 transition possessions.

LeBron Never Considered Joining Knicks

There was plenty of drama as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade faced each other for the final time last night, but James’ postgame comments led to speculation that his summer decision came down to the Lakers and Knicks.

As the longtime friends hugged after the game, Wade said “I appreciate you for letting it end here,” meaning at the Staples Center, and James responded, “It was either here or at (Madison Square) Garden, that’s it.”

Although many are taking that as an indication that James was considering signing with New York, multiple sources close to him tell Joe Vardon of The Athletic that isn’t true. The statement referred to the magnitude of their final game and how LeBron felt it deserved a special setting.

Vardon adds that apart from the Lakers, James gave serious consideration to staying with the Cavaliers or going to the Sixers, who were the only other team he met with before signing in L.A.

Although James heading to New York would have shaken up the NBA landscape just as much as joining the Lakers, the Knicks didn’t have the cap room available to offer anything close to a max contract. The team’s only significant free agent additions of the offseason were Mario Hezonja, who received a one-year, $6.5MM contract that came out of the Knicks’ mid-level exception, and Noah Vonleh, who got a partially guaranteed one-year deal.

On top of that, tweets ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, James wouldn’t have considered New York because of how the front office, especially former team president Phil Jackson, treated his friend, Carmelo Anthony in his final seasons with the team.

At Least Eight Teams Have Inquired On Ariza

Suns forward Trevor Ariza won’t officially become eligible to be traded until Saturday, but plenty of potential suitors are checking in now to inquire on his availability. According to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link), Phoenix has heard from “no less than eight teams” with interest in Ariza.

A report on Sunday indicated that the Lakers were looking to acquire Ariza – who is on a one-year, $15MM contract – and Gambadoro confirms that Los Angeles is indeed one of those clubs that has inquired. However, nothing is close at this point, per Gambadoro, who notes that the Suns aren’t interested in a package of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a bench player.

Of course, Sunday’s report on L.A.’s interest in Ariza indicated that the Lakers and Suns would have to find a third team to facilitate a deal anyway, since KCP likely wouldn’t have any more interest in joining the last-place Suns than they’d have in acquiring him. Caldwell-Pope has the ability to veto any trade he’s involved in, so he’d require a favorable landing spot if he’s dealt.

Whether they pursue a trade with the Lakers or another team, it seems the Suns will have a number of options with Ariza. Still, Gambadoro cautions (via Twitter) that he doesn’t believe Phoenix is all that interested in adding more projects to its roster — the team wants players that can contribute now.

That’s a somewhat odd stance for a team with an NBA-worst 4-22 record — even if Suns ownership, management, and fans may be tired of perpetually rebuilding, the time seems right to roll the dice on a high-upside “project.” But if Gambadoro’s intel is accurate, that would significantly reduce the odds of a Suns deal involving someone like Markelle Fultz.

Lakers Looking To Acquire Trevor Ariza

One of the worst-kept secrets around the league is the Suns‘ desire to trade Trevor Ariza, a valuable 3-and-D wing who can help a lot of potential playoff teams. Well, it appears the Lakers are the team at the front of the line, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Lakers are working hard to acquire Ariza in a potential three-team trade.

According to Wojnarowski, the Lakers and Suns have been working to reach an agreement with a third team that would take on Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as part of a potentially larger deal. It must be pointed out that Caldwell-Pope has veto power on any potential trade, but Wojnarowski also reports that the Lakers have shown a willingness to work with his agent, Rich Paul, if there’s a deal that might increase his role.

Meanwhile, the Suns are reportedly looking to land a playmaking guard and a draft asset as the price of unloading Ariza. Ultimately, Wojnarowski reports that the two teams have made progress on a potential deal, but also that no agreements are close and both teams remain active in multiple trade discussions throughout the league.

This will certainly be something to monitor as it could significantly impact the Western Conference playoff picture. Ariza and Caldwell-Pope both become trade-eligible on December 15.

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Ingram, Rondo, Walton

After a decade and a half as competitors and teammates, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are preparing for their final meeting tomorrow night, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Wade, who hasn’t relented on plans to retire after this season, will travel with the Heat to meet LeBron and the Lakers in L.A.

“It’s bitter, and it’s sweet,” James said. “It’s sweet and sour. The sweet part about it is I’ve always loved being on the same floor with my brother. We struck up a relationship together at the combine in 2003, and it started from there. And the sour part about it is that this is our last time sharing the same court.”

James was destined for stardom as the top pick in the 2003 draft. Wade was taken at No. 5 and quickly established himself as an All-Star in Miami. They won a pair of championships as teammates with the Heat, then briefly reunited last season in Cleveland. Wade’s retirement will leave Kyle Korver and Zaza Pachulia as the only other active members of the 2003 draft class.

“The older I get and the more I’m in the game, I gain even that much more respect for these guys — the legends that we’re starting to lose along the way,” said Lakers center Tyson Chandler. “… You cherish every moment you get to compete against those type of competitors.”

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • Brandon Ingram‘s sprained left ankle will keep him out of action longer than expected, according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. The team’s second-leading scorer at 15.2 PPG, Ingram will miss at least another week. “We really just miss the fact that we keep losing out on a great opportunity for our team to kind of find that rhythm together,” coach Luke Walton said. “Every time we start to find a little bit of a rhythm, we lose a big piece.”
  • Rajon Rondo is still experiencing swelling in his broken right hand, tweets Mike Trudell of However, the swelling is considered normal and isn’t a sign that Rondo’s recovery will take longer than expected. He was given a four- to five-week projection to return after the November 15 operation.
  • A brief experience with the Memphis Tigers provided Walton with the inspiration to become an NBA coach, relays Jason Munz of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Walton joined a former Arizona teammate on the college team’s staff during the 2011 lockout. “I went back and played for a few years after that,” Walton said, “but it was pretty evident to me after that that coaching was what I wanted to do when I got done playing.”