Lakers Rumors

Atlantic Notes: Vonleh, LeVert, Tatum, Simmons

Badly in need of rebounding help, the Knicks may have found it at a bargain price with the signing of Noah Vonleh, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. While other parts of his game have been questioned, Vonleh is considered very good at getting boards. He collected a career best 5.8 in about 16 minutes per game with the Trail Blazers and Bulls last season.

Chicago acquired Vonleh from Portland at the trade deadline, but didn’t make him an offer in free agency. The Knicks were able to sign him to a partially guaranteed one-year deal that will pay $100K if he’s still on the roster September 25.

“Free agency was pretty tough this year,’’ Vonleh said. “I didn’t get anything. There were a lot of teams with interest. But I love the game of basketball. I’m happy to have another year in the league. I’m going to play this year out and see how things go and try to be in the league for many years to come.”

There’s more this morning from the Atlantic Division:

  • Nets forward Caris LeVert believes a relaxed practice schedule in the NBA has helped him overcome the injuries he had in college, relays Ethan Sears of The New York Post. Foot issues forced him to miss a large part of his junior and senior seasons at Michigan and caused him to slide to 20th in the 2016 draft. “I think that a lot of people are like, ‘Oh, he only — he got hurt in the college season, where they only played 40 games. How is he gonna play 82 games in the NBA season?’” LeVert said. “They don’t really look at the fact that in college, you practice way harder than in the NBA. Cause in the NBA, you can’t necessarily practice that hard, ’cause there’s a game basically every other day.”
  • After a stellar rookie season, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum has spent the summer working on his strength, tweets ESPN’s Chris Forsberg. “That’s probably been the biggest focus,” Tatum said. “I’m still young so it’s hard to really just throw on a bunch of extra pounds. But I’ve definitely gotten a lot stronger. … I just wanted to get my body right and keep getting stronger.”
  • Ben Simmons isn’t concerned about the Sixers missing out on LeBron James in free agency. Simmons talks about James’ decision to join the Lakers in a video tweeted by the Australian Daily Telegraph. “He did the right thing for him and his family,” Simmons said. “But it would’ve been great to learn from him, him being on the team and obviously competing for a championship. But we have pieces to get there.”

Owner Likes Magic Johnson's Transformation Of The Lakers

Lakers president Magic Johnson is getting rave reviews from owner Jeanie Buss on the job he has done in remaking the team, relays Dan Feldman of NBC Sports. Johnson’s standout move was luring free agent LeBron James to L.A., but he also cleared away a lot of cap space and convinced a series of veterans to accept one-year deals so the Lakers can take another big swing in free agency next summer.

Central Rumors: Leuer, Wood, Love, Bullock

Pistons big man Jon Leuer is expected to be ready by the season opener and perhaps by the start of training camp, Vince Ellis of Detroit Free Press tweets. Leuer underwent surgery to repair a meniscus issue that arose during a workout earlier this month. Leuer appeared in just eight games last season due to a left ankle injury that required season-ending surgery in January. The team is hopeful Leuer, who is entering the third year of a four-year, $42MM contract, can return his role as a rotation player at center and power forward.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Christian Wood is confident he can earn a spot on the Bucks’ opening day roster, as he expressed to HoopsHype’s Bryan Kalbrosky. The 6’11’ Wood reached an agreement with Milwaukee on a training camp deal after posting big numbers on their summer league squad. “Once I get the time and people see me, I know that I can be an X-factor in the NBA. I can run the floor and beat other bigs and I’m faster than most people my size,” he told Kalbrosky.
  • Kevin Love had a pretty good idea that LeBron James would either pick the Lakers or stay with the Cavs, he revealed in an ESPN interview that was relayed by Alysha Tsuji of USA Today. “I knew it was probably between Cleveland and Los Angeles. I think he’s always looking for a different challenge. He’s always wondering what’s next, and it feels like sometimes he’s playing chess and everybody else is playing checkers,” Love said.
  • The Pistons have depth at the wing spots but Reggie Bullock will retain his starting spot under new coach Dwane Casey, MLive’s Ansar Khan writes. Bullock emerged as one of the league’s top 3-point shooters last season after being inserted into the lineup. He’s one of the league’s biggest bargains at $2.5MM, as Khan notes, and should get a much bigger contract as a free agent next summer if he has a similar season.

Chances Of Thompson And/Or Butler To L.A.?

Interestingly, the Lakers were the second-highest voted selection for both Butler and Thompson, and the first-place selection for Leonard by a wide-margin. Meanwhile, both Thompson and Durant are projected to return to the Warriors.

Kuzma Believes Team Is Being Underrated

Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma doesn’t think his team will have to wait a year to contend, Ohm Youngmisuk  of ESPN writes. Kuzma believes the additions of LeBron James and other big-name free agents makes them instant contenders. “We think that a lot of people are underestimating us,” he told Youngmisuk. Kuzma added that many teams need to work on their chemistry but he’s confident the team’s younger players will blend well with the veteran additions. “I don’t know why people kind of just rule us out because we are young,” he said. “We are hungry. We are competitive. Anybody that watched us play last year, we were in a lot of games.”

  • The Thunder catch a little bit of a scheduling break, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman points out. Each team plays four conference foes three times while facing every other conference team four times. The Thunder only have to play the two-time defending champion Warriors three times, with the Lakers, Spurs and Grizzlies also in that group. The Grizzlies are the only projected non-playoff contender among that quartet.

Columnist: Lakers Won't Make Playoffs

  • The Lakers won’t make the postseason, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports predicts. Mannix made the comment during a NBC Sports Boston podcast, believing that the players around LeBron James won’t mesh well. “You have to assume it’s 48 wins to get into the playoffs in the Western Conference,” Mannix said. “I don’t see that team making up that difference.”

Lakers To Have 43 National TV Games

Big Turnaround, Big Turmoil Expected In Los Angeles

  • A panel of ESPN staffers has concluded that the team that added the greatest basketball player of his generation will have the biggest turnaround this season. Alas, LeBron JamesLakers are also expected to suffer from the most team turmoil, according to ESPN’s panel.

Cavaliers Notes: Schedule, James, Sexton, Dekker

As expected when LeBron James announced he was leaving for Los Angeles, the Cavaliers have fallen out of the mix for the NBA’s spotlight games. In the partial schedule announced earlier today, Cleveland isn’t included in any of the nationally televised games for the opening week, Christmas Day or Martin Luther King Day, notes Chris Fedor of It’s quite a change for the Cavs, who hosted last season’s opener and whose matchup with the Warriors had become a yuletide tradition.

Cleveland will have at least once marquee game on November 21 when James returns with the Lakers for his only appearance in the city this season, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

There’s more Cavaliers news to pass along:

  • First-round pick Collin Sexton tells Ben Stinar of Amico Hoops that he’s excited about the opportunity awaiting him in Cleveland. The eighth selection in this year’s draft, Sexton will be counted on to eventually become the primary creator in the Cavaliers’ offense. “My role will just be able to come in and learn and have an impact on the team,” he said. “No matter what it is, being a distributor, being a scorer. Just going out there playing my game and being the best me I can be.”
  • The Cavs get a B grade from ESPN’s Kevin Pelton for their acquisition of Sam Dekker. Cleveland needed to find someone who could fill both forward spots after losing James and Jeff Green to free agency, and Dekker, who was picked up from the Clippers at minimal cost, has shown an ability to handle both roles. Pelton states that Dekker is better than anyone the team could have signed in free agency.
  • Standing pat until the season starts may be the Cavaliers’ best strategy at this point, according to Evan Dammarell of Forbes. He says the Cavs wouldn’t have benefited from a rumored Kyle Korver for Jerryd Bayless swap with the Sixers and doubts that the Rockets, who have reportedly expressed interest in J.R. Smith have much to offer that Cleveland would want.