Lakers Rumors

Lakers Expect Anthony Davis Back Monday

  • After missing tonight’s game with a left calf contusion, Lakers big man Anthony Davis is expected to return Monday, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

Lakers Notes: Walker, LeBron, Davis

Lonnie Walker expected to remain with the Spurs in free agency, but the move to the Lakers has unlocked his offensive potential, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Walker was drafted by San Antonio in 2018 and spent his first four NBA seasons there. After Friday’s game, he told reporters, “I thought I was going to be a Spur for life.”

When he reached free agency in July, L.A. offered a one-year contract at $6.4MM, the full taxpayer mid-level exception. The Spurs had the resources to match or exceed that offer, but they elected not to. Instead, Walker joined a Lakers team that needed scoring and he’s having a career season so far, becoming a full-time starter and averaging 17.0 PPG through 15 games.

“I love playing in this type of environment, with these types of players,” Walker said. “I’m just trying to show my talents. I’m not sure many people really know my game. It’s finally starting to come.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • LeBron James returned Friday after missing five games with an adductor strain, but he wasn’t sure he’d be able to play until after he completed his pre-game workout, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. James committed an uncharacteristic nine turnovers, but he also contributed 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists as L.A. won on the road for the first time this season. “My rhythm, my timing was a little off on a few of my passes,” James said. “I had six in the first half and cut it in half in the second half. But I’ll be a lot better, obviously, as the games go on I’ll get my rhythm back.”
  • James has been cleared to play tonight in the second game of a back-to-back, tweets Marc J. Spears of Andscape.
  • Anthony Davis will miss tonight’s rematch with the Spurs after getting kicked in the calf during Friday’s game, tweets Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Davis has reached at least 25 points and 15 rebounds in his last five games, notes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “AD was the best player in the league over the last four or five games,” James said Friday. “Just his numbers and productivity on both sides of the floor. It’s not just offensively but defensively he’s been super engaged, and tonight once again he was amazing.”

Western Notes: LeBron, Walker, Kawhi, George, Bane

Lakers star LeBron James made his return on Friday night in San Antonio after missing five games due to an adductor strain, and helped lead the team to a 105-94 victory. Speaking to reporters following the win, James indicated that he isn’t planning to sit out the second half of the Lakers’ back-to-back set vs. the Spurs on Saturday, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN relays.

“There’s a strong possibility that I play tomorrow,” James said. “I just sat out for two weeks. I’m good.”

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Facing his former team for the first time since signing with the Lakers in the offseason, Lonnie Walker said on Friday that San Antonio is still “home” and the Spurs are still “family,” per Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group. Walker, who received the full taxpayer mid-level exception from the Lakers in free agency, is enjoying a career year so far in Los Angeles and making a bid for Most Improved Player consideration. At ESPN, McMenamin takes a look at what’s fueling Walker’s fifth-year surge.
  • Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard (ankle) and Paul George (hamstring), along with sharpshooter Luke Kennard (calf), will remain sidelined for Sunday’s game vs. Indiana, head coach Tyronn Lue said on Friday (story via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN). However, Lue added that he doesn’t expect Leonard’s injury or George’s to be a “long-term” issue.
  • Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal (subscription required) spoke to orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Kenneth Jung about Desmond Bane‘s toe injury to try to get a sense of how long the recovery process might take. According to Jung, a toe sprain is the sort of injury that can flare up again if the player returns before he’s 100%, so the Grizzlies will likely play it safe with Bane’s timeline.

LeBron James To Return On Friday

NOVEMBER 25: James is available tonight, the Lakers announced (Twitter link via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin).

NOVEMBER 23: Lakers star LeBron James, who has missed the team’s last five games due to left adductor strain, is expected to make his return on Friday vs. the Spurs, Chris Haynes reported during Tuesday’s TNT broadcast (Twitter video link).

The Lakers will play a back-to-back set in San Antonio on Friday and Saturday, so if James avoids setbacks and does return on Friday, it’s unclear if he’d suit up for the next day’s game too. Still, it’s encouraging news for a Los Angeles team that has managed to hold its own with the four-time MVP sidelined.

When James went down with his adductor/groin injury, the Lakers were 2-9 and had lost four games in a row. That losing streak extended to five games in their first game without LeBron, but Anthony Davis led the team to three consecutive wins prior to Tuesday’s loss in Phoenix. L.A. is now 5-11 on the season, 3.5 games back of the 10th-seeded Timberwolves.

James’ .457/.239/.667 shooting line so far this season has been underwhelming, but his per-game averages remain strong. He has put up 24.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per night in his first 10 appearances (35.7 MPG).

Austin Reaves took James’ spot in the starting lineup during his absence, making him the most logical player to move to the bench upon LeBron’s return. Of course, even if Reaves is the odd man out, he could get at least one more start if Patrick Beverley ends up facing a suspension for his Tuesday altercation with Deandre Ayton.

Will Davis' Stellar Play Make Front Office More Likely To Go All-In?

  • Anthony Davis has been absolutely dominant for the Lakers over the past four games, averaging 35.5 PPG, 18.3 RPG, 2.0 APG, 2.3 SPG and 2.5 BPG while shooting 62.3% from the floor and 92.0% from the charity stripe. Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group wonders if Davis’ stellar two-way play will make the front office more willing to deal away the team’s two available future first-round picks (2027 and 2029) to build around the 29-year-old, since Goon thinks that’s a more compelling reason to go all-in when compared to giving LeBron James the best chance to reach the playoffs at the end of his career.

Patrick Beverley Suspended For Three Games

The NBA has suspended Lakers point guard Patrick Beverley for three games without pay, the league announced today in a press release (Twitter link).

As we detailed on Wednesday, Beverley shoved Suns center Deandre Ayton in the back while the Phoenix center was standing over Lakers guard Austin Reaves during the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s 115-105 Suns victory. This led to a brief on-court fracas between the two clubs. Beverley was instantly ejected, while Ayton was assessed with a technical foul.

According to the NBA’s announcement, the suspension was “based in part on Beverley’s history of unsportsmanlike acts.”

Back when he was a member of the Clippers, Beverley shoved Suns point guard Chris Paul in the back during a stoppage in play in Game 6 of the 2021 Western Conference Finals. He received a one-game suspension for that incident.

Beverley’s teammates and head coach Darvin Ham defended him after Tuesday’s game and gave him credit for standing up for a teammate, but there was a sense that a suspension could be in play. Ham told reporters that Beverley would likely “go through some type of consequence” for his actions, while the veteran guard said he was prepared to “take my lumps however they come.”

As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, the three-game suspension will cost Beverley $89,655 per game (1/145th of his $13MM salary), for a total of $268,966. The Lakers will receive half that amount (a total of $134,483) as a tax variance credit, Marks notes, saving them a little money on their end-of-season bill.

Beverley has struggled offensively during his first season as a Laker. The 34-year-old is averaging 4.1 PPG on .266/.238./824 shooting splits.

Lakers’ Beverley Likely To Face NBA Discipline After Shoving Suns’ Ayton

With just under four minutes remaining in the Suns‘ win over the Lakers on Tuesday night, Lakers guard Patrick Beverley and Suns center Deandre Ayton were involved in an on-court altercation that resulted in technical fouls for both players and an ejection for Beverley.

Following a Devin Booker foul on Austin Reaves that was ultimately ruled a Flagrant 1, Ayton grabbed the ball and stood over Reaves, who was down on the floor. Beverley shoved Ayton from behind, knocking him to the court and resulting in a brief skirmish between Lakers and Suns players (YouTube video link)

As Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes, Beverley explained to reporters after the game that he was looking out for his backcourt partner.

“Got a person on the ground, two people looking over mean-mugging and puffing their chest out and referees don’t get into it to kind of separate it, control the game, so I’m going to stand up for my teammate,” Beverley said. “… Obviously, it’s unfortunate that it happened on national TV. But you know me: Regardless of what’s going on, I’m a big fan of protecting my teammates. … I’m a foxhole guy. I put on the jersey, and I commit to a team, I commit to a city, and it’s kind of my motto.”

Beverley received postgame support from head coach Darvin Ham and several teammates, including Reaves himself, who said he told Beverley “four or five times” that he appreciated him. Ham acknowledged that Beverley will likely face NBA discipline for the incident, but said he wasn’t upset about his point guard’s reaction.

“Pat Bev, you don’t want just to be a tough man competition; you actually want to play tough basketball. But at the end of the day, I’m not mad at him,” Ham said, per McMenamin. “He’s there protecting his teammate, and I’m sure he’ll probably go through some type of consequence for that.”

At the very least, Beverley seems likely to be facing a fine of up to $50K for his actions. Chris Mannix of and Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter links) were among the reporters to suggest that a suspension isn’t out of the question, particularly since Beverley has a history of on-court chippiness.

Suns head coach Monty Williams told reporters during his postgame media session that “the league needs to take a look at those kinds of plays,” referring to them as “silly” and “unnecessary,” while Booker alluded to Beverley’s reputation in an on-court interview with TNT’s Chris Haynes after the game.

“Pat needs to stop pushing people in the back, man,” Booker said (video link). “Push them in the chest. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Neither the Lakers nor the Suns are back in action until Friday, so the NBA may decide to take a little time to determine what sort of penalty might be appropriate for Beverley and possibly other players involved in the altercation. Although the Lakers guard didn’t regret standing up for a teammate, he said he could have taken another approach to confronting Ayton and is bracing for some kind of league discipline.

“Very unprofessional by myself. Definitely could have reacted in a different way,” Beverley said, according to McMenamin. “So, yeah, I’m a big boy. I’ll take my lumps however they come.”

LeBron James To Miss Fifth Straight Game

Lakers star LeBron James will miss a fifth consecutive game due to his left groin strain, having been ruled out for Tuesday’s contest vs. the Suns, according to the team (Twitter link via Dave McMenamin of ESPN).

James’ injury initially looked like it might be a death knell for the struggling Lakers, but the club has gone 3-1 without him, perhaps affording him a little extra time to recover. Still, it would certainly qualify as an upset if L.A. is able to pick up a victory tonight in Phoenix.

Trade Rumors: Collins, Jazz, Clarkson, Fournier, Robinson, More

Many around the NBA thought it was a foregone conclusion that John Collins would be moved ahead of the draft this past summer, and Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article that the Hawks power forward was “very nearly” dealt to the Kings in June.

Sources tell Stein that there’s “momentum building on all sides” for Collins to be traded during the 2022/23 season, so his name should be “right at the top of the list” of players most likely to be dealt before the February 9 deadline.

Stein confirms that the Jazz have shown interest in Collins, and that’s a noteworthy pivot for a team that many believed would be tanking and a frontrunner for a top lottery pick after dealing away Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell and other veterans.

Speaking of Utah, a rival executive tells Stein that he thinks the Jazz are more likely to extend Jordan Clarkson‘s contract than trade him. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype hears similarly, saying there’s “palpable buzz” about a potential Clarkson extension.

Here are a few more trade rumors from Scotto, who takes a look at the top trade candidates for each NBA team:

  • The Knicks are reluctant to part with a first-round pick to move off Evan Fournier‘s contract, sources tell Scotto. Fournier has fallen out of New York’s rotation after a prolonged shooting slump and is owed $18MM this season and $18.9MM in 2023/24. In addition to Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley, rival executives also believe that second-year guard Miles McBride is available due to the team’s backcourt logjam, per Scotto.
  • The Heat have made Duncan Robinson available in trade talks, sources tell Scotto. That’s hardly surprising since Robinson, like Fournier, has struggled and fallen out of the rotation at times in ’22/23. The problem is Miami would almost certainly have to attach assets to deal Robinson, who is owed $57.5MM over the next three seasons, and it remains to be seen whether the Heat are willing to do so.
  • Echoing a previous report, Scotto writes that the Lakers were trying to offload Russell Westbrook to the Spurs for Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson before the season started. While LJ Ellis of stated that the Lakers were only willing to attach two second-round picks to Westbrook’s enormous expiring contract, Scotto hears the Lakers offered a lottery-protected first-rounder and the Spurs wanted that pick to be unprotected, which caused the talks to stall.
  • Center Nerlens Noel is not expected to finish the ’22/23 season with the Pistons, according to Scotto. It’s unclear if Scotto means he’ll be bought out at some point or moved in a trade, since Noel’s $9.2MM contract doesn’t have positive value given how many injuries he’s dealt with the past couple seasons.