Lakers Rumors

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/22/18

Here are Thursday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA.

  • The Cavaliers have recalled rookie center Ante Zizic from their Canton affiliate, the team announced on its website. In 15 games for the Charge, Zizic has averaged 15.7 PPG and 8.9 RPG.
  • The Magic assigned forward Jonathan Isaac to their Lakeland affiliate, according to Orlando’s PR Twitter. Isaac will attend Lakeland’s practice but he is expected to be recalled back to Orlando before the team faces the Knicks on Thursday. Isaac, who has missed almost three months with an ankle injury, is expected to see his first game action tomorrow for the G League squad.
  • The Heat have assigned guard Rodney McGruder to their G League affiliate, the Sioux City Skyforce, the team announced in a press release. McGruder has not appeared in a regular season game after undergoing surgery on a  left tibia stress fracture in mid-October. He is expected to play two G League games on Saturday and Monday before making his NBA return, tweets Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald.
  • The Lakers assigned rookie center Thomas Bryant to the South Bay Lakers for their upcoming two-game road trip, according to the G League team’s Twitter feed. Thomas has averaged 19.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 1.6 BPG in 27 games with South Bay.
  • The Timberwolves have assigned rookie center Justin Patton to the G League’s Iowa Wolves, according to the team (Twitter link). Patton has yet to make his NBA debut but has averaged 11.9 PPG for Iowa in 25 games.

Lack Of Star Power Could Deter LeBron Signing

  • The lack of elite, established players on their current rosters will make it tough sell for the Lakers and Clippers to land LeBron James this summer, Marc Spears of The Undefeated opines. The Lakers could sign two major free agents this summer, but the Clippers don’t have that much cap room, Spears notes. The Clippers may have hurt their cause to sign a top free agent by trading away Blake Griffin in the first year of his long-term contract, Spears adds.

NBA Players Weigh In On 2018 Free Agency

With a big offeason looming once the 2017/18 NBA regular season comes to an end, several ESPN writers spoke to NBA players to get their predictions on where they expect some of this summer’s top free agents to land. In total, 48 players weighed in. Here are some highlights from the results of ESPN’s survey:

  • LeBron James is considered likely to return to the Cavaliers, with 59% of the respondents picking Cleveland as his free agency destination, while 22% chose the Lakers. “He won’t leave after all the moves they made last week,” one Eastern Conference forward said of LeBron, referring to the Cavs’ trade-deadline deals. Asked where James should sign, even more respondents (66%) voted for Cleveland.
  • If James does decide he wants to join the Lakers, the LaVar Ball show won’t be a deterrent, according to 89% of the players surveyed. “If LeBron comes to L.A., then it’s the LeBron show. Not the Ball show,” said one Eastern Conference center.
  • Most of the survey respondents (80%) believe DeMarcus Cousins will re-sign with the Pelicans.
  • Only 33% of the players surveyed expect Paul George to be in the Thunder‘s opening-night lineup for 2018/19.
  • The respondents are slightly in favor (59%) of maximum salary contracts existing in the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. “LeBron, Steph and KD, all those guys bring a lot more than what they’re getting paid,” said one Western Conference guard. “But being a lower-tier salary guy myself, if you pay those guys even more, the lower guys on the totem pole don’t really get anything.”
  • Asked which teams make the best pitches to free agents, players chose the Celtics (27%), Heat (15%), Lakers (12%), and Warriors (9%), with nine other clubs receiving votes. One Eastern Conference guard on Boston: “If you bring Tom Brady? That’s pretty damn cool.”

George, James To Lakers A Major Discussions During All-Star Break

It has been evident for the past few years that there is mutual interest between the Lakers and hometown All-Star Paul George. The Pacers and Lakers discussed George in a trade this past offseason and L.A. was even fined for openly discussing its interest in the All-Star forward.

This is just the latest chapter in the Lakers coveting not just top free agents but native free agents, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register writes.

Just two summers ago, DeMar DeRozan – a Compton product – was linked to the Lakers before he re-signed with the Raptors. Two summers from now, Klay Thompson, a Los Angeles native, is expected to hit free agency and the Lakers will almost certainly be in the mix. Kevin Lovewho played at UCLA, was expected to be a Lakers target in 2015 before the Cavaliers acquired him a year earlier. There is a noticeable pattern with the Lakers: pursue big names and if they happen to be from the area, pursue them even harder.

  • Tonight’s All-Star Game takes place in Los Angeles and the Lakers‘ free agency targets — in addition to George — have been a major talking point, Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports writes. The Lakers cleared considerable cap space by trading away Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. at the deadline with eyes toward George and possibly LeBron James. Russell Westbrook, a California native himself, already shot down the notion of George wanting to jump ship over the summer. “That’s out! Paul ain’t going nowhere,” Westbrook told reporters as Lakers fans chanted for George. “It’s over for that.” As for James, his decision is still up in the air.

Kobe Bryant Once Tried To Recruit Dirk Nowitzki

Thunder Notes: Durant, Westbrook, George, Technicals

Kevin Durant is taking the blame for the strained relationship with former teammate Russell Westbrook, according to an article on NBC Sports Bay Area. Since Durant left the Thunder in July of 2016, he and Westbrook have been engaged in a simmering feud, and Durant believes he could have handled the situation better.

“Well I just got outta my own head, got out of my own ways and stopped thinking it was even a thing,” he said when asked about the topic at today’s All-Star Weekend press conference. “… I feel like I made it a thing when it a thing when it shouldn’t have been. It’s cool to kind of get past that and just appreciate these guys for who they are and what they do. And it’s all love at the end of the day.”

Westbrook seemed less open when asked about his feelings toward Durant. “Communicatin’, that’s about it,” he responded. “All the other stuff is kind of irrelevant. Just keeping it cool, talking when we need to and just moving forward.” Durant and Westbrook are All-Star teammates for the second straight year, this time on the squad captained by LeBron James.
There’s more Thunder-related news tonight:
  • Fans in Los Angeles, hoping to see Paul George sign with the Lakers in free agency this summer, serenaded him during the press conference with chants of “We want Paul,” tweets Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript. Westbrook quickly dismissed that possibility, shouting at the crowd, “Paul ain’t goin’ nowhere! It’s over for that,” relays Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (via Twitter).
  • When reporters asked George if he knows what he will do when he becomes a free agent, he responded, “I don’t,” then paused and said, “I know what I feel is best.” (Twitter link)
  • Thunder players understand better than anyone the on-court tensions that led to today’s meeting between representatives of the players’ and referees’ unions, writes Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. OKC leads the NBA in technical fouls with 41 in 59 games. Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams each has seven, with George close behind at six. “The reality is, the officials have a really hard job, and our players have a hard job, and it’s a very, very competitive game,” said coach Billy Donovan, who has seven technicals of his own. “There’s going to be emotions that get in there. The communication part is really important. The officials want that, the players want that. … But the reality is, you have to have a coexisting relationship there. I think it’s important you have to control your emotions and you can deal with them, because again, they do have a hard job.”

Channing Frye Undergoes Appendectomy

Veteran center Channing Frye, who was recently traded to the Lakers, underwent an appendectomy Friday night, tweets Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet. Frye is in Cleveland and will have his condition re-evaluated in a week.

Frye’s absence shouldn’t be an issue for the Lakers, who acquired him for his expiring contract and because he helped match salary in the deal that sent Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to the Cavaliers. Frye has appeared in just one game since coming to L.A., playing 11 minutes.

He missed the entire 2012/13 season after being diagnosed with an enlarged heart, but has been healthy since returning and played a full 82-game schedule for the Suns the following year. He appeared in 44 games in Cleveland this season before being dealt, averaging 4.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in about 12 minutes per night.

Frye, who turns 35 in May, will hope to return for at least a few games with the Lakers to remind teams of his value before entering free agency this summer.

Exploring The Lakers' Free Agency Backup Plans

There’s no denying that the Lakers are set on making a push for Paul George and LeBron James this summer, but what if things don’t go according to plan? Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus recently broke down the club’s alternative options if one or both of those stars decide against a move to Los Angeles.

If James decides not to sign with the Lakers, it’s expected that the franchise will continue to make a push for George. What the team would do with its second max slot in that scenario remains to be seen, however. Given that the next-best reasonably available options could be an injured DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan, the Lakers may opt hold onto their cap space until the summer of 2019 in that situation.

If neither of the two sign in L.A., the Lakers would almost inevitably have to hold onto their cap space until the summer of 2019 when players like Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker hit the market.

If the latter happens, the Lakers will need to be tactful in how they manage players like Isaiah Thomas, Julius Randle and Brook Lopez, all set to have their contracts expire at the end of June.

  • If a player needs to be convinced to play for the franchise and carry on the Lakers legacy, they’re not the right person for the job, Kobe Bryant said. The Hall of Fame-bound shooting guard discussed his role in recruiting free agents for the only franchise he ever played for with ESPN’s Jalen Rose.

Larry Nance Jr. Talks Trade, Altman, Cavs

One of four players traded to the Cavaliers last Thursday, Larry Nance Jr. was almost certainly the one most familiar with the city of Cleveland. His father, Larry Nance Sr., played for the Cavs from 1988 to 1994, earning two All-Star nods during that time and eventually having his uniform number (22) retired by the franchise.

While the elder Nance said this week that he called up the Cavs after the trade to offer to unretire No. 22 for his son, Nance Jr. tells Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype that he didn’t want to claim his father’s old number. As Nance Jr. tells it, he wants fans at Cavs game to be able to point to that number in the rafters while they’re watching him on the court.

In his conversation with Kennedy, which is worth checking out in full, Nance Jr. also went into more detail on his trade from Los Angeles to Cleveland, explaining how he found about being traded and what his expectations are for the Cavs this season. Here are a few highlights from the discussion:

On how Nance found out he had been traded to the Cavaliers:

“Like everyone else, I was following Woj and had the tweet notifications set up just in case and just to find out what kind of stuff was happening. I had just woke up and I was going to wash my face, when I got the update that the Cavs and Lakers were in serious trade talks. I thought, ‘Oh? I don’t know who that could involve, but we’ll see.’ Not even 30 seconds later, I got a call from [Lakers general manager] Rob Pelinka and [head coach] Luke [Walton] and [president] Magic [Johnson] were in his office with him. They all broke the news to me and told me that I was going to Cleveland.”

On Koby Altman telling reporters that Nance was emotional about returning home:

“Yeah, I think he basically said I was crying and that’s a bit of a stretch (laughs). But I was excited! I don’t think anybody wants to get traded, but if I had to go anywhere, it doesn’t get much better than going home to play for a championship contender. I knew that it would probably be a good thing going forward, so I was definitely excited when I talked to him. Koby is a really good dude and we had a good talk.”

On his expectations for the Cavs this season:

“This team has been to the NBA Finals for three straight years and I think we got better with the trades. So, I mean, that’s where I’d love to end up. But, at this point, I don’t know [how good we can be]. I’ve been on one team for my whole career and that was the Lakers. Now, I’ve been on this new team for three days, so it’s kind of tough to tell.”

Adam Silver Explains Lakers’ Tampering Fine

After being fined $500K for tampering with the Pacers and Paul George during the 2017 offseason, the Lakers were once again penalized by the NBA last week for violating the league’s anti-tampering rules. During a Thursday appearance on ESPN’s The Jump, commissioner Adam Silver explained the thinking behind the $50K fine the Lakers received after Magic Johnson made a few seemingly innocuous comments about Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.

“Context is everything, and there had been a prior issue with the Lakers early this season,” Silver said. “And the message is — not just to Magic but to all the executives in the league is — stop talking about players on other teams.”

The NBA’s anti-tampering rules leave some room for interpretation, and generally allow coaches and players to discuss other teams’ players without fear of reprisal. However, the league appears to be drawing a harder line when it comes to executives like Johnson discussing those same players.

“We’d love to hear [former] players like Magic Johnson talk about how great young players are in the league,” Silver said. “But there’s enough commentary out there. And I think, when on balance, just asking them to refrain from that one aspect of talking about other players, isn’t that big a deal.”

Silver also addressed a few other topics during his appearance on The Jump, including why the All-Star draft wasn’t televised and the NBA’s reaction to an apparent increase in injuries across the league this season. Be sure to check out ESPN’s full breakdown for those comments.

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