Lou Williams

L.A. Notes: Caruso, Rondo, Beverley, Williams

Alex Caruso was barely noticed on the Lakers‘ 2017 Summer League team that featured Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma, but he’s making a name for himself now, writes LZ Granderson of The Los Angeles Times. Caruso earned a two-way contract from that opportunity, but spent most of the past two seasons in the G League. He has turned into an NBA fixture and a fan favorite this season, averaging 20 minutes per night through the first 14 games.

“When I got called up I thought I had made it,” he said about his NBA debut in 2017. “I loved everything about being in the NBA and wanted to stay, but it didn’t work out that way. It was frustrating but I tried to stay focused on the things I could control. … There’s a reason I went back to the G League and I ended up growing and improving myself mentally and physically. When I got my chance to play more minutes at the end of last season, I was able to show how much I grew. … It all worked out.”

There’s more from Los Angeles:

  • Rajon Rondo doesn’t believe he deserved a Flagrant 2 and an ejection last night against the Thunder, relays Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Rondo was fined $35K for “unsportsmanlike physical contact” with Dennis Schroder, along with verbal abuse of an official and failing to leaving the court in a timely manner. McMenamin observes that Rondo appeared to knee Schroder in the groin, but the fiery guard insists he was ejected because of his reputation. “You know, you’re a four-, five-time felon, the judgment is kind of harsher when you’ve had a history prior,” Rondo said.
  • Also fined today was Clippers guard Patrick Beverley, who was assessed a $5K penalty for a second violation of the league’s anti-flopping rules, tweets Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Beverley reacted to the news with a tweet of his own, featuring several emojis and the message, “what NAW MAN.”
  • After adding two All-Stars this summer, the Clippers have kept Lou Williams as their late-game closer, notes Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. Coach Doc Rivers recalls that Williams wasn’t excited about joining the team when he was traded there two years ago. “He came in the day before camp and the rest of the team had been there for 30 days,” Rivers said. “In his defense, he’d been traded, what, four years straight at that point and probably didn’t believe that we had any interest in keeping him around. So I just thought we needed to have a good talk, and I thought we both needed to prove something to each other. It was a two-way thing … we just talked and said, ‘You prove it, I prove it,’ and if we can get to a trust point, then we can get to a great spot.”

Clippers Notes: Arena, Patterson, Williams, Depth

Despite a loss last night to the Suns, the 2019/20 season is off to a good start for the Clippers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear the same can be said about the team’s effort to build a new arena, writes Jason Henry of the Orange County Register.

Per Henry, the Clippers efforts to fast track a new home in Inglewood have stalled because the California Air Resources Board does not believe the project meets the necessary environmental standards, according to a letter written by California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Newsom considers the new arena an important economic benefit for the L.A. community, urging the Clippers and CARB to continue working toward a resolution, but the Governor will not intervene in the decision-making process by CARB, an independent body tasked with determining whether the Clippers can adequately prevent a net increase in greenhouse gases and other emissions.

“I support holding project sponsors to California’s high standards for environmental benefit and mitigation, and I hope you collectively can find a path forward,” Newsom wrote in his letter.

The Clippers want to start construction in 2021 and have the arena game-ready three years later, when their lease at Staples Center expires. It appears to remain unknown at this time how much of a barrier this issue will become to that timeline.

There’s more news from the Clippers this afternoon:

  • Andrew Grief of the Los Angeles Times writes how the role of Patrick Patterson will be a bit different this season than it ever has been before for the 30-year-old power forward. Through three games, he is averaging six three-point attempts per game, nearly three times his career average, as he embraces his new role as a spot-up shooter.
  • The Clippers are looking for Lou Williams to help form a “Big 3” with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George once George returns from injury, per Mark Medina of USA Today. Williams, who is ready for the challenge, said he really wants to win a championship before he hangs it up. “I don’t know how many cracks I’m going to have at winning a championship. I feel like we really have a good group. I don’t want that opportunity to go to waste because our mentality is not sharp. I’m just doing my part to make sure everybody is on the same page and the competitive level is there. We don’t take days off and we compete.”
  • Matt John of Basketball Insiders explores how the Clippers are more than just Leonard and George, pointing out that players like Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and JaMychal Green had already played extended minutes together before this season.

L.A. Notes: Leonard, L. Williams, LeBron, Bradley

Kawhi Leonard understands that he has an opportunity to make history by leading a third team to an NBA title, writes Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Robert Horry and John Salley both won rings with three franchises, but neither played a starring role like Leonard did in San Antonio and Toronto. He’s a team leader now for the Clippers and has a chance to bring a championship to the city where he grew up.

“That would be a great accomplishment,” Leonard said. “That feat would be something to talk about once I’m done playing, and being able to do that in my hometown would be amazing. Growing up, [Staples Center] was one of the first NBA arenas I ever went to. So to do all of that here would be special. But we have work to do first.”

There’s more from Los Angeles:

  • The addition of Leonard and Paul George will mean a reduced role for Lou Williams, but the three-time Sixth Man of the Year is ready to adapt to whatever is necessary, relays Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Even though he came off the bench, Williams often ran the offense and served as the top scorer late in games. Having two stars on hand means those duties will now be shared. “At the end of the day, I am a sixth man, I am a backup,” Williams said. “No matter how much you dress it up, no matter how much history I’ve made, no matter how many special things I’ve done off the bench, I’m still a backup and I understand that to the core of me.”
  • Clippers coach Doc Rivers tells Arash Markazi of The Los Angeles Times that he briefly quit the team in 2013 after former owner Donald Sterling vetoed the signing of J.J. Redick. The incident happened less than a week after Rivers was hired, and he changed his mind when Sterling relented the next day.
  • LeBron James is ready to prove he’s still among the league’s elite players after the longest offseason of his career, Vardon writes in a separate story. LeBron’s summer included shooting “Space Jam,” working on his game and spending time with family and friends, but for the first time in 13 years it didn’t include the playoffs.
  • Avery Bradley has quickly emerged as the Lakers‘ most feared defender, observes Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. Bradley is glad to be back in Los Angeles after ending last season with the Grizzlies“This is a whole new opportunity for me to prove myself each and every night,” he said. “There’s no bigger stage than this. Each and every night, every opportunity I get I’m going to try to prove, to show the world I’m the best perimeter defender in the NBA.”

Western Notes: Kerr, Clippers, Melli, Mavs

All the changes to the Warriors roster will make training camp “critical,” coach Steve Kerr told Anthony Slater of The Athletic. While in recent years the Warriors have only made tweaks to their scheme, this training camp will involve sorting out the rotation and finding the team’s strengths.

“This year, it’s totally different,” Kerr said. “Nobody really knows each other that well. We’re really going to have to examine our team in camp, the exhibition season, early in the season. Figure out the best way to play on both ends.”

Kerr sees the need to take more control of the offense.

“When you lose continuity, it’s more important to have sets and calls that you can rely on,” he said. “Random stuff gets more difficult if you don’t know each other well.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Sixth man Lou Williams was the Clippers’ closer the last couple of seasons, but the additions of superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George change that dynamic, as coach Doc Rivers explained to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “Lou is always going to be a closer, but it’s more closing plays now than who the closer is,” Rivers said. “You know who the closers are. The fact that that’s plural is a very good thing. Now it’ll be the closing lineups, the closing sets, the closing formations.”
  • Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli has returned to the court after undergoing offseason knee surgery, Will Guillory of The Athletic tweets. Melli skipped the FIBA World Cup due to the injury. The 28-year-old signed a two-year, $8MM contract in July after playing professionally in Europe for over a decade.
  • The Mavericks have prioritized continuity on their roster, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News notes. More than half of the players on the training camp roster have played at least half a season for Dallas, Townsend notes. The Mavs have also invested $320MM in guaranteed contracts over the next four seasons, Townsend adds.

Clippers Guarantee Lou Williams’ 2020/21 Salary

The Clippers and Lou Williams have reached an agreement to fully guarantee the Sixth Man of the Year’s salary for the 2020/21 season, agent Wallace Prather tells Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

[RELATED: Lou Williams Named Sixth Man of the Year]

Williams has two years left on his current contract, with a fully guaranteed $8MM salary for 2019/20. Previously, the final year of that deal had only been partially guaranteed for $1.5MM. As a result of this agreement, the full $8MM for ’20/21 will now be guaranteed.

As Charania notes in a follow-up tweet, it’s rare for a team to agree to increase a player’s guarantee without any real impetus to do so, since it reduces the club’s flexibility. But Williams’ contract is already one of the most team-friendly deals in the league and it’s unlikely that the Clippers would have taken advantage of the partial guarantee to waive him in 2020, so it makes some sense to reward him early.

Of course, the move also comes at a time when the Clippers are courting free agents, including Kawhi Leonard — a gesture of goodwill toward one of their top players probably won’t hurt the perception of the franchise in the eyes of players considering joining the team.

In 2018/19, Williams averaged 20.0 PPG and posted new career bests in APG (5.4) and RPG (3.0), with a shooting line of .425/.361/.876. Although he came off the bench for all but one game, he was Los Angeles’ leading scorer (not including Tobias Harris, who departed in a midseason deal).

Lou Williams Named Sixth Man Of Year Again

For the third time in five seasons, Clippers guard Lou Williams was named the league’s Sixth Man of the Year. The announcement was made at the NBA’s annual awards show on Monday.

There was little suspense that Williams would gain the honor for the second straight year. While the other finalists, Williams’ teammate Montrezl Harrell, and Pacers’ big man Domantas Sabonis, had plenty of big games, no bench player made a bigger impact than the veteran guard, who seems to get better with age.

Williams, 32, averaged 20.0 PPG and a career-high 5.4 APG in 26.6 MPG, more than six minutes less per game than the previous season when he averaged a career-high 22.0 PPG. He’s signed for two more seasons, though his $8MM salary for 2020/21 is not guaranteed.

He was Hoops Rumors’ unanimous choice for the award as well.

Harden, Giannis, George Named MVP Finalists

Defending champion James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George are the finalists for this season’s Most Valuable Player award, the league announced in a press release.

The voting is expected to be close between Harden, who averaged 36.1 PPG and 7.5 APG during the regular season, and Antetokounmpo, who carried the Bucks to the best record in the league while averaging 27.7 PPG, 12.5 RPG and 5.9 APG. George averaged 28.0 PPG, 8.2 RPG and 4.1 APG.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors’ 2019 NBA Award Picks: Most Valuable Player]

The league also released the finalists for its other awards. The winners will be revealed during a TNT broadcast on Monday, June 24. Here are the rest of the finalists:

Rookie of the Year:

Sixth Man of the Year:

Defensive Player of the Year:

Most Improved Player:

Coach of the Year:

  • Mike Budenholzer (Bucks)
  • Michael Malone (Nuggets)
  • Doc Rivers (Clippers)

Rivers: Lou Williams Could Miss 2-3 Weeks

Clippers guard Lou Williams, who left Monday’s game against Phoenix with a hamstring issue, could miss the next two or three weeks due to that injury, head coach Doc Rivers said on Tuesday night before the club’s game against Toronto (link via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com).

“My guess, two weeks,” Rivers said, per Youngmisuk. “I don’t know. Honestly. They said it was not a bad hamstring, but I have never heard of a good one. I think when you hurt those things, those are really tough injuries.”

Williams has struggled a little with his shot so far this season, posting a .398 FG% which would match his career low. However, he’s still a go-to option for the Clippers in the clutch, and is averaging 17.2 PPG.

While the Clips will miss Williams in his absence, they have a deep roster and shouldn’t find themselves too shorthanded over the next couple weeks. Patrick Beverley, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Avery Bradley will continue to play major roles in the backcourt, with Milos Teodosic, Tyrone Wallace, and Sindarius Thornwell among the candidates to pick up a few extra minutes.

Lou Williams Wins Sixth Man Award

Lou Williams career year earned him the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award, it was announced at the NBA’s annual awards show. The 31-year-old Clippers guard easily beat out the other finalists, the Rockets’ Eric Gordon and the Raptors’ Fred VanVleet.

Williams had always provided instant offense off the bench during his career but he turned it a couple of notches this past season. He easily surpassed his previous scoring standards by averaging 22.6 PPG while dishing out 5.3 APG, another career best. Williams shot 43.5% from the field and 35.9% on 3-point attempts in 79 games in 19 career starts.

Williams scored 30 or more points in 17 games and blew up for a career-best 50 points against the Warriors on January 10th. Gordon won the award in 2017 while Williams was one of the finalists.

Finalists For NBA Awards Announced

The top three finalists for each of this year’s NBA awards are being released on tonight’s TNT pre-game show. The trophies will be presented June 25 at the league’s official awards show.

Here’s an ongoing list that we will update as the candidates are announced, along with links to our staff’s picks for each honor:

Rookie of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: ROY


Most Improved Player

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MIP


Sixth Man of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: Sixth Man


Coach of the Year

  • Dwane Casey (Raptors)
  • Quin Snyder (Jazz)
  • Brad Stevens (Celtics)

Hoops Rumors Analysis: COY


Defensive Player of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: DPOY


Most Valuable Player

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MVP