Lou Williams

Hiatus Notes: TV Revenue, Benson, Storylines, Clippers

The NBA hopes to play at least 70 regular-season games this season in order to retain 100% of the revenue the league receives from their regional sports network partners, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (hat tip to RealGM). Those networks broadcast games in local markets. An abbreviated resumption of the regular season would also serve as a way for teams to ramp back up before the playoffs begin, Windhorst adds.

We have more developments related to the league’s hiatus:

  • Pelicans owner Gayle Benson has pledged to give $1MM to various causes, including financial assistance to arena workers displaced by the coronavirus-related stoppage, according to a team press release. The Gayle Benson Community Assistance Fund will also provide assistance to the general New Orleans community. Numerous players and teams have reached out to help their arena workers.
  • LeBron James‘ pursuit of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record and Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s potentially historic follow-up to his MVP season are among the storylines that won’t be played out if the season is canceled, Michael Lee of The Athletic notes. The Pelicans’ pursuit of the Grizzlies for the Western Conference’s final playoff berth, with the added intrigue of those teams being led by top rookies Zion Williamson and Ja Morant, would also fall by the wayside.
  • The hiatus could have a silver lining for the Clippers, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk points out. The prime title contender will have a chance to get fully healthy heading into the postseason, as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will have an extended time to rest, while Lou Williams (calf) and Patrick Beverley (groin) can recover from their ailments. The article breaks down what the hiatus means for each Western Conference club.

Clippers Notes: Dunn, George, Jackson

There has been buzz throughout the 2019/20 season that the Clippers are expected to be among the teams that will show interest in Kris Dunn when he reaches free agency this summer, says K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. It’s not clear how Dunn’s season-ending knee injury will affect L.A.’s potential interest, Johnson adds.

The Clippers’ interest level may also be impacted by how the Bulls handle Dunn’s situation — he’ll be a restricted free agent if Chicago extends a qualifying offer worth $4,642,800, which seems likely and which would increase the Bulls’ leverage.

While Dunn’s offensive numbers aren’t great, he was one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders when healthy, leading the league with 2.9 steals per 36 minutes. That would make him an intriguing fit on a Clippers roster that’s already packed with talented defenders, including Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Patrick Beverley.

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • After he enjoyed a career year in 2018/19 in Oklahoma City, Paul George is still trying to get comfortable amidst an injury-plagued first season with the Clippers, writes Royce Young of ESPN. “I’m a work in progress,” George said on Tuesday. “It’s been a tough year being injured. Being in the rotation, being out of the rotation. And then just playing in a whole new system, new players, new teammates, new coaches, new playing style. So it’s been a bit of an adjustment for me.”
  • Reggie Jackson has had an impressive impact on the Clippers’ second unit since arriving from Detroit, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who notes that Jackson’s ball-handling ability has freed up Lou Williams to play off the ball more frequently.
  • In case you missed it, we identified Jackson as one of 2020’s best buyout-market signings in a Community Shootaround discussion earlier today.

Clippers Still Working Through Chemistry Issues

Some players on the Clippers are not thrilled with the team’s preferential treatment to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, sources tell Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic. This sort of handling is common in the NBA nowadays. Stars play by different rules, however, that doesn’t mean things are always smooth behind the scenes.

Look across the Staples Center to LeBron James to see another example of stars getting different treatment. James frequently sets the Lakers’ practice and shootaround schedules, coordinating with coach Frank Vogel as they try to figure out what works best for the team. Yet, LBJ’s situation is generally accepted by teammates because of his leadership style; he has an ability to inspire and connect with his teammates in a way that facilitates it.

Leonard and George have different personalities. Leonard is a lead-by-example type and with George having the same approach, there’s a bit of uncertainty about whose voice should be the loudest.

“I think it boils down to Kawhi not talking, and so who is their true leader?” one source with knowledge of the Clippers’ dynamics said. “How do you get around that?”


After a loss to the Grizzlies earlier this month, Montrezl Harrell was particularly vocal about the team’s performance, telling the media that the Clippers were not a great team” while explaining that the club needed to “wake up and figure it out.” Harrell was asked about the vibe in the locker room and the center’s response was noteworthy.

“I don’t know, brother,” Harrell said at the time. “I don’t know. And that might be another problem right there.”

Doc Rivers addressed Harrell’s comments and Buha and Amick hear that tension had been rising in the locker room leading up to those remarks. The big man’s words also rubbed some teammates the wrong way as they felt Harrell’s post-game mood was, at times, reliant on his individual box score.

Harrell is in a contract year and could be in line for a major raise in free agency. However, sources tell The Athletic duo that the 25-year-old remains focused on the team’s goal of winning a championship over any sort of personal agenda.

“Everything he does is out of his passion for winning,” one source said. “He kind of walks to his own beat a little bit, but it’s not from a selfish perspective at all.”

Buha and Amick spoke to over a dozen sources and the entire piece is worth a read. Here are more highlights from the duo’s latest:

  • Multiple Clippers players don’t feel the team practices as hard or as seriously as it should be. Leonard’s load management plays a role in that.
  • The Clippers prefer to call the strategy with Leonard “injury management.” Los Angeles’ medical team still doesn’t consider Leonard a fully healthy player and maintains that Leonard should not play back-to-backs.
  • Leonard has become more vocal recently. He’s coordinated player-only film sessions that many around the team believe have been a key to the Clippers’ recent surge in the standings. “It wasn’t one of those crazy players-only meetings, but they started doing it two or three games ago,” Rivers said earlier this month. “They just felt like watching the game together instead of everybody watching their iPads, watching it alone, would be better.”
  • The team’s success over the next week or so (which includes games against the Heat and Lakers) could determine what Los Angeles does at the trade deadline. Many players and team employees feel the dynamics have improved and the team has begun to jell over the past few weeks.
  • Buha and Amick write that Leonard most frequently speaks with George, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, and Maurice Harkless. The pair notes that Leonard is not standoffish to others, but has grown the most comfortable with that group.
  • As a reminder, both Kawhi and PG can hit the free agent market in the summer of 2021, as each player’s deal contains a player option for the following season.

L.A. Notes: Williams, Clippers, Magic, AD

Clippers guard and reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams, 33, tells Stadium’s Shams Charania in an exclusive video sitdown that he considered retirement in the summer of 2017. After being traded from the Lakers to the Rockets to the Clippers within the span of a few months, Williams felt like his NBA days were numbered.

“I was done,” Williams said. “[I was on] three teams in six months. You know, you kind of look around and you’ve got to be realistic with yourself… When guys [are] getting bounced around, you know, eventually it’s going to stop bouncing and you’re going to be sitting around waiting for a phone call.” Williams would go on to win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award in each of his two seasons with the Clippers, and is a frontrunner thus far this year.

Thus far, Williams boasts averages 19.9 PPG, 6.3 APG and 3.2 RPG for the Clippers. He is shooting 36.8% from beyond the three-point line and 83.8% from the free-throw line.

Williams credits Clippers head coach Doc Rivers with reassuring him that he was valued in Los Angeles. “I had a conversation with Doc. He was like, ‘I don’t know what these other teams are thinking, but we need you, and you can get comfortable, [you’re going to] be here.'”

There’s more out of Los Angeles:

  • Former Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson tells Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke that the 24-4 Lakers, who have retained just six players from the 2018/19 season, “would not be in the position [they’re] in without me.” Johnson infamously quit the position on television ahead of the Lakers’ final regular season game. “This was my strategy, this is what I thought we’d be in three years,” he tells Plaschke. “I knew we were on the right track. Everybody wanted to do it their way, but I’m good with who I am. … I think people respect what I’ve done for the team.”
  • The Clippers‘ forthcoming Inglewood arena has been given the fast-track green-light by California governor Gavin Newsom on December 13, according to Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times. California’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee has 30 days from the date of the Newsom certification to approve the signing.
  • During a First Take interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Lakers All-Star power forward Anthony Davis was careful to note that his team’s hot start has not altered his noncommittal stance on his impending 2020 free agency. “We’ll see what happens at the end of the season,” Davis told Smith. “I’m trying to stay in the moment and worry about [free agency] when the season’s over.”

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.