Marc Gasol

Lakers Notes: Gasol, Matthews, LeBron, Lowry

The Lakers got important contributions from two little-used veterans as they ended a three-game losing streak Monday night, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Marc Gasol, who has seen his playing time cut sharply since the addition of Andre Drummond, posted 10 points, seven rebounds and a plus-17 rating in 17 minutes. Wesley Matthews scored eight points while hitting all three of his shots from the field.

“I think we have to start thinking more as a team, instead of mentioning guys,” Gasol said. “It’s more who we are as a team and who we’re going to be. Everyone tied to one another regardless of your situation. You play zero minutes, you play 20 minutes, the team success is everyone’s success.”

Both players joined the Lakers as free agents in November, with Gasol getting a two-year deal and Matthews signing for one year. They both expected larger roles, but are trying to make the most of their opportunities as the playoffs near.

“Like I said, basketball, it’s just like life, it’s unpredictable,” Matthews said. “You don’t know what may or may not happen, but you got to be prepared for it. You got to continue to go on. You can either go on with it or it goes on without you.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • LeBron James sat out Monday’s game and is considered day-to-day after aggravating his right ankle injury, Turner tweets. L.A. doesn’t play again until Thursday, and James’ status for that game is uncertain.
  • The Lakers may regret not making a greater effort to trade for Kyle Lowry at the deadline, contends Eric Koreen of The Athletic. L.A. was limited in what it could offer, but Koreen believes there was an opportunity to swoop in after the Sixers and Heat dropped out of the bidding. The Lakers reportedly weren’t willing to part with Talen Horton-Tucker, which left nothing else that the Raptors were interested in.
  • This year’s struggles have shown the dangers of building a team around James, who is 36, and Davis, who has been injury-prone throughout his career, writes Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times. He also notes that both players returned from their injuries to a different team, as the Lakers signed Drummond and Ben McLemore while they were out and made other changes to their rotation.

Pacific Notes: CP3, Lakers Centers, Vogel, Davis

With the 42-17 Suns now firmly ensconced in the West’s No. 2 seed, All-Star point guard Chris Paul has emerged as a possible 2021 MVP candidate, writes Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.

The offseason additions of Paul and Jae Crowder, plus the marked improvement of Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson, have all contributed to Phoenix’s (very probable) return to the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. But the 35-year-old All-Star has been a driving engine for the Suns, averaging 16.0 PPG, 8.8 APG, and 4.7 RPG with a shooting line of .487/.377/.927.

“I think at the end of the day, I know who I am and I know what I bring to a team, but I also understand with our team, it’s about us,” Paul said of his season with the Suns so far. “It’s not something I worry about or wake up and think about or anything like that. It’s just about the process, like getting ready for tomorrow’s game. I think everything else will take care of itself.”

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • As Anthony Davis has returned (albeit on a minutes limit), the Lakers have continued to balance their center rotation, writes Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. Marc Gasol missed three games with a dislocated pinky, but immediately supplanted Montrezl Harrell as L.A.’s backup center when he did return, behind new starter Andre Drummond. Head coach Frank Vogel indicated that Harrell had been briefed about the situation. “He understands the big picture and what we’re trying to get accomplished,” Vogel said.
  • The Lakers plan to engage head coach Frank Vogel in contract extension conversations during the 2021 offseason, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski indicated on an NBA Countdown broadcast Saturday, as relayed by Paul Kasabian of Bleacher Report. Vogel is in the second year of a three-season contract he signed with L.A. in 2019. During his first season, the Lakers won their first title in 10 years.
  • With All-Star big man Anthony Davis now back in the fold, the Lakers are still figuring out their lineups during the home stretch of the 2020/21 NBA season, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN“It’s like you’re starting over with the guys and just trying to find a connection with these guys again,” Davis said. “They’re trying to find a connection with me. So, it’s like we’re starting from zero, which is tough so late in the season.”

L.A. Notes: Davis, Gasol, Cousins, Rondo

Lakers star Anthony Davis has been cleared to participate in full-contact practices and is close to returning to action, head coach Frank Vogel told reporters on Thursday (link via ESPN’s Dave Mcmenamin).

The eight-time All-Star, who has been dealing with a right calf strain and tendinosis, has now been sidelined for over two months, having last played on February 14. According to Vogel, Davis is unlikely to suit up for either of the Lakers’ games against Utah on Saturday and Monday, but the head coach didn’t entirely rule out that possibility, McMenamin writes.

When Davis does return, the plan is to incorporate him back into the lineup slowly, beginning with a playing-time limit in the 15-minute range, per Vogel.

“Whenever it is that he returns, it’s not going to be a full return to playing 30-something minutes a night,” Vogel said. “Especially with the nature of practice and how shorthanded we are, he’s going to have to use some games to try to get himself back in shape. So the first two games he’s back will likely be short-minute performances.”

Here’s more on the NBA’s two Los Angeles teams:

  • Lakers center Marc Gasol sustained a volar plate fracture in his left pinky finger on Thursday, but he may not miss much – or any – time, according to Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group, who tweets that Gasol has been listed as questionable for Saturday’s game vs. Utah. “It’s my left hand, I don’t use it much anyways,” Gasol said. “So we’ll see.”
  • Before DeMarcus Cousins‘ 10-day contract with the Clippers expired on Wednesday night, head coach Tyronn Lue said the team was looking forward to continuing on with the veteran center, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets. The Clippers didn’t re-sign Cousins to a new deal on Thursday, so we’ll see if they do so today before tonight’s game in Philadelphia.
  • The Clippers paid a high price at the trade deadline for Rajon Rondo (Lou Williams, two second-round picks, and cash), but the veteran point guard has made that deal look like a smart one so far, as Mirjam Swanson of The Southern California News Group details. Since Rondo made his debut on April 4, L.A. is 7-0 and has a staggering +32.0 net rating when the 35-year-old is on the court.

L.A. Notes: Drummond, Gasol, George, Rondo

Andre Drummond is giving the Lakers a lot of what they expected, but he still hasn’t found his scoring touch, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Drummond scored just four points Tuesday in Charlotte and three points Monday at New York. He’s averaging 9.2 PPG in his five games with L.A.

“Offensively, this is probably the worst I’ve played in my career,” he said. “I’m still trying to figure it out here. I’m not allowing it to take me out of my game. I know why I’m here, which is to help this team defensively. Offensively, it will come for me.”

Part of the problem is the absence of Anthony Davis and LeBron James, who have been injured since Drummond signed with the team late last month. Drummond believes he’ll settle into a more natural role once the two stars return.

“We’re going to find a way to get it done when guys come back healthy,” he said. “Because you got to think, we’re playing with a different five every night when we’re stepping on the court. So you can’t expect us to have much chemistry when we don’t know who we’re playing with each and every night. So we’re hanging our hat on defense and allowing that to project us to a win.”

There’s more from Los Angeles:

  • Marc Gasol became the Lakers‘ third center after Drummond was signed, but Jovan Buha of The Athletic contends there are games where he should play ahead of Montrezl Harrell. Gasol has outplayed Harrell lately, Buha notes, and is a better fit in certain matchups.
  • Clippers forward Paul George is determined to not let his injured toe affect him mentally, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. George knows the pain may last for the rest of the season, but he has learned to accept it, scoring at least 30 points in each of his last four games. “The injury allowed me to kind of make an excuse for myself,” he said. “But then I put it in perspective … if I’m gonna play, then don’t let it limit me. I feel like I’ve had a breakthrough because of that mindset.”
  • By playing in 33 games this season, Rajon Rondo is in line for a $750K bonus if and when the Clippers reach the first round of the playoffs, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The bonus was switched from unlikely to likely when Rondo was traded to L.A. last month.

California Notes: McLemore, Cousins, Jones, Gasol

The newest Lakers addition, athletic veteran wing Ben McLemore, brings competent perimeter defense to the club, but more than that, his three-point shooting will fulfill a need for Los Angeles, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was effusive in his praise for the new reserve: “Ben instantly elevates our ability to knock down 3s on the backside when double teams come and we can play the drive-and-kick game that the modern NBA is made on. So we’re thrilled about his addition and looking forward to getting him into some minutes and into our program.”

The latest Laker is a career 36.3% three-point shooter on 4.0 attempts per game. This season with the rebuilding Rockets, he converted a somewhat below-average 33.1% of his 5.2 long-range looks per contest. Last season, with Houston in the thick of a playoff hunt, McLemore was connecting on 40% of his 6.4 deep looks a night.

There’s more out of California:

  • Clippers All-Star forward Paul George conveyed his excitement for the club’s newest backup center, former four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN“He’s still one of the most skilled bigs in the league,” George raved. Cousins discussed his focus on his fitness in striving to remain in the NBA following a string of major lower body injuries. “I’ve put an incredible amount of work to get to this place,” Cousins said. “I’m in probably the best shape I’ve been in my entire career.”
  • New Kings center Damian Jones, inked to a 10-day deal with the team, has observed similarities between Sacramento’s plays and those of his former team in Golden State, tweets Jason Jones of The Athletic. Kings head coach Luke Walton was an assistant coach on the Warriors bench before departing for his first head coaching opportunity with the Lakers.
  • Recently-demoted Lakers center Marc Gasol made a strong case for continued rotation minutes when he stepped in for new starting center Andre Drummond recently, writes Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times. Gasol appeared to be more positive about his reduced role in Los Angeles alongside Drummond. “No matter if it’s five minutes, 10 minutes, if it’s whatever position — if it’s some nights, I might not play,” Gasol acknowledged. “It’s been a process for me to reassess this situation a little bit, but like I said, I’m fully committed to this team. So, whatever is thrown at me, I’ll be ready.” Previously, Gasol had expressed frustration with the move. With Drummond now back, Gasol did not play at all in tonight’s 110-104 loss to the Heat.

Southeast Notes: Oladipo, Hornets, Gasol, Heat, Hawks

Heat guard Victor Oladipo is confident that the fit between him and Miami will be a great one, telling reporters this past week that he hopes it will last for years to come, as relayed by Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel.

Oladipo, who was acquired by Miami on trade deadline day just over a week ago, has been cited as a potential Heat target for well over a calendar year, with multiple reports indicating that Miami was always his preferred destination. He played his second game with the team on Saturday against the Cavaliers, starting at point guard.

“I think my name has been linked for so many years,” Oladipo said. “Obviously, I spend my offseasons here, the connection with D-Wade and everything like that, I think in some people’s eyes, it would be a good fit.

“For me, personally, I thought I definitely could fit into the Heat culture and what they stood for, how they play, how they get after it and things of that nature. So when told I was being traded there, first and foremost it’s not like I’m going to a foreign land where I don’t know anybody or a foreign experience. It’s something that I’m comfortable with.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division today:

  • Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer examines where the Hornets could find offensive production with LaMelo Ball (wrist fracture), Gordon Hayward (foot sprain), and Malik Monk (ankle sprain) sidelined. The trio has combined for 44% of the team’s scoring, meaning other players will have to step up in order for the franchise to sustain success. Charlotte holds the fourth-best record in the East at 25-23, but the club is also just one game ahead of the No. 7 Knicks.
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel examines whether Marc Gasol could become a buyout option for the Heat in his “Ask Ira” mailbag. Gasol has an uncertain future with the Lakers, who pegged the recently-signed Andre Drummond as their new starting center last week and already have Montrezl Harrell playing as back-up center. Miami is in the market for a big man and league rules require that they add another player by Thursday.
  • Chris Kirschner of The Athletic examines a number of Hawks-related topics in his latest mailbag, including coach Nate McMillan, star big man John Collins and more. Atlanta has climbed back into the playoff picture and currently holds a 25-24 record, trailing the Hornets by half a game.

Lakers Notes: Gasol, Drummond, Schröder, Fans

Marc Gasol is wondering about his future with the Lakers now that Andre Drummond has been added on the buyout market, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Drummond was given a starting job right away and Gasol was moved to the bench, which already has reigning Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell filling the backup center minutes.

“I think there’s an ‘if’ — ‘if’ they need you. And it’s a big ‘if,'” Gasol said. “You’re not Plan A right now. You’re Plan C, D. … You have to accept it because that’s your job. And that’s what you sign up to do. It’s never easy to accept that.”

The situation is resolved temporarily with Drummond sidelined by a torn nail on his right big toe. Gasol returned to the starting lineup and played 28 minutes in Friday’s win over the Kings. After the game, he spoke to reporters for the first time since Drummond was acquired and indicated that he’s not thinking about a buyout.

“Things can change quickly in the NBA, just as they have changed for me,” Gasol said. “But, I’m committed to this team. It’s a hard pill to swallow because I know I’m going to be out of the lineup at some point. It’s never easy on a player. As a basketball player, you want to play. You want to contribute, especially when you made that commitment for that reason. But, we’ll see.”

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • Drummond only played 14 minutes in his first game with the Lakers before suffering the injury, but he seemed to be a good fit with his new team, observes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Coach Frank Vogel was planning to have him play “starter” minutes, even though it was his first game in a month and a half. “I mean, if you saw the first couple minutes of the game that I was out there, just the energy defensively that I brought, and it kind of boosted everybody on both ends of the court,” Drummond said.
  • “In the Summer i will sign,” was Dennis Schröder‘s response in an online exchange with a fan who demanded that he sign an extension with the Lakers, relays Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen and Roll. Schröder doesn’t specify that he will stay in L.A., but the comment reinforces his desire to test free agency once the season is over.
  • The Lakers are hoping to start welcoming fans to the Staples Center beginning April 15, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.

Lakers Notes: Horton-Tucker, Bigs, Roster Spot, Schedule

In a comprehensive new mailbag covering the Lakers, Jovan Buha of The Athletic discussed the impending free agency of second-year shooting guard Talen Horton-Tucker, the team’s unwillingness to meet the Raptors’ asking price for point guard Kyle Lowry, and more.

Buha expects the Lakers to match any contract offer extended to Horton-Tucker this summer, even if a rival team were to offer a backloaded contract using the Arenas provision. The promising 20-year-old guard’s athleticism and ball-handling abilities are intriguing enough to warrant a wager on his future potential.

There’s more out of the Staples Center:

  • Lakers head coach Frank Vogel discussed how he would utilize reserve big men Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol, with Andre Drummond set to become the long-term solution as the team’s starting center, Jovan Buha of The Athletic tweets. Vogel anticipates using Gasol, known for his passing and jump-shooting, as a power forward on offense while the rim-rolling Harrell would function as a de facto center. Vogel plans to reverse their assignments on the other end.
  • LA coach Frank Vogel indicated that the Lakers could use their final open roster spot to add any kind of player regardless of position or skill set, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. The recent signing of center Andre Drummond and the club’s abundance of competent veterans at the power forward and center positions would seem to make adding a guard or wing the most pragmatic option.
  • The Lakers have been struggling to stay afloat in a crowded West without injured All-Stars Anthony Davis and LeBron James, writes Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. The team is 2-5 since James suffered a high-ankle sprain on March 20, though the club boasts a solid 104.8 defensive rating across those seven games. With L.A. embarking on a seven-game road trip, the team is hoping to get improved offensive performances from its role players. “We know what we capable of,” power forward Markieff Morris said. “We know that this was a quick turnaround from winning a championship last year, so nobody got any rest, and we know our two top guys are down right now, but we know they [are] coming back well-rested.”

Lakers Notes: Drummond, Gasol, Open Roster Spot

New Lakers center Andre Drummond will make his debut for his new team on Wednesday vs. Milwaukee, he said today, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic (Twitter link). League sources told Buha that Drummond is expected to slide into the starting lineup, displacing incumbent starter Marc Gasol, and head coach Frank Vogel confirmed as much today (Twitter link).

Despite some leaguewide speculation that Drummond’s arrival could lead to a buyout of Gasol, the Spaniard is unlikely to be waived, Buha writes in the same story. Vogel also confirmed that today, telling reporters that the club hasn’t spoken to Gasol about a possible buyout (Twitter link). The Lakers’ coach praised the 36-year-old for handling Drummond’s arrival like a “true pro” (Twitter link).

While Vogel said this week that the Lakers anticipate using Drummond, Gasol, and Montrezl Harrell, there likely won’t be enough minutes to go around for everyone, especially when everyone is healthy, and Gasol looks like the probable odd man out, writes Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • After sitting out for nearly a month-and-a-half, Drummond told reporters on Monday that he can’t wait to return to action, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “You can imagine the hunger and excitement I have to play and step on the court,” Drummond said. “I had an incredible month of work where I’m ready to play today.” The big man added that his goal is to “cause havoc in the paint” and that he believes he can further solidify a unit that already ranks first in the NBA in defensive efficiency.
  • Having signed Drummond to fill their 14th roster spot, the Lakers want to add a three-and-D wing to fill their final opening, according to Jovan Buha and Jared Weiss of The Athletic. It’s not clear which players the Lakers may be targeting, as there aren’t many current free agents who can reliably produce on both ends of the court.
  • Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said on Stephen A.’s World on ESPN+ on Monday that she welcomes the Nets’ efforts to load up their roster and knock off the defending-champion Lakers. “It brings out the best in us,” Buss said, per Royce Young of ESPN. “When teams identify us as the team to beat and they gear up to go at us head-to-head, that makes us work harder. So, bring it on.”
  • Earlier today, we relayed a report on Dennis Schröder‘s extension talks with the Lakers and broke down the point guard’s contract situation.

Fischer’s Latest: Mavs, Fournier, Rockets, Drummond, Gasol

The Mavericks ended up making just one relatively modest move at the trade deadline, acquiring J.J. Redick and Nicolo Melli in a trade with New Orleans. However, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, that deal may have been a fail-safe option for Dallas as the team explored other options leading up to last Thursday afternoon.

As Fischer explains, the Mavericks also explored a trade that would have sent James Johnson and two second-round pick to Orlando in a package for Evan Fournier. The Magic ultimately chose a similar offer from Boston that allowed them to create a $17MM+ trade exception instead of taking back a matching salary like Johnson’s.

The Mavericks also spoke to the Rockets about Victor Oladipo, sources tell Fischer, but those talks didn’t gain momentum.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • During the James Harden trade talks earlier in the year, the Rockets never projected much interest in hanging onto Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert as part of that deal, Fischer says. Houston didn’t view Allen as a long-term frontcourt fit alongside Christian Wood and wanted to roll the dice on Oladipo recapturing his All-NBA form, a gamble that didn’t work out.
  • Fischer lists the Raptors, Bulls, Mavericks, Clippers, Celtics, Heat, Hornets, Nets, Knicks, and Lakers as teams that showed some level of interest in Cavaliers center Andre Drummond before he was bought out, but none of those clubs could ultimately put together a package that matched the big man’s $28.75MM salary and also appealed to Cleveland. After he was bought out, Drummond was intrigued by the Celtics and spoke to Boston point guard (and fellow UConn alum) Kemba Walker, but ultimately decided to sign with the Lakers.
  • With Drummond now in Los Angeles, some executives are wondering whether the Lakers will consider buying out Marc Gasol, per Fischer. “When they get fully healthy, it’s gonna be a logjam,” one assistant GM said, referring to a frontcourt that also features big men Anthony Davis and Montrezl Harrell, along with power forwards LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma. It’s worth noting Gasol has a second guaranteed year on his contract, though it’s only worth the minimum.