Marc Gasol

California Notes: Haliburton, Smailagić, Gasol, George

Kings rookie shooting guard Tyrese Haliburton, selected with the No. 12 pick out of Iowa State in the 2020 draft, is looking like a great long-term addition for Sacramento, writes Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.

The 6’5″ two-guard is averaging 11.8 PPG, 5.4 APG, and 3.8 RPG across 20 games for the Kings. He also holds sparkling shooting numbers, boasting a slash line of .484/.433/.867.

“Ty has that ‘it’ factor,” veteran Kings forward Harrison Barnes said. “He’s going to be special in this league for a long time on and off the floor.”

There’s more out of California:

  • The Warriors are sending second-year big man Alen Smailagić to join their G League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, for the Orlando NBAGL “bubble” campus season, according to a team press release. Across 14 games, the 6’10” Smailagić averaged 4.2 PPG and 1.9 RPG in 9.9 MPG during his rookie season in 2019/20. He has yet to play for Golden State this year, having undergone knee surgery last month.
  • Though Lakers starting center Marc Gasol is averaging a career-low 3.8 PPG (albeit in a career-low 19.4 MPG), Los Angeles head coach Frank Vogel is not concerned, according to Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. Gasol’s shooting numbers, however, are a bit unsettling: he is connecting on just 36.8% from the field and 31.7% from deep. He made 38.5% of his three-point looks last season. “He’s out there to defend and rebound and play-make from the top of the key and sometimes that’s going to mean he’s going to get a couple of good looks at the 3-point line, a few short rolls and some other situations, some post-up on switches and whatnot,” Vogel said.
  • Clippers star forward Paul George has been sidelined for the past two games with a bone edema in his foot, according to Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. Head coach Tyronn Lue would not speculate on the duration of George’s absence. “I don’t know,” he said. “We’re going to miss him. We wish him a speedy recovery.” George is averaging a stellar 24.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 5.5 APG in 20 games this season.

Southwest Notes: DeRozan, Gasol’s Homecoming, Wood, KP

Spurs wing DeMar DeRozan has added a three-point shot and built upon his passing game this year, all while taking a step back from lead ball-handling duties, according to Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer. In his 12th NBA season, DeRozan is shooting a career-best 42.9% from deep on 2.6 attempts per contest, while averaging a career-high 7.3 assists per game.

Tjarks notes that DeRozan is averaging 10 fewer touches a game this season than young Spurs guard Dejounte Murray. DeRozan has also closed games as a small-ball power forward, carrying over a sped-up, shooting-heavy offensive approach that coach Gregg Popovich first implemented during the 2019/20 season restart in Orlando.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • New Lakers center Marc Gasol, a three-time All-Star and the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year with the Grizzlies, had an interesting homecoming experience during a 108-94 defeat of Memphis this week, per Mark Giannotto of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Facing a FedExForum arena bereft of fans due to a raging pandemic, the 35-year-old big man noted that, “In your mind,” Gasol said, “the stands also are full.” Though Gasol was traded to the Raptors during the 2018/19 season en route to a title with Toronto, this marked his first game back at the arena where he became a star.
  • New Rockets star center Christian Wood struggled with going undrafted out of UNLV in 2015 and being waived by several NBA clubs before getting the security of the three-year, $41MM contract he signed with Houston during the 2020 offseason, as Marc J. Spears of the Undefeated details. “It showed me how hard I worked and how far I came from going from a minimum and non-guaranteed contract to being waived a number of times that I couldn’t even tell you,” Wood said.
  • Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle has suggested that starting center Kristaps Porzingis could be close to his return for Dallas, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Carlisle indicated that Porzingis could return approximately a week from now “if all things continue to go well.”

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Robinson, Ibaka, Toppin

Nets coach Steve Nash contends that the schedule for All-Star forward Kevin Durant‘s return from his COVID-19 protocol-necessitated quarantining is a “moving target,” according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. On Tuesday, Durant commenced his quarantine, per NBA health and safety protocols, after being exposed to someone who tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The belief was that the quarantine would last seven days.

“My understanding is that it is a quarantine, so I don’t think there will be any on-court activity,” Nash said. “There’s negative tests, days from the contact tracing and all sorts of factors that go into it. So, I don’t really have an answer yet on how long.” The Nets crushed the Jazz 130-96 in their first test without Durant.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks center Mitchell Robinson has been improving his efforts to avoid foul calls, Greg Joyce of the New York Post reports. “It’s actually, like, nobody wants to get yelled at by the coaches, so I’ve been just trying to maintain that the best way that I can,” Robinson said. “I’ve been working on it.” The young big man is averaging 3.0 fouls per game in 29.6 MPG, a marked improvement over his 3.2 fouls in 23.1 MPG during the 2019/20 season.
  • Raptors president Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster apparently frustrated free agent center/power forward Serge Ibaka when the club offered him a number below what he was hoping for in an attempt to leave some cap space to re-sign starting center Marc Gasol, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet. Toronto bumped its one-year offer from $12MM to $14MM, but Ibaka apparently also did not want to continue being a backup to Gasol. Both players wound up departing for cheaper deals with Los Angeles title contenders, and the 1-5 (as of this writing) Raptors appear to be missing the two-way skill set of their championship frontcourt tandem.
  • Following an evaluation yesterday, Knicks power forward Obi Toppin will begin running and jumping as he continues to rehabilitate from a right calf strain, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic (Twitter link). After this, Toppin will subsequently move on to on-court workouts. The rookie hurt the calf in the club’s December 23 opening night bout against the Pacers. “He’s making good progress and we just have to be patient,” new head coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Pacific Notes: Kawhi, Schröder, Gasol, D. Jones

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard was forced to leave Friday night’s game early after an errant elbow from teammate Serge Ibaka connected with his face, sending him to the floor and causing him to bleed profusely from his mouth. While the injury looked bad initially, head coach Tyronn Lue said after the game that he thought Leonard would be “fine,” tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN.

The collision left Leonard requiring eight stitches to treat a mouth laceration, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. However, Nicolas Batum said he spoke to Kawhi after the game and agreed with Lue’s assessment that the two-time Finals MVP should ultimately be fine.

“You don’t want a player, any player, (to) go down like that with blood all over him and everywhere on the floor,” Batum said. “I think he’s good. I just saw him in the locker room; he was OK, and that was kind of scary in the moment.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Addressing rumors that he and the Lakers may attempt to work out an in-season extension, point guard Dennis Schröder said on Friday night that he’s “very comfortable” with his new team and is interested in negotiating a new deal in the coming months as long as it’s fair for both sides, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic.
  • After going scoreless in his Lakers debut, newly-signed center Marc Gasol expressed confidence that he’ll bounce back and find his fit going forward, as Buha writes for The Athletic. While Gasol only scored two points on Friday and has yet to make a field goal, he was more effective in the Lakers’ blowout win over Dallas, grabbing nine rebounds and avoiding the foul trouble that plagued him in the opener.
  • Damian Jones‘ 2020/21 salary was initially set to become fully guaranteed at the start of the regular season, but he and the Suns have agreed to push that deadline back to February 25, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

Lakers Notes: Kuzma, LeBron, Gasol, Star Minutes

Even after inking a lucrative three-year, $40MM contract extension on Sunday, Lakers power forward Kyle Kuzma remained uncertain about his precise role with Los Angeles, according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. After starting all of the Lakers’ four preseason games, Kuzma came off the bench last night for the club’s regular season opener, a 116-109 loss to the Clippers.

Ahead of last night’s game, head coach Frank Vogel offered his thoughts on how Kuzma would contribute to the club regardless of whether or not he started.

“So, the No. 1 thing with Kuz in terms of this team is to bring energy on both ends of the floor,” Vogel said. “He knows what we’re asking him to do with regard to offensively, being more aggressive in catch-and-shoot situations, playing through him some but also complementing [LeBron James] and [Anthony Davis] and continuing to grow on the defensive end… Where he’s going to fall in terms of starting role or coming off of the bench is still to be determined and will likely be fluid throughout the year.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • After suffering an ankle sprain in the fourth quarter of last night’s season opener, Lakers All-Star LeBron James still expects to be ready for L.A.’s next game, a Christmas Day contest against the Mavericks, per Jovan Buha of the Athletic. “I turned it pretty good, but I don’t think it’s gonna stop me from playing on Friday,” James said.
  • New Lakers starting center Marc Gasol has a long history with LA, despite playing his first game with the team yesterday, as Bill Oram of the Athletic details. Gasol was originally drafted with the No. 48 pick in the 2007 draft by former Los Angeles GM Mitch Kupchak, then was traded in an infamous deal with the Grizzlies for his older brother, then-All Star Pau Gasol, before ever suiting up for the Lakers. He signed a two-year, veteran’s minimum deal this offseason to add his defense, shooting and passing acumen to the reigning champs.
  • The Lakers are exercising caution with their minutes allotments for James and Anthony Davis, according to The Los Angeles Times’ Dan Woike. Davis played 31 minutes in L.A.’s season opener, while LeBron was limited to just 28 after his ankle sprain early in the fourth quarter. “We’re going to be conservative with their minutes early on in the season, and we have the depth to do it,” head coach Frank Vogel commented.

Raptors Notes: Anunoby, Webster, Ujiri, Lowry

Speaking today to reporters, including Lori Ewing of The Canadian Press (Twitter link), Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said that veteran centers Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol were “incredible for us.” However, Toronto’s long-term plans meant that the team was “limited in terms and years” when it came to making Ibaka and Gasol contract offers.

The Raptors’ limitations stem from the club’s desire to maintain as much cap flexibility as possible for the 2021 offseason. As such, it remains to be seen whether or not forward OG Anunoby will receive a contract extension before the December 21 deadline. A new contract for Anunoby, which would begin in 2021/22, would cut into Toronto’s cap room if the starting salary on that new deal exceeds his cap hold as a restricted free agent ($11.6MM).

I think there are talks to be had,” Ujiri said today, per Josh Lewenberg of (Twitter link). “They know of the abilities that we want, so we’ll keep having those conversations. The most important thing is we’re excited about OG.”

Anunoby, who spoke to reporters on Friday, confirmed that his agent was engaged in discussions with the Raptors about a possible extension, suggesting he’d have a better idea closer to the December 21 deadline whether a new deal is a realistic possibility (Twitter link via Lewenberg).

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Ujiri suggested today that the club has either completed or is close to finalizing extensions for most of his front office staffers, including general manager Bobby Webster (Twitter links via Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun and Blake Murphy of The Athletic). Ujiri said there’s been too much going on to focus on his own extension yet, but that he’ll go into those talks with a “very positive mind and attitude” and hopes to get something done (Twitter link via Lewenberg).
  • Ujiri isn’t ready to say one way or the other whether the Raptors will be able to host fans at their Tampa arena this season, noting that he has a meeting this afternoon to discuss the possibility (Twitter link via Wolstat).
  • Asked about the possibility of Kyle Lowry retiring as a Raptor, Ujiri referred to the veteran point guard as a future Hall-of-Famer, suggesting the team would be happy to continue its union with Lowry beyond 2021. He’s been incredibly respectful to the organization and we will have that same respect to Kyle anytime, everyday,” Ujiri said (Twitter link via Lewenberg).
  • The Raptors announced a series of coaching hires and promotions in a Friday press release, including Chris Finch and Jama Mahlalela as assistants on Nick Nurse‘s staff and Patrick Mutombo as the head coach of the Raptors 905, Toronto’s G League affiliate.

California Notes: Bogdanovic, Clippers, Gasol, McNair

The Kings may have been savvy to let shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic walk in restricted free agency, Jason Jones of The Athletic posits. The addition of promising rookie shooting guard Tyrese Haliburton via the 2020 draft made Bogdanovic superfluous to Sacramento’s long-term team-building plans.

The replacement of former Kings GM Vlade Divac with Monte McNair this summer also yielded a different assessment of Bogdanovic’s value with the still-developing club, Jones writes. Bogdanovic’s four-year, $72MM contract extension also would have put Sacramento, a team that has not made the NBA playoffs since 2006, well above the salary cap.

There’s more out of California:

  • Jovan Buha of The Athletic assesses the current roster depth of the Clippers and speculates about how Los Angeles could still upgrade its club, most likely through trading point guards Lou Williams or Patrick Beverley for a ball-handler upgrade.
  • New Lakers center Marc Gasol discussed his fit with his new club, especially with regard to how he intends to contribute on the defensive end of the floor, according to Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times. “I know we’re going to have great communication,” Gasol said. He also discussed his expected on-court meshing with Finals MVP LeBron James“I’m a first pass kinda guy. But somebody — he’s gonna score too at his will whenever he decides to score, he’s gonna be able to score.”
  • Jason Jones of The Athletic takes stock of Kings GM Monte McNair‘s patient approach to his first offseason in Sacramento. Jones suggests that McNair’s reticence to make a big splash on the free agent or trade market indicates a confidence in the development of the club’s young core.

Atlantic Notes: Turner, Rivers/Howard, Gasol, Knicks

The Celtics had an opportunity to add Pacers big man Myles Turner in a sign-and-trade package deal for departing forward Gordon Hayward. Zach Lowe of ESPN believes that Turner “would probably be a Celtic” if the club really wanted to add him.

The Celtics wound up adding former Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson in free agency instead of making the trade for Turner. Turner is set to earn $18MM/year for the next three seasons, while Thompson inked a two-year deal worth $9.5MM annually.

There’s more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • During his first video conference call with his new squad, Sixers center Dwight Howard discussed his recruitment by head coach Doc Rivers soon after free agency began last Friday, and recruit him, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “He was the first one to call me and he said we want you,” Howard said. “I’m super happy that Doc called me, that he gave me the opportunity, and I told him yes.”
  • Marc Gasol, who signed a two-year contract with the Lakers as a free agent, said it was a “tough” decision to leave the Raptors and that his run in Toronto “could not get better,” as Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. “I’m going to miss Toronto,” Gasol said. “Toronto has been a great place, my family was very settled there, very comfortable, they really enjoyed their time.” Gasol added that the rumors of his potential return to Spain were overblown and that he never spoke to FC Barcelona (Twitter link via Josh Lewenberg of
  • Steve Popper of Newsday indicates that the Knicks might still be in the market for talent this offseason. The team remains $8MM below the salary cap floor. Given the club’s cap space, New York might be in the mix to take back money in a trade. Popper notes that the contracts of Nicolas Batum, Victor Oladipo, and DeMar DeRozan could still be traded into cap space.
  • New Knicks coaching hire Aaron Brooks will be the first “two-way liaison” in the NBA, as Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. We passed along word of Brooks’ hiring earlier today.

Warriors Notes: Curry, Thompson, M. Gasol, Smailagić

Warriors guard Stephen Curry was devastated after learning that his backcourt partner, Klay Thompson, will miss another full season after suffering a torn Achilles last week, writes Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Golden State had hoped to return to title contention after an injury-plagued year, but the loss of Thompson is a major setback.

“To get that call was a gut punch for sure. A lot of tears,” Curry said. “You don’t really know what to say because a guy like that is having to go through two pretty serious rehabs now. But at the end of the day, we have to have his back. We hope that he is around and a part of what we do through his rehab and staying connected with us. He can come back strong. He’s a guy that loves the game so much. He is going to do whatever it takes to get back out there on the floor and be himself. That’s what we hope and the confidence that we have. Two-and-a-half years of rehab is tough for anybody. We’re hoping for the best.”

Curry was limited to just five games last season after breaking his left hand in October. He will return to a roster that’s much different than the one that dominated the league for five years, with additions such as Kelly Oubre, who was acquired in a trade, and James Wiseman, the No. 2 pick in last week’s draft.

“Not seeing (Thompson) on the court, at first, is going to be weird,” Curry said. “But I think we’ve done a really good job in the offseason with James and our draft picks and in the free agency pool to put together a really solid roster. We’re going to have to learn a lot really quickly, and we will need a full commitment from everybody.”

There’s more Warriors news this morning:

  • Thompson’s injury may have cost Golden State a chance to sign free agent center Marc Gasol, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. At age 35, Gasol was looking to join a contender and ended up with the defending champion Lakers. The Warriors are still in the market for veteran help and expect to receive a $9.3MM disabled player exception in the wake of Thompson’s injury.
  • Management doesn’t believe Alen Smailagić is ready for regular playing time, but he’s likely to be kept on the roster with a $1.5MM guaranteed contract, Slater adds in the same piece. However, Smailagić could be waived later in the season if there’s an opportunity to sign someone. Second-round pick Nico Mannion is expected to be a two-way player and will see a lot of time in the G League, if there is a G League season.
  • Oubre, who will be a free agent next summer, is hoping for a long-term stay with Golden State, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN.
  • In case you missed it, the team’s deal with free agent guard Brad Wanamaker is now official. It was completed using a portion of Golden State’s taxpayer mid-level exception.

Lakers Sign Marc Gasol To Two-Year Deal

NOVEMBER 24: Gasol has signed his contract, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that it’s a straight two-year, minimum-salary deal, with no player or team option on year two.

Gasol will earn about $2.56MM in 2020/21 and $2.69MM in ’21/22.

NOVEMBER 22: The Lakers have reached an agreement to sign free agent center Marc Gasol, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN, who first reported that the two sides were finalizing a deal, say it’ll be a two-year pact (Twitter links).

A former Defensive Player of the Year and three-time All-Star, Gasol has seen his numbers fall off significantly during the last year-and-a-half in Toronto. He averaged just 7.5 PPG and 6.3 RPG in 44 games (26.4 MPG) in 2019/20.

However, while he’s no longer as prolific a scorer as he was during his days with the Grizzlies, Gasol can still knock down three-pointers (38.5% in ’19/20) and facilitate an offense from the top of the key. He also remains a very effective defender, which will be important in Los Angeles. Montrezl Harrell, the Lakers’ other big frontcourt free agent addition, is far more effective on offense than on defense.

It appears likely that Gasol will get a minimum-salary deal from the Lakers, who are up against a hard cap. The team agreed to trade JaVale McGee to the Cavaliers, but will have to take back some salary in that deal. Plus, giving Gasol more than the minimum would require the Raptors to accommodate a sign-and-trade agreement.

Because the Lakers are offering a two-year contract, the first-year cap hit will be about $2.56MM instead of $1.62MM. The NBA partially reimburses teams for one-year minimum-salary veteran contracts, but not for two-year deals.

After completing this series of roster moves and filling out their roster with minimum-salary signings, the Lakers project to be about $1.3MM below the hard cap, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN.

Gasol was drafted by L.A. way back in 2007 but was traded to Memphis in a package for his brother Pau Gasol and never appeared in a game for the Lakers. Thirteen years later, he’ll finally suit up for the franchise.

Meanwhile, the Raptors –  having lost both Gasol and Serge Ibaka in free agency – have pivoted by securing a commitment from free agent center Aron Baynes. The team is also re-signing RFA big man Chris Boucher.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.