Marc Gasol

Olympic Notes: Spain, Simmons, Nigeria, Turkey, Garland

Veteran center Pau Gasol, who has represented Spain in four Olympic tournaments so far, remains on track to be part of the team in Tokyo, per an Associated Press report. Gasol was one of 18 players included on Spain’s preliminary roster for the Tokyo games, joining his brother – Lakers center Marc Gasol – and Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio.

Timberwolves forward Juan Hernangomez, Pelicans big man Willy Hernangomez, and projected first-round pick Usman Garuba are among the other notable names on Spain’s preliminary roster, according to The Associated Press.

Here’s more on the Tokyo Olympics:

Lakers Notes: Drummond, Vogel, Davis, James, Gasol

Outside of his rebounding totals (11.0 per game), Andre Drummond wasn’t much of a factor in the first-round series against the Suns. He was even taken out of the lineup for Game 6, but Lakers coach Frank Vogel is hopeful the unrestricted free agent will re-sign with the team, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets.

“‘Dre was great for us,” Vogel said. “We’re hopeful that he’s a Laker for a long time. He really played well for us and was a good culture fit.”

GM Rob Pelinka, Drummond’s one-time agent, said that signing the veteran center after he cleared waivers was something he’d “do again and again,” Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register tweets. Pelinka added, “We’re proud of some of the big games and big moments he had,” but didn’t make any pledges about trying to bring him back.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • Vogel didn’t want to comment about the possibility of getting a contract extension, but confirmed he’s entering the last year of his deal, Goon adds in another tweet. Vogel was hired on a three-year contract in 2019. “Obviously I love it here,” he said. “I love this organization, and I hope to be a Laker for life.”
  • Some of Anthony Davis‘ teammates tried to talk him out of playing in Game 6 but Davis ultimately decided to give it a try, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports. AD lasted a little over five minutes before being sidelined by a groin injury. “I knew the only way I was going to be healthy enough to play was to get some rest, but time wasn’t on my side,” he said. “So, I tried to give it a go. I don’t regret anything.” A lingering high ankle sprain prevented LeBron James routinely attacking the paint, Haynes added, with estimations that James was about 85% health-wise for the series.
  • Marc Gasol knew his role would be diminished after Drummond was signed but family reasons helped convince him to remain on the roster, rather than pursuing a buyout, Goon tweets. His family had settled into the Los Angeles area and he didn’t want to uproot them.

Lakers Notes: Davis, LeBron, Schröder, Free Agents

Although Lakers big man Anthony Davis was cleared to return for Game 6 vs. Phoenix, he clearly wasn’t himself on Thursday night, leaving the game for good midway through the first quarter due to his strained groin. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), Davis’ injury didn’t get any worse on Thursday, but his pain intensified whenever his mobility was tested.

It never really felt good, but the competitive nature in me wanted to go out there and help the team as best as I could,” Davis said following the loss that ended the Lakers’ season (Twitter link via Mark Medina of USA Today). “My body didn’t agree.”

The Lakers’ loss on Thursday ended a season of “what ifs” for the franchise, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic. After flying out of the gates to a 21-6 start, the team dealt with lengthy injury absences to its two stars (Davis and LeBron James), while other key players were affected by COVID-19 (Marc Gasol and Dennis Schröder). Los Angeles never regained its early-season momentum. After winning 21 of its first 27 games, the club won just 21 of its next 45 to finish the regular season, then was eliminated in short order in the playoffs.

It was the first time in LeBron’s 18-year career that he has been knocked out in the first round of the postseason, and while the four-time MVP was disappointed with the loss, he’s looking forward to taking full advantage of a longer offseason. According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link), James suggested after Thursday’s game that he won’t participate in the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Dennis Schröder reportedly turned down a four-year extension worth over $80MM earlier this year, but he said on Thursday that his desire to remain with the Lakers remains strong and is “not even a question,” as Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times details. “It wasn’t about money, because everybody who knows me, it’s not about money either,” he said. “Of course, you want to be fair. But at the end of the day, not everything is about money — for me and my family. At the end of the day, if everything is good, we gonna come back and win a championship next year.”
  • Sources tell Ramona Shelburne of ESPN that some people in the organization were frustrated by Schröder’s play on the court this season, prompting the team to include him in trade talks for Kyle Lowry at March’s deadline.
  • The Lakers will have to determine which players are their top priorities in free agency, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link), who notes that Schröder is just one of several rotation players up for a new contract. Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker, Andre Drummond, and Markieff Morris are among those headed for unrestricted free agency, and Montrezl Harrell could join them by declining his $9.7MM player option.
  • The Lakers need to upgrade their supporting cast around LeBron James and Anthony Davis this offseason, but don’t have a ton of tools at their disposal to do so, says John Hollinger of The Athletic. The club projects to be over the cap and has already traded multiple future first-round picks.
  • Asked after Thursday’s loss about his history of injuries, Davis replied, “I don’t need to prove anything to anyone that’s outside this Lakers organization,” per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. However, Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times argues that Davis’ health and James’ age are growing concerns for the franchise.

Southwest Notes: Hayes, Pelicans, Grizzlies, Mavericks

Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes was ultimately able to benefit after head coach Stan Van Gundy made him the third-string center in February, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com.

“Just being benched,” Hayes said. “That’s what made things click. I got to make sure I come to work every day and make sure I’m professional about everything. Just make sure I’m getting it in every day, getting better and just only controlling the things I can control.”

As Clark writes, after Hayes returned to his role as chief reserve center behind starter Steven Adams in March, he went on to provide stellar defense while averaging 9.6 PPG (on 61.7% shooting from the floor), 4.8 RPG and 0.8 BPG across just 18.5 MPG.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • William Guillory of The Athletic estimates that there’s about a 40-50% chance of Lonzo Ball sticking with the Pelicans in restricted free agency. Guillory is more confident that Ball’s fellow RFA-to-be Josh Hart (60-70%) will be back
  • Now that their offseason has officially commenced, the Grizzlies could begin reshaping their roster around star point guard Ja Morant and promising big man  Jaren Jackson Jr., writes Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian. Morant took his play to the next level during Memphis’ series against Utah, averaging 30 PPG (on 49% field goal shooting), 8 APG, and 5 RPG. Though Morant is still honing his defense and outside shooting, he showed off his brilliance as a ball handler and interior scorer, Herrington contends. Assessing the long-term fits of Morant’s supporting cast, including Jackson, Dillon Brooks, Desmond Bane, Grayson Allen, De’Anthony Melton, and veteran center Jonas Valanciunas, Herrington suggests that Morant and Jackson may be the only two guaranteed mainstays on the roster.
  • Though the West’s fifth-seeded Mavericks have the fourth-seeded Clippers on the ropes with a 3-2 advantage in the two teams’ first-round rematch, the team is wary of celebrating too early, per Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.

Lakers Notes: Davis, LeBron, Schröder, Kuzma, Caruso

Lakers star Anthony Davis is reportedly considered unlikely to play in a pivotal Game 5 on Tuesday due to a strained groin. But even if they’re missing their second-leading scorer and frontcourt anchor, the Lakers remain confident in their ability to hang with the No. 2 Suns, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times.

“There is plenty of confidence that we have now without AD. That’s not even a question for anybody in the locker room,” center Marc Gasol said on Sunday.

“It’s just gonna be more opportunity for (LeBron James) and obviously we need more guys to step up,” head coach Frank Vogel said. “Not one other guy, but everybody. It’s gotta be a group effort. We need contributions from everyone, and we did have a stretch like this where we played without AD that we’ll draw on to take us into Game 5 if AD’s not available.”

As Jovan Buha of The Athletic writes, the Lakers had a winning record (19-17) without Davis this season, including an 11-7 mark in games that James played and Davis didn’t. The club may have also discovered an effective Davis-less lineup in Game 4, as LeBron, Gasol, Wesley Matthews, Alex Caruso, and Dennis Schröder were a plus-six in seven minutes. All five of those players can make outside shots and are solid defenders, Buha observes.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • James is prepared to shoulder a heavier workload and more responsibilities if the team is missing Davis for the next game or two, as Mark Medina of USA Today relays. “These shoulders were built for a reason,” LeBron said on Sunday. “If it takes for me to put some more on top of it, then so be it. Win, lose or draw. I’m ready for the challenge.”
  • Rival executives expect the Lakers to shake up their roster a little if they don’t make it past the first round of the playoffs, says Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Dennis Schröder will be perhaps the most important free agent worth monitoring — L.A. probably can’t afford to lose him for nothing, so re-signing him or working out a sign-and-trade will be a priority.
  • Within the same Bleacher Report story, Fischer cites sources who say that the Lakers discussed potential Kyle Kuzma trades with teams at the deadline in March. Prior to Spencer Dinwiddie‘s ACL injury, Los Angeles inquired about a swap involving the Nets guard and Kuzma, according to Fischer.
  • There’s a sense among Lakers officials that Alex Caruso has enjoyed playing alongside LeBron and will be interested in re-signing with the team in free agency this summer, reports Fischer.

L.A. Notes: Kawhi, Gasol, Battle Of L.A., Clippers Starters

During his two seasons with the Clippers, All-Star swingman Kawhi Leonard has yet to come close to the level of playoff success he achieved during his lone season with the Raptors, writes Scott Stinson of the National Post. After Leonard was traded by the Spurs to the Raptors in 2018, he led Toronto to the only title in its history in 2019.

Leonard, 29, holds a player option on his $36MM deal for the 2021/22 season. Los Angeles is currently in an 0-2 deficit in its first-round playoff series against the Mavericks. Last season, amidst championship expectations, the Clippers fell 4-3 in a second-round matchup against the Nuggets.

There’s more out of the City of Angels:

  • Lakers reserve center Marc Gasol proved a key part of L.A.’s Game 2 adjustments, writes Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. The 36-year-old former Defensive Player of the Year, who did not play in the opening game of the team’s first-round series against the Suns, replaced fellow reserve big man Montrezl Harrell in the Lakers’ rotation. Gasol helped as a floor spacer, passer, and post presence. He played nearly 27 minutes in the 109-102 victory, logging 6 points (on 2-of-4 shooting from deep), 2 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal. With free-agent-to-be Andre Drummond having displaced Gasol as the team’s starter during the regular season, head coach Frank Vogel has experimented in doling out rotational minutes between Harrell and Gasol. Playoff performance could impact all three players’ futures with the team. Gasol is on a veteran’s minimum contract through the 2021/22 season, while Harrell holds a player option on the second year of his deal with the Lakers, worth $9.7MM.
  • Ramona Shelburne of ESPN wonders if the long-awaited postseason “Battle of Los Angeles,” a hypothetical playoff series between the star-studded Lakers and Clippers, will ever transpire, with All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard able to enter free agency this summer. Shelburne notes that, in fact, the two Los Angeles NBA teams have never faced each other in the playoffs.
  • After the Clippers‘ starting lineup was outscored by 18 points in 19 minutes across two playoff losses to the Mavericks, head coach Tyronn Lue noted that a change was quite possible, writes Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times“Something needs to be done,” Lue said. The Clippers are currently starting point guard Patrick Beverley, All-Star wing Paul George, power forward Marcus Morris, and center Ivica Zubac alongside Leonard.

Lakers Notes: Davis, Drummond, Gasol, LeBron

Anthony Davis‘ subpar game in the Lakers’ playoff opener may be linked to a lineup problem, suggests Zach Kram of The Ringer. Davis is known to be more comfortable at power forward than center, but playing alongside Andre Drummond is making him less effective, according to Kram.

Davis managed just 13 points in the Game 1 loss and shot 31% from the field, his career low for a playoff game. Kram notes that Davis played more than half his minutes at center in last year’s postseason and has been more productive at that position this season because it enables to get better shots.

The numbers since Drummond signed with the Lakers in late March are particularly bad, Kram adds. Starting lineups with Davis and Drummond were outscored by 3.5 points per 100 possessions during the regular season. Drummond’s presence forces Davis farther away from the basket, leaving him with midrange shots, where he is less efficient. Kram points out that the Suns were able to exploit spacing issues when Drummond was on the court in Game 1.

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Bill Oram of The Athletic also examines L.A.’s frontcourt situation and states that backup center Montrezl Harrell presents the same issues as Drummond. Marc Gasol, who was signed during the offseason to be a floor-spacing center, didn’t play in Game 1 and neither did Markieff Morris, who solved a similar problem against the Rockets in last year’s playoffs. “I think with the lineups, with the big lineup, we just didn’t have enough time to work on it (during the regular season),” Drummond said. “So it’s something we’re just kind of throwing out there with little time and little experience. I think we’re doing a good job of figuring it out on the fly.”
  • LeBron James is obviously feeling the effects of his high-ankle sprain, writes Ethan Strauss of The Athletic, who contends the Suns should probably be considered favorites to win the series. Strauss points out that James hasn’t dunked since re-aggravating the ankle in the third quarter of the regular season finale.
  • The NBA has issued a statement (via Twitter) explaining why James didn’t have to quarantine after violating health and safety protocols this week. The league determined that James’ appearance an event promoting his tequila brand “did not create risks related to the spread of COVID-19 and therefore no quarantine was necessary.”

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.