Montrezl Harrell

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.

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.”

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.”

VanVleet, Bembry, Horton-Tucker Receive One-Game Suspensions

The NBA has suspended three players – Raptors guards Fred VanVleet and DeAndre’ Bembry, along with Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker – for one game apiece, the league announced today in a press release.

The three players left the bench area during an on-court altercation during the Raptors/Lakers game on Tuesday (video link). After Dennis Schröder committed a foul on a OG Anunoby shot attempt, the two players got tangled up and Anunoby grabbed Schroder by the leg, flipping him to the ground. Players from both teams entered the fray at that point.

According to today’s announcement, Anunoby received a $30K fine for initiating the incident, while Lakers big man Montrezl Harrell has been docked $20K for aggressively entering the altercation and shoving Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, the one-game suspension will be costliest for VanVleet, who will forfeit $146,552 of his salary. Bembry ($11,980) and Horton-Tucker ($10,469) will also each lose one game’s worth of pay.

Horton-Tucker and Bembry will serve their suspensions tonight, while VanVleet will serve his one-game ban once he’s healthy and ready to return from his hip ailment.

Although they’ll be missing Horton-Tucker, and Kyle Kuzma is listed as questionable with calf tightness, the Lakers will get some reinforcements for Thursday’s contest vs. Miami, as head coach Frank Vogel said today that both Ben McLemore (protocols) and Andre Drummond (toe) will be available (Twitter link via Mike Trudell).

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.”

Holmes, Drummond Among Hornets’ Potential Offseason Targets

The Hornets sought to upgrade their center at last week’s trade deadline, expressing interest in a number of big men on the trade market, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

As Fischer details, Charlotte was eyeing Andre Drummond, but couldn’t reach an agreement with the Cavaliers on a viable trade, then lost out to the Lakers on the buyout market. In addition to Drummond, the Hornets also expressed interest in veteran centers such as Myles Turner, Montrezl Harrell, and Richaun Holmes, sources tell Fischer.

A previous report indicated that the Pacers and Hornets discussed a trade involving Turner and P.J. Washington during the 2020 offseason, and Fischer says Charlotte revisited those talks at last week’s deadline, exploring a deal centered around Turner, Washington, and Cody Zeller‘s expiring contract. However, the team had no luck.

Having not addressed the center position via trade, the Hornets figure to be on the lookout for a big man this summer when Zeller’s and Bismack Biyombo‘s contracts expire, and Fischer identifies Holmes and Drummond as two players likely to be on Charlotte’s radar. Both players will be unrestricted free agents after the season.

Holmes is under contract at a bargain price ($5MM) for the rest of 2020/21, but could seek upwards of $20MM per year in free agency, according to Fischer. Meanwhile, league executives polled by Bleacher Report estimate that Drummond’s next deal could look something like Steven Adams‘ two-year, $35MM extension with New Orleans. The Hornets talked to Drummond following his buyout from Cleveland, and the 27-year-old was intrigued by the idea of playing with LaMelo Ball, says Fischer.

Charlotte has the ability to open up some cap room this offseason, though that space would be extremely limited if the team extends Malik Monk a qualifying offer and keeps his $16MM+ cap hold on its books. Monk is in the midst of a career year, but his name was involved in the trade conversations the Hornets had for Harrell and Holmes, per Fischer.

If it’s the simplest path to creating the room necessary to sign one of this summer’s top free agent centers, the Hornets could be willing to make Monk unrestricted. Re-signing him to a deal worth less than his cap hold would be another path to generating a little flexibility.

Lakers In Mix For Kyle Lowry?

After mentioning the usual suspects – the Heat and Sixers – in his look at potential Kyle Lowry suitors during today’s Woj & Lowe Trade Deadline Special on ESPN, Adrian Wojnarowski offered up an interesting wild-card trade destination for the Raptors guard. According to Wojnarowski, the Lakers shouldn’t be ruled out as a possible suitor for Lowry.

While the idea of Lowry teaming up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in Los Angeles for a Lakers team looking to defend its title is a fascinating one, it will be tricky to make a deal work.

To match Lowry’s $30.5MM salary, the Lakers would almost certainly have to include two veteran rotation players from the trio of Dennis Schröder, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell. That lines up with a report from Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who says (via Twitter) that the Lakers became open to discussing those three players in trades as of Monday night.

If the Raptors are moving Lowry though, it’s probably safe to assume it won’t be for win-now veterans like Schröder, Caldwell-Pope, and Harrell. At least one of Talen Horton-Tucker and the Lakers’ 2027 first-round pick would also presumably need to be included to get Toronto’s attention.

While a deal along those lines could technically work, it’s hard to find a combination that makes sense for both teams. As such, Lowry ending up with the Lakers is probably a long shot unless perhaps they can get a third team involved.

Los Angeles’ other team also reportedly has interest in Lowry, but matching the point guard’s cap number and offering up enough assets to pique Toronto’s interest would be a major challenge for the Clippers as well.

Fischer’s Latest: Graham, Hornets, Mavs, Fournier, Knicks, More

While it remains unclear how LaMelo Ball‘s wrist injury will affect the potential availability of fellow Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham, some people around the league were already skeptical that Charlotte would trade Graham this week, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

“They’ll try to keep him, and they’re willing to pay,” one assistant general manager said of Graham, who is eligible for restricted free agency this summer. Team executives polled by Fischer estimated that it may cost about $13-16MM annually on a four-year deal for the Hornets to re-sign Graham.

Ball’s injury may make the Hornets less likely to address their center position with a one-year stopgap, but it shouldn’t discourage them from remaining on the lookout for a long-term solution, per ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

Both Fischer and Lowe reiterate that Pacers center Myles Turner is high on Charlotte’s wish list, which has been previously reported. Fischer also identifies Grizzlies big man Gorgui Dieng as a potential target for the Hornets and says Charlotte has also called the Lakers asking about Montrezl Harrell.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • The Mavericks have been the “loudest rumored team” for Magic guard Evan Fournier, according to Fischer, who says that one possible package would consist of James Johnson and a pair of second-round picks.
  • The Hawks are worth keeping an eye on as a possible Victor Oladipo landing spot, says Fischer, adding that the team has made Bogdan Bogdanovic and Cam Reddish available.
  • The Knicks have signaled interest in using their $15MM in cap room to accommodate a three-team deal, per Fischer. Some people within the team’s front office are against the idea of surrendering any draft assets for a player who could be signed this summer.
  • Fischer adds the Rockets, Pacers, and Bulls to the list of teams that have looked into a possible acquisition of Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie. Miami, Detroit, and Toronto have previously been cited as possibilities for Dinwiddie.
  • Although the Pelicans and Bulls had some earlier discussions centered around Lauri Markkanen and Lonzo Ball, those talks haven’t seemed substantial, sources tell Fischer.

USA Basketball Expands Finalist List for Olympic Roster

Fifteen players have been added to the list of finalists for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team, USA Basketball announced today in a press release. The group will eventually be pared down to 12 players who will participate in the Olympic Games, which are set for July 23 to August 8 in Tokyo.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will serve as coach for the U.S. team, with Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Villanova coach Jay Wright and former Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce as his assistants.

No tryouts will be held this year. Instead, USA Basketball will choose the final roster by early summer. Training camp is scheduled to being in early July before the conclusion of the NBA playoffs.

“With the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics from 2020 to 2021, it’s important that we continue to remain flexible and consider all players who can contribute to our efforts to field the best USA team possible,” USA Basketball men’s national team managing director Jerry Colangelo said. “These additions we are announcing today will help ensure that we are doing that. Having a larger player pool than what we normally have is critical because of all of the uncertainties we face about availability. But for USA Basketball to receive the commitment of so many outstanding players remains an indicator of the great honor of representing your country means to these men.”

The new names under consideration are:

  1. Jarrett Allen (Cavaliers)
  2. Eric Gordon (Rockets)
  3. Jerami Grant (Pistons)
  4. Blake Griffin (Nets)
  5. Jrue Holiday (Bucks)
  6. DeAndre Jordan (Nets)
  7. Zach LaVine (Bulls)
  8. Julius Randle (Knicks)
  9. Duncan Robinson (Heat)
  10. Mitchell Robinson (Knicks)
  11. Fred VanVleet (Raptors)
  12. John Wall (Rockets)
  13. Zion Williamson (Pelicans)
  14. Christian Wood (Rockets)
  15. Trae Young (Hawks)

Forty-two players remain from the original list, which was announced in February 2020:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Nets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Lakers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Hornets)
  22. Dwight Howard (Sixers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Cavaliers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Rockets)
  36. Chris Paul (Suns)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Pistons)
  38. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  39. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  40. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  41. Russell Westbrook (Wizards)
  42. Derrick White (Spurs)

Two players removed from that list are Warriors guard Klay Thompson, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, and Celtics guard Marcus Smart. Sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic that Smart turned down an invitation because of injury concerns due to having a short offseason and playing late into consecutive seasons (Twitter link).

California Notes: Harrell, Walton, Caruso, Oubre

With All-Star Lakers big man Anthony Davis sidelined through at least the All-Star break, fans may have expected to see more of reigning Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell soaking up minutes at the power forward and center positions. Instead, his minutes are trending in the opposite direction. Jovan Buha of The Athletic examines why that might be the case.

Harrell had been averaging 24.8 MPG through February 14, but in the intervening eight games, his minutes average has declined to 20.3 minutes. “He can play against big lineups and small lineups,” head coach Frank Vogel said. “I have confidence in Trezz in both of those situations. But there’s situations where sometimes a small lineup might be better than him out there.”

There’s more out of California:

  • Current Kings head coach Luke Walton could be the next NBA head coach to be axed. He is currently in the second year of a four-year contract he signed with the Kings. Though local Sacramento broadcasters wondered whether the final year in the deal was a team option, Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee hears that there is no option year. “I feel very connected with [the Kings’ front office] and very locked in as far as where we’re at and where we’re trying to go as a group,” Walton said.
  • Lakers reserve guard Alex Caruso was one of the players who rejected an invitation to compete in the dunk contest during the All-Star festivities on March 7 in Atlanta, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic. Knicks rookie Obi Toppin, Pacers shooting guard Cassius Stanley, and Trail Blazers forward Anfernee Simons have been selected for the contest.
  • Warriors swingman Kelly Oubre Jr. sprained his left wrist in a team practice yesterday and had to sit out tonight’s contest against the Trail Blazers, according to Nick Friedell of ESPN. The injury is not expected to be a long-term problem, though head coach Steve Kerr indicated that the team did not yet know whether or not it will require an MRI.