Paul George

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.

Clippers Notes: Rondo, George, Cousins, Zubac, Kennard

Rajon Rondo will try to maximize the production of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George when he’s on the court for the Clippers, Mark Medina of USA Today writes. “I’ll try to get our two main guys the ball in a lot easier spots as far as them not having to work so hard to get the ball against a set defense,” Rondo said. “If we’re able to create the stops and get out on the break, it’s my job to advance the ball and let those guys attack one-on-one before the defense gets set.” Rondo has already noted opponent tendencies that his teammates have found helpful, Medina adds.

We have more on the Clippers:

  • George has no issue with Rondo jumping right in as a team leader and sage voice, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN“Rondo’s a leader, you know the point guard, he’s a leader,” George said. “We’re going to listen to him. I look at him as a leader, a leader of this group. He’ll hold a lot of weight. He holds a lot of weight in the locker room. As he gets more comfortable within our system, getting games under his feet, he’ll hold us accountable.”
  • DeMarcus Cousins‘ 10-day contract will pay him $175,668, with $110,998 counting toward the cap, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. Cousins was officially signed on Monday to provide frontcourt depth with Serge Ibaka currently out due to a back injury.
  • A couple of tweaks could help both the starting lineup and second unit. A Western Conference scout told the Los Angeles Times’ Dan Woike the team should keep Ivica Zubac in the starting lineup, even when Ibaka returns. A executive within the conference believes the coaching staff should unleash Luke Kennard as the primary second-unit point guard.

Clippers Notes: Rondo, Batum, George, Mann

Ten days after the Clippers acquired him in a trade with the Hawks, Rajon Rondo may make his debut for his new team Sunday afternoon, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. L.A. could use help in the backcourt as Patrick Beverley continues to deal with a knee issue that has limited him to one brief appearance since March 4.

Rondo has been dealing with an adductor injury and is officially listed as questionable for the Sunday showdown with the Lakers, tweets Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times. Since the trade, Rondo has been resting and trying to learn the Clippers’ playbook. The veteran guard was averaging a career-low 14.9 minutes per game with Atlanta.

“Just kind of plugging him in, just seeing what he picks up,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “It’s easy to go through plays in practice, but then you got a game on the fly, it is a little different. And I know how smart he is. Just seeing what he picks up and just seeing what we can incorporate while he is in the game and just try to go from there. It is going to be good to see him get on the floor.”

There’s more on the Clippers:

  • Nicolas Batum was wondering if he still had a future in the NBA after the Hornets benched him last season, but he learned he was still in demand following his release in November, Youngmisuk adds in a separate story. Batum heard from several teams, but the Clippers were the most aggressive, with Lue, owner Steve Ballmer and executive Lawrence Frank all calling to recruit him, along with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.
  • The toe injury that sidelined George for seven games in February has flared up again, writes Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. George was able to play 32 minutes Thursday against the Nuggets, but he was in pain the entire time. “It’s really no pop on the right foot,” he said. “I can’t really bend my toe and have it flexing all the way on that second toe. It’s just figuring it out. I gotta figure it out. Most importantly, if I can play, and play with minimal pain, that’s what I’m going for. We gotta figure it out though.”
  • Second-year guard Terance Mann has become a reliable scorer lately, which made the Clippers feel comfortable with trading Lou Williams in the Rondo deal, states Shaun Powell of NBA.com.

Pacific Notes: Dinwiddie, Oubre, Craig, George, Rondo

The Warriors turned down pre-deadline overtures from the Nets for Kelly Oubre with Spencer Dinwiddie as the bait, Marc Stein of the New York Times reports in his latest newsletter. Dinwiddie, who is expected to miss the remainder of the season with a partially torn ACL, holds a $12.3MM player option on his contract next season. There’s been speculation he’ll opt out, which made him an attractive trade option.

However, the Warriors’ declined the Nets’ offers because they still want to make the playoffs this season. Golden State wouldn’t give up Oubre and his expiring contract unless the team got a healthy, productive player in return.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns were interested in small forward Torrey Craig last offseason, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic tweets. Phoenix acquired Craig on March 18 from the Bucks for cash considerations. After spending his first three NBA seasons with the Nuggets, Craig spurned Phoenix’s overtures and signed a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract with the Bucks during the 2020 offseason.
  • Paul George has been in the NBA since 2010 but he believes he can learn a thing or two from trade deadline acquisition Rajon Rondo, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets“I’m looking forward to learning from him,” the Clippers forward said. “He has one of the most beautiful basketball minds. It is going to help me down the road and evolve my game and open my game up to see the floor and read teammates better.”
  • Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank hated to give up Lou Williams but felt Rondo filled a crying need, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register writes. Frank said the team required an “orchestrator” and “someone who can really help elevate everyone’s game.”

Pacific Notes: Schroder, George, McNair, Gasol

Dennis Schröder wants to stay with the Lakers but there’s still a good chance he’ll test the free agent market this summer, according to Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. Schroder likes his current situation, stating, “I want to be a part of this organization for a long time.”

However, Schroder has yet to sign an extension, even though he’s eligible for one. Schroder admits he’s conflicted, knowing the Lakers’ salary situation and the fact they can go over the cap to retain him in unrestricted free agency.

“So, we’re kind of, between these: Should we just sign the extension? Or should we wait until the summer? Because at the end of the day, I want to be a Laker for a long time,” he said. “I always say I want it to be fair.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers forward Paul George has drawn a $35K fine from the league for criticizing the officials to the media after a loss to Dallas on Wednesday, according to an NBA press release. George said of some non-calls, “We’re putting a lot of pressure at the rim. It’s insane that we’re not getting these calls.” He also characterized the officials’ explanations for the lack of whistles as a “bunch of lies,” according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk.
  • Kings GM Monte McNair has the final say in personnel moves as the trade deadline approaches, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee reports. Ownership will be consulted, but McNair will be the one making roster decisions and related basketball moves, Anderson adds. However, it’s worth noting owner Vivek Ranadive has to sign off on any major deal, so the Kings organization may be trying hard to downplay Ranadive’s involvement in basketball operations.
  • Lakers center Marc Gasol remains under the league’s health and safety protocols but he’s out of isolation, Goon writes in a separate story. He still has a “few steps to clear” before he’s allowed to play, coach Frank Vogel said. Gasol hasn’t played since February 28.

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).

Pacific Notes: GRIII, Lakers, Whiteside, George, Warriors

Glenn Robinson III, who is currently away from the Kings for personal reasons, may not return to the team, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Robinson’s salary for 2020/21 is non-guaranteed, and teams must waive players on non-guaranteed contracts today in order to avoid taking on their full-season cap hits.

According to Anderson, Robinson is believed to be anticipating his release, but the Kings hadn’t communicated their intentions as of Tuesday night.

As Anderson explains, the situation is somewhat complicated by the fact that Robinson is dealing with a knee injury. A team that waives an injured player who is on a non-guaranteed deal must continue paying him until he’s healthy enough to return or until his contract expires, whichever comes first. Robinson’s knee issue doesn’t appear serious, but it will be a factor for the Kings to consider as they mull their options.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Jovan Buha of The Athletic explores how waiving Quinn Cook gives the Lakers even more options on the buyout market, while Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times identify Kings center Hassan Whiteside as one frontcourt player the team could pursue either via trade or buyout.
  • Clippers forward Paul George was pleased to earn All-Star honors, but is among the players who don’t believe the game should be played at all this season, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details. George told reporters that he was fined earlier in the season for having a teammate over to his house, which is one reason why he questions the decision to bring 24 players from all over the league to Atlanta for the All-Star Game.
  • The return of Stephen Curry (37 points) made the biggest impact in the Warriors‘ win over New York on Tuesday, but head coach Steve Kerr was also pleased to have centers James Wiseman and Kevon Looney available again, telling reporters that Wiseman looked “great” and that Looney “makes the game easier for everybody else” (link via Nick Friedell of ESPN). Wiseman missed 11 games with a wrist injury, while Looney was out for 10 games due to an ankle sprain.

2021 NBA All-Star Reserves Revealed

The 2021 NBA All-Star reserves have been revealed. Below is the full rundown of the 14 players scheduled to join the previously announced 10 starters for the March 7 contest in Atlanta. All-Star reserves are selected by the league’s head coaches.

Eastern Conference Reserves:

Notable omissions this season include recent Heat All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, two-time Bucks All-Star Khris Middleton, recent Hawks All-Star point guard Trae Young, Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, recent Pacers All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis, and Sixers forward Tobias Harris.

Brown, LaVine, and Randle are making their All-Star debuts. Harden is the most decorated among the All-Star vets among the East reserves, as he will be appearing in his ninth All-Star contest.

Western Conference Reserves:

Lillard, who just barely missed out on a starting nod to Mavericks guard Luka Dončić, earns his sixth All-Star mention as he mounts a sleeper MVP campaign with the Trail Blazers. Paul will be playing in his 11th All-Star game, for a fourth different team (he did not earn an All-Star nod in either of his two Rockets seasons, but made it with the Clippers, New Orleans Hornets, and Thunder).

Snubs in the West include recent Suns All-Star shooting guard Devin Booker, Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan, and 33-year-old Jazz point guard Mike Conley, the latter of whom may go down in history as the best NBA player never to make an All-Star team. Williamson, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, is a first-time All-Star. Last year, his teammate Brandon Ingram made his own All-Star debut.

Conley may still have his day in the sun, however. Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register notes that Lakers All-Star big man Davis, recovering from a right calf strain, will likely not be healthy in time to partake in the currently-planned All-Star game, and thus another Western Conference All-Star should eventually be named by NBA commissioner Adam Silver to replace the eight-time All-Star.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

L.A. Notes: George, Leonard, Schröder, LeBron

The Clippers picked up a win over the league-leading Jazz Friday night as L.A.’s starting lineup was together for the first time since January 24, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Nicolas Batum all returned from injuries, with George and Batum playing under minutes restrictions. George scored 15 points in 27 minutes after missing the past seven games with swelling in a toe on his right foot.

“Got to get back to that basketball conditioning and get that wind back to where it was,” George said. “As much as I would’ve loved to play, I probably would’ve hurt the team being on the floor past the minutes I played.”

Leonard, who had been dealing with a contusion in his lower left leg, wore a compression sleeve with padding underneath his knee as he logged 38 minutes. Batum was back on the court after missing two games with a concussion.

“We’re all pros, I think that starting lineup all played 10-plus years so that’s how we can sort of get a rhythm early,” Leonard said. “But it takes time, you haven’t seen those bodies on the floor. Obviously, playing with me and PG is a lot different. We might isolate sometimes or take some tough shots so it’s just all that combined. And that’s why we got to keep playing and staying healthy.”

There’s more from Los Angeles:

  • Luke Kennard was replaced in the rotation Friday by Terance Mann, notes Law Murray of The Athletic, who adds that Mann earned more playing time with his performance while George was sidelined.
  • Lakers guard Dennis Schröder, who is in the NBA’s health and safety protocol, tested negative for COVID-19 but will have to quarantine for at least a week, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Coach Frank Vogel offered an update on Schröder before tonight’s game, saying the team hopes to have him back for Friday’s contest against the Trail Blazers. Wesley Matthews started tonight in Schröder’s place.
  • The Lakers face a difficult decision about whether to increase LeBron James‘ playing time while Anthony Davis is injured, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. L.A. is in a tight race for the top spot in the West, but is concerned about not wearing down James before the playoffs. Goon notes that his minutes have already increased from 31.4 per game in December to 37.7 in February.