Anthony Davis

Pacific Notes: Kings Rumors, Suns, LeBron, Davis

The Kings have expressed trade interest in Nets forwards Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale, according to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, who made his comments during The Carmichael Dave Show with Jason Ross (hat tip to HoopsHype). Amick said the Kings are a bad defensive team looking to get better, and those two in particular could help.

Finney-Smith and O’Neale are both valued assets leaguewide and Sacramento’s interest is the latest in a series of rumors surrounding Brooklyn’s pieces. The two players — along with Spencer Dinwiddie, who’s also involved in trade rumors — are the oldest on the Nets’ roster, and win-now teams seem to be targeting them for their veteran presence and two-way versatility.

Finney-Smith, making about $13.4MM this year, is averaging 8.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting 37.8% from beyond the arc. He’s under contract through at least 2024/25, and has a player option for the following season. O’Neale is making $9.5MM this year and is set to be an unrestricted free agent after this season. He’s averaging 7.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists this year.

It’s unclear what Brooklyn would covet from Sacramento’s side in a potential trade. Kevin Huerter and Davion Mitchell are among players who could help fill out a trade from a salary standpoint.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Huerter, Mitchell and Harrison Barnes have been mentioned in possible trade packages for weeks now, and The Sacramento Bee’s Jason Anderson writes that it could be weighing on a Kings team that recently went on a season-long four-game losing streak. “Everybody’s human, so everybody feels it in some way shape or form,” head coach Mike Brown said. “You can talk about it as much as you want or as little as you want, but at the end of the day rumors and speculation are rampant as the trade deadlines nears every year for every team. It’s part of our business. You’ve just got to deal with it and keep moving forward as best you can.”
  • Given how the team’s payroll is structured, the Suns don’t have many contracts that would be useful for salary-matching. The three maximum-salary stars aren’t going anywhere, and the team values Jusuf Nurkic ($16.9MM) and Grayson Allen ($8.9MM), per Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports, which leaves Nassir Little ($6.3MM) as potentially the biggest available salary on the books. Bourguet sifts through 30 trade scenarios, sorting them based on their likelihood.
  • Lakers superstars LeBron James (ankle) and Anthony Davis (Achilles) were both listed as questionable ahead of Thursday’s game against the Bulls (Twitter link via Los Angeles Times’ Brad Turner). However, both were upgraded to available ahead of the game and started (Twitter link). James didn’t play the previous contest against the Clippers, but Davis hasn’t missed a game since Dec. 15.

Team USA Announces 41-Player Pool For 2024 Olympics

USA Basketball has officially announced a pool of 41 players who are in the mix for the 12 spots on the 2024 Olympic men’s basketball team.

While the pool is subject to change, Team USA’s 12-man roster for the 2024 Paris Olympics will, in all likelihood, be made up of players from this group.

The list figures to shrink as the summer nears due to players suffering injuries or opting not to participate for other reasons, but at some point prior to the July event the U.S. decision-makers will have to choose a final roster from the remaining candidates.

Here’s the full list of 41 players, 28 of whom have represented Team USA in a previous World Cup or Olympics:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. Jarrett Allen (Cavaliers)
  3. Paolo Banchero (Magic)
  4. Desmond Bane (Grizzlies)
  5. Scottie Barnes (Raptors)
  6. Devin Booker (Suns)
  7. Mikal Bridges (Nets)
  8. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  9. Jalen Brunson (Knicks)
  10. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  11. Alex Caruso (Bulls)
  12. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  13. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Suns)
  15. Anthony Edwards (Timberwolves)
  16. Joel Embiid (Sixers)
  17. De’Aaron Fox (Kings)
  18. Paul George (Clippers)
  19. Aaron Gordon (Nuggets)
  20. Tyrese Haliburton (Pacers)
  21. James Harden (Clippers)
  22. Josh Hart (Knicks)
  23. Tyler Herro (Heat)
  24. Jrue Holiday (Celtics)
  25. Chet Holmgren (Thunder)
  26. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  27. Kyrie Irving (Mavericks)
  28. Jaren Jackson Jr. (Grizzlies)
  29. LeBron James (Lakers)
  30. Cameron Johnson (Nets)
  31. Walker Kessler (Jazz)
  32. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  33. Damian Lillard (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Cavaliers)
  35. Chris Paul (Warriors)
  36. Bobby Portis (Bucks)
  37. Austin Reaves (Lakers)
  38. Duncan Robinson (Heat)
  39. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  40. Derrick White (Celtics)
  41. Trae Young (Hawks)

Adebayo, Booker, Durant, Holiday, Lillard, and Tatum were part of the Olympic team that won gold in Tokyo in 2021. Jerami Grant, Draymond Green, Keldon Johnson, Zach LaVine, JaVale McGee, and Khris Middleton were also on that roster, but aren’t part of the preliminary pool this time around. It’s possible some of them turned down invitations.

“The United States boasts unbelievable basketball talent and I am thrilled that many of the game’s superstars have expressed interest in representing our country at the 2024 Olympic Summer Games,” national team managing director Grant Hill said in a statement. “It is a privilege to select the team that will help us toward the goal of once again standing atop the Olympic podium. This challenging process will unfold over the next several months as we eagerly anticipate the start of national team activity.”

USA Basketball also announced today that Team USA will face Team Canada in Las Vegas on July 10 in an exhibition game. It sounds like that contest will take place during the NBA’s 2024 Summer League.

Lakers Rumors: Murray, D-Lo, Hood-Schifino, Reaves, More

The buzz connecting Hawks guard Dejounte Murray to the Lakers has increased to “noisy levels” as of late, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who hears that the two teams have discussed possible frameworks for a trade.

One concept the Lakers and Hawks talked about late last week would’ve included guard D’Angelo Russell, rookie Jalen Hood-Schifino, the Lakers’ 2029 first-round pick, and additional draft compensation, multiple team and league sources tell Buha.

Los Angeles can only currently trade one future first-rounder (either the 2029 or 2030 pick), so any additional draft assets would’ve been second-rounders. Plus, as Michael Scotto reported on Thursday, Atlanta has little interest in Russell, so he may need to be rerouted to a third team.

Talks between Los Angeles and Atlanta have since stalled, but the two clubs are expected to revisit those negotiations prior to the February 8 trade deadline, says Buha.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Unless an unexpected opportunity arises, the Lakers are expected to take at least a couple more weeks to evaluate their trade assets and options before pulling the trigger on any deal, according to Buha. As Buha explains, the team would like to address various needs – including three-point shooting, speed, and athleticism – but is still weighing whether it makes more sense to make a smaller move or to do something bigger that would more significantly reshape the rotation.
  • No Lakers players besides Anthony Davis and LeBron James are untouchable, but Jarred Vanderbilt is ineligible to be dealt this season and Austin Reaves is “close” to being off the table, says Buha. Team and league sources tell The Athletic that L.A. values Reaves highly and has no interest in moving him, even though almost every trade discussion starts with a prospective trade partner asking for Reaves and a first-round pick. If the Lakers were to part with Reaves, they’d want the deal to net them a clear All-Star (ie. someone a tier above Murray or Zach LaVine) or multiple rotation upgrades, Buha adds.
  • Russell, Rui Hachimura, and Gabe Vincent are generally considered to have neutral-to-negative trade value, per Buha. Second-year guard Max Christie is viewed by some teams as an underrated three-and-D prospect, but the Lakers would prefer to keep him, Buha notes.
  • The Lakers, who had interest in Bruce Brown during the offseason, would still be interested in Brown if the Raptors make him available, Buha reports. Other potential targets the Lakers have discussed in recent weeks include Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant, Hornets guard Terry Rozier, Raptors wing Gary Trent Jr., and Nets forwards Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale, says Buha.

Lakers Revert To Opening Night Lineup, Intend To Stick With It

Against the Thunder on Monday, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham turned back to the starting lineup that he used to open the season: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, and Taurean Prince.

That was the Lakers’ starting group for five of the first seven games of the season, including the first four. However, those players hadn’t started together since November 6, as Ham first moved Reaves to the bench and later did the same with Russell. After Los Angeles came away with a 112-105 victory over Oklahoma City, Ham indicated he plans to stick with his original starting five going forward, writes ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.

“Just wanted to put as much skill and shot-making on the floor around our two captains,” Ham said, referring to James and Davis. “And those five, they’ve been pretty much our most consistent guys throughout the season thus far. So just put them together. For the foreseeable future, that’s going to be our lineup, barring any type of injury.”

The Lakers have used 11 different starting lineups so far this season, leaning most frequently on a group consisting of James, Davis, Russell, Prince, and Cam Reddish. Reddish is a stronger defender than Reaves, but didn’t provide as much on the offensive end of the court. He’s currently unavailable due to a knee issue.

Los Angeles also experimented with a starting five that featured Reaves in Russell’s place alongside the two star forwards, Prince, and Reddish, but that group has posted a -13.2 net rating in 99 minutes of action. The opening night lineup, which Ham turned back to on Monday, has a +1.3 rating in 150 total minutes.

In spite of Monday’s impressive victory, the Lakers remain below .500 (20-21) at the season’s midpoint and are feeling a sense of urgency to pick up some more wins during their current stretch of games in L.A., writes Khobi Price of The Orange County Register. That stretch of games, which includes four more home games and a “road” contest vs. the Clippers, runs through next Thursday.

Last season, a series of moves at the trade deadline helped kick-start the Lakers to a second-half surge and two playoff series wins, but Ham doesn’t necessarily think the team needs to seek out similar moves this winter.

“People talk about trades and this and that. No one’s sugarcoating anything. You have an opportunity to get better, you’re going take advantage of it,” Ham said, per McMenamin. “But that said, what we have in that locker room, we just need to buckle down, focus, take care of the details. We have more than enough in that locker room to make some things happen.”

Lakers Notes: Davis, LeBron, Russell, Hachimura, Reddish

After getting off to a 19-21 start last season, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka was able to remake the team before the trade deadline. He’ll face the same challenge this year as L.A. has an identical record at the 40-game mark following Saturday’s loss at Utah.

The difference, as Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times points out, is that the Lakers were already moving in the right direction by the middle of last season, winning five in a row to reach 19-21. Saturday’s loss was their 12th in their last 17 games as they’ve fallen into 11th place in the Western Conference.

I don’t remember last year at the 40-game mark,” Anthony Davis said. “But I think for us right now, we’re not in a bad spot. It could be worse. Just our injuries just piled up over and over. As soon as we think we get a couple guys back, guys go down. So that’s the toughest thing, but we still have enough to win basketball games. Even though (LeBron James) doesn’t play, we have enough to win. But we just got to keep going — 40 games, 42 left. We got to make a push. These next five or six games at home are going to be a big stretch of games for us.”

The latest injury issue involves James, who missed his fourth game of the season Saturday due to pain in his left ankle. Davis took on more play-making responsibilities in James’ absence, posting his second career triple-double with 15 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists, but he still felt like he didn’t do enough.

“Everyone did their job except me. I didn’t do my job,” Davis said. “Obviously, Bron was out and everyone has to step up and those guys did. Except myself. So this one’s on me.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • D’Angelo Russell returned to the starting lineup Saturday, making his first start since coach Darvin Ham shook up his rotation 10 games ago, Turner writes. Russell responded with his best game of the season, delivering 39 points and eight assists while shooting 15-of-26 from the field and 6-of-11 from three-point range. “I mean, it’s just fun. Just hoopin’, as simple as that,” Russell said. “They had some coverages that tried to take AD out the game, allowed us to play off the catch-and-attack closeouts all game. We missed some. We made some. I thought we had a lot of good looks. Just try to take this aggression and add it to the next game.”
  • Rui Hachimura returned after missing five games with a strained left calf and didn’t wear the mask he had been using since undergoing nasal surgery, Turner adds. Hachimura talked to Dave McMenamin of ESPN about the need for more energy in the first quarter because rival teams are so focused on beating the Lakers (video link).
  • Cam Reddish had to leave the game in the second half due to soreness in his left knee, tweets Khobi Price of The Orange County Register. Knee pain also forced Reddish out of Thursday’s game, and Ham said the team will have a “definitive plan by Monday going forward” on how to handle his condition.

Lakers Notes: Davis, LeBron, Ham, Hachimura

The Lakers have experienced some extreme highs and lows already this season, but they’ve been able to rely on Anthony Davis through everything, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. The talented big man has played in 36 of the team’s 38 games, avoiding the injury woes that have haunted him through most of his career. He’s making a case for Defensive Player of the Year honors while taking a larger role in L.A.’s offense, averaging 25.7 points and 3.4 assists per night.

“You could tell his body’s feeling good,” coach Darvin Ham said. He’s in a good space. His energy is great. He’s just doing what he needs to do. He’s not trying to force anything. It’s coming. That’s why it’s so efficient. He’s just playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played, getting good hits on screens. … He’s in a really good mental space, spiritual space. And physically, he’s at a really high level right now.” 

Buha notes that the biggest change in Davis’ game has been the reemergence of his mid-range jumper, which he used so effectively when the Lakers won the title in 2019/20. Davis is shooting 44.4% on mid-range attempts since December 9, adding a much-needed weapon for a team with limited outside shooting.

“I just wasn’t shooting it enough,” Davis said. “A lot of my shots were coming in the paint — post-ups and duck-ins and seals and things like that. Now, the way that teams are playing me, doubling on the catch and on the dribble, I’ve been just getting back to the mid-range. It’s an easier shot instead of fighting the double teams to get a shot up. So that’s all it is. Continuing to trust it and shoot it.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • With about four weeks left until the trade deadline, there’s still time to fix the deficiencies from a frustrating first half of the season, observes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Sources tell McMenamin that LeBron James‘ “patience has been tested” by the team’s performance, but he has decided to lead by example rather than demand changes. James talks to the coaches and front office when they solicit his opinion, but his focus is primarily on the court, according to McMenamin.
  • In the same story, McMenamin casts doubt on rumors that Ham’s job might be in jeopardy. A front office source tells the ESPN writer that Ham was hired for his “character, toughness and presence,” and management has confidence that he can handle the challenges that come with such a high-pressure job.
  • Rui Hachimura is making progress toward returning from his strained left calf, per Khobi Price of The Orange County Register. Hachimura missed his fourth straight game Tuesday night, but Ham indicated there’s a chance he could be back within the next week.

Lakers’ Ham: “Aligned” With Owner, GM

Amid a report of a “deepening disconnect” between Darvin Ham and Lakers players due to Ham’s erratic lineups, which have partially been a result of injuries, the team’s head coach says he’s “solid” in his job security and is “aligned” with owner Jeanie Buss and vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka, according to Khobi Price of The Southern California News Group and Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“It comes with the territory,” Ham said of the criticisms. “I’m solid. My governor, Jeanie Buss, the boss lady; our president, Robert Pelinka – we’re all aligned. As long as they’re not saying it, I guess I’m good.

Which I know how they feel about me and the situation we’re currently in. So, we’re all on the same page. My two captains (LeBron James and Anthony Davis), I communicate with them. Our communication has been at a high level.”

Ham didn’t directly mention the report from The Athletic, but he criticized the general use of anonymous sources, like the ones cited in the story.

The one thing that’s crazy is that it reminds me of when I used to watch ‘60 Minutes’ with my father in the ’80s,” Ham said. “And one particular show they were talking about La Cosa Nostra and the mafia and these guys were starting to go to trial and their star witness shows up with a black potato sack over his head and shades. And due to fear, the name can’t really be released.

This seems to be the standard of reporting now for [the] NBA. People on the internet and whatever. And not all reporters – I don’t want to disrespect anybody in the room – but when you say the source is anonymous by choice and they don’t want to put their name on something but they want to give you the information and then you take the information and now everybody gets a chance to dissect it and spread it all out in their own way, it’s kind of disingenuous. And I wish we would get to a place where people are firm enough to stand on what they’re saying and then maybe we can have real dialogue and get to it.”

Ham said he welcomed critiques of his performance and brushed off the speculation.

I don’t mind people critiquing the job I’m doing,” he said. “All I’m going to do is keep my head down and continue to do my job until I can’t do it anymore. Just be solid with what you’re putting out there and please don’t intertwine it with personal attacks either.

That’s what it is, that’s what I signed up for when I decided to become a coach and I’ve been around some great guys who have handled it well and some coaches that haven’t handled it so well. But me? I’m solid. I’ve been through a ton of ‘ish’ in my life and this is a walk in the park. Trust me.”

L.A. Notes: Harden, Clippers, Diabate, Lakers, Ham

After losing their first six games following the acquisition of James Harden, the Clippers have since won 18 of 23, including the last four in a row, to improve their record to 21-12. With the team firing on all cylinders, it hasn’t been lost on Harden that the critics who were decrying his fit in early November have been quiet as of late.

“Fit is great, I knew that from the beginning and it’s one of the reasons why I wanted to be a part of this,” Harden said, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. “Obviously it didn’t start off well. It gave people so much to talk about in a negative way, and now those people that were talking are nowhere to be found. Like, literally nowhere to be found. Which, we knew that was going to happen.”

Viewed as a title threat when Kawhi Leonard and Paul George teamed up in Los Angeles in 2019, the Clippers have won just three playoff series in the past four seasons as Leonard and George  both dealt with injuries. But with the two forwards healthy this season and Harden bringing a new element to the roster, they’re looking like a legitimate contender again.

Asked by Melissa Rohlin of FOX Sports what winning a championship would mean for his legacy, Harden said it would be “very important.”

“It’s been like that. I always want to give myself a chance to win. I know how very difficult that is,” Harden said. “There’s only one team standing at the end of the year. So, I’ll continue to keep trying to do that.”

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

  • Clippers two-way center Moussa Diabate, who was hampered in December by a hip issue, appeared in his first NBA game in over a month on Monday, logging three garbage-time minutes in a victory over Miami. However, it sounds like he won’t play again for a while — the team announced that Diabate, who had six blocks in a G League game on Tuesday, is out due to a metacarpal fracture in his right hand, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. The club has yet to provide a recovery timeline.
  • With the Lakers slumping, Mirjam Swanson of The Southern California News Group wonders why the team hasn’t turned to the lineups that were successful last season, including either Jarred Vanderbilt or Rui Hachimura alongside Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Austin Reaves, and D’Angelo Russell. Injuries have been a problem, but the club hasn’t used either of those lineups even when everyone has been available — those two groups have played just three total minutes together in 2023/24, says Swanson.
  • While head coach Darvin Ham is clearly facing pressure to turn the Lakers‘ season around, a “high-ranking” team source disputed the idea that he’s on the verge of being fired, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic. Amick adds that assistant Phil Handy is frequently brought up as the possible next man up if the Lakers do eventually decide to make an in-season coaching change.

Gilgeous-Alexander, Antetokounmpo Named Players Of Month

Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo have been named the Western and Eastern Conference Players of the Month, respectively, for December, according to the NBA (Twitter link).

Gilgeous-Alexander led his team to a 10-3 record during the month while averaging 31.9 points, 6.6 assists and 3.1 steals per game. Antetokounmpo carried the Bucks to an 11-2 mark in December, posting averages of 32.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 6.8 assists per night.

Anthony Davis, Luka Doncic, Kevin Durant, Anthony Edwards, De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis and Kawhi Leonard were the other nominees in the West.

Bam Adebayo, Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Joel Embiid, Tyrese Haliburton, Myles Turner, Donovan Mitchell, Julius Randle, Coby White and Derrick White were the other nominees in the East.

“Deepening Disconnect” Between Darvin Ham, Lakers Players

Darvin Ham‘s frequent lineup changes have led to a “deepening disconnect” between the Lakers coach and his players, according to Shams Charania and Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

Six sources with direct knowledge of the situation spoke to the authors about a “disjointedness” that has arisen as Ham has adjusted roles of various players to try to shake the team out of its current slide. L.A. is 3-9 since winning the in-season tournament and has fallen to 10th in the West with a 17-18 record.

Ham used his 10th different starting lineup of the season in Wednesday night’s loss to Miami, making Austin Reaves a starter again in place of the injured Rui Hachimura. Sources tell Charania and Buha that the changes have led to “a fluctuating rhythm” for several players. The authors add that the adjustments have prevented the team from establishing any continuity or determining its best lineup combinations.

After Wednesday’s game, Ham said injury problems are responsible for his frequent changes. Cam Reddish has been in and out of the lineup due to a groin issue, Hachimura is sidelined with a Grade 1 left calf strain and D’Angelo Russell sat out his second straight game with a bruised tailbone.

Ham also suggested that the Heat, who were playing without Jimmy Butler, were in a better position than the Lakers.

“I think the multiple (rotation players) are more impactful than … if you lose one of your big dogs, you’re going to figure out how to try and manage without them,” Ham said. “… And when you have your key role players, your key rotation players – this guy misses three or four. This guy misses three or four. And they’re happening one right after another, that’s what makes it difficult. … We’ve got to figure it out. I’m disappointed, but I’ll be damned if I get discouraged.”

L.A. held a team meeting after Wednesday’s loss, Charania and Buha add, and many of the players were gone by the time the media were admitted to the locker room. Among those who talked to reporters, Reaves and Anthony Davis both emphasized that injuries are no excuse for losing, which the authors note is part of the disconnect between Ham and his players.

Ham has two full seasons beyond this one remaining on his four-year contract, so the Lakers will likely be reluctant to make a coaching change. He has also shown an ability to overcome adversity, leading the team to the Western Conference Finals after a 2-10 start to last season. However, Charania and Buha write that “time is of the essence” for L.A. to start winning and “patience is beginning to run thin.”