Austin Reaves

Lakers Rumors: Mitchell, Redick, LeBron, Reaves, Bronny

As the Lakers weigh their offseason options, one path they will seriously consider is packaging players and draft picks to attempt to acquire a third star to play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Within the last year, star guards like Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, and Zach LaVine have been mentioned as possible targets for Los Angeles, but Jovan Buha of The Athletic (YouTube link) says another name will likely be at the top of the team’s wish list entering the summer.

“If the Lakers go down the three-star path, and it’s still unclear — I think they’re going to kick the can down the road and see the possibility and see what the asking price is. There are teams that can outbid them if they get into a bidding war,” Buha said in an episode of Buha’s Block. “But if they do go down that road and at least explore it, (Cavaliers guard) Donovan Mitchell would be the preferred guy.”

There’s no guarantee that Mitchell will be available this summer, since the Cavs hope to sign him to a long-term extension. If Mitchell turns down that offer and ends up on the trade block, the Lakers would have plenty of competition for the five-time All-Star and wouldn’t necessarily be able to offer the best package, as Buha notes. L.A. would be able to offer up to three first-round picks alongside perhaps guard Austin Reaves, forward Rui Hachimura, and other salary-matching pieces.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Echoing previous reports, Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times says people around the NBA view J.J. Redick as the favorite in the Lakers’ head coaching search. Opinions on Redick’s potential as a coach are split, with some high on his upside due to his understanding of the game and his ability to clearly communicate ideas, while others “see nothing but inexperience” or believe his business relationship with LeBron James would have a negative impact on the locker room, Woike writes. Sources tell The Times that one reason Redick is viewed as a frontrunner is a widespread belief that he’ll have “incredibly strong” interviews.
  • Within that same L.A. Times story, Woike explores the likelihood of LeBron remaining with the Lakers (his sources believe it’ll happen), discusses the team’s top trade targets (he says none of Young, Murray, LaVine, and Brandon Ingram were seriously linked to the Lakers at the combine), and mentions the team’s ongoing fondness for Reaves. According to Woike, the Lakers regard Reaves highly as a “prospect for the future” on a team-friendly contract.
  • Shams Charania of The Athletic is among the reporters to stress that drafting Bronny James won’t offer a team any assurances of having a shot at his superstar father. “It would not surprise me in the coming weeks if a team does reach out to (agent) Rich Paul – or anyone else around Bronny James, (including) LeBron James himself – and says, ‘Hey, if we draft Bronny James, would you come as well, LeBron?'” Charania said on the Up & Adams Show (Twitter video link). “And the answer to that is going to be no, as of right now. That’s not a given, that’s not something that’s going to be preordained.” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said earlier in the week that Paul has made a concerted effort to dispel the idea that his father-and-son clients need to play together.
  • The Lakers announced on Friday (via Twitter) that they’ll host three preseason games outside of Los Angeles in the fall. The Lakers will play the visiting Timberwolves on October 4 and the Suns on Oct. 6 at Acrisure Arena in Palm Springs before facing the Warriors on Oct. 15 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Darvin Ham’s Position With Lakers In ‘Serious Peril’

Darvin Ham‘s position with the Lakers is in “serious peril” following the team’s elimination from the playoffs on Monday, according to Shams Charania, Jovan Buha, and Sam Amick of The Athletic. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin agrees, citing league sources who say that Ham’s head coaching job is “very much in jeopardy.”

The Athletic’s reporters and McMenamin both say that the Lakers will take a few days to review the situation and assess what went wrong this season before making a decision on Ham’s future.

Although the Lakers finished with more regular season wins (47) than they did a year ago when they made the conference finals (43), there was a sense that this year’s team lacked an “effective direction” from the coaching staff at times, per The Athletic, and there were people within the organization confused by the way that Ham used his starting lineup and rotation over the course of the season.

As both The Athletic and McMenamin detail, Ham used a series of starting groups earlier in 2023/24 that frequently featured players like Taurean Prince and Cam Reddish, often at the expense of players that the franchise viewed more as part of its core, such as Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, and D’Angelo Russell.

There was a sense that Prince and Reddish were given opportunities to play through their mistakes that Reaves, Hachimura, Russell, and others weren’t, per The Athletic, and some team sources suggested to ESPN that the Lakers would have finished with a better record – and a higher playoff seed – if they had stuck to a starting lineup of Reaves, Hachimura, and Russell alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis earlier in the season.

“The job of a coach is to make the best out of what you have,” a team source told McMenamin. “And he wasn’t doing that.”

Reporting from both The Athletic and ESPN also pointed to Ham’s response to a post-Game 2 comment from Davis (“We have stretches where we just don’t know what we’re doing on both ends of the floor”) as troubling. Rather than downplay – or even agree with – Davis’ comment, Ham took exception, praising his coaching staff and telling reporters that he would “agree to disagree” with his star big man.

Team sources told The Athletic that Ham’s rebuttal unnecessarily amplified Davis’ initial comment and questioned whether engaging in a back-and-forth with one of the franchise’s cornerstones was a good idea. A club source who spoke to McMenamin, meanwhile, was “confounded” by Ham’s lack of accountability and questioned the wisdom of praising the preparedness of his staff after the Nuggets had run their winning streak vs. the Lakers to 10 games.

According to The Athletic, the contract Ham signed in 2022 was a four-year deal worth approximately $5MM per season, so there are still two seasons left on it. If they make a coaching change, the Lakers would eat the remainder of that contract.

Lakers Notes: Game 3 Loss, LeBron, Davis, Russell, Ham

The Lakers lost their 11th consecutive game to Denver on Thursday night and are now one game away from being swept out of the postseason by the Nuggets for a second straight season. As Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes, it’s hard to blame Los Angeles’ two stars for the Game 3 loss — LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined for 59 points on 26-of-43 (60.5%) shooting to go along with 21 rebounds and 12 assists.

“We’ve been — me and this guy [Davis] have been playing together for six years,” James said. “We’ve been to the mountaintop. We’ve been close to the mountaintop. We’ve played a lot of games. We know what it takes to win. We know what it takes to win a championship and how damn near perfect you got to be. That’s not like something that’s so crazy to obtain.”

While James expressed that he and Davis are confident in their ability to deliver big games when it matters most, he didn’t say the same about the rest of the Lakers, McMenamin observes. Austin Reaves had a solid night (22 points on 8-of-17 shooting), but the rest of the Lakers besides LeBron and AD combined for just 24 points and shot 10-of-30 (33.3%) from the floor, including 2-of-16 (12.5%) on three-pointers.

Asked if the Lakers’ were overwhelmed by the Nuggets’ execution, James replied, “You’d have to ask the individuals that question and see how they feel. It’s hard for me just to be like, ‘This is what I think that guy feels.’ … I can’t do that. I’m not a mind reader. I don’t know.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • A disastrous performance against the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals last spring hurt D’Angelo Russell‘s stock a little as he prepared to enter free agency. The same thing may be happening this year. Russell went scoreless on 0-of-7 shooting on Thursday and declined to speak to reporters after the game, according to McMenamin. Russell, who is now averaging 12.0 PPG on 32.6% in the first round, holds a player option worth $18.7MM for the 2024/25 season.
  • Davis told reporters after Game 2’s loss earlier this week that the Lakers “have stretches where we don’t know what we’re doing on both ends of the floor.” Those comments were interpreted as a shot at the coaching staff and didn’t sit well with some people in the organization, according to Jared Greenberg of TNT Sports. “I can tell you from speaking to people within the Lakers’ organization, they were upset – and disappointed, quite frankly – by AD’s comments,” Greenberg said during an NBA TV appearance on Thursday (Twitter video link). As Sam Amick of The Athletic notes, when asked about Davis’ comments on Wednesday, head coach Darvin Ham told reporters he chalked them up to frustration and that he would “agree to disagree.”
  • With the Lakers on the brink of elimination, Ham is on the hot seat in Los Angeles, according to Bill Plaschke of The L.A. Times, who notes that some home fans began a “fire Darvin” chant during the fourth quarter on Thursday. Plaschke adds that Ham has been out-coached by Michael Malone during the first round so far, which has been evident by the way the teams have adjusted at halftimes. The Nuggets have outscored the Lakers by a total of 31 points in the third quarters of games, per McMenamin; L.A. has outscored Denver by 11 in the other nine quarters.

Lakers Notes: Davis, Reaves, Russell, Vanderbilt, Jokic

Anthony Davis could have some extra motivation for the remainder of the Lakers‘ first-round series against the Nuggets. Davis feels slighted that he wasn’t one of the three finalists for the Defensive Player of the Year award, he told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.

“I’ll never get it,” Davis said. “They’re not giving it to me. The league doesn’t like me. I’m the best defensive player in the league. I can switch 1 through 5. I can guard the pick-and-roll the best in the league, from a big standpoint. I block shots. I rebound. I don’t know what else to do. I’m over it. I’m just going to do what I got to do to help the team win and try to play for a championship. Accolades and individual awards, I’m done with those.”

We have more on the Lakers:

  • Austin Reaves is hopeful that D’Angelo Russell remains with the team beyond this season, and his reasons go beyond the court, he told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. “I want him to be around. That’s probably my best friend on the team,” Reaves said. “We hang out off the court and golf a lot together. We’re constantly in communication and play Call of Duty together. He’s been one of my closest friends since I’ve been in the NBA. Obviously, his basketball play speaks for itself with how talented he is and what he can do for our group. We need him to be at our best. When he’s playing at his best is when we’re playing at our best. Anything we can do or I can do to help him stay around, I’m definitely going to try to do that.” Russell holds an $18.7MM option on his contract for next season.
  • Jarred Vanderbilt is no longer wearing a walking boot, Jovan Buha of The Athletic tweets. Vanderbilt hasn’t played since Feb. 1 due to a right midfoot sprain. He went through some drills during the team’s shootaround on Tuesday but won’t play in Game 2.
  • Coach Darvin Ham admits it’s virtually impossible to keep Nikola Jokic in check, Buha adds in another tweet. “It’s like (bleep), I don’t know what to do. You just gotta go out there and try to be as disciplined as possible, aggressive and consistent. And have a next-play mentality, man. … Kid is a generational-type player,” Ham said.

Lakers Notes: Russell, Vanderbilt, LeBron, Davis, Reaves

D’Angelo Russell‘s strong play over the past few months – including 22.0 PPG and 6.8 APG with a .449 3PT% in his last 31 games – has made turning down his $18.7MM player option for 2024/25 and testing free agency a more viable option for the Lakers‘ point guard. However, he tells Michael Scotto of HoopsHype that his preference would be to remain in Los Angeles.

“I’d love to be here and continue to give it a run and be where my feet are now,” Russell said. “Obviously, I’ve been on the other side of it, and I’ve been through the roller coaster of free agency and having to sit back and wait. I’m looking forward to not having to worry about that. I’ve been blessed enough to put myself in this position with my play. I’m definitely planning on taking advantage of that. When that time comes, I feel that everything will play out how it’s supposed to play out.”

Even if he decides against picking up his player option, Russell could return to the Lakers, who would hold his Bird rights in that scenario and would be in a good position to sign him to a new contract.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt, who has been out since February 1 due to a left foot sprain, is ramping up his conditioning but has yet to be cleared for contact or to participate fully in practices, head coach Darvin Ham said on Tuesday (Twitter link via Jovan Buha of The Athletic).
  • LeBron James sent a text message to TNT’s Chris Haynes prior to Tuesday’s game, confirming that his absence vs. the Bucks was about managing his ongoing ankle soreness rather than any sort of setback (Twitter video link). “With my injury, I have to be very strategic and smart of how I manage the rest of the season with my ankle/foot in order to get to the finish line,” James wrote. “Whatever line that lies ahead.” According to Haynes, the expectation is that LeBron will be available against the Grizzlies in Memphis on Wednesday.
  • With James out on Tuesday, Anthony Davis stepped up in a big way in Milwaukee, logging nearly 53 minutes and putting up 34 points and 23 rebounds in a double-overtime road win, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Austin Reaves chipped in with a 29-point triple-double to help lead the team to the comeback victory. “I just think we’re an unpredictable team,” Russell said. “So depends on which team you get, depends on which team we are defensively, offensively as a unit. Some guys are better than others (some nights). Some guys have bad nights. It just depends on what team we’re going to be. When we’re in full effect like tonight — obviously, no Bron — but, I think we’ll be hard to beat.”

And-Ones: Scoring, NBA Cup, 2024 Draft, Two-Ways, Howard

In a memo obtained by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA told teams the league office “did not deliver a directive to reduce scoring” during a competition committee call earlier this week, but the post-All-Star break trend “will continue to be monitored.” As Wojnarowski writes, teams are scoring about four fewer points per game on average since resuming play at the end of February.

Slower pace, style of play, competitive intensity, officiating focus have been contributing factors identified so far,” the NBA said.

According to Woj, the league also stated one focus area for the meeting was centered on offensive players “hunting for fouls and veering off paths into defenders.” That has also been a point of emphasis for officials — and a “contributing factor” in the reduced scoring output of late.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • The NBA also informed teams that it was considering a couple of changes to tiebreakers for next season’s NBA Cup, which was called the In-Season Tournament during its debut in 2023/24, Marc Stein reports (via Twitter). Changes under consideration would impact tiebreakers for point differential and head-to-head results, per Stein.
  • Unlike in 2023, when there was a consensus No. 1 overall pick for well over a year, there’s a huge variance in where players are projected to be drafted in 2024, as Michael Scotto relays in the latest aggregate mock draft for HoopsHype. Scotto spoke to several NBA executives to get a feel for some of this year’s top prospects, including Alexandre Sarr, who is ranked No. 1 in aggregate but as low as No. 7. “I think Sarr has everything to his game,” one executive said. “He needs to go somewhere that’s patient with him. He can be a really good two-way player you can build around in two years. I believe in his shooting and shot blocking.”
  • Frank Urbina of HoopsHype ranks the most successful players who have previously been signed to two-way contracts. Austin Reaves (Lakers), Duncan Robinson (Heat), Alex Caruso (Bulls), Naz Reid (Timberwolves) and Luguentz Dort (Thunder) make up the top five of the 15-player list.
  • Former NBA player and assistant coach Juwan Howard has been fired as head coach of Michigan, the school announced in a press release. Howard compiled a 82-67 record in five seasons at his alma mater, making the NCAA Tournament twice (in 2021 and ’22), but the Wolverines went just 8-24 this season and were eliminated in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.

Pacific Notes: Vincent, Reaves, Green, Beal

Lakers guard Gabe Vincent should be back sometime this month, Shams Charania said on FanDuel’s Run It Back program (video link).

“Gabe Vincent is doing more and more on the court. … Barring any setbacks, his hope is still mid-to-late March to get back in the lineup for the Lakers,” Charania said, adding, “(With) Gabe, you’d want to kind of change the tempo, change the pace. That’s why they signed him from Miami.”

Vincent underwent left knee surgery in late December. He was signed to a three-year, $33MM contract last summer but has only appeared in five games.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Austin Reaves is taking on more essential defensive responsibilites with Taurean Prince and Cam Reddish no longer in the Lakers’ starting lineup. Reaves shadowed Thunder All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in Los Angeles’ victory on Monday, Khobi Price of the Orange County Register notes. “He just took the challenge,” LeBron James said of Reaves. “Obviously, Shai is one of the best players that we have in our league, so it’s just trying not to put him at the free-throw line because that’s where he gets a lot of his points from too. Austin was sensational from the start to the finish, whenever he was out on the floor just trying to play the ball and making Shai and making [Jalen Williams] take tough shots and we’d just try to protect him on the back end.”
  • Warriors forward Draymond Green wants to finish his career on a positive note, which is why he’s continuing to go through therapy even after his league-imposed suspension ended, he told Howard Beck of The Ringer. “I’m far closer to the end than I am the beginning,” Green said. “Do you want the end to look like complete s–t? Or do you want the end to look closer to how it looked in the beginning? Do you want to leave gracefully? Or do you want to leave like a f–ing a–hole? Do you want your legacy to be a guy who couldn’t contain himself, a guy who couldn’t finish the job? Or do you want your legacy to be a guy who did it his way, yes, but did it the right way? I think that’s what it boils down to.”
  • Bradley Beal was instructed to wear a mask after suffering a broken nose in late January but he hasn’t done so since returning this month from a hamstring injury. He’s not done with nasal procedures, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic tweets. “Still have to get my septum realigned. Think I’ll do it after the season,” the Suns guard said. “Still having a little trouble breathing out my right nostril.”

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Longevity, Bronny, More

The Lakers may be without star forward LeBron James for their first game after the All-Star break, as he’ll be undergoing left ankle treatment this week, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. L.A. faces Golden State on Thursday.

An All-Star starter, James played 14 minutes in Sunday’s exhibition game but sat out the second half to manage the ankle injury. He missed his seventh game of the season last Wednesday, the final contest before the break.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • James set a record by being named to his 20th All-Star game in 2023/24. Several young players at All-Star weekend said they were amazed by his remarkable longevity, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times, who notes that seven Rising Stars participants were born after James made his NBA debut, including Jazz rookie Keyonte George. “It’s crazy. There’s a stat when we played him the first time that he was older than our coach (Will Hardy),” George said Friday morning with a laugh. “… All the young guys coming into the league know who Bron is. To me, he’s the best that ever touched the basketball. … The main goal coming into the league is, ‘How can I stay in it for as long as possible?’ Being a good teammate, with your play. The name of the game is longevity. … I think the shot-making ability, not going to the rim all the time, get to their spots, pick them, play with a good pace. I think that helps with longevity and your body. And then it comes down to skill.
  • Appearing on TNT’s Inside the NBA before the All-Star game, James said his son, Bronny James, has yet to decide whether he’ll declare for the 2024 draft, as McMenamin of ESPN relays. Bronny is a freshman guard at USC. “It’s up to him, it’s up to the kid,” LeBron said. “We’re going to go through the whole process. He’s still in season now. He has the Pac-12 tournament coming up. … We’re going to weigh all options and we’re going to let the kid make the decision.”
  • Jovan Buha of The Athletic lists five reasons to be optimistic about the Lakers down the stretch, including the new starting lineup of D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, James and Anthony Davis. L.A. is 8-2 when those five players have shared the court together, Buha notes, including 5-0 with them starting.

Lakers Notes: Dinwiddie, LeBron, Russell, Reaves, Injuries

After going through his first practice with the Lakers on Monday, veteran point guard Spencer Dinwiddie explained why he chose Los Angeles over the Mavericks when he became a free agent last week, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“The two situations kind of felt like this: Let’s say you were a kid and you got your ass whupped by the bully,” Dinwiddie said. “Dallas would’ve been like your momma being like, ‘It’s OK, baby. Don’t worry about it.’ Lakers are like your dad: ‘Nah, you better go out there and fight ’til you win.’ You feel me? And I just felt like that was what I needed at the time. I’m a big believer in kind of doing what you need to do at whatever time it is.”

As McMenamin notes, Dinwiddie played for the Mavericks and head coach Jason Kidd from 2022-23, but has never played for his hometown Lakers or Darvin Ham, so that represented the more challenging, less familiar route for the 30-year-old. Dinwiddie added that Rob Pelinka was the first team executive to call him after he was waived by Toronto, which made a strong impression.

The veteran guard will be reuniting with a few former teammates in L.A., including D’Angelo Russell, Taurean Prince, Rui Hachimura, and Christian Wood. However, as McMenamin writes, Dinwiddie made it clear that none of those players were the most influential voice in his ear as he made the decision to join the Lakers.

“How the hell we going to give C-Wood the credit? Bro, what are we doing?” Dinwiddie said with a laugh. “Look, C-Wood was impactful. … (But) I’m giving the credit to Bron (LeBron James).”

Here’s more on Dinwiddie and the Lakers:

  • While Dinwiddie will slot in behind Russell and Austin Reaves‘ on the Lakers’ backcourt depth chart, Ham said he can envision using all three guards in certain lineups, perhaps even to close games, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “All three of those guys can play together,” Ham said. “His size, he can guard bigger wings. So if we have to finish the game with those three, he’s definitely more than capable of doing that. We will look at some lineups with the three of those guys, along with Bron and AD. But I think he complements them well. He can defend, he can pass, he can dribble, he can shoot.”
  • Like he did in his previous contract, Dinwiddie negotiated a $1 incentive in his new deal that he’ll earn if the Lakers win the championship, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. His base salary will increase from $1,554,654 to $1,554,655 in that scenario. Dinwiddie told reporters that the $1 championship incentive has become something of inside joke between him and agent Jason Glushon (Twitter video link via McMenamin).
  • Cam Reddish (right ankle sprain), Max Christie (right ankle sprain), Jarred Vanderbilt (right mid-foot sprain), and Gabe Vincent (left knee surgery recovery) will all be reevaluated after the All-Star break, the Lakers said on Monday (Twitter link via Khobi Price of the Southern California News Group). Some of those players are closer to returning than others, with Vanderbilt’s status for the rest of the season notably still up in the air.

Lakers Rumors: Reaves, Summer Targets, Prince, Buyout Market, Vanderbilt

Despite making and taking trade calls for weeks, the Lakers didn’t come particularly close to making a deal on Thursday, sources tell Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, the closest the Lakers ever get to reaching a trade agreement was several weeks ago when they discussed a deal with the Hawks that would’ve send Dejounte Murray to Los Angeles for a package centered around D’Angelo Russell, Jalen Hood-Schifino, and the Lakers’ 2029 first-round pick.

Atlanta’s resistance to taking Russell was long viewed as the primary holdup in those discussions, but Buha also hears from team and league sources that the Hawks repeatedly insisted on Austin Reaves‘ inclusion, which was a non-starter for Los Angeles.

Having not made a move at the deadline, the Lakers will have three first-round picks available to trade this offseason — either 2024 or 2025 (New Orleans can acquire this year’s pick or defer it to next year), plus 2029 and 2031. L.A. would ideally like to use their draft assets in a package to acquire a third star, Buha says, identifying Donovan Mitchell (Cavaliers), Trae Young (Hawks), and Kyrie Irving (Mavericks) as some potential targets. It’s unclear how many of those players – if any – will actually be available on the trade market this offseason.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • The front office mulled the possibility of trading Taurean Prince, but head coach Darvin Ham was a among the “vocal supporters” of hanging onto the veteran forward, team sources tell Buha.
  • The Lakers were in position to potentially duck the luxury tax by attaching a minor asset (such as a second-round pick or cash) to a minimum-salary player, but opted against it, deciding they didn’t want to save money at the expense of roster depth, Buha writes.
  • Rob Pelinka indicated that the Lakers will be in the market for a “ball-handling guard” or simply the best available player on the buyout market, per Buha. “Obviously, we signed Gabe Vincent and thought he fit really well, but his health just hasn’t (been there),” Pelinka said. “He’s played five games. I think that would be sort of top of the list. … That would probably be the area we’re trying to address the most, just because right now we have D’Angelo Russell at point guard, but after that we don’t have a point guard on the roster.” Los Angeles has interest in Spencer Dinwiddie and Kyle Lowry (assuming he’s bought out), but will face competition from rival suitors, including Dallas on Dinwiddie and Philadelphia on Lowry, Buha observes.
  • There’s some pessimism within the organization about Jarred Vanderbilt‘s odds of returning this season, with the possibility of season-ending foot surgery still on the table, according to Buha. “Until an injury is healed and the player’s back, you’re kind of always in the evaluation process of figuring out what it’s gonna take to get a player healthy and back on the court,” Pelinka said. “I would just say we’re hopeful that we can get Jarred back healthy and on the court without surgery, but you never know. Time will tell. But that’s certainly our hope.”