Bradley Beal

Pacific Notes: LeBron, Paul, Lakers, Beal Trade, Kamagate

Lakers superstar LeBron James holds a $51.4MM player option for ’24/25. If he declines the option, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.

Appearing on TNT Sports’ altcast on truTV (Twitter video link), James’ agent Rich Paul stated that his client was a free agent this summer. When Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT pointed out what Paul said and followed up by asking if James plans to decline the option, Paul attempted to walk back the comment.

Chris, you know I don’t do my business over the airwaves, man,” Paul said. “I don’t know what he’s gonna do. We’re gonna do what we do every year. We’re gonna evaluate the situation and we’re gonna make the best decision.”

If James does opt out, it would come as no surprise. The oldest player in the league remained incredibly productive, extending his own NBA record by making his 20th consecutive All-NBA team in 2023/24. The 39-year-old also had an excellent playoff series despite losing to the defending-champion Nuggets in five games, averaging 27.8 PPG, 8.8 APG, 6.8 RPG, 2.4 SPG and 1.0 BPG on .566/.385/.739 shooting in 40.8 MPG.

For what it’s worth, a recent report stated there’s been no indication James plans to leave L.A. even if he does decline the option. Becoming a free agent would give him the option of negotiating a no-trade clause on a new deal with the Lakers.

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • In a fresh piece, Keith Smith of Spotrac previews the Lakers‘ offseason. After finishing with a 47-35 record and snagging the West’s No. 7 seed thanks to a play-in game victory, Los Angeles fell in five games to the Nuggets. The club quickly responded by firing head coach Darvin Ham after just two seasons. In addition to finding a replacement for Ham, the team will await the decisions of starters D’Angelo Russell and James with regard to their player options for 2024/25.
  • Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports lists five reasons why it’s too early to label the SunsBradley Beal trade a mistake. The capped-out club finished as the sixth seed in the West this season and was swept out of the first round of the playoffs. Beal, a three-time All-Star, appeared in just 53 regular season contests this season, averaging 18.2 PPG on .513/.430/.813 shooting splits, along with 5.0 APG, 4.4 RPG, 1.0 SPG and 0.5 BPG.
  • French center Ismael Kamagate, whose NBA rights are controlled by the Clippers, will stay on loan with Tortona in 2024/25, according to Sportando.

Alex Kirschenbaum contributed to this report.

Pacific Notes: LeBron, Lakers, Jackson-Davis, Beal

The idea that LeBron James will be a driving force in choosing the Lakers‘ next head coach is inaccurate, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who said during an appearance on FanDuel’s Run it Back show on Monday that the star forward has had no involvement in the process so far (Twitter video link).

“I’m told LeBron James is not involved in the Lakers’ head coaching search,” Charania said. “… (He) has made it clear this is the organization’s decision. He’s had no conversations with the Laker about J.J. Redick, his podcast partner. He’s had no conversations with J.J. about that position as well.

“I did speak to (James’ agent) Rich Paul this morning. He said, ‘LeBron James and J.J. Redick, they do a podcast together. That does not mean that he wants J.J. Redick as his head coach.’ He’s leaving it up to the organization.”

Previous reports have indicated that the Lakers will more heavily weigh Anthony Davis‘ future and input as they decide on a new head coach, since the expectation is that Davis’ time in Los Angeles will extend beyond that of James, who will turn 40 later this year.

Charania reiterated that point during his Run it Back segment, noting that Davis has “built a rapport” with James Borrego. While Charania cites Davis and Borrego overlapping during their stints with the Pelicans, it’s worth noting that Borrego left New Orleans for Orlando during the 2012 offseason, which is when Davis was drafted, so any overlap was very brief. Borrego returned to the Pelicans in 2023 as an assistant on Willie Green‘s staff.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • In a column for The Los Angeles Times, Bill Plaschke makes it clear he’s not a fan of the idea of the Lakers hiring Redick, writing that it would “not only be one of the oddest Lakers coaching hires in a long list of them…but it might also be the first talk-show driven head coaching hire in NBA history.”
  • Warriors guard Brandin Podziemski, who was named to the All-Rookie first team on Monday, believes his teammate Trayce Jackson-Davis should have joined him in receiving All-Rookie recognition, writes Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. Jackson-Davis narrowly missed earning a spot on the second team, finishing 11th among vote-getters, a single point behind Grizzlies forward GG Jackson. “Just to see from a guard’s perspective (Jackson-Davis’) impact on our games and how he helped us win games this year, I think maybe the voters should take winning into more of an account,” Podziemski said. “It sucks to see him not make it. I think he was well deserving of it.”
  • Could Bradley Beal thrive in a point guard role the same way that Jrue Holiday did under new Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer in Milwaukee? Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic weighs that question, considering just how important it is for Phoenix to add a true point guard this offseason.

Suns Notes: Budenholzer, O’Neale, Eubanks, Gordon, Okogie

New Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer vows to be demanding with the team’s three stars, writes Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports. Among the topics Budenholzer addressed Friday at his introductory press conference is how he plans to get the most out of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal in their second season together.

“I think they know that I’m gonna have high expectations of them,” Budenholzer said. “I’m gonna coach ’em, I’m gonna hold ’em accountable. But that’s what I’m gonna do with everybody. And so it’s not any different. That’s kind of been my roadmap for coaching, whether it’s the best players or the entire roster.”

The Suns were criticized this season for not having a traditional point guard to create easier scoring opportunities for their Big Three. Budenholzer told reporters that’s an area that needs to be looked at this summer as part of the larger picture of creating a more versatile team.

“We need to be able to play different ways, bigger, smaller,” he said. “But I think the point guard position has a place, and we’re gonna talk about it and figure it out. But I just know we’re gonna need to be able to play lots of different ways, including without a point guard.”

There’s more from Phoenix:

  • The competitive nature that Budenholzer showed during his interview helped him land the job as the Suns moved quickly to find a replacement after dismissing Frank Vogel, Bourguet adds in the same piece. “I’m a competitive guy, and we talk about this too: Throughout that process, Bud must have said ‘compete’ 95 times in two minutes,” general manager James Jones said at the press conference. “Compete at everything, compete in practice, compete with each other, against each other. Compete against your opponent, but more importantly, compete with yourself.”
  • Because the Suns are subject to second apron provisions, they might benefit from re-signing free agent forward Royce O’Neale to more than his market value, Keith Smith of Spotrac suggests in his offseason financial look at the team. Phoenix is prohibited from taking back more than it sends out in a trade. Smith states that if O’Neale’s actual value is around $10MM per year, the Suns can increase their trade options by paying around $15MM or by giving him the exact amount of the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, which currently projects to be $12.9MM for 2024/25.
  • Drew Eubanks, Eric Gordon and Josh Okogie are all good bets to decline their player options for next season, according to Smith, who recommends trying to re-sign Eubanks and Gordon to veterans’ minimum contracts this summer with a new player option for the following season. Phoenix holds Early Bird rights on Okogie, so Smith sees a new contract in the $5-8MM range as another way to create tradable salary.

Suns Notes: Budenholzer, Tellem, Big Three

Mike Budenholzer spoke for the first time since taking over as head coach of the Suns on Friday in his intro presser. According to ESPN, Budenholzer was emotional when talking about his childhood in Arizona.

It’s mind-boggling to me, like mind-blowing, to think that I’m going to be the head coach of the Phoenix Suns,” Budenholzer said.

A former NBA champion as coach of the Bucks, Budenholzer is tasked with leading a franchise with three super-max players in Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal and Devin Booker. That group went 49-33 last season and was swept in the playoffs under former head coach Frank Vogel.

I’m excited about working with this roster and these players,” Budenholzer said. “We have great players. And with great players come great expectations. I think we embrace that.

Budenholzer didn’t coach last year after being dismissed by the Bucks. He has a 484-317 record over a 10-season coaching career.

This year, for me, was really healthy,” Budenholzer said. “I kind of had a list of priorities, diving into my kids and my family, super important. We’ve been through a lot. So really, the time with my kids was just amazing. My son’s a senior in high school — going to every one of his games — driving home you’re like, ‘Wow, I got a gift.

We have more from the Suns:

  • With the Suns maintaining a “championship or bust” mentality, Budenholzer isn’t necessarily safe for the long run despite the hefty five-year, $50MM contract he signed, Duane Rankin of Arizona Republic writes. Rankin lists eight conversations Budenholzer needs to have with Phoenix brass, including why he needs to have more say in the team’s roster construction than his predecessors.
  • The Suns are closing in on hiring Nets executive Matt Tellem to the team’s front office, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link). Tellem began as a basketball information coordinator in 2011 and was promoted to vice president of strategy for Brooklyn in 2023. He also served as general manager of the Long Island Nets from 2019-23.
  • Appearing on The Burns & Gambo Show, Suns general manager James Jones said there is no scenario in which Beal, Durant or Booker are traded this summer (Twitter video link). “Those guys aren’t going anywhere. Those guys are part of the solution,” Jones said. With Phoenix lacking flexibility and draft assets to make major upgrades to a roster that was swept out of the first round of the playoffs, there has been some speculation about the futures of Phoenix’s star players. However, Jones’ comments this week echo a recent report from ESPN suggesting that the big three aren’t going anywhere.

Suns Notes: Budenholzer, Coaching Staff, Ishbia, Eubanks

Mike Budenholzer is getting right to work after being officially hired as the Suns‘ new head coach earlier today. Sources tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Budenholzer is expected to attend the draft combine in Chicago, which starts Monday, and he has already begun the process of forming an entirely new coaching staff.

Members of former head coach Frank Vogel‘s staff have been told that they won’t remain with the team, tweets Chris Haynes of TNT and Bleacher Report.

Budenholzer, a two-time Coach of the Year, had been out of the league since being dismissed by the Bucks following a disappointing first-round playoff exit last season. He’s moving into another high-pressure situation as success will be expected right away from an expensive roster built around Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal.

Phoenix appears to be a good situation for Budenholzer because he has been able to succeed without having a natural point guard, according to an Arizona Sports article, which examines how his teams fared with Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder in Atlanta and Eric Bledsoe and Jrue Holiday in Milwaukee.

There’s more from Phoenix:

  • Budenholzer will have to prove that he can hold his new Big Three accountable in a way that Vogel couldn’t, observes Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports. None of them are naturally vocal leaders, so Budenholzer may have to fill that role, which Bourguet notes could either unlock the group’s full offensive potential or could lead to personality clashes. Bourguet also looks at Budenholzer’s coaching style and states that the Suns are likely to play at a faster pace and take more three-pointers next season.
  • While there were reasons to make a coaching change, Doug Haller of The Athletic argues that owner Mat Ishbia should receive a large share of the blame for everything that went wrong this season. The Suns have talked about the need to build continuity since they acquired Durant in February of 2023, but Ishbia’s string of big moves have made that impossible to achieve.
  • Backup center Drew Eubanks, who holds a $2.65MM player option, has received indications that the Suns want him to return next season, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Eubanks, who averaged 5.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in 75 games, appears to be leaning toward picking up the option, but he added, “I’m going to make the best decision for my family and I when the time comes.” Eubanks, Eric Gordon, Josh Okogie and Damion Lee all hold player options and have a June 29 deadline to decide whether to exercise them.

Pacific Notes: Suns’ Stars, Vogel, Kings, A. Davis

While there has been some speculation that the Suns will break up their big three of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal this summer following a disappointing first-round playoff exit, Brian Windhorst of ESPN doesn’t get the sense the team is seriously considering taking that path. In an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show (YouTube link), Windhorst said he expects all three stars to remain in Phoenix.

“Do people in the league say (the Suns will have to trade a star)? Yes, they do,” Windhorst said (hat tip to RealGM). “I’ve talked to multiple people who think that’s what they’re going to have to do. Do the Suns say that? No, they do not. I think the Suns’ intention is to keep all three of these star players, tweak the roster, tweak some of their systems and their processes, and try to be better next year.”

As Windhorst notes, the Suns’ approach to the offseason could change if one of their stars asked to be traded, but there was no indication in their end-of-season comments to the media that any of them is looking to get out of Phoenix. In fact, Durant and Booker expressed a belief in the value of continuity.

“Not that he is sworn to telling the whole truth all the time (but) Durant when he left basically said, ‘I think continuity is valuable,'” Windhorst said. “He was looking at the Timberwolves team that had basically brought their entire team back from last year and he was like, ‘That continuity is pretty important there.'”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • A decision on the future of Suns head coach Frank Vogel is expected to happen “soon,” sources tell Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Team owner Mat Ishbia essentially said as much when he spoke to reporters last Wednesday, indicating that the club would conduct an in-depth evaluation of its season, including Vogel’s performance, before making any decisions. It sounds like that evaluation process is almost complete.
  • While the NBA’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement will make it more difficult for taxpaying teams like Phoenix to make roster upgrades, it could actually benefit the Kings, according to James Ham of The Kings Beat. As Ham details, the new CBA gives teams that are under the tax aprons more trade flexibility, since they’re subject to more lenient salary-matching rules and – beginning this offseason – are permitted to use their mid-level exception to acquire players via trade.
  • Appearing on ESPN’s SportsCenter (Twitter video link) over the weekend, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin said that Lakers star Anthony Davis will have a voice in the team’s head coaching search (hat tip to Lakers Nation). “Of course LeBron James’ opinion will be taken into consideration, but not just LeBron James — Anthony Davis as well, I’m told,” McMenamin said. “The team kind of looks at Anthony Davis as finally taking the torch from LeBron in the last season-and-a-half. While LeBron can still have the time to process the end of this season as he decides his future with the team, they have another voice and another leader in Anthony Davis, whose opinion they will take under consideration.”

Suns Notes: Narratives, Future, Olympics, Jones

After getting swept out of the first round of this year’s playoffs by the Timberwolves, the Suns face a potentially very expensive future, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

The Suns have limited options for improving the team around their current starting lineup of All-Stars Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, plus former All-Star Bradley Beal, center Jusuf Nurkic, and swingman Grayson Allen. Pincus notes that the Suns may look to offload one of their three priciest players in Durant, Beal or even Booker to add higher-quality role player help.

The Suns’ payroll could head north of $213MM next year, far above the league’s second tax apron of $189.5MM. That will greatly impede some of the team-building options previously open to tax-paying teams.

Pincus believes Phoenix will strive to hold onto combo forward Royce O’Neale this summer and thinks the Suns should at least explore offloading Nassir Little‘s $6.8MM contract.

There’s more out of Phoenix:

  • Though things do look dire for the Suns now, Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports takes pains to push back on five “annoying” Phoenix-relative narratives heading into a long offseason, suggesting that the team has a bit more opportunity and higher upside than it might appear. For instance, though the Suns don’t control their own draft picks in the immediate future, the team will still have at least some picks, including first-rounders. Bourguet also believes the club’s current core might just need more time playing together to truly become successful in the playoffs.
  • The 2024 Olympics in Paris could have an impact on the fates of the Suns’ stars, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN (YouTube video link) details. “Kevin Durant has reached a point in his career where his future is basically determined by him, and so where he’s at is going to be very important,” Windhorst said. “One variable… is that this summer is an Olympic summer. Team USA is gathering, and this is the biggest gathering of star players on Team USA since the Beijing Olympics in 2008. We have never seen this collection of stars who have committed over basically the last decade-and-a-half. On that team will be Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, they have committed to play in it… Let’s see where everybody’s mood is after the Olympics experience is, because you know that Team USA always opens up doors for big things to happen with star players.”
  • Following pressers from both Suns owner Mat Ishbia and general manager James Jones on Wednesday, Doug Haller of The Athletic seems convinced the team will not look to move on from its starting five. The club’s three stars — Durant, Booker, and Beal — only suited up for 41 regular season contests together, and key Phoenix decision-makers believe they have room to grow together. The club will at least talk about acquiring a true starting-caliber point guard, Haller notes. “We’ll go through every channel,” Jones said. “We’ll explore every scenario to add and build our team. It’s important to remember that we’re starting with six, seven, eight, really good core players. And when you’re talking about building on the margins, I think we have more than enough to do that effectively.”

Mat Ishbia Says Decision On Frank Vogel Coming Soon

A decision about the future of Suns head coach Frank Vogel will likely be made in the next few days, writes Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

Owner Mat Ishbia refused to pledge his support for Vogel during a press conference today at Footprint Center. However, he added that rumors about Vogel, players or other team employees shouldn’t be given any weight because in-person discussions haven’t begun.

“We’re going to evaluate everything,” Ishbia told reporters. “… Everything is on the table to evaluate. We have just not started it.”

Vogel, who was hired last June, still has four seasons left on his five-year, $31MM contract so a coaching change would be an expensive move. Vogel claimed over the weekend that he has “full confidence” from Ishbia, but the Suns’ ugly performance while being swept by Minnesota may have changed the team owner’s view.

General manager James Jones, who also spoke to reporters, indicated that management understands Vogel had a challenging task in trying to mold the talents of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, who were in their first full season together.

After an up-and-down start, the Suns finished with a surge and avoided the play-in tournament with a win on the final day of the regular season. They went 49-33 and appeared to be on an upswing before crashing in the playoffs.

“I thought Frank did a great job given the circumstances,” Jones said. “I thought the staff did a great job. I thought the players did a really good job, just not good enough to reach our goals.”

Ishbia also expressed optimism about the direction of the franchise, which he believes is on a path to success despite the postseason setback. He said he can identify with the disappointment from Suns’ fans because he feels the same way.

“I feel like the narrative around [here is] the house is burning, it’s incorrect,” Ishbia said. “… Fans like to look in the future and say, ‘Hey, I really like that 2031 draft pick because maybe that seventh grader is going to be really good and we’re going to draft him and one day he’s going to be a player.'”

Ishbia pointed out that Phoenix will have a first-round pick in five of the next eight drafts, even though some of those are pick swaps. He added that two of those picks are eligible to be included in trades this offseason.

Holmes notes that the Suns already have $209MM committed for next season, which is the largest salary in the NBA and would result in a $116MM tax penalty. They will be well above the second apron for the next three seasons if the core of the team remains together.

Ishbia looked on the bright side of that situation, saying that the starting five is under contract for multiple years, providing continuity no matter what happens with the rest of the roster.

He identified the team’s major issues as injuries and the time it takes for players to get used to being together and said both are “extremely fixable.” He also defended the trades for Durant and Beal, saying both players are worth the price it took to bring them to Phoenix.

“It was never, ‘We’re going to win a championship this year or we got to blow it up,” Ishbia said. “… Championship or bust, this isn’t bust. We’re in a great position. We’re going to be in a great position next year.”

Suns Notes: Booker, Gordon, Beal

Don’t believe the rumor that Suns All-Star guard Devin Booker wants to be moved to the Knicks, Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports reports.

ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith claimed on an episode of First Take that Booker “wants to be in New York.” However, a source in Booker’s camp told Bourguet that these rumors are unequivocally false.

The Knicks have been interested in acquiring Booker since Leon Rose became their team president. Rose would like to pair him up with Jalen Brunson, according to Bourguet, and would be willing to do just about anything to make it happen. But the Knicks’ interest in Booker is one-sided, Bourguet writes, as the All-Star guard is loyal to the Suns and likes the idea of sticking with one team his entire career.

We have more on the Suns:

  • Several Phoenix players hold contract options for next season and none will be watched more closely than Eric Gordon. According to the Arizona Republic’s Duane Rankin, Gordon hasn’t made a decision on his player option. “There’s no way I’m going to make a decision right now,” Gordon said. “Just enjoy the offseason, watch a lot of these games, see what everybody is doing. We still have a talented team. We just got to jell and mesh together, but I’m not going to make a decision right now.” It’s generally expected that Gordon will decline his $3.36MM option and look for a more lucrative deal.
  • Bradley Beal fully expects that the team’s big three – himself, Booker and Kevin Durant – will be more dangerous next postseason, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes relays. “We didn’t look at this thing as a one-year thing and we’re going to come in and just, we only got this year to figure it out,” Beal said. “No, we’ve got time. You don’t want to use that as a cop-out, but the reality we live in, that’s the game plan. We have a window. Yeah, it’s a short window, but we have a window, so we want to maximize it as much as possible. And obviously, we still have a lot of room to grow.”
  • In case you missed it, Booker and Durant spoke about the value of continuity in the aftermath of getting swept in the playoffs.

Suns Notes: Vogel, Jones, Offseason Priorities, Second Apron, Beal

The Suns will take “a hard look” at a coaching change after being swept out of the playoffs by Minnesota, sources tell Shams Charania and Doug Haller of The Athletic. If Frank Vogel is retained, management will consider making adjustments to his staff, according to the authors, who add that general manager James Jones will be kept in his current role.

Vogel still has four seasons remaining on the $31MM contract he received when he was hired last June. He was 49-33 in his first year with Phoenix and the team made a late charge to claim the sixth seed in the West, but there were concerns by the end of the season that his voice was no longer resonating with his players, Charania and Haller write.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported before Sunday’s game that Vogel’s future is in jeopardy. In a meeting with reporters before the contest, Vogel expressed confidence that he will remain the team’s coach (video link), telling reporters, “I’ve got full confidence from (owner) Mat Ishbia.”

But Charania and Haller wonder how patient Ishbia will be after spending heavily to add Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal to form a Big Three alongside Devin Booker. That approach was shaky throughout the regular season, and it fell apart completely in the playoffs against the less experienced Timberwolves.

The Suns already have to replace lead assistant Kevin Young, who was in charge of the team’s offensive game plans. Young accepted the head coaching job at BYU two weeks ago, but agreed to remain with Phoenix through the end of its playoff run.

There’s more from Phoenix:

  • The Suns plan to keep the core of the team together and build around Booker, Durant, Beal, Grayson Allen, Jusuf Nurkic and Royce O’Neale, according to Charania and Haller. Allen recently agreed to a four-year, $70MM extension, but O’Neale, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, will have to be re-signed. The team will also be on the lookout for available veterans to help build a more professional atmosphere in the locker room, sources tell the authors.
  • John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 expects a “cooling-off period” before Ishbia makes any decisions about his coaching staff (Twitter link). He also notes that finding a traditional point guard will be necessary this offseason as neither Booker or Beal appeared fully comfortable filling that role. Gambadoro also sees a need for a backup center and more size at the wing, pointing out that Phoenix was out-rebounded by a 185-130 margin during the four-game series.
  • The Suns’ offseason options will be limited because they’re now operating under full second-apron rules, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. Among those restrictions, the team can’t aggregate players in trades or take back more money than is sent out in any deal. The Suns won’t have access to the mid-level exception and can only sign their draft picks and add players on minimum contracts.
  • Although Beal is widely considered to be untradeable with a contract that pays him $161MM over the next three seasons, Sam Vecenie of the Athletic believes the Suns could find a market if they decide to move him (Twitter link). He sees possible interest from the Kings if they lose Malik Monk in free agency, the Bulls if they trade DeMar DeRozan, or the Sixers if they can’t land a significant free agent with their available cap space. Beal still has a no-trade clause though and would have to approve any deal.