Jalen Hood-Schifino

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.”

Scotto’s Latest: Lakers, Murray, Russell, Hachimura, Brown, More

Dejounte Murray is the Lakers‘ top target as they search for a point guard before the trade deadline, but they’ll likely need to find a third team to get a deal done, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype says in a discussion about the team with Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

L.A. has discussed a deal with the Hawks involving D’Angelo Russell, rookie Jalen Hood-Schifino and the team’s next available first-round pick in 2029, according to Scotto. However, Russell has an $18.7MM player option for next season, and Atlanta doesn’t want to take back any salary beyond this year, plus there are questions about Russell’s fit alongside Trae Young.

There’s no obvious third team to make a deal work, Scotto adds. He points to the Hornets as an organization that’s willing to take unwanted contracts in return for draft assets, but notes that Russell is also an awkward fit with LaMelo Ball. The Lakers wouldn’t have another first-rounder to offer Charlotte since their 2029 pick would be going to the Hawks in the proposed deal.

Scotto mentions the Nets as a potential landing spot for Russell with Spencer Dinwiddie heading to Atlanta or L.A., but he’s skeptical of Brooklyn’s desire to add Russell. He sees the Wizards as a better option, with Tyus Jones possibly moving, but notes that a fourth team might be necessary to provide enough draft picks to make a deal work.

Buha also hears that Murray is the Lakers’ top priority, but warns that the market is constantly changing, citing this week’s trade of Terry Rozier to Miami as an example. He suggests that might increase the price for Murray and wonders if the Sixers or another team with more assets than L.A. will enter the bidding. Buha proposes that the Lakers might try to get Brooklyn involved in a Murray trade and add another asset such as Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith or Royce O’Neale.

There’s more on the Lakers’ trade market from Scotto and Buha:

  • L.A. would like to move Gabe Vincent, who’s recovering from knee surgery and still has two years left on his contract, but he currently has negative value around the league, Scotto and Buha agree. Buha points to Rui Hachimura as another player who might be involved in trade discussions, but says the Lakers would create a hole in their frontcourt by parting with him.
  • A rumored deal of Russell and Hachimura to the Bulls for Zach LaVine seems to be dead at this point, according to Scotto. Buha adds that L.A. always had more interest in DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso than LaVine, but has been reluctant to part with Austin Reaves to acquire them.
  • Executives around the league tell Scotto that it would likely take at least a first-round pick to get Malcolm Brogdon from the Trail Blazers. He also reiterates that the Cavaliers are informing teams they’re not interested in trading Donovan Mitchell.
  • Buha notes that the Lakers had interest in Bruce Brown dating back to last offseason, but it may take a third team to get involved if the Raptors don’t want Russell. He sees a Brown-Hachimura trade as a more realistic option, depending on what else L.A. would have to give up.

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.

L.A. Notes: Lakers, LaVine, Kawhi, Coffey, Westbrook

The Lakers have slumped badly since winning the in-season tournament earlier this month, losing five of their past six games, including the last four in a row, to slip to 15-14 on the season. Following a 118-111 defeat at the hands of Minnesota on Thursday night, star big man Anthony Davis called for more urgency, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes.

“It’s the NBA season. There’s going to be ups, there’s going to be downs. Right now we’re in that down period,” Davis said. “We just got to continue to fight and continue to play hard. Play with some effort, some energy and we’re treating Saturday (in Oklahoma City) as a must win.”

As Jovan Buha of The Athletic notes, Davis also spoke about the team’s recent struggles after Wednesday’s loss to Chicago, pointing out that there’s “no break coming” and no “cavalry” the team is waiting on. While LeBron James (left ankle) and Gabe Vincent (left knee) did miss Thursday’s contest, the second end of a back-to-back set, they’re expected to be available going forward.

“We’ve got everyone back now,” Davis said. “We just got to find a way to get into the win column.”

The Lakers have dealt with injuries to rotation players for most of the season, but now that they’re as healthy as they’ve been all year, Darvin Ham and his coaching staff hope to set a depth chart and rotation and stick with it “for the foreseeable future,” sources tell McMenamin.

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

  • Within his latest roundup of trade-related rumors from around the NBA, Kurt Helin of NBC Sports says the sources he has spoken to believe that a deal sending Bulls guard Zach LaVine to the Lakers is unlikely, at best. As Buha suggested at The Athletic earlier this week, Los Angeles would probably only consider a deal if the outgoing package consists of D’Angelo Russell, salary filler, and limited assets beyond that, such as Jalen Hood-Schifino and a protected first-round pick.
  • Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard missed his first game of the season on Thursday night, as the team ruled out him due to a left hip contusion, which head coach Tyronn Lue referred to as a “day-to-day thing,” per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter links). Amir Coffey drew the start at Oklahoma City in what turned out to be the team’s first loss this month — the Clippers have a 9-1 record in December.
  • Clippers guard Russell Westbrook has seen his role reduced since James Harden‘s arrival in Los Angeles, but Westbrook remains supremely confident in his abilities, as Greif details for The L.A. Times. After a strong defensive performance against Luka Doncic and the Mavericks on Wednesday, Westbrook said he can “do anything on the floor at all times” and suggested he wants his due as a defender. “Ain’t too many people defending better than me at this point if we keeping it honest,” he said. “But I’ll let the numbers speak for that and let y’all talk about it. But we just keeping it a buck, ain’t too many people defending better than me at this position all around the league, honestly.”

The Lakers Players Who Benefited Most From IST Prize Money

The Lakers‘ team salary this season is just above the $165.3MM luxury tax line, far exceeding the $126MM or so on the Pacers‘ books.

However, not a single player on Indiana’s roster is on a minimum-salary contract and only four Pacers players on standard deals are earning less than $5MM this season. By comparison, Los Angeles has eight players with cap hits below that $5MM threshold, including five earning the minimum.

While the $500K bonus for winning the NBA’s in-season tournament (IST) may be a drop in the bucket for maximum-salary stars like LeBron James and Anthony Davis, it serves as a significant pay raise for the players on the lower half of the Lakers’ cap sheet, as well as the players on two-way contracts who will receive bonuses worth $250K.

Here are the Lakers players for whom the NBA Cup prize money represents more than a 10% raise on their 2023/24 base salary, which is noted in parentheses:

Players receiving a $500K bonus:

Players receiving a $250K bonus:

The bonuses for Lewis and the Lakers’ two-way players represent a raise of roughly 44.7% on their respective base salaries.

The Lakers’ coaching staff also benefited financially from their in-season tournament success. Head coach Darvin Ham earned the same $500K bonus that his players did, while his assistant coaches divvied up $375K in bonus money.

The Pacers’ players and head coach Rick Carlisle went home with bonuses worth $200K (or $100K for two-way players).

None of this prize money will count against the salary cap, so the Lakers’ team salary for cap purposes remains unchanged, as do the team salaries for Indiana and the other six clubs who made the knockout round of the IST.

L.A. Notes: Westbrook, George, LeBron, Hood-Schifino

The Clippers are 2-0 since moving Russell Westbrook from the starting lineup to the bench. The veteran point guard hasn’t been at his best in those two victories, shooting just 6-of-20 (30.0%) from the floor. Still, head coach Tyronn Lue – who wants Westbrook to play out of the post and to bring more pace to the second unit – likes what he has seen from the new-look rotation so far, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times.

“It’s an adjustment period for him. Being a starter with (Paul George) and Kawhi (Leonard), it’s a little different, but he’s come along great, and it’s good,” Lue said, adding that Westbrook is “the guy who needs the ball in his hands to create and make plays and in that second unit it’s been good for us.”

As Greif writes, Lue has been staggering George’s minutes in order to play him with the second unit, and that group has benefited from the chemistry that the two former Thunder stars have established during their time together in both Oklahoma City and Los Angeles. For his part, Westbrook is attempting to take his role change in stride, telling reporters that his goals when he’s on the court haven’t changed.

“Just going out and doing whatever’s best for our team to be able to win games, and that’s it,” Westbrook said.

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

  • Even though the win came against the last-place Spurs, Monday’s 25-point blowout helped cement the Clippers‘ belief that they’re starting to getting comfortable following a stretch in which, in James Harden‘s words, it “felt like nothing could go right,” Greif writes for The L.A. Times. “We expect to win coming into games now,” George said. “I think we have gone through the rough patch of how to play, what it looks like and we found success in who we are.”
  • The NBA’s oldest player is showing no signs of slowing down — Lakers star LeBron James is shooting a career-best 58.6% from the field so far this season and is coming off a 37-point masterpiece in a one-point win over Houston on Sunday. “Just trying to push the limit,” James said following Sunday’s victory, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. “See how far I can take this thing. I don’t know. I mean, it’s me vs. Father Time.”
  • Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times throws some cold water on the Lakers‘ win against Houston, suggesting that it’s not a great sign – and not particularly sustainable – that the team needs to lean so heavily on James to eke out victories. As Hernandez notes, the Lakers indicated at the start of the season that they wanted to limit LeBron to about 28-30 minutes per night when possible. He has averaged 34.4 MPG through 13 games and logged fewer than 30 minutes in just three of those contests. The team still hopes to reduce James’ workload once the roster is healthier, sources tell ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
  • While he didn’t end up playing on Sunday, Lakers rookie Jalen Hood-Schifino was active for the first time after missing the team’s first 13 games of the season due to a right patella contusion, notes Khobi Price of The Southern California News Group. Hood-Schifino appears unlikely to be part of the regular rotation as a rookie unless players ahead of him on the depth chart go down with injuries.

L.A. Notes: George, Vincent, Hood-Schifino, Davis, Harden, More

The NBA fined Clippers star Paul George $35K on Thursday for criticizing the officiating in L.A.’s Tuesday loss to Denver, the league announced in a release (Twitter link).

I thought we played great. It’s tough, the adversity of playing against the extra three,” George said. “I thought they were awful but (against) the defending champs, we’ve got to play better. So many times I got hit on layups, 3-pointers. It was constant. Jump shots, getting hit, smacked on the forearm. It was a poor job.

According to the NBA’s statement, the amount of the fine was based partly on George’s history of public criticism of officiating. George has been fined three prior times for the same offense, most recently in February 2020, which was also for $35K. His other two fines were for $25K and $10K.

The fine came on the heels of a three-point loss against Denver in which George scored 35 points. George, 33, is averaging 24.7 points in his first 10 games this season. As always, he’s connecting on a blistering clip from deep, shooting 39.0% on 8.2 attempts beyond the arc.

We have more from the teams out of Los Angeles:

  • Lakers guard Gabe Vincent is progressing from his left knee injury and will be reevaluated in two weeks, tweets The Athletic’s Jovan Buha. Vincent hasn’t played since Oct. 30. He’s averaging 6.0 points and 3.0 assists in four games this year. Buha adds that rookie guard Jalen Hood-Schifino, who hasn’t yet made his NBA debut while dealing with a right patella contusion, has begun a return-to-play progression.
  • The $500K-per-player reward for the league’s in-season tournament holds significant appeal to Lakers star center Anthony Davis, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (Twitter link). “$500 [thousand] sounds real good to us,” Davis said. “It’s going to bring that juice, you know what I mean? … I heard one of our players, I’m not going to say who but he was like, ‘Man, when we beat Phoenix, ‘That’s one step closer to this $500. I’ve never had that before.’ So it’s like, that’s a little extra motivation.
  • The Clippers are in the midst of a six-game losing streak, having lost all five since trading for James Harden, prompting Sportsnaut’s Mark Medina to explore whether the trade was worth it for the Clips. Medina argues that while it’s easy to point to their 3-1 start before acquiring Harden as an indication that the Clippers are worse with him, they’re simply ironing out having four high-profile players. Harden’s passivity in games so far indicates he’s taking time to learn the system, and they have awareness to fix these issues. Ultimately, Medina reasons the Harden acquisition gives the Clippers a higher ceiling than the rotation pieces they sent out, especially if or when Kawhi Leonard or George have to miss time.
  • The Lakers have been up and down through their first 12 games and their lackluster play is cause for concern, according to The Orange County Register’s Mirjam Swanson. They’re 6-6 and while the Lakers had a worse start last season, the issues this time around are much different, Swanson argues, especially considering they largely ran back the group they acquired at the deadline last year that powered them to the Western Conference Finals. Some of the Lakers’ issues include conceding second-chance points (their 18.4 per game allowed are the worst in the league), as well as getting beat by an NBA-worst 6.8 points per first quarter.

Pacific Notes: Len, Hood-Schifino, Tucker, Harden

Kings reserve center Alex Len has been diagnosed with a moderate high right ankle sprain, James Ham of The Kings Beat relays (Twitter link). Len underwent an MRI after suffering the injury against Cleveland on Monday. He was ruled out for Wednesday’s game against the Lakers and the club will provide further updates when appropriate.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers rookie guard Jalen Hood-Schifino has yet to make his NBA debut but he’s getting closer. Sidelined by a right patella contusion, Hood-Schifino went through full-court drills on Tuesday, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin tweets in a video post. The 17th pick of the draft out of Indiana University, Hood-Schifino could see immediate playing time with Gabe Vincent out with a knee injury.
  • Clippers forward P.J. Tucker is used to playing 25-to-30 minutes per night, but has only averaged 14.4 minutes in five games since being traded by Philadelphia in the James Harden blockbuster. Tucker is hoping that changes soon, but is willing to do what the team asks of him, he told Janis Carr of the Orange County Register. “I went from 30 minutes starting to playing 10 minutes coming off the bench,” Tucker said. “It’s a huge adjustment for me. I probably have the most adjustment than anybody, but I’m a professional. I come in and do my job every night, do my job and leave it out there on the court in the time I get.”
  • Don’t give up on the Clippers, even if they’ve lost five straight in the aftermath of the Harden trade, Michael Pina of The Ringer writes. He argues that the strong connection between Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and the team’s overall talent will supersede any chemistry issues created by Harden’s presence.

L.A. Notes: Harden, Clippers, Hayes, Prince, Vincent, Lakers

James Harden will be on some sort of minutes restriction in his Clippers debut on Monday against the Knicks, Adam Zagoria relays in a NJ.com story.

“There will probably be something,” coach Tyronn Lue said of limiting Harden’s minutes. “We don’t want to just jump right into it and play him crazy minutes, so we’ll just talk to the medical staff and just see what’s best.”

Harden will also have to adjust to being off the ball on a majority of possessions when he’s sharing the backcourt with Russell Westbrook.

“That’s what we talked about the last two or three days, is just when they’re on the floor together, just making sure James is off the ball and let Russ be more of the point guard,” Lue said.

We have more on the Los Angeles teams:

  • Jaxson Hayes is listed as questionable for the Lakers’ road game against the Heat on Monday due to a sprained left ankle, Khobi Price of the Orange County Register tweets. Rui Hachimura, Gabe Vincent, Jalen Hood-Schifino and Jarred Vanderbilt are already listed as out due to a variety of injuries. However, Taurean Prince is not on the injury report after missing the last two games due to a knee injury.
  • Vincent won’t be able to play against his former team because of a knee injury, but he indicated he wanted to return to Miami during free agency. Vincent’s stock rose during the postseason, putting him out of the Heat‘s price range, according to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. “I think I had a good playoff run, and I think that changed my value,” Vincent said. “I think once that changed, it just became more difficult. I think Miami wanted me to be there. I think I was naturally looking to return to the team I just had a Finals run with and the team I had been with for the last three or four seasons. It’s unfortunate it didn’t work out. But my value had changed.” Vincent joined the Lakers on a three-year, $33MM deal.
  • The Lakers have been outscored 117-54 in second-chance points through six games and coach Darvin Ham says it’s simply a matter of effort and positioning, Price writes. “You can’t scheme rebounding,” Ham said. “You’ve got to want to get the ball. Plain and simple. The shot goes up, if your opponent is in your area, you’ve got to get hits, put bodies on bodies and be the most aggressive one to the ball. That’s it. There’s no play I can draw up to get more rebounds.”

Injury Updates: Lakers, Vassell, Booker, J. Murray

The Lakers were missing a few rotation players for Saturday’s 19-point road loss to Orlando. Prior to the game, head coach Darvin Ham offered updates on those injured players, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN relays (via Twitter).

According to Ham, the Lakers anticipate having Rui Hachimura (concussion) and Taurean Prince (left patellar tendonitis) back “sooner rather than later,” whereas the return of Jarred Vanderbilt (left heel bursitis) figures to come “later rather than sooner.” Ham added that rookie Jalen Hood-Schifino, who is dealing with a right patella contusion, is “still a few weeks out.”

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • The Spurs got good news on Devin Vassell, who underwent an MRI this week on a groin injury. According to Andrew Lopez of ESPN, the fourth-year swingman was diagnosed with a mild left adductor strain and will be considered day-to-day. While Vassell has been ruled out for Sunday’s game vs. Toronto, it sounds like he may not miss as much time as initially feared.
  • Suns guard Devin Booker has been downgraded to out for Sunday’s game in Detroit, tweets Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports. As Bourguet notes (via Twitter), Booker is now dealing with a right calf strain after already battling a toe injury and a left ankle sprain this fall. He has been limited to just two regular season appearances so far.
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray left Saturday’s win over Chicago in the second quarter due to right hamstring tightness. While the team has yet to issue a formal update on Murray’s status going forward, head coach Michael Malone expressed some concern about the nature of the ailment, as Bennett Durando of The Denver Post (subscriber link) writes. “You always worry about those types of injuries, because they can stick around for a while,” Malone said. “So we have to be smart about it.”