Jarred Vanderbilt

Pacific Notes: Vanderbilt, Warriors, Howard, Morris

Lakers power forward Jarred Vanderbilt holds the unusual distinction of being traded away from two different teams by the same executive. When Tim Connelly ran the Nuggets, he sent Vanderbilt to Minnesota as part of a four-team trade at the 2020 deadline. He did the same thing last summer as the Timberwolves’ president of basketball operations, shipping Vanderbilt to Utah in the Rudy Gobert deal.

“(Timberwolves) got a new president/GM. Same one that came from (the Nuggets),” Vanderbilt said on the Tidal League “Run Your Race” podcast (video link from ClutchPoints). “… He traded me to Minnesota, then he got to Minnesota, traded me again to (the Jazz). I’m like ‘damn.’”

Things worked out fine for Vanderbilt, who played an important role in the Lakers’ run to the Western Conference Finals and was recently rewarded with a four-year, $48MM extension. On the same podcast, Vanderbilt addressed rumors that he has grown over the summer (hat tip to Fan Nation).

“They saying I’m 6’11” now. … I don’t know,” Vanderbilt said. “That’s what the streets saying, I’m just the messenger.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Minority investors who own a little more than 10% of the Warriors are looking to sell their shares in the team, according to Giles Turner and Randall Williams of Bloomberg. They are reportedly asking for $700MM, which would put the team’s valuation at an NBA record $7 billion. The Warriors refused to confirm the rumor, issuing a statement that reads, “Per our organization policy, we do not comment on the potential sale or non-sale of ownership among our investment group.”
  • Dwight Howard posted a cryptic tweet on Saturday after the Warriors reportedly decided not to sign him or any other big man before the start of training camp. The 37-year-old center had two days of interviews with the team and worked out with some of its veteran players this week. “Only as a WARRIOR can one withstand the path of knowledge,” Howard wrote. “A WARRIOR cannot complain or regret anything. His life is an endless challenge. And challenges cannot possibly be good or bad. Challenges are simply challenges.”
  • Marcus Morris‘ situation with the Clippers appears unsettled, but he won’t consider staying away from the team the way that Jae Crowder did with the Suns, sources tell Law Murray of The Athletic. Morris started all 65 games he appeared in last season, but Murray called him “unplayable” after Paul George was lost with a knee injury. Murray notes that Morris was brought in to be the third scoring option for a team without a ball-dominant point guard, but there’s no longer a need for that since the acquisition of Russell Westbrook.

Pacific Notes: Vanderbilt, Lillard, Suns

Jarred Vanderbilt‘s new four-year extension with the Lakers has a relatively straightforward structure, as Keith Smith of Spotrac notes (Twitter link). The 6’9″ forward will receive standard 8% pay bumps across each season in the deal.

Vanderbilt will earn $10.7MM in 2024/25, $11.6MM in 2025/26, $12.4MM in 2026/27, and $13.3MM in 2027/28. The final season of the deal in 2027/28 is a player option.

Across 26 regular season contests with L.A., the Kentucky product averaged 7.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.6 APG and 1.2 SPG while providing his signature versatile, high-motor defense.

Vanderbilt’s impact was dulled during the postseason, where he saw his minutes slashed from 24.0 MPG to 16.5. His output suffered as well. He averaged 4.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.7 SPG, and 0.9 BPG in 15 games.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • During a new conversation on the podcast It Is What It Is from Cam’ron, Ma$e & Treasure “Stat Baby” Wilson (YouTube video link), Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard explained why he isn’t interested in playing for his hometown Warriors. “As far as like Golden State, I respect what they’ve been doing over the last eight, nine years or whatever and I’m from there obviously,” Lillard said (hat tip to HoopsHype for the transcript). “But I can’t be a part of that. They’ve won four championships… Like what would I look like going to try to do that and say, ‘Oh I’m joining my home team.’ Like no. It’s somebody that played my position that’s behind LeBron the best player of this era. It don’t even make sense. I never do nothing like that. I’d lose every year before I’d go.”
  • New Suns play-by-play commentator John Bloom spoke at length about his latest gig with Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Bloom is replacing legendary broadcaster Al McCoy, who previously held the gig for 51 seasons. “My style is an energetic combo of old school nuts-and-bolts hoops description with a unique punch of new school flavor featuring references to hip hop and pop culture,” Bloom said. He is bullish on a star-studded Phoenix team’s 2023/24 season. “As for this Suns roster, are you kidding me?” Bloom said. “Did somebody create this one on 2K and convert it to real life, because it looks like it on paper. I can’t wait to see this group come together and am so pumped to get this show started.”
  • In case you missed it, the Clippers reportedly ceased James Harden trade talks with the Sixers.

Lakers Sign Jarred Vanderbilt To Four-Year Extension

SEPTEMBER 18: The Lakers have put out a press release officially announcing Vanderbilt’s extension.

SEPTEMBER 15: The Lakers and forward Jarred Vanderbilt are in agreement on a four-year contract extension that will be worth $48MM, agents Rich Paul and Erika Ruiz tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Charania, the deal will be fully guaranteed, with a fourth-year player option.

Vanderbilt, who became extension-eligible last week, was entering the final year of his current contract, a team-friendly deal that will pay him just shy of $4.7MM in 2023/24. The extension will keep him under club control through at least the 2026/27 season, with the player option applying to ’27/28.

The NBA’s veteran extension rules typically allow players to receive up to 140% of their previous salary in the first year of an extension. However, players like Vanderbilt who are earning less than the league’s estimated average salary are eligible to receive up to 140% of the average salary. That rule will allow him to receive an eight-digit starting salary in his extension, more than doubling his previous cap hit.

Vanderbilt, 24, has played for the Nuggets, Timberwolves, Jazz, and Lakers since being drafted 41st overall in 2018. He’s a relatively limited offensive player – his 7.9 points per game in 2022/23 represented a career high – but is a talented, versatile defender who rebounds well (7.5 RPG in 24.1 MPG last season).

Vanderbilt is expected to play a major rotation role for the Lakers again this season after being acquired along with D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley in the trade-deadline deal that sent Russell Westbrook to Utah. He started 24 of 26 regular season games for Los Angeles following that trade, averaging 24.0 minutes per night.

Having entered the offseason with only LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Vanderbilt, and Max Christie under contract for 2023/24, the Lakers have locked in several key players to multiyear deals this summer. Like Vanderbilt, Davis signed an extension that will be guaranteed through at least 2027, while Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves, and Gabe Vincent all signed free agent contracts that include three guaranteed seasons.

Including James and Russell, who both have players option decisions to make next summer, the Lakers now project to have seven players earning eight-figure salaries in 2024/25, notes Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype (Twitter link).

Since Vanderbilt’s new deal will exceed the extend-and-trade limits, he’ll be ineligible to be traded for six months, meaning the Lakers won’t be able to move him during the 2023/24 season.

Pacific Notes: McGee, Warriors, Kings, Vanderbilt, Vogel

The Kings beat out the Warriors for free agent center JaVale McGee, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic, who suggests both Pacific clubs were in pursuit of the big man after he was waived by Dallas last week.

McGee’s new deal with Sacramento is only for one year and is worth the veteran’s minimum, but it’s fully guaranteed. It’s unclear whether or not Golden State was willing to offer a fully guaranteed contract to the former Warrior. According to Amick, the Kings envision McGee playing a “significant” role in 2023/24 if he shows he’s capable of handling it.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • The Stockton Kings – Sacramento’s G League affiliate – announced in a press release on Thursday that they’ve acquired Skal Labissiere‘s returning rights from the Mexico City Capitanes in a three-team trade that sent DJ Steward‘s rights to the Maine Celtics. Labissiere has agreed to sign an Exhibit 10 contract with the Kings, while Steward has reached an agreement on an Exhibit 10 deal with the Celtics. This trade will ensure both players are in line to receive their Exhibit 10 bonuses.
  • Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt became extension-eligible on Thursday, notes Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Vanderbilt, whose maximum extension would be $75MM over four years, will be an unrestricted free agent in 2024 if he doesn’t sign a new contract before then.
  • In a two-part interview with Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic, new Suns head coach Frank Vogel discussed several topics, including the philosophy he’ll bring to his new job and what he’s looking for in Phoenix’s fifth starter alongside Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, and Deandre Ayton. “We’ll have a lot of guys that have an opportunity to be that fifth guy,” Vogel said. “The versatility of maybe being able to guard multiple positions or maybe it’s an elite shooter. Maybe it’s just another play-maker. I think we have a lot of guys with a lot of different skill sets and we’ll put a lot of different combinations throughout the year.”

Lakers Notes: Wood, Davis, Frontcourt Minutes

Part of the reason it took Christian Wood so long to find a new team in free agency is he was waiting to see what would happen with the trade requests made by Damian Lillard and James Harden, sources tell Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

As Buha explains, Wood might have found an opportunity for more playing time and/or more money had one of the stars been moved, but since there hasn’t been much — if any — traction in either of those situations, he decided to join the Lakers on a two-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum (the second year is a player option).

Team sources tell Buha the “early expectation” is that Wood will come off the bench as L.A.’s primary backup center, with Rui Hachimura likely to start in the frontcourt alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Wood’s ability to space the floor should open up some two-big pairings, with Davis sliding down to power forward at times after spending last season exclusively playing center.

Wood’s addition could also reduce the minutes and roles of Jarred Vanderbilt and Jaxson Hayes, Buha adds. Vanderbilt was a rotation regular after being acquired from Utah in February, while Hayes signed as a free agent this summer after spending the past four seasons with New Orleans.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • In a statement to Marc J. Spears of Andscape (Twitter link), Wood says his relationship with head coach Darvin Ham — the two briefly worked together on the Bucks — was a factor in signing with the Lakers. “We’ve had great conversations everyday about this opportunity,” Wood wrote. “He believes in me and told me I’ll be playing a big role and knows what I can do.” The former Mavericks big man added that he was “motivated after what Dallas did,” though he didn’t specify what he meant.
  • While there are some risks to signing Wood, the Lakers believe they’re the right organization to bring out the best in the talented scorer, writes Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. Having better defensive personnel around Wood might help mitigate some of his shortcomings on that end, Woike notes.
  • The Lakers prioritized finding depth at center because Davis told the team he didn’t want to spend all his regular-season minutes manning the middle, sources tell ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. Davis signed a three-year, maximum-salary extension last month to remain with L.A. long term, so there was motivation from both sides to find another big man to help ease his workload.

Lakers Notes: Wood, Hachimura, Vanderbilt, Reddish

Anthony Davis played with Christian Wood in New Orleans, while Lakers head coach Darvin Ham briefly worked with Wood as an assistant in Milwaukee, notes Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. Davis’ and Ham’s familiarity with the free agent big man is one reason why the Lakers targeted him as soon as it became clear he might be attainable for the veteran’s minimum.

[RELATED: Christian Wood Agrees To Two-Year Contract With Lakers]

Although Wood remained on the free agent market for more than two months, he’ll likely enter Los Angeles’ training camp as a candidate to start, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who suggests Wood will battle Rui Hachimura and Jarred Vanderbilt for a role in the starting five.

Even if he ends up as a reserve, Wood projects to be Davis’ primary backup in the middle and should play approximately 20 minutes per night, Buha writes. He’ll also provide important insurance if Davis has to miss time due to an injury. Given that AD hasn’t played more than 62 games in a season since 2017/18, that’s a pretty viable scenario.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Team sources tell Buha that the Lakers’ roster will likely be set once Wood’s deal is official. That doesn’t mean that the team won’t bring a few more players to training camp on Exhibit 10 contracts, but it means L.A.’s 14 players on guaranteed contracts and three on two-way deals should be the ones who make up the opening-night regular season roster.
  • Shortly after word of Wood’s agreement with the Lakers broke on Tuesday night, he tweeted, “It’s always been my dream to be a Laker.”
  • Recapping the Lakers’ offseason and previewing their upcoming season, Shaun Powell of NBA.com praises the job that head of basketball operations Rob Pelinka has done in 2023 to add complementary talent around LeBron James and Davis, suggesting that whether or not the club contends for a title this season will ultimately be up to those two superstars.
  • In a video clip posted on the Lakers’ official Twitter account, newcomer Cam Reddish said that he’s “really looking forward to” playing with James and Davis. “Two Hall of Fame players,” Reddish said. “I’m just trying to be a sponge, learn everything that I can.”

Lakers Notes: Rotation, Point Guards, Christie, Hayes, Davis

Breaking down the Lakers‘ potential lineup decisions for the 2023/24 season, Jovan Buha of The Athletic forecasts a 10-man rotation, led by stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

At this point, Buha favors incumbent Lakers D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, and Rui Hachimura – all of whom signed lucrative new contracts this offseason – to fill out the starting lineup. He predicts the 10-man rotation will be filled out by Jarred Vanderbilt, Max Christie, and newcomers Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, and Jaxson Hayes.

As Buha notes, the Lakers will want to avoid overworking James and Davis to ensure that they’re healthy for the playoffs, so players outside his projected 10-man rotation, including free agent addition Cam Reddish and rookies Jalen Hood-Schifino and Maxwell Lewis, could get a chance to earn some minutes too.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Although Buha has Russell penciled in as the starting point guard, he acknowledges that could change, observing that Vincent’s 3-and-D skill set is a better fit next to the Lakers’ stars. It’s a “coin flip” as to who will end up as the go-to point guard, Buha writes, suggesting that both players will have important roles.
  • Christie is the most difficult Laker to project for the 2023/24 season, says Buha. If he breaks out like he believes he can, he should have no problem securing a spot as the eighth or ninth man in the rotation. If not, he may end up battling Reddish for minutes as the 10th man.
  • According to Buha, the Lakers hope that Hayes will be able to start alongside Davis in scenarios when the team opts to roll with a two-big lineup. However, Buha doesn’t foresee a major regular role for Hayes, noting that there are only so many frontcourt minutes to go around as long as James, Davis, Hachimura, and Vanderbilt are healthy. If the Lakers were to sign another free agent center such as Christian Wood or Bismack Biyombo, Hayes’ spot in the regular rotation would be even less certain, though injuries and/or load management could ultimately open the door for him to play frequently.
  • In the latest Hoop Collective podcast (YouTube link), ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Tim Bontemps, and Tim MacMahon discuss the fact that Davis will become extension-eligible later this week and consider the odds of he and the Lakers working out a deal before the season begins. Windhorst doesn’t necessarily expect the two sides to reach a deal immediately, but believes there’s mutual interest in working something out. “There’s no time crunch. He doesn’t have to make a decision by August 5 or anything,” Windhorst said. “But I do think there is an expectation that the Lakers do make some sort of offer this week, or at least show their intention to make such an offer.”

Lakers Guarantee Jarred Vanderbilt’s Full Salary for 2023/24

The Lakers are guaranteeing Jarred Vanderbilt‘s $4,698,000 salary for next season, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin tweets.

Acquired from Utah at the trade deadline, Vanderbilt immediately jumped into the starting lineup and averaged 7.2 points and 6.7 rebounds in 26 games after joining the Lakers. He also averaged 4.6 points and 3.2 rebounds in 15 postseason contests, including 13 starts.

His contract only had a partial guarantee of $300K for 2023/24. The Lakers had until Friday to decide whether to guarantee his full salary, but there was little doubt they’d want to retain a 24-year-old rotation player at a team-friendly price.

Vanderbilt was included as part of a three-team blockbuster deal involving the Lakers, Jazz and Timberwolves.

He is eligible for a contract extension worth up to four years and a projected $71MM, starting on Sept. 7, per McMenamin.

As our list of early salary guarantee dates shows, the Lakers will also have to make a decision later this week on whether or not to guarantee Mohamed Bamba‘s $10.3MM salary for ’23/24.

Lakers Notes: Russell, Game 4, Strategy, Injuries

For all the adjustments Lakers coach Darvin Ham has made in the playoffs, he has remained committed to keeping D’Angelo Russell in his starting lineup, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. Russell has been a starter since he was acquired from the Timberwolves in February, and Ham indicated that he’s likely to remain in that role even though he hasn’t played well in the first three games against Denver.

“Sometimes the greatest adjustment is just to play better,” Ham said at Sunday’s practice. “Play harder. Play better. Sometimes that’s the most key adjustment. It’s funny, (how) it’s almost becoming cliché. (People say), ‘What’s your adjustments, adjustments, adjustments?’ Sometimes you go in there, and you take a long, hard look at the film to clean up what you need to clean up, and you try to do what you’re doing better.”

Russell is averaging 7.0 PPG in the Western Conference Finals while shooting 29.6% from the field and 14.3% from three-point range. The Nuggets are also targeting him on defense to get easy scoring opportunities. While a recent report indicated the Lakers are concerned about the possible long-term effects of taking away Russell’s starting job, Ham said he still believes in his point guard, who was effective in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

“We know he can make those shots,” Ham said. “So the biggest thing is not to get depressed, not to get down, continue to be aggressive, continue to be assertive, and eventually that ball will go in.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Facing the nearly impossible task of winning a playoff series after falling behind 3-0, the Lakers have narrowed their focus to just getting a victory Monday night, per Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Historically, NBA teams with that deficit are 0-149, but Ham doesn’t want his players to believe the situation is hopeless. “We’re alive, man. The series is not over,” he said. “… The only thing we have to do is just focus on one game. We don’t have to be overwhelmed about the outside noise or the overall series. We just have to worry about one game, what’s exactly in front of us.”
  • The Lakers may want to use Jarred Vanderbilt or another tall defender to slow down Jamal Murray, who has strung together two 37-point games, suggests Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Zillgitt offers a few other strategy recommendations, including larger roles in the offense for LeBron James and Austin Reaves.
  • James (right foot stress injury) and Anthony Davis (right foot soreness) are the only names on the Lakers’ injury report for Game 4 and they’re both listed as probable, Turner tweets.

Lakers Notes: Role Players, Russell, Bamba, KCP, James

Among the many issues the Lakers face as they try to dig themselves out of a 3-0 hole in the Western Conference Finals is the lack of production from their role players, Janis Carr of the Orange County Register writes.

Beyond their two superstars and Austin Reaves, the Lakers got modest contributions from the remaining members of the rotation in Game 3 against the Nuggets. D’Angelo Russell (three points), Dennis Schröder (five points) and Jarred Vanderbilt (two points) were non-factors offensively.

“I thought they did the best they could, all of them,” coach Darvin Ham said. “They competed. I’m disappointed but I’m not upset. Yeah, it sucks to lose, but those guys, they fought their hearts out. They tried to do it. They tried to execute what we gave them.”

We have more on the Lakers:

  • Russell admitted he’s baffled by his ineffective play, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. Russell, who’s headed to free agency, shot just 1-for-8 from the field on Saturday. “I really don’t. I don’t know,” he said when asked about how his approach needs to change. “I’ll try to figure it out.” He’s averaging just 7.0 points in the series after contributing 14.7 PPG in the second round against Golden State.
  • The Lakers will have another frontcourt option for Game 4 on Monday. Mohamed Bamba is expected to be available, Ham told Chris Haynes of TNT (Twitter link). Bamba, who has appeared in only three postseason games due to a left ankle injury, hasn’t played since Game 6 in the first round against Memphis.
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s defensive contributions and 3-point shot-making were often taken for granted during the Lakers’ 2020 title run at the Orlando bubble. His all-around contributions for the Nuggets in this series are a painful reminder of the ill-fated Russell Westbrook trade in 2021, which included Caldwell-Pope as part of the package, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN notes. KCP is averaging 15.3 points on 51.4% shooting in the series.
  • LeBron James is showing his age by his inability to carry the Lakers in this series, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times opines. James played well enough in Game 3 but wasn’t great, and he needed to be great to bridge the gap that exists between the Nuggets and Lakers.