Jaxson Hayes

Lakers Notes: Davis, Playoff Picture, Hayes, LeBron

Anthony Davis left Sunday night’s game with another injury to his left eye, but the Lakers are optimistic that he’ll be available Tuesday against Golden State, a source tells Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Davis was hurt when Minnesota’s Kyle Anderson accidentally struck him in the face on a putback dunk late in the first quarter. He went to the locker room to have it examined and didn’t return.

“He’s extremely valuable,” coach Darvin Ham said. “Everyone around here knows that. Everything he brings on both sides of the ball, it’s tough. Already being without (LeBron James) and seeing him go out, it’s tough. But my hat’s off to our guys. They didn’t feel sorry for themselves. They kept competing all the way through.”

It’s the second eye issue in less than a month for Davis, who suffered a corneal abrasion in a March 16 game. McMenamin’s sources say Davis had to be treated by a specialist last month as his eye was swollen shut and his vision was impaired.

“I just couldn’t see,” Davis said of the original injury. “The corneal abrasion was actually right in the middle of my eye. It wasn’t like off to the side. So anytime I looked it was blurry. My eye was swollen. I thought my eye was like, [torn] open. But it wasn’t. It kept watering. It just felt like sand was in my eye.”

There’s more from Los Angeles:

  • It’s still possible for the Lakers to escape the play-in tournament, but Sunday’s loss makes it much more difficult, McMenamin adds. At 45-34, L.A. is a game-and-a-half behind Phoenix and New Orleans, and trails Sacramento by a game in the loss column as well. D’Angelo Russell is confident about the team’s postseason prospects no matter where it ends up. “I think we just finish this season strong, finish these games strong and whoever we match up with, we go full force,” Russell said. “I don’t think we care about the teams that are doing well versus how they’re going to look in the playoffs. It’s experience versus inexperience in the playoffs, that kind of gets you over the hump. So I like our chances versus anybody.”
  • With Davis sidelined, Jaxson Hayes played more than 32 minutes and provided 19 points, 10 rebounds and a career-best five steals. Hayes holds a $2.5MM player option for next season, and Russell believes he’ll have suitors if he decides to test free agency, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “He’s gonna make a lot of money this summer playing on this stage,” Russell said.
  • On his latest Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst predicts that James will turn down his player option for next season and seek a no-trade clause in a new deal with the Lakers (hat tip to Bleacher Report). “If he extends the contract he’s in or picks up that option, extends onto it, he can’t get a no-trade clause,” Windhorst explains. “And I think for a number of different reasons, LeBron would like, ask for, and probably be granted a no-trade clause.”

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.

Lakers Notes: Trade Market, Reaves, Vanderbilt, Hachimura, Vincent

The Lakers will be patient about assessing potential trades, team sources tell Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Numerous injuries have made it difficult to evaluate the current roster, so the front office will continue to study the type of moves that need to be made and wait to see what opportunities might develop if teams such as the Raptors, Wizards, Jazz, Nets or Hornets decide to have a “fire sale” before the February deadline, according to Buha.

December 15 marks the unofficial start of trade season as most of the free agents who signed this summer will become eligible to be moved. For L.A., that list includes D’Angelo Russell, Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, Cam Reddish, Christian Wood and Jaxson Hayes. Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves will become trade-eligible a month later.

Buha notes that the Lakers have already been linked to Zach LaVine in trade rumors, along with fellow Bulls DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso. But it appears any deal may be a couple of months away.

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Finding the best role for Reaves should be one of coach Darvin Ham‘s priorities for the rest of the season, Buha states in the same story. Reaves began the season as a starter, but he has put up better stats since being moved to a sixth-man role. Buha says the early-season slump could have been caused by fatigue from playing for Team USA in the World Cup or it could have been a result of adapting to more minutes at point guard. Regardless, Ham will eventually have to settle on a fifth starter from a group that includes Reaves, Prince, Reddish and Max Christie.
  • Meeting with reporters before tonight’s game, Ham confirmed that Jarred Vanderbilt will make his season debut after missing 20 games with bursitis in his left heel, Buha tweets. Hachimura has been medically cleared after missing the past four games following surgery for a nasal fracture, but Ham said “it’s more of a touch-and-feel thing with Rui” regarding how much he will play.
  • Vincent has only appeared in four games because of a left knee effusion, but he’s getting closer to a return, Ham added, saying that he’s lifting weights, shooting and running on an anti-gravity treadmill (Twitter link). “He’s progressing along,” Ham said. “Not as of yet, but he’s progressing really, really good.”

Lakers Notes: Davis, Wood, Hayes, LeBron, Reddish, Reaves, Russell

Anthony Davis‘ desire to spend less time at center was behind the Lakers‘ decision to add Christian Wood and Jaxson Hayes, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Davis has long preferred to play power forward, which enables him to take advantage of his mobility and requires less battling for position against other big men. He expressed that to the Lakers’ front office this summer, and they responded by signing Hayes in July and Wood in September.

It’s an arrangement with the potential to work out well for everyone involved, McMenamin notes. Even though Davis has started at center in every game he has played, he’s playing there less often as he and Wood have been finishing games together. Hayes and Wood each signed two-year deals with a player option, so they have a chance to raise their values and return to free agency in 2024.

Second-year coach Darvin Ham has adjusted to the new roster, and he understands management’s desire to keep one of its stars happy.

“I don’t get caught up in it,” Ham said about Davis’ dealings with the front office. “I know what he means about wanting to have his skill set be diversified on the floor. I get that part, and we are on the same page.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • A left calf contusion caused LeBron James to miss his first game of the season Sunday night, per Buster Holmes of ESPN. James was originally listed as questionable before being downgraded later in the day. “He has some issues with that shin that (got) kneed in the last game, so, (we’re) just being proactive,” Ham explained. “No reason to run him in the ground this early. But it’s an opportunity where he can get some treatment (and) not force it.”
  • Cam Reddish is getting the biggest opportunity of his NBA career after replacing Austin Reaves in the Lakers’ starting lineup, notes Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times. Reddish admits his confidence was waning after frustrating experiences with the Hawks, Knicks and Trail Blazers, but his Lakers teammates have been working to prop him up as he takes on an important role. “We know the type of talent he is,” Davis said. “He can be a big-time player for us and he has shown that, what we want from him, in the past couple of games.”
  • Jovan Buha of The Athletic wonders why Ham decided to remove Reaves from the starting lineup rather than D’Angelo Russell. The former starting backcourt was a bad fit together, but Buha points out that Reaves is one of only three Lakers with a contract that extends past three seasons.

Lakers Notes: Reaves, Reddish, LeBron, Davis, Hayes, Problems

The Lakers made a fairly surprising change to their starting lineup on Friday in Phoenix, with Cam Reddish replacing Austin Reaves at shooting guard. The news was first reported by Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).

Reaves has had a slow start to the 2023/24 season, averaging 13.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.0 APG and 1.5 SPG while struggling with efficiency (2.6 turnovers and a .416/.278/.808 shooting line) through eight games (32.0 MPG). But Reddish isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire either, averaging 4.4 PPG, 2.5 RPG and 1.0 SPG on .306/.125/.786 shooting in 20.3 MPG.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • LeBron James appeared to suffer a lower left leg injury in the first quarter on Friday, limping and exiting the contest following a spin move (Twitter link via Khobi Price of The Southern California News Group). ESPN has a video of the play (Twitter link), but it’s unclear what may have happened. While he missed the rest of the first quarter, James checked back into the game to open the second period, tweets ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk.
  • On a brighter note, Anthony Davis (left adductor/hip spasm) and Jaxson Hayes (left ankle sprain) were both available on Friday, per Price (Twitter link). Davis wound up missing one full game and half of another, while Hayes was sidelined for two games.
  • Injuries have been an issue for the 3-5 Lakers, with several rotation players missing time, including Jarred Vanderbilt (heel), who has yet to make his season debut. Following Wednesday’s blowout loss in Houston, which dropped the Lakers to 0-5 on the road, James said they lacked “cohesion,” according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “I mean, we can’t build cohesion if we don’t have our unit,” James said. “It’s that simple. It’s just, we’re very depleted on the injury side.”
  • Still, as Jovan Buha of The Athletic writes, the team’s problems go beyond just injuries. L.A. has been historically inept in first quarters, posting a minus-74 point differential, the worst mark in league history through eight games. The Lakers have struggled with basic things like energy and effort, along with three-point shooting, rebounding and defense, says Buha.

Injury Notes: Davis, Hayes, Jones, Herro, C. Thomas

After previously expressing optimism that he wouldn’t miss additional time with the injury, Lakers big man Anthony Davis was ruled out of Wednesday’s game vs. Houston due to left hip spasms, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes.

The Lakers were also without reserve center Jaxson Hayes, who is dealing with a left ankle sprain, McMenamin adds.

Davis initially sustained the injury on Monday against Miami, exiting the game in the third quarter. Sources tell McMenamin the Lakers are hopeful Davis will be back in action for Friday’s matchup in Phoenix.

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

  • The Pelicans were extremely shorthanded on Wednesday, with multiple rotation players sidelined for various reasons. A third starter — wing Herbert Jones — was ruled out ahead of the matchup vs. Minnesota due to a right fibula contusion, tweets Will Guillory of The Athletic. With so many players injured, all three of the team’s two-way players (Matt Ryan, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Dereon Seabron) received first-quarter minutes, with Robinson-Earl getting a starting nod, Guillory adds (via Twitter). Robinson-Earl just signed his two-way deal with the Pelicans last week.
  • Heat guard Tyler Herro is off to a strong start in 2023/24, but unfortunately he sustained a right ankle sprain in the first quarter of Wednesday’s game vs. Memphis and was ruled out for the remainder of the contest, the team announced (via Twitter). Bally Sports Heat has the video (Twitter link), with Herro landing on Jaren Jackson Jr.‘s foot following a floater in the lane. Herro was unable to put weight on his leg after the injury and hopped to the locker room.
  • Another player off to a terrific start this season is Nets guard Cam Thomas. Unfortunately, he suffered a left ankle sprain on Wednesday vs. the Clippers and missed the remainder of the game, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter links), who adds that Thomas will undergo an MRI on Thursday. The 2021 first-round pick rolled his ankle after stepping on P.J. Tucker‘s foot (Twitter video link via Lucas Kaplan of NetsDaily).

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.”

Pacific Notes: Booker, Beal, Goodwin, Mann, Powell, Lakers, Warriors

There’s no specific timetable for the return of either Devin Booker (ankle) or Bradley Beal (back), Suns head coach Frank Vogel said on Tuesday, per Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports (Twitter links). Both players have been doing some on-court work, but it has mostly been light shooting, so they haven’t fully ramped up for game action yet.

While Beal has yet to make his Suns debut, Jordan Goodwin – the other player the team acquired in that blockbuster summer deal – has been playing regular minutes in his first four games in Phoenix.

Known known more as a defender, Goodwin has provided some scoring and play-making off the bench with Booker and Beal out, writes Dana Scott of The Arizona Republic. He has made just 34.3% of his shots from the floor, but has posted solid averages of 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 21.0 minutes per night.

“Just take advantage of the opportunity. Once we get all of our guys back, those shots, the ones I’m taking right now are gonna be even more open,” Goodwin told Scott over the weekend.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Clippers wings Terance Mann and Norman Powell were mentioned frequently in James Harden trade rumors in recent months, so they were relieved not to be on the move in the deal L.A. eventually made for the star guard, per Mark Medina of Sportskeeda. “It shows the value that they see in us,” Powell said. “You always want that as a player in a league like this: to find a team, organization, and front office that believes in your ability, believes in what you bring to the table, and believes you can help them win at a high level.”
  • After promising to make tweaks to his rotation following Sunday’s loss to Sacramento, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham leaned on bigger lineups in Monday’s victory over Orlando, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Both Christian Wood (27) and Jaxson Hayes (10) set new season highs in minutes played, as the team frequently deployed a second big man alongside Anthony Davis. “Whenever (Wood is) in there with (Davis), they’re just two huge presences on the defensive glass,” Ham said. “Christian gets some of the toughest defensive rebounds I’ve ever seen anyone get. So, he and (Davis) being combined for, I think it was 25 defensive rebounds, we needed every one of them.”
  • Although it’s a small sample size, the Warriors‘ second unit is thriving and the team’s depth has been a strength in the early going this season, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic and Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Stephen Curry believes the strong play of the second unit – led by Chris Paul – is having a ripple effect on the starters. “That’s different for us, when that unit is so impactful,” Curry said, per Slater. “We’re over on the bench enjoying what we’re watching. When you’re watching good basketball, you feel good about how we’re all playing. It flows.”

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Prince, Vanderbilt, Vincent, Hayes

Explaining that he’s “self-motivated,” LeBron James said he’s not driven by a need to beat the Nuggets, who ended the Lakers‘ playoff run last spring and will be the opponent when the season tips off Tuesday, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

Although James downplayed the rivalry, he’s clearly aware of some of the disrespect that came his way from Denver. Nuggets coach Michael Malone was introduced as “the Lakers’ daddy” during the team’s championship celebration, and in an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show, Malone mocked James’ talk of retirement after the playoff series ended.

“There will be a time,” James said about a potential response. “When that time is, I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s now or … there will be a time. There will be a time when everybody will get it, for sure.”

Heading into his 21st NBA season, James is optimistic about his health after missing 27 games last year with a right foot injury that bothered him throughout the playoffs. He said he’s fully recovered and ready for the challenges of a new campaign.

“It took a few months, but then when I was able to get back into my workouts, I was able to do some things I wasn’t capable of doing throughout the whole playoffs, probably even before the playoffs,” James said. “My workouts started getting better, my wind started getting better, my quick-twitch started getting better. I didn’t have to think about it as much. It’s great to have that feeling, just have your motor back.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Head coach Darvin Ham told reporters today that Taurean Prince will be the team’s fifth starter for the season opener alongside James, Anthony Davis, Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell, McMenamin adds. The veteran forward, who signed with L.A. as a free agent this summer, was used as a starter for most of the preseason. Prince will replace Jarred Vanderbilt, who had his sore left heel re-evaluated on Friday. Ham said Vanderbilt is considered day-to-day, but “in all likelihood” will miss Tuesday’s game.
  • Gabe Vincent, who has been dealing with back tightness, has been cleared to play in the opener, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic.
  • Free agent addition Jaxson Hayes made a case for regular playing time with a strong performance in the preseason, per Khobi Price of The Orange County Register. “He was phenomenal,” Davis said. “Catching in the pocket and making the right plays, finishing, protecting the rim, everything that we want out of him and more. Hustling. Things that can (be) better. But for the most part, he was phenomenal.”

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.