Kendrick Nunn

Central Notes: Rubio, Washington, Cunningham, Thompson

Ricky Rubio‘s decision to take time away from basketball and focus on his mental health leaves the Cavaliers with an uncertain situation at backup point guard, Chris Fedor of writes in a mailbag column. Rubio didn’t offer any indication of how long he might be inactive, so there’s no way of knowing if he’ll be available when training camp opens in seven weeks or when the season starts in late October.

There’s no urgency for Cleveland to make a roster move, Fedor adds. The Cavs signed free agent Ty Jerome in the belief that he can handle a larger role than he had with Golden State, and Donovan Mitchell, Caris LeVert and two-way player Craig Porter Jr. are all capable of running the offense for short stretches. Fedor points out that there aren’t any strong options remaining in free agency, but Kendrick Nunn, Michael Carter-Williams, George Hill, Ish Smith, and D.J. Augustin are among the players still available.

General manager Mike Gansey scheduled a trip to Malaga, Spain, this summer to visit with Rubio and watch the Spanish World Cup team in action, according to Fedor. However, Rubio left training camp before Gansey arrived, so he devoted the trip to scouting instead.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers have expressed interest in P.J. Washington and may be “lurking” as his standoff with the Hornets continues, Fedor adds. He notes that Cleveland was able to take advantage of a similar situation in a sign-and-trade with Lauri Markkanen two years ago by offering a contract beyond what the Bulls were willing to pay. Fedor states that Rubio and Dean Wade would be enough to match salary if Washington would accept about $15MM per year, but he’s not sure if that and a few second-round picks would satisfy Charlotte.
  • Cade Cunningham is the only untouchable player on the Pistons‘ roster, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic writes in his annual evaluation of the team’s most valuable assets. Even though he missed most of last season after shin surgery, Cunningham is still viewed around the league as a potential superstar, according to Edwards. Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren and rookie Ausar Thompson follow Cunningham on Edwards’ list.
  • Overtime Elite general manager Gerald Wilkins believes Thompson has a bright NBA future, per Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Wilkins offered a glowing recommendation to Jarrett Jack, a new member of the Pistons‘ coaching staff under Monty Williams. “He would ask me things like what are his strengths, what are his weaknesses, how can I get him the ball,” Wilkins said. “I would just tell him, ‘Just put him on the floor. Just put him in the game. They are basketball players, Ausar and Amen. They’re basketball players. You put him on the floor and a lot of good things are going to happen.’”

Central Notes: Bucks, Pistons, Parker, Pacers’ Coaches

The Bucks kept their core intact by re-signing Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, but it will be challenging to fill out the roster while remaining under the second tax apron, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. The two new contracts bring Milwaukee’s projected spending for next season to nearly $170MM for eight players, leaving six more to be added without reaching the $182.79MM apron. Nehm points out that they can’t avoid the apron if they use their full $5MM taxpayer mid-level exception and will have to complete the roster mostly through veteran’s minimum contracts and re-signing their own players through Bird rights.

A new one-year deal with Jae Crowder will help, Nehm adds. The Bucks parted with five second-round picks to acquire the veteran forward in February, but he wasn’t a lock to return because he didn’t have the impact on defense that the team was expecting. Thanasis Antetokounmpo will likely be back, according to Nehm, but the Bucks are expected to wait until later this summer to officially sign him to retain their financial flexibility.

Nehm notes that finding a backup point guard will be a priority after losing Jevon Carter to the Bulls. He names Kendrick Nunn as a potential low-cost option, along with Cory Joseph, who is on the market after spending the last two seasons in Detroit.

Nehm suggests that Milwaukee could look for bargains with its other open roster spots. He mentions Kings shooting guard Terence Davis and Raptors point guard Dalano Banton as possibilities, as well the Lakers’ Malik Beasley and Lonnie Walker if they’re willing to accept minimum offers for one year to join a title contender.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Instead of signing free agents, the Pistons used their cap room to trade for two veterans, which sets them up for big moves at the deadline and next summer, observes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Joe Harris at $19.9MM and Monte Morris at $9.8MM use up virtually all of Detroit’s $30MM in cap space, but they both have expiring contracts that could be valuable at the deadline in February. Sankofa notes that the same is true for Alec Burks‘ $10.5MM deal, while Bojan Bogdanovic is virtually expiring because his 2024/25 contract only carries a $2MM guarantee.
  • A family matter will prevent Jabari Parker from joining the Bucks for the Las Vegas Summer League, Nehm tweets. The former No. 2 overall pick is hoping for another NBA opportunity after sitting out all of last season.
  • Pacers assistant Ronald Nored will join Quin Snyder‘s staff with the Hawks, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Indiana will move Jenny Boucek to the front of the bench and make Jim Boylen an assistant after he served as a consultant last season.

Trade Breakdown: Rui Hachimura To The Lakers

This is the first entry in our series breaking down the significant trades of the 2022/23 season. As opposed to giving out grades, this series explores why the teams were motivated to make the moves. Let’s dive into a deal between the Lakers and Wizards

On January 23, the Lakers sent Kendrick Nunn, the Bulls’ 2023 second-round pick, a 2028 second-round pick, and their own 2029 second-round pick to the Wizards in exchange for Rui Hachimura.

The Lakers’ perspective:

After missing the entire 2021/22 season with a somewhat mysterious knee injury (it was described as a bone bruise), Nunn picked up his $5.25MM player option for the 2022/23 season and Los Angeles had high hopes for his return to action.

Unfortunately, he had a miserable start to the season, averaging just 5.2 PPG, 1.1 RPG and 0.9 APG on .365/.308/.923 shooting through 29 games (11.5 MPG). Nunn’s primary skill is his ability to score, and he wasn’t having much success at it.

Entering the season, the Lakers had six players on their roster who primarily played guard: Nunn, Dennis Schröder, Austin Reaves, Russell Westbrook, Lonnie Walker and Patrick Beverley. Of the six, only Walker (6’4″) and Reaves (6’5″) are taller than 6’3″. Nunn was last among the group on depth chart.

Head coach Darvin Ham had to cobble together some extremely small lineups due to the team’s flawed roster construction – Schröder, Westbrook, Walker and Beverley were third through seventh on the team in minutes per game at the time of this trade, trailing only LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

At the two forward spots, the Lakers had Troy Brown Jr., Max Christie and Juan Toscano-Anderson, all of whom are 6’6″. Wenyen Gabriel (6’9″) has played both power forward and center. And then James (6’9″) at power forward.

Obviously, size, strength and athleticism was needed with such a small roster. Trading away Nunn was no big loss, as he was 13th on the team in minutes per game and shared too much overlap with the team’s glut of guards.

Enter Hachimura, who stands 6’8″ and weighs 230 pounds. While some have labeled the 25-year-old a wing, he has been more of a power forward who can slide down to the three at times to this point in his career.

As with Nunn, Hachimura’s primary NBA skill is his ability to get buckets. He is a strong mid-range scorer who likes playing out of the triple-threat position in isolation. He can drive both ways and particularly favors a spinning baseline fadeaway over his right shoulder.

Hachimura is also a strong transition player, using his athleticism to get to the rim in the open court. He can finish with both hands in those scenarios and it’s difficult for defenders to handle a player with his size and strength while backpedaling.

As has been repeated ad nauseam, the Lakers needed more three-point shooting and defense on top of the other roster flaws. Hachimura doesn’t help much with either of those issues.

After shooting 31.3% from deep on low volume over his first two seasons, Hachimura made a blistering 44.7% of his attempts from beyond the arc on slightly higher volume last season, giving hope that he was turning the corner on that front. He’s back down to 32.5% in ‘22/23, including 28.6% in 11 games as a Laker, making last season’s success look like an outlier.

While Hachimura’s outside shooting may have regressed, he does have a nice one-dribble pull-up jump shot when defenders chase him off the line. His efficiency would certainly improve if he could turn that dribble into a side-step three-pointer instead of a long two, but he converts the twos at a higher clip right now.

Defensively, Hachimura is solid one-on-one, particularly against bigger wings and power forwards. He struggles in other aspects on that end, however, as he frequently lacks off-ball awareness, isn’t a great rebounder (he doesn’t box out), and isn’t a play-maker (his steal and block rates are alarmingly low for a player with his physical attributes).

Having said that, the cost to acquire the former lottery pick wasn’t prohibitive, and he definitely has talent. The Bulls’ 2023 second-round pick would be No. 37 at the moment, so that has solid value. The other two second-rounders are several years down the road, so there’s plenty of time for the Lakers to rebuild their draft capital (there’s also typically at least a couple second-round picks for sale in every draft – that’s how they acquired Christie, the 19-year-old rookie).

I liked the fact that the Lakers made the trade two-plus weeks before the February 9 deadline, as that allows them to get a better look at Hachimura and gives him more time to get acclimated to the team. He has already played 11 games for the Lakers, so he could play nearly half of their games if he stays healthy.

Hachimura will be a restricted free agent in the summer if he’s tendered a qualifying offer worth a projected $7.7MM, giving L.A. additional options when compared to Nunn, who will be an unrestricted free agent. For what the Lakers gave up, they shouldn’t feel committed to giving Hachimura a long-term contract unless they’re happy with his play and believe in his upside.

The Wizards’ perspective:

It’s worth noting that Nunn had been playing pretty well at the end of his Lakers tenure, getting playing time due to injuries to Walker and Reaves. He averaged 11.0 PPG and 2.4 RPG on .478/.354/.625 shooting over his final 10 games (19.6 MPG) with L.A.

That has carried over to the Wizards, and he’s been a useful reserve for a team that needed backcourt depth and bench scoring. Through 11 games (18.4 MPG) with the Wizards, Nunn is averaging 8.8 PPG, 2.2 RPG and 2.7 APG on .487/.400/.900 shooting.

In addition to the second-rounders, the Wizards gained a little bit of financial flexibility, saving about $1MM and moving further away from the luxury tax line.

They didn’t end up using the flexibility in a subsequent trade, but it will come in handy if they want to give two-way player Jordan Goodwin a multiyear standard contract. Washington could use a leftover portion of its mid-level exception to offer Goodwin a three- or four-year deal and a starting salary above his minimum without going into the tax.

It’s easy to bemoan the Wizards seemingly selling low on a former No. 9 overall pick, and it’s certainly fair to say that they don’t have a strong track record of player development. But both of those points gloss over the fact that things just weren’t working out for Hachimura in D.C.

Hachimura has had extended absences in each of his four seasons, missing at least 15 games per year, and was reportedly unhappy with his role. It’s hard to envision how he would have fit in long-term, given his distinct strengths and weaknesses.

When I wrote about Hachimura prior to the trade, I said he plays with a “physical edge offensively.” That take was mostly based on his first two seasons, but after watching him play more in preparation for this article, I would say it’s mostly inaccurate.

Hachimura does use his footwork, size and strength to draw fouls on occasion, and he’s good at it, but more often than not he shies away from contact, which is somewhat perplexing. He has certainly been better at playing more aggressively on the Lakers, but he frequently settled for jump shots with the Wizards even when he had a size advantage.

One thing I haven’t touched on yet is Hachimura’s passing, or lack thereof. He has taken 421 field goal attempts in ‘22/23 and dished out 41 assists, which is not ideal. The combo forward doesn’t see the floor very well and is regularly a beat slow making reads.

He doesn’t turn the ball over much, but the main reason for that is he just doesn’t look to pass even in situations where teammates are wide open. I could see that being frustrating for both the team and teammates.

There’s often a sunk-cost fallacy when it comes to players who were selected early in drafts. As painful as I’m sure it was for the Wizards to admit it, I believe it was clearly time for both sides to move on.

Wizards president of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard said after the deal that it was partly motivated by a desire to give more responsibility and playing time to Deni Avdija, the third-year forward who was the No. 9 overall pick a year after Hachimura.

In 12 games (28.2 MPG) post-trade, Avdija has arguably enjoyed his most productive stretch in the NBA, averaging 13.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.4 APG and 1.4 SPG on .469/.350/.740. He doesn’t have Hachimura’s scoring upside, but his game is more well-rounded and is a smoother fit on the Wizards’ roster.

All in all, I think it was a reasonable trade from both sides. I’m sure the Wizards would have liked to have gotten a first-round pick in exchange for Hachimura, even if it was a late first-rounder, but the market just wasn’t there. As for the Lakers, it turned out to be one of multiple deals they made in an effort to reshape their roster – we’ll cover the rest in subsequent articles.

Southeast Notes: Rozier, Nunn, Bey, Beverley

Despite being involved in a series of trade rumors leading up to last week’s deadline, Hornets guard Terry Rozier stayed put in Charlotte. Now, he says he needs to set a good example for his young teammates for the rest of the season, he told Steve Bulpett of

“It’s definitely been a tough season — for a lot of reasons. It can definitely get you down,” the Hornets guard said. “But I’ve got to make sure I’m setting the right example. There’s a lot of young guys here, and they’re looking to the veterans. I can’t let the disappointment show. It’s easy at this point in the season, with all the injuries that we’ve had and the record what it is because of that, and All-Star break coming up, it’s easy to give in and have that look. But I’m trying to get better myself, too.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards guard Kendrick Nunn, acquired from the Lakers in the Rui Hachimura swap, is trying to rebuild his value, Ava Wallace of The Washington Post notes. Nunn will be a free agent after the season. Nunn had 13 points — his highest output since the deal — and six assists against Golden State on Monday.
  • Forward Saddiq Bey, traded by Detroit, is eager to establish himself with the Hawks, he told Lauren Williams of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “This is my first time ever doing it (being traded), so we’re going to see how it goes,” he said. “But the coaching staff, the players, they’ve done a great job welcoming me. They’ve been playing, they play hard, they play together. So, it’s not going to be too hard to get adjusted, but I’m just trying to fit in with them.” Bey had 12 points and five rebounds in 21 minutes against Charlotte in his Atlanta debut.
  • Patrick Beverley will give some money back to the Magic if he signs with another team, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link). Beverley was waived on Saturday after reaching a buyout with the Magic. Beverley had a $13MM contract and will receive that full amount from Orlando if he remains a free agent. The Magic’s obligation to him would be reduced by $918,516 if he were to sign with a team on Tuesday, says Marks.

Wizards Notes: Wright, Nunn, Morris, Gill, Unseld Jr.

While Delon Wright was recovering from a severely strained hamstring, he was able to notice how much the Wizards need him, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The numbers back up his observation — Washington is 13-6 with Wright in the lineup, but only 7-20 when he doesn’t play. He’s especially been a difference-maker on defense, where the team’s rating is 6.0 points better with him on the court.

“Once I had seen that I have that type of impact on the game, it made me more confident. It made me feel more welcome here,” Wright said. “A lot of times when you get to a certain team, they will say that you can do certain things. But even if you’re doing it, you still might get subbed or might not have your minutes as much as you want. Here I feel like I’m playing a decent amount of minutes and my role is enormous.”

It’s a rare feeling for Wright, who is with his seventh team in the past five seasons. He’s being used as a backup, starting just one of the 19 games he has played, but he’s having a significant impact in his 20.9 minutes per night, leading the league in steals per 36 minutes.

“I actually signed (with the Wizards), so that means a little more than getting traded for,” Wright said. “I feel the most confident I’ve been with an organization since I was in Toronto (from 2015-19).”

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • Kendrick Nunn had a strong debut for Washington on Wednesday in his first game since being acquired from the Lakers in the Rui Hachimura trade, notes Bijan Todd of NBC Sports Washington. Nunn expected to have a larger role in L.A. after signing with the team in free agency in 2021, but a knee injury prevented him from playing last year and he was averaging just 13.5 minutes per night in 39 games this season. He played 22 minutes in his first game with the Wizards and helped spark a comeback with 12 points, four rebounds and four assists. “I just wanted to come in and impact winning,” Nunn said. “Play hard, be aggressive, be myself and just impact winning.”
  • Monte Morris has provided the type of leadership at point guard that the Wizards were hoping for, but that may made him of the team’s best trade assets heading into the deadline, according to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. General manager Tommy Sheppard doesn’t plan to blow up the team’s core, Wallace adds, but more roster moves are likely coming.
  • Anthony Gill has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and will miss tonight’s game in New Orleans, Wallace tweets.
  • In an interview with Wes Hall of NBC Sports Washington (video link), coach Wes Unseld Jr. talks about the challenges he has faced midway through his second season with the team.

Lakers Rumors: Hachimura, Reddish, Beverley, Bogdanovic

The Lakers and Wizards discussed the Rui Hachimura trade for several days before reaching an agreement, with the level of draft compensation serving as the primary sticking point, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, the Lakers were originally exploring the trade market to see what they could get for Kendrick Nunn and two second-round picks, and could have landed Knicks forward Cam Reddish for such a package. However, Los Angeles preferred Hachimura and ultimately reached a compromise with the Wizards – who originally sought a first-round pick for the former lottery selection – by adding a third second-rounder.

Hachimura is expected to command an eight-figure annual salary as a free agent, sources tell Buha, and Fischer has heard similar rumblings, writing that the current expectation is that the forward’s price will be around $10MM per year. That figure could increase though if Hachimura emerges as the Lakers’ third-best player behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis down the stretch though, Fischer acknowledges.

Either way, if the Lakers hope to re-sign Hachimura, which sounds like the plan, his new deal will significantly cut into the cap room they’ll be able to create this summer.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • It’s unclear if Hachimura will start immediately, but the expectation is that he’ll be part of the starting five once he gets acclimated and the rotation is settled, Buha writes. The former Wizards forward could make his Lakers debut as early as Wednesday, tweets Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times.
  • With Davis on track to return in the near future, the Lakers want to continue evaluating their roster to determine whether to use their remaining assets to make a minor or major roster upgrade, according to Buha. While the team is willing to do something more substantial, the most likely move at this point is dealing Patrick Beverley and a lottery-protected first-round pick for a wing or frontcourt player, Buha adds.
  • Although the Lakers continue to be frequently linked to Pistons forward Bojan Bogdanovic, there’s a gap between how the two sides view his value. League sources tell Buha that Detroit is seeking at least an unprotected first-round pick, while L.A. is thus far only willing to give up a lottery-protected first-rounder.
  • In a column for The Los Angeles Times, Woike says the acquisition of Hachimura is a smart, sensible move for the Lakers, even if it’s not a blockbuster. Zach Kram of The Ringer is underwhelmed by the move, arguing that Hachimura is a “single-dimensional scorer” and a subpar defender who won’t move the needle on L.A.’s playoff chances.

Wizards Trade Rui Hachimura To Lakers

5:23pm: The Lakers have officially announced the addition of Hachimura in a press statement.

12:15pm: The agreement has been finalized, Wojnarowski tweets. The Wizards will receive the Bulls’ second-round pick this year, the Lakers’ second-rounder in 2029 and the least favorable of the Wizards’ and Lakers’ second-rounders in 2028.

The Lakers had acquired the Wizards’ 2028 second-round pick in a prior trade.

11:42am: The Lakers are in advanced talks to acquire Rui Hachimura from the Wizards, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The price will be guard Kendrick Nunn and multiple second-round picks, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reports that L.A. offered Nunn and two second-rounders to Washington on Friday, but the Wizards turned it down in hopes of getting a first-round pick for Hachimura, who was drafted ninth overall in 2019 (Twitter link). An agreement was reached Monday when the Lakers added another second-rounder to their offer.

The trade is expected to be finalized this afternoon, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Specifics on the picks involved haven’t been released, but Bobby Marks of ESPN points out (via Twitter) that L.A. has seven second-rounders available, including its own and Chicago’s in this year’s draft.

Hachimura never developed into a star in Washington, but the 24-year-old forward has been a solid rotation player throughout his entire time with the Wizards. In 30 games this season, all as a reserve, he’s averaging 13.0 points and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 48.8% from the field and 33.7% from three-point range.

The Wizards didn’t sign Hachimura to a rookie scale extension before the October deadline, so he’ll be a free agent this summer. The Lakers can make him restricted, giving them the right to match any offer he receives, by issuing a qualifying offer likely to be worth about $7.74MM.

Basketball reporter Marc Stein hears that Washington was willing to part with Hachimura because of increased confidence that the team will be able to re-sign Kyle Kuzma in free agency after he turns down his player option (Twitter link).

After signing with the Lakers as a free agent in 2021, Nunn missed his entire first season due to a knee injury. He has appeared in 39 games this year, making two starts, and is averaging 6.7 PPG in 13.5 minutes per night. The 27-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent in July.

Lakers-Wizards Trade Notes: Hachimura, Suns, Grades, More

The Lakers have an agreement in place to acquire forward Rui Hachimura from the Wizards for guard Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Hachimura was “unhappy” that he didn’t receive a rookie scale extension before the 2022/23 season started.

Sources tell Wojnarowski that the Lakers acquired the 24-year-old with the intention of re-signing him this summer. Hachimura will be a restricted free agent if Los Angeles tenders him a qualifying offer.

Here’s more on the Lakers-Wizards trade:

  • In an appearance on NBA Today (YouTube link), Wojanarowki said there were three-team trade talks on Sunday night that involved the Suns, but those obviously fell through.
  • Even though he will have a qualifying offer of about $7.74MM, Hachimura’s cap hold for this summer will be $18.8MM, and that will make it complicated for the Lakers to be a major player in free agency, writes Danny Leroux of The Athletic. If the young forward re-signs at a figure lower than $18.8MM, his first-year salary would immediately replace the cap hold, Leroux notes. That would give them more options, but nothing close to the roughly $30MM in cap space they were projected to have prior to the trade. If Hachimura struggles with the Lakers, they could also either renounce his rights by not tendering him the qualifying offer or pull the offer in order to sign a player they like more, Leroux adds.
  • Keith Smith of Spotrac views the deal as a “low-risk gamble” by the Lakers and a solid return for the Wizards. Smith writes that the Lakers will add about $3MM to their luxury tax bill with the trade, while the Wizards saved money and are now about $1.3MM away from the luxury tax due to the difference in salary between Hachimura ($6.26MM) and Nunn ($5.25MM). Adding three second-rounders and gaining financial flexibility should help Washington make future deals, Smith adds.
  • The size of Hachimura’s next contract, assuming it’s with the Lakers, will matter a lot in the view of Zach Harper of The Athletic, who didn’t love the trade for either team. Harper gave the Lakers a C-plus and the Wizards a C in grading the deal.
  • One of the Wizards’ goals in trading away Hachimura was not taking on future salary, according to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post, who tweets that the luxury tax could be looming next season. Nunn is on an expiring contract.
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks provides his analysis of the trade (YouTube link). He likes the infusion of size and talent for the Lakers, but notes that Hachimura does have injury concerns — he only averaged 49 games played over his first three seasons. Marks doesn’t love the deal from Washington’s side, however. Not only is dealing away the former ninth overall pick an indictment of the team’s drafting ability, but the Wizards basically have to re-sign Kyle Kuzma in free agency now — otherwise they’ll have lost both forwards, Marks notes.

Lakers Notes: Davis, Nunn, James, Trade Deadline

Lakers star big man Anthony Davis had an encouraging practice session on Thursday, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets.

“He did jump in with the group today, did some non-contact stuff, pick-and-roll drills, a little offensive scripting,” head coach Darvin Ham said. “He’s looking good. Moving well. … Got a great sweat in [during an] individual workout … He’s progressing really, really, really well.”

Davis has a general timeline of early February to suit up again. He has been out since December 16 after suffering a stress reaction in the navicular bone in his right foot.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • Guard Kendrick Nunn is one of the most tradable pieces on the team, according to Sean Deveney of Nunn is on an expiring contract and could be part of a package for a frontcourt player. “He could help someone,” one executive told Deveney. “But they need to show he is healthy. He’s got a very manageable contract and they’re dying for size on that team.”
  • The Lakers have lost three close games over the past week and LeBron James laments how injuries have impacted the team, noting they have “zero room for error,” according to McMenamin. “We are limited with bodies,” James said. “So until some of our big guys or some of our key guys get back … we’ve got to continue to play how we’ve played the last couple games. Play mistake-free basketball.”
  • James has averaged 34.9 points while playing 37.8 minutes per game so far in January. Ham would like to reduce his aging superstar’s minutes, McMenamin writes in the same story. “He’s playing at an amazing level, but we can’t run him in the ground,” Ham said.
  • If the Lakers remain committed to chasing championships with Davis and James, they may be better off adding multiple role players prior to this year’s trade deadline, according to Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype. Even if they let all their projected free agents walk at season’s end, they might be priced out of the market for a top-level free agent while still having many roster spots to fill, as Gozlan explains.

Lakers Notes: Davis, Trade Market, LeBron, Bryant, Christie

The foot injury that Anthony Davis suffered last week has decreased the chances that the Lakers will gamble on a major trade, multiple sources tell Jovan Buha of The Athletic. He adds that the only exception would be if the team can acquire a young star that it believes can succeed alongside Davis over the next few years.

Even before the Davis injury, the Lakers’ front office wasn’t confident that there was a trade available that would turn the team into contenders, Buha states. He suggests the most likely current scenario is a deal that would include some combination of Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn and a protected first-rounder in either 2027 or 2029 in exchange for a 3-and-D wing or a combo forward.

Along with the players who have already been linked to the Lakers in trade talks, Buha’s sources point to the SunsJae Crowder, the RocketsEric Gordon, the PistonsAlec Burks, the HornetsTerry RozierP.J. Washington and Kelly Oubre Jr. and the SpursJosh Richardson and Jakob Poeltl as players to watch.

There’s more on the Lakers, all from Buha:

  • LeBron James has posted four straight 30-point games, but his playing time is starting to become a concern. He’s averaged 39.2 minutes over the past five games, and the Lakers need to be careful that they don’t rely too heavily on him. Buha notes that James, who will turn 38 next week, ranks sixth in minutes per game among players with at least 50 total games over the past two seasons.
  • The loss of Davis has been eased somewhat by the emergence of Thomas Bryant. Buha states that Bryant was considered “almost unplayable” before Davis got hurt, but he’s averaging 17.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in the last three games while shooting 61.1% from the field and 55.6% from three-point range. The 25-year-old center joined the Lakers during the offseason on a veteran’s minimum contract and will be a free agent again next summer.
  • Rookie shooting guard Max Christie recently moved into the rotation and may be playing well enough to stay there. The second-round pick provides a much-needed 3-and-D option for coach Darvin Ham, and he’s one of the best rebounders among the team’s guards.
  • The starting backcourt of Beverley and Dennis Schroder hasn’t performed well, and Buha wonders why Ham keeps playing them together. The Lakers are minus-50 in 161 minutes when they’re on the court at the same time, and their skills seem to be redundant.