LeBron James

Western Notes: CP3, LeBron, Mavs, Jeter, Blazers

The Suns “would like to find a way to financially keep Chris Paul” on their roster, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported on NBA Countdown (Twitter video link).

That said, if they’re unable to find a better alternative and wind up releasing Paul, Wojnarowski says the longtime veteran would be “very coveted” on the open market. Wojnarowski cites the Lakers and Clippers as two teams that would be interested in Paul’s services, noting that he lives in Los Angeles in the offseason.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated speculates (via Twitter) that the Grizzlies, Celtics and Heat could be among the other teams calling Paul’s agents if he hits unrestricted free agency.

Here’s more from the Western Conference

  • LeBron James hinted at retirement after the Lakers were swept by the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals. NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whom James passed this season to become the league’s all-time leading scorer, recently touched on the possibility of James retiring, as Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times writes. “At the end of the year, after all that, LeBron and most of the guys looked like they’d been through two seasons, you know? But they still gave it an awesome effort,” Abdul-Jabbar said Monday. “I think it’s up to him. Certainly doesn’t have to prove anything. And it’s just what he wants to do at this point.”
  • Kyrie Irving reportedly wants the Mavericks to pursue James, but that’s certainly far-fetched. Even if they could pull it off, Tim Cato of The Athletic argues that adding James still wouldn’t make the Mavs a title contender, as having three players on max (or near max) deals while trading away all their remaining assets would make it incredibly difficult to build out the rest of the roster. Cato also notes that James’ defensive effort comes and goes at this stage of his career and he isn’t a reliable spot-up shooter to complement Luka Doncic.
  • Former NBA guard Pooh Jeter is retiring as a player, reports Marc J. Spears of Andscape (via Twitter). Jeter played for G League Ignite this past season and mentored Scoot Henderson. The 39-year-old has already found a new gig, reaching an agreement in principle to become an assistant GM for the Trail Blazers‘ new G league affiliate. Jeter will also serve as a player development coach for the Blazers, according to Spears.

Mavericks Notes: LeBron, Irving, Van Gundy, Draft

Although Kyrie Irving‘s desire to have the Mavericks trade for LeBron James is unrealistic, Dallas is a market the Lakers star would consider if he ever decides to leave L.A., Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column. Sources tell Stein that the Mavs began investigating their chances of landing James last season before they acquired Irving in February. The organization understands that James would have to take the initiative in asking for a trade to Dallas for the move to become possible, according to Stein’s sources.

There’s no indication that James will consider requesting such a deal, Stein adds, with his family settled in Los Angeles and his oldest son committed to play for USC. Stein also points out that instead of trying to break up the team’s foundation of James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers opted to rebuild around them and wound up in the conference finals.

Stein’s theory is that it benefits Irving to show the Mavericks that he might have some value as a recruiter who can attract high-level talent to Dallas. It’s believed throughout the league that Dallas wants to re-sign him to a team-friendly contract, so reaching out to James may be a negotiating ploy.

Stein adds that not much has changed for either the Mavericks or the Lakers since their seasons ended. L.A.’s priority will be to keep free agents Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura, while the Mavs plan to re-sign Irving and try to trade their first-round pick for veteran help. Stein cites two sources who told him Monday that Irving is happy in Dallas and wants to stay there.

There’s more on the Mavericks:

  • Dallas will reach out to ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy to see if he is interested in returning to the sidelines as an assistant coach, Stein reports in another Substack piece. Van Gundy’s last NBA coaching job was 16 years ago, but he has done some international work with Team USA since then. League sources tell Stein that the Mavericks still have interest in adding Jeff Hornacek to Jason Kidd’s staff.
  • Tim Cato of The Athletic looks at seven potential trades the Mavs could make with their No. 10 pick. He proposes deals with the Raptors, Hawks, Nets, Kings and Pelicans.
  • If the Mavericks keep their pick, the new front office will focus more on athleticism and physicality more than shooting or other skills, Cato adds in a separate story. Team and league sources tell Cato that Dallas isn’t likely to have interest in Kansas sharpshooter Gradey Dick, who may still be on the board in that range.

“Unrealistic” For LeBron James To Get Traded To Mavs

It’s “unrealistic” that the Lakers would consider trading LeBron James to the Mavericks so that he could join forces with Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic, a source told Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

Irving, who is headed to free agency, reached out to his former Cavaliers teammate about the possibility of playing in Dallas. James has previously expressed his desire to play with Irving in Los Angeles and was disappointed when the Lakers didn’t acquire him at February’s trade deadline.

However, the Lakers aren’t interested in what the Mavericks might offer from their roster for their aging superstar, who hinted at retirement after the team was eliminated by Denver in the Western Conference Finals. Dallas doesn’t have the young talent outside of Doncic to entice the Lakers if James were to ask for a trade. Even multiple draft picks to sweeten the pot (Dallas owns the No. 10 pick) probably wouldn’t get the job done.

James isn’t using Irving’s interest in playing with him as leverage to try to force the Lakers front office to pursue a sign-and-trade for the free agent guard, according to Buha.

Irving’s recruitment of James suggests that he prefers to sign the Mavericks’ max offer (or something close to it), rather than taking less money from the Lakers, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News notes.

The Lakers could open up as much as $30-35MM in cap space to sign Irving but he apparently doesn’t want to take a discount. A sign-and-trade scenario would be much more appealing to Irving because he could get a higher salary.

Los Angeles, from all indications, are more focused on retaining some of their top free agents (Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves). Lakers sources reiterated to Buha on Monday they’re not looking to add Irving.

Outside of a trade, the only way James could join the Mavs would be via a buyout of his contract and that seems like an extreme longshot. James has one year remaining on his contract at $46.9MM and then a player option for the 2024/25 season worth $50.65MM.

Kyrie Irving Wants Mavericks To Pursue Trade For LeBron James

The Lakers may not have interest in a sign-and-trade deal for Kyrie Irving, but sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic that Irving has reached out to LeBron James to see if they can reunite in Dallas (Twitter link).

That report meshes with a story by Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report, who hears from league sources that Irving wants the Mavericks to pursue an offseason trade for James to form a new Big Three alongside Luka Doncic.

Sources tell Haynes that Dallas was preparing to make an offer for James before this year’s trade deadline. However, that would not have been possible, as James was ineligible to be traded after signing an extension last summer.

James has dropped hints about wanting to play alongside Irving again, and the Lakers were reportedly strong candidates to acquire him when he considered opting out of his contract last summer and again when he asked the Nets for a trade in February.

L.A.’s asking price for James would surely be exorbitant if the team would consider a trade at all. He has one year remaining on his contract at $46.9MM and then a player option for the 2024/25 season worth $50.65MM.

Haynes points out that penalties imposed by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will make it extremely difficult for any team to carry three max-salary players. He states that Irving and James would both have to take significant pay cuts to make the arrangement work and suggests that the most viable path for James to get to Dallas would be to demand a buyout with the Lakers, which Haynes admits is extremely unlikely.

James has a good relationship with Doncic, so that wouldn’t be an impediment to a potential deal, Haynes adds. He’s also close with head coach Jason Kidd, who formerly served as a Lakers assistant, as well as assistant coach Jared Dudley, an ex-teammate.

Re-signing Irving remains Dallas’ top priority for the offseason, sources tell Haynes. Even though they missed the playoffs, the Mavs see a bright future for their All-Star backcourt and are determined to keep Irving after giving up two rotation players and three future draft picks to acquire the 31-year-old guard from Brooklyn.

Lakers Rumors: Russell, Point Guard, LeBron, Hachimura

Before he was traded from Minnesota to the Lakers in February, D’Angelo Russell was believed to be seeking $100MM over four years on his next contract, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Russell, who will be a free agent this summer, had an up-and-down postseason and only played 15 minutes off the bench in the final game of L.A.’s season, so Fischer is skeptical there will be bidders at that price point.

Still, Fischer hears from sources that Russell was viewed as a “positive presence” in the Lakers’ locker room and speculates that the two sides may be able to get a shorter-term (and less lucrative) deal done. Los Angeles could even keep D-Lo off the free agent market altogether by signing him to an extension on or before June 30.

Because he was traded within the last six months, Russell would be ineligible to sign an extension longer than two years, and Dave McMenamin of ESPN hears that the Lakers won’t pursue a two-year deal worth the veteran guard’s maximum number (approximately $67.5MM). However, Fischer suggests that something closer to $40MM over two years might make sense for both sides.

Given Russell’s playoff struggles, it’s certainly possible the Lakers will explore alternatives at point guard this summer, but their flexibility will be limited if they intend to bring back free agents like Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura, as has been reported. Within his ESPN.com story, McMenamin explores the different paths L.A. could take at the point guard spot, noting that the team might be able to package Malik Beasley ($16.5MM) and Mohamed Bamba ($10.3MM) in a trade to bring someone in without requiring cap room.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • There’s “widespread skepticism” that LeBron James will retire this offseason, according to Fischer, who says LeBron’s post-game comments on Monday surprised many team staffers. McMenamin, like, some other reporters earlier in the week, cites a source close to James who believes LeBron will return in 2023/24. Nonetheless, if only as a thought exercise, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report explores what the Lakers’ next steps might look like if the future Hall-of-Famer does decide to call it a career this offseason.
  • While retirement may not be in the cards for James this summer, foot surgery could be. After McMenamin reported this week that LeBron isn’t ruling out the possibility of undergoing a procedure to address a torn tendon in his right foot, Shams Charania of The Athletic says that surgery would likely sideline the 38-year-old for about two months, with an expectation that he’d be ready for training camp. James is undergoing further evaluations to determine whether it’s necessary.
  • During extension negotiations with Rui Hachimura last fall, the Wizards initially offered a contract in the neighborhood of $12MM per year and eventually bumped that offer to $13-14MM, according to Fischer. Hachimura’s camp was seeking something in the four-year, $60MM range, so a deal didn’t get done. The Lakers forward appears to be in good position to match or exceed that number after a strong finish to the regular season and a productive postseason — Fischer views $15MM per year as a possible floor for Hachimura.
  • The Pacers and Suns could be rival suitors to watch for Hachimura, per Fischer, who notes that both clubs pursued him on the trade market during the winter. The Pacers, who will have cap room this offseason, are better positioned to consider an offer sheet for Hachimura than the capped-out Suns would be.

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Offseason, Kyrie, Prospects

All-NBA Lakers small forward LeBron James surprised the basketball world at large on Monday when he suggested he would be contemplating retirement this offseason.

Shams Charania said on FanDuel TV (Twitter video link) that he believes the 19-time All-Star will stick around at least a while longer.

“My sense is LeBron could have two years left remaining in his his career,” Charania said. “… There’s certainly an expectation that he’s gonna continue playing, he’s got two years left on his Lakers deal. … It would be a true surprise if he really did actually retire.”

There’s more out of Los Angeles:

  • The Lakers only have three guaranteed contracts on their books for 2023/24. Multiple league executives spoke with Sean Deveney of Heavy.com about what Los Angeles might decide to do this offseason in terms of roster construction. The team has a player option on swingman Malik Beasley, which one executive expects the club to pick up. “He can be a contributor, really on any team,” they said. “The expectation is they’ll keep him. He can be a good trade piece if you need one. It’s just, if the tax is a big worry, he’d be the easy piece to move off of.” Following some big playoff games essentially in Beasley’s stead, unrestricted free agent Lonnie Walker IV may get more money elsewhere, another executive speculates. “I can’t see how they can pay him, he is probably a goner,” the exec said.
  • James’ former Cavaliers teammate Kyrie Irving, now an unrestricted free agent, has long been seen as a potential fit for Los Angeles. Jason Lloyd and Jon Greenberg of The Athletic weigh the pros and cons of adding an erratic, controversial talent of Irving’s caliber and price tag.
  • The Lakers, possessors of the Nos. 17 and 47 picks in this year’s draft, will work out six young prospects on Friday, headlined by G League Ignite small forward Leonard Miller, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link). Virginia guard Kihei Clark, Kentucky forward Chris Livingston, Pepperdine forward Maxwell Lewis, Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II, and Baylor guard Adam Flagler round out the invitees.

Lakers Notes: James, Pelinka, Reaves, Russell, Thompson, Hachimura

LeBron James hinted at retirement following the Lakers’ elimination from the postseason on Monday night. General manager Rob Pelinka said on Tuesday that James has earned the right to do whatever he wants with the career, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“LeBron has given as much to the game of basketball as anyone who has ever played,” Pelinka said. “When you do that, you earn a right to decide whether you’re going to give more. … Obviously, our hope would be that his career continues, but we want to give him the time to have that inflection point and support him along the way.”

Pelinka said that he and coach Darvin Ham would talk things over with James in the coming days, according to Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times.

The Lakers have only five players under contract next season, with just three on guaranteed contracts, and Pelinka gave a strong hint he’d like to retain many of the team’s free agents.

“We ultimately got knocked out by a team that has great continuity,” Pelinka said. “They’ve got a group of players that have been together for several seasons, and it shows in the way they play. We feel like we’ve got special players in the locker room that enjoy playing with each other. We know there’s more growth and improvement in that group, especially if we get a training camp together.”

We have more on the Lakers:

  • Austin Reaves, headed to restricted free agency, said he’d like to stick around, Lakers reporter Mike Trudell tweets. “I want to be here. It feels like home to me, in a sense … the way the fans support me. Players, coaching staff, front office,” he said. “This is definitely somewhere I want to be, but we’ll see what happens.”
  • The Western Conference Finals didn’t go well for unrestricted free agent, D’Angelo Russell. He struggled with his shooting and got removed from the starting five in Game 4. However, he labels his second stint with the Lakers a “complete success,” ESPN’s Dave McMenamin tweets. “I really can’t complain about anything except the ball going in when I wanted it to,” Russell said.
  • Tristan Thompson, who played 10 minutes in Game 4, would also like to return as he heads to free agency, Trudell tweets. “I’m all about winning. I’m two feet in for whatever the team needs. I love it here,” he said.
  • Rui Hachimura, who will be a restricted free agent, says his experience with the Lakers since being traded from Washington was “one of the best moments,” the team tweets. “I learned a lot of things from LeBron, AD, the coaches,” he said. “It was great for my career.”

Lakers Notes: LeBron, T. Young, Offseason

Would LeBron James, owed $46.7MM in 2023/24, really decide to retire before the start of next season? James said on Monday that he’ll have to consider the possibility, but sources close to the Lakers star have downplayed the idea that it will actually happen, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic.

As Amick writes, James’ state of mind when he made his postgame comments to the media on Monday may have been influenced by the retirement of his close friend and fellow 2003 draftee Carmelo Anthony, who made his announcement earlier in the day. Just a few questions before he hinted at his own retirement, James was asked about Anthony’s decision.

As Helene Elliott of The Los Angeles Times notes, the disappointment of being eliminated from the postseason was still raw when LeBron spoke to reporters, which may have factored into his comments. Elliott also suggests that James’ remarks could been the beginning of an effort to encourage an aggressive offseason for the Lakers, who will be looking to contend for a title again in 2024.

In his own look at possible explanations for James’ retirement talk, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer wonders if there’s a chance the four-time MVP will pursue a change of scenery, assuming he decides to continue his career. While it’s hard to imagine it happening, O’Connor specifically discusses the possibility of a trade to the Warriors, pointing out that James is good friends with Draymond Green and has said in the past that he’d love to play with Stephen Curry.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • As the Lakers consider ways to upgrade their roster this offseason, Jovan Buha of The Athletic says the team has had internal discussions about what a hypothetical trade offer for Hawks star Trae Young might look like. Even if Atlanta were willing to trade Young, it’s hard to see how the Lakers could put together a viable package, given their lack of draft assets and players under contract.
  • The best approach the Lakers could take this summer would be running it back by retaining and re-signing the players that got them to the Western Conference Finals, contends Mirjam Swanson of The Southern California News Group. As Swanson observes, a team like the Nuggets benefited from continuity, and the Lakers could follow that blueprint by giving this group a full offseason together rather than continuing to make major roster changes.
  • While losing in four games to the Nuggets wasn’t an ideal end to the season, Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times argues that the Lakers should feel no shame about the outcome, given that all the games were competitive and the team had already defied the odds by rebounding from a 2-10 start to make the playoffs and win two series.
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype takes a closer look at the myriad offseason decisions facing the Lakers and how they may tackle those decisions.
  • In case you missed it, a report on Monday stated that the Lakers are “determined” to bring back restricted free agents Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura. A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to Amick that the club intends to bring back Reaves and Hachimura.

LeBron James Mulling Possibility Of Retirement

Following the Lakers‘ elimination from the 2023 playoffs on Monday night, superstar forward LeBron James is contemplating the possibility of retirement, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report.

During his postgame media session, James cryptically told reporters that he has “a lot to think about” this offseason (Twitter link via Jovan Buha of The Athletic). Haynes subsequently reported that LeBron is mulling retirement, which the 38-year-old himself confirmed to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

James told McMenamin that he has to consider “if I want to continue to play.” Pressed on whether he’d really retire at this point, LeBron replied, “I got to think about it.”

A 19-time All-Star, James put up his usual huge numbers during the 2022/23 season, averaging 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game in 55 appearances (35.5 MPG) while shooting 50.0% from the field.

He missed time and was affected in the second half by a torn tendon in his right foot, but still appeared in all 15 of the Lakers’ games in the postseason, averaging 23.5 PPG, 9.9 RPG, and 6.3 APG. The team’s season came to an end in the Western Conference Finals, where the Nuggets completed a 4-0 sweep.

As he weighs his future following a postseason that McMenamin describes as “taxing,” James will have to consider next steps for that foot injury. Asked if it might require offseason surgery, LeBron didn’t rule out the possibility, telling ESPN that he’ll undergo an MRI to see how his tendon has healed.

Regardless of whether or not surgery is required, James believes he would be able to get back to his usual All-NBA level with a full summer of rehab work.

“Because I’m still better than 90% of the NBA,” he said. “Maybe 95.”

James has at least one year and $46.7MM remaining on his contract with the Lakers, with a $50.4MM player option for the 2024/25 season. He has spoken in the past about wanting to remain in the NBA until at least ’24/25, when his son Bronny James will be eligible to enter the league. LeBron has repeatedly expressed a desire to play with Bronny, so Monday’s comments represent a potential change in direction.

When informed of James’ comments after Monday’s loss, Anthony Davis was initially surprised, according to McMenamin, but then recalled a prior conversation he had with his superstar teammate. According to Davis, when the two Lakers forwards were talking about possibly playing in the 2024 Paris Olympics, LeBron told AD that he may have already retired by that point.

For what it’s worth, one person familiar with James’ thinking who spoke to Mark Medina of The Sporting Tribune is skeptical that the future Hall of Famer will really retire this offseason.

Multiple theories are already emerging among NBA writers, with James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link) among those to speculate that LeBron could sit one season before returning to play with Bronny in 2024.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (Twitter link) wonders if James’ comments are – at least in part – a negotiating tactic to push the Lakers further all-in on next year’s roster. Currently, only James, Davis, and Max Christie have guaranteed contracts, so many offseason moves would be necessary to fill out the supporting cast. One path the franchise could consider revisiting, O’Connor observes, is its pursuit of LeBron’s former teammate Kyrie Irving, who will be a free agent.

While it would be a surprise if James ultimately decides to hang up his sneakers this summer, his remarks on Monday ensure that it will be one of the biggest question marks hanging over the NBA’s offseason until he makes a decision one way or the other.

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.