Magic Johnson

And-Ones: Porter, Gasol, Hall Of Fame, Carter, Cooper

Kevin Porter Jr. made his European debut on Saturday, scoring 14 points in his first game with PAOK in Greece. Porter had just one point before halftime, according to a Eurohoops report, but he began driving to the basket more frequently in the second half.

It was good, honestly,” Porter said. “I didn’t play up to my level, of course. I had a slow start, but playing with this group of guys, they made sure that I stayed positive. The chemistry on this team is beautiful. It wasn’t down. It was always joyful out there. I haven’t been on the court like that and played regulation in a long time. So it’s good to have a group of guys like that to lift me up when I started off slow. It was dope.”

The former Rockets guard is hoping to revive his career, which was derailed by an assault case involving his former girlfriend, ex-WNBA player Kysre Gondrezick. Porter said there are a lot of adjustments in Europe, such as a smaller court and a different style of play, but he already likes his new surroundings.

I’ve only been here five days and feel at home,” Porter added. “It’s how the team welcomed me and the fans who were at the airport, and I met them every day. I don’t know exactly what I will do in the future, but I will return here again.

There’s more news from around the basketball world:

  • Many of Marc Gasol‘s former teammates were on hand Saturday in Memphis for his jersey retirement ceremony, per John Hollinger of The Athletic. The event represented a throwback to the Grizzlies‘ “Grit N Grind Era” as the “Core Four” of Gasol, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and Tony Allen were together on the court for the first time since 2017. “I had a very unique perspective because I came as 16-year-old (to watch his older brother, Pau),” Gasol said. “I had the perspective of a fan, of what is expected from the team in Memphis, and then followed the team in Spain. When I came back as a Grizzlies player, I carried that with me, and I carried that kind of pride. And I hope everyone enjoyed what they saw for so many years.”
  • In a separate story, Hollinger calls for changes to the selection process for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He argues that the voting shouldn’t be kept secret and contends the Hall contains too many “outliers” and “contributors” instead of just recognizing historically great players.
  • Vince Carter learned about his Hall of Fame selection on April Fool’s Day, so his first thought was that it might be a prank, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Once Carter realized the call was legitimate, he was overwhelmed by the honor. “You think about the people that are in there. … It’s mind blowing for me,” he said at his press conference. “And I enjoy playing the game of basketball every day, and I’m just overjoyed now that my career is over, like somebody said, the cherry on top: This is it.”
  • Magic Johnson is thrilled to see longtime teammate Michael Cooper receive Hall of Fame recognition, telling Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times, “My boy made it! My boy made it! My boy Coop made the Hall of Fame! Damn! I was hollering, man, when I heard it. I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited for him, man.”

Warriors Notes: Wiggins, Kuminga, Green, Myers

The Warriors haven’t been effective with Andrew Wiggins and Jonathan Kuminga on the court together, but their athletic potential is so tantalizing that coach Steve Kerr tried the combination again Sunday night, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Kerr employed his 13th different starting lineup of the season, using Wiggins and Kuminga as the forwards, but the results were disappointing again as Toronto jumped to an early 24-12 lead that Golden State was never able to overcome.

“We’ve talked about trying to get (Wiggins and Kuminga) together,” Kerr said. “Theoretically our two longest, most athletic players. We have not been a good defensive team this year, so we wanted to try it. It hasn’t connected, really. But we’re experimenting. We’re trying to find a two-way lineup that can help us. But obviously that lineup didn’t click.”

Kerr pulled the plug on the experiment by intermission, as the Raptors scored 76 first-half points and held a 27-point lead. He replaced Wiggins, Kuminga and Trayce Jackson-Davis with Brandin PodziemskiDario Saric and Kevon Looney to start the third quarter.

“I didn’t want to go back to the same lineup,” Kerr said. “The only thing I was interested in in the second half was just competing. What that means — you can say compete, but what does that mean? It means talking on defense. I didn’t hear anything. It was silent in the first half. We needed to have some talk, some chatter. So I went with that lineup because I felt they would give us that.”

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Kerr will have to juggle his rotation even more when Draymond Green returns, Slater adds. Green, whose suspension was lifted Saturday after 12 games, was in the arena with his teammates Sunday night. Green is expected to miss at least one more game while working on his conditioning, according to Slater, but he should be back on the court by the end of the week.
  • With the trade deadline now just a month away, the front office is facing a crucial decision on Kuminga, who likely has the highest value of any of the Warriors’ available players, notes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Kuminga’s athleticism makes him an intriguing prospect for rival teams, and he’s only 21 with another year remaining on his rookie contract. There are no signs that management will consider breaking up the long-standing trio of Green, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Poole adds.
  • The NFL’s Washington Commanders have hired former Warriors general manager Bob Myers as part of their search team for a new head of football operations and head coach, per Adrian Wojnarowski and Adam Schefter of ESPN. Myers, who left Golden State when his contract expired last summer, will be part of an advisory committee that also includes former NBA star Magic Johnson. Myers will continue his studio work with ESPN on NBA games.

And-Ones: M. Johnson, Dellavedova, Bronny, International

Magic Johnson has turned down chances to join NBA ownership groups and says that due to his loyalty to the Lakers, he’d only consider a chance to be part of an ownership group with the Knicks, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press reports.

“I think because of the way fans love basketball you might have to think about that one, because I love coming to New York and going to the Garden and watching the Knicks play,” he said. “I love being with fans who are so passionate about their team and the Knick fans are, and they’re smart. They’re smart basketball fans and so that one I would have to think about. I think that other than that, I would probably never think about ever being a part of another franchise.”

Johnson hasn’t spoken with Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan about his dream of owning a piece of the franchise. Johnson, who is a minority owner of the Washington Commanders, said he has declined opportunities to join the Warriors, Pistons, and Hawks ownership groups, but wouldn’t mind meeting with Dolan.

“That one you would really have to think about, in terms of being a minority owner of that team,” he said. “But other than that, I would just stay with the Lakers and even with my role now, just being a fan, I’m happy just doing that with the Lakers because, again, I bleed purple and gold.”

We have more from the around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA guard Matthew Dellavedova was disappointed he wasn’t part of Australia’s World Cup team this summer and is motivated to prove he belongs on its Olympic team, Olgun Uluc of ESPN reports. He’s playing for Melbourne United this season. “For me, the Boomers is the ultimate,” Dellavedova said. “I’ve never taken it for granted. I know how fortunate I’ve been to represent Australia. I still feel like my best basketball is ahead of me, so I definitely want to be part of the Boomers for as long as possible. The goal is to try to help United win a championship, and do whatever I can to make the team for Paris.”
  • LeBron James‘ son, Bronny James, didn’t participate in USC’s first practice though his coach says he’s doing well health-wise, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Bronny suffered cardiac arrest during a workout on July 24. “We anticipate him being a very valuable part of our basketball team,” coach Andy Enfield said. “But that’ll be all sorted out. He’s the ultimate teammate because he cares about winning, and he has such a personal relationship with all his teammates.”
  • Turkish team Anadolu Efes is considering making another roster addition and may be eyeing NBA free agents, Johnny Askounis of relays. “Of course, when it comes to players of such quality, they are waiting for the NBA before making a final decision,” GM Alper Yilmaz said. “I will not name players, but we are considering three players. Maybe two different names come to my attention every single day. We don’t want to sign a player without the head coach’s approval.”

Magic Johnson: Pelinka Did Better Than Any GM This Offseason

Magic Johnson has high praise for Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, called Pelinka the “No. 1 GM in the NBA this offseason,” he told Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times in a wide-ranging interview.

Johnson was impressed with Pelinka’s trade deadline acquisitions, which propelled the Lakers into the playoffs and all the way to the conference finals. This offseason, Pelinka has re-signed Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell, and added Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, Cam Reddish and Jaxson Hayes.

“I think he followed it up with another outstanding job, first from the trade deadline and then he kept it going in the summer,” the Hall of Famer and former Lakers executive said. “He did better than anybody in the summer. All the moves he made, he was the No. 1 GM in the NBA this offseason. No question about it. All the guys that we signed will help (LeBron James) and the other guys because now we are deeper. Rob is going to be executive of the year.”

Johnson sees the Lakers as a serious contender for the title.

“This is a Western Conference championship team. We could actually win everything if we can stay healthy,” he said. “This team has a real shot. … It’s not going to be easy for Denver to repeat, even though you always got to pick the champion as the favorite right now, and I do. But the Lakers, Memphis with the trades they made, Phoenix and Golden State, and Sacramento and Denver, man, the West is going to be hard.”

Johnson is part of the ownership group that purchased the Washington Commanders of the NFL. Johnson said he has ties to Washington, D.C. than many people don’t realize.

“I’ve done business there in Washington, D.C.,” Johnson said. “And I told this story — and people forget this — I was the last person [former Lakers owner] Jack Kent Cooke signed and he had to sign me so that he could then sell the team to Dr. Buss [in 1979]. So, when Dr. Buss wrote him that check, he needed that check to buy the Washington Redskins. It’s that crazy. People don’t know that. That [$67.5 million] went a long way. So, I guess it’s destiny that I’m supposed to be a part of this because I’ve done so much in the city.”

Sixers Owner Harris Agrees To Buy Washington Commanders

Sixers owner Josh Harris has reached an agreement to purchase the NFL’s Washington Commanders, Sportico’s Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams report.

Harris, who is also the managing partner for the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, is acquiring the NFL team from Dan Snyder for approximately $6 billion, a record for a sports franchise. Harris’ group also includes NBA Hall of Famer and former Lakers executive Magic Johnson.

The previous record purchase price for a sports team was $4.6 billion, which Rob Walton paid for the NFL’s Denver Broncos last year.

Harris became the majority owner of the Sixers franchise in 2011.

NBA Reveals New Conference Finals MVP Awards, Fresh Tributes For Existing Awards

The NBA has created two new Conference Finals MVP awards to honor the best performances in each conference, as well as overhauling several of its signature postseason awards, the league announced today in a press release.

The Conference Finals awards will pay tribute to two Hall of Fame players with some of the starriest resumes in league history, who have each made plenty of appearances in the playoffs’ penultimate round.

The Western Conference Finals MVP will now be rewarded with the Earvin “Magic” Johnson Trophy. The hardware honors Lakers legend Magic Johnson, a 12-time All-Star and five-time champion with Los Angeles who advanced out of the West and into the Finals nine times during his 13-season career.

Johnson was named to both the NBA’s 50th Anniversary Team in 1997 and its 75th Anniversary Team this year. Johnson was also a key member of the 1992 Olympic gold medal-winning “Dream Team.” He went on to enjoy an incredibly lucrative career with a variety of businesses following his NBA tenure, as well as several successful stints as a league broadcaster. He had an ownership stake with the Lakers for the team’s five subsequent titles from 2000-2002 and 2009-2010. He briefly returned to the Lakers in separate stints as a coach and executive, and is currently advising Lakers owner Jeanie Buss in an informal capacity. Johnson also won another basketball title as the co-owner of the WNBA club the Los Angeles Sparks in 2016.

“The NBA Conference Finals represent the last hurdle a team must face for an opportunity to make it to the big stage, the NBA Finals,” Johnson, now 62, said of the honor. “I’m truly honored to have my name memorialized on the Western Conference Finals Most Valuable Player Trophy. This player excels on both ends of the court, makes his teammates better and leads his team to the greatest stage in basketball.”

The Larry Bird Trophy will be given to the Eastern Conference Finals MVP, in tribute to Johnson’s longtime Eastern Conference counterpart Larry Bird. Bird also made his NBA debut during the 1979/80 NBA season along with Johnson, following three years at Indiana State that culminated in an NCAA championship game loss to Johnson’s Spartans. Bird bested Johnson for the 1980 NBA Rookie of the Year award with the Celtics.

In a 13-year playing career for Boston, Bird – like Johnson – made nine All-NBA First Teams and one All-NBA Second Team. The 6’9″ forward was named to three All-Defensive Second Teams, won three championships with the Celtics, and was awarded the Finals MVP in two of those title trips. He advanced to the NBA Finals out of the East five times. Bird was a three-time league MVP and one-time All-Star Game MVP. Like Johnson, Bird was a 1992 Olympic gold medalist, though back issues limited his efficacy with the club. Bird was named to both the NBA’s 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams.

“I am very honored to have my name associated with the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals MVP Trophy,” the 65-year-old Bird said. “I know how tough it is to get to this great milestone of the Eastern Conference Finals and to be named the Most Valuable Player makes it even more special.”

Bird’s history with the Eastern Conference Finals doesn’t end with his playing career. He later served as the head coach of the Pacers for three seasons from 1997-2000, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals twice and the NBA Finals once, in 2000. Bird then moved on to become the Pacers’ team president, leading Indiana to three more Eastern Conference Finals appearances before ultimately moving to a consulting role with the club in 2017. He is currently the only person to have won the NBA MVP, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year honors.

The NBA will also pay tribute to two other Hall of Famers with some additional Conference Championship hardware.

The league has renamed the Western Conference Championship Trophy the Oscar Robertson Trophy, named after the Hall of Fame point guard Oscar Robertson, who served a starry 14-year career with the Bucks and Cincinnati Royals. Robertson was a 12-time All-Star, a nine-time First Teamer, and two-time Second Teamer, a three-time All-Star Game MVP, a one-time league MVP, and the 1961 Rookie of the Year.

“I am thrilled to have the NBA Western Conference Champions Trophy named in my honor,” said the 83-year-old Robertson. “Several decades ago, I played in an emerging and highly competitive league with tremendous talent. This trophy represents to me not only my hard work to make the league better, but all the efforts of the future Oscar Robertson Trophy winners who make the NBA great.”

In the Eastern Conference, the championship trophy will now be known as the Bob Cousy Trophy, a tribute to the longtime Celtics Hall of Fame point guard Bob Cousy. The 6’1″ Holy Cross alum, selected with the No. 3 pick by Boston in 1950, has been named to the 25th, 35th, 50th and 75th NBA Anniversary teams. He went on to make 13 All-Star teams and win six titles with Boston. Cousy was also a 10-time All NBA First Teamer and a two-time Second Teamer, in addition to winning one MVP in 1957.

“I have been part of the NBA family since 1950 and among the greatest joys of my post-playing career has been watching the game continue to evolve into what it is today,” the 93-year-old Cousy said. “There are few greater achievements in sports than representing your conference in the NBA Finals, and I’m moved that the NBA has granted me the honor of being connected to the Eastern Conference champions for years to come.”

The NBA has also re-designed its Larry O’Brien Trophy, awarded to the winner of the NBA Finals, and its Bill Russell Trophy, given to the NBA Finals MVP.

Lakers’ Jeanie Buss Discusses Down Year, Front Office, More

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss wasn’t happy with the way her team’s season played out, she said in a wide-ranging interview with Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times. With championship expectations and one of the NBA’s most expensive rosters entering the 2021/22 season, Los Angeles went 33-49 and missed both the playoffs and the play-in tournament.

“I’m growing impatient just because we had the fourth-highest payroll in the league,” Buss told Plaschke. “… When you spend that kind of money on the luxury tax, you expect to go deep into the playoffs. So, yeah, it was gut-wrenching for me to go out on a limb like that and not get the results that we were looking for. … I’m not happy, I’m not satisfied.”

As the final decision-maker on Lakers matters, Buss said it was up to her to “make things better” after an “extremely disappointing” year, which could mean making personnel changes on and off the court.

“Absolutely, if we are not living up to the Lakers standard, absolutely I will look at everything,” she said. “… I will make the hard decisions, because that’s what you have to do.”

Although it sounds like front office changes could be on the table if the Lakers have another down year, Buss appears prepared to give VP of basketball operations Rob Pelinka and his group at least one more shot to reshape and upgrade the roster, as well as to hire a new head coach, Plaschke writes.

“In terms of basketball decisions, I have complete confidence in our front office, which is headed by Rob Pelinka,” Buss said. “He is a person that is extremely smart, extremely strategic, everything he does is thoughtful and with purpose. … I have complete confidence that he can put together a roster and find a coach that is going to get us back to where we belong.”

Here’s more from Buss on the state of the Lakers:

  • Buss confirmed that she receives input from Kurt Rambis, Linda Rambis, Magic Johnson, Phil Jackson, LeBron James, and Klutch Sports, but insists that none of those figures have outsized voices within the organization. “Do they have final say? No. Are they running the team? No, no, not at all,” Buss said when asked about James and Klutch Sports, adding that it’s normal for teams to bounce ideas off of their top players. “I am controlling owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, I’m held accountable for every decision that’s made here.”
  • Buss defended Kurt Rambis’ track record against what she perceives as “unfair criticism” and stressed that Linda Rambis has no input in basketball decisions. “In terms of Linda Rambis, she does not have a role in the basketball department; her role is, as it’s been for the last almost 40 years, is as my advisor,” Buss told Plaschke. “She and I have worked together for years and years and years. Why that has become an issue for people, I don’t understand.” Linda helps new Lakers players and their families adjust to Los Angeles, according to Buss: “Every team has somebody like that, in our case it’s Linda. … She’s done that for over 30 years with the Lakers. Not like all of a sudden she’s become the assistant general manager, that’s not true.”
  • Buss believes the Lakers can win another title with James and Anthony Davis as their cornerstones, but declined to speculate on Russell Westbrook‘s future with the team. “Having a conversation like that is premature,” she said. “We have to now find the right coach to lead this team. Depending on the style of play that that coach wants to play, given the roster that we have, it all has to start to come together.”
  • Buss hasn’t given any thought to the idea of selling the Lakers, telling Plaschke that her late father Jerry Buss always wanted to keep the franchise in the family. “I’m not going anywhere. This is exactly what my dad asked me to do. The team is not for sale,” Jeanie said. “… I like to say, my dad had his children, but the Lakers were his baby, and he put me in charge of the baby, and I will make sure that the baby thrives.”

And-Ones: Johnson, 2023 Draft, Fan Costs, Herd

Lakers legend Magic Johnson has decided to enter the bidding for the NFL’s Denver Broncos, according to Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams of Sportico. Johnson is joining the group led by Sixers co-owner Josh Harris.

Johnson replaced Jim Buss as Lakers president of basketball operations in 2017, then resigned from his role in 2019. His storied playing career includes five NBA championships and three MVP awards across 13 seasons.

Johnson also owns part of the Dodgers (MLB) and Sparks (WNBA). The Broncos are being sold by the Bowlen family, which has owned the franchise for 38 years. Our friends at Pro Football Rumors have more on Harris’ and Johnson’s bid for the team.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz of ESPN have released their 2023 mock draft, which features several young talents from around the globe. French big man Victor Wembanyana appears to be the consensus No. 1 pick at this point. The talented 18-year-old is 7’3″ with a 7’9″ wingspan, intriguing NBA scouts. Givony and Schmitz project G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson and Arkansas guard Nick Smith to be the second and third picks, respectively.
  • Bill Shea of The Athletic explores the general fan costs of all 30 teams. Shea examines factors such as ticket prices and concessions, concluding that the Knicks, Warriors and Lakers provide the most expensive costs for fans.
  • Wisconsin Herd president Steve Brandes has been recognized as the 2021/22 NBA G League Team Executive of the Year, the club announced in a press release. The Herd were also recognized with the inaugural 2021/22 NBA G League President’s Choice Award, which is given to the team that demonstrates what each G League club should strive to be.

Lakers Notes: Davis, James, Injuries, DeRozan

The Lakers aren’t technically out of playoff contention yet, but after falling two games (and a tiebreaker) behind San Antonio in the Western Conference standings on Sunday, their odds of claiming a spot in the play-in tournament are increasingly slim — in fact, the Lakers could be officially eliminated as soon as Tuesday if they lose in Phoenix and the Spurs win in Denver.

Following Sunday’s loss, Anthony Davis sounded like someone who recognized that L.A.’s season is all but over, as he reflected on “what could have been” if the team had been healthier.

“I think the biggest thing that I think about personally is what we could have been, had we stayed healthy all year,” Davis said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “What could we have been. … Guys feel like, ‘OK, what could we have been if I was healthy all year, [LeBron James] was healthy, [Kendrick] Nunn was healthy.’ You think about those things. We put this team together and it looked good on paper, but we haven’t had a chance to reach that potential with guys in and out of the lineup.”

Davis, who has only played in half of the Lakers’ 78 games so far this season, has been bothered throughout his career by injuries, but he bristled at the perception that he’s fragile, telling Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times that he hasn’t been sidelined due to “little ticky-tack injuries.”

“This is what I’ve learned about injuries,” Davis said. “Last year when I wasn’t playing, people were saying, ‘AD’s giving up on his team. It’s the playoffs. AD has to play. He’s got to play.’ And when I went out there to play, got hurt again, they said, ‘Who was his trainer? Who let him play?’

“So, what the [expletive] do you want me to do? When I play, it’s a problem. It’s a problem when I don’t play. At the end of the day, I’ve got to do what’s best for me and how my body feels. And we go from there. I’m not worried about who’s saying what or who thinks this about me because none of them have stepped on the floor and played. And the ones that did play, they should understand.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • A source familiar with James’ status told Dave McMenamin of ESPN that the star forward is “unlikely” to play on Tuesday vs. Phoenix. However, according to McMenamin, the source said there’s still a chance that could change if LeBron’s ankle improves more than expected by tomorrow night.
  • Jovan Buha of The Athletic and his colleague John Hollinger both pushed back against the idea that injuries have been the primary cause of the Lakers’ disappointing season. Buha observed that even in games when Davis and James played, the team was just 11-11, while Hollinger said the team’s offseason plan needs to be better than simply running it back and hoping its two superstars stay healthy in 2022/23.
  • Appearing on ESPN’s Get Up and First Take on Monday, former Lakers president Magic Johnson criticized the club for not acquiring DeMar DeRozan last offseason instead of Russell Westbrook (link via Jenna Lemoncelli of The New York Post). While that’s not an unreasonable take, given that DeRozan had interest in playing for his hometown team, Johnson’s assertion that the Lakers could’ve had DeRozan, Buddy Hield, Alex Caruso, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope instead of Westbrook is a fantasy that doesn’t pass muster. Unless DeRozan had been willing to sign for the taxpayer mid-level exception (which wasn’t viewed as a viable option at the time), L.A. would’ve become hard-capped by acquiring him and would have had no way of carrying all those contracts in addition to James’ and Davis’ maximum salaries. Acquiring both DeRozan and Hield without giving up Caldwell-Pope also likely wouldn’t have been possible due to salary-matching rules.

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Caruso, Vogel, Magic, Augustin, Gabriel

LeBron James dropped 56 points on the Warriors Saturday night, leading the Lakers to a 124-116 win and ending a four-game losing streak, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. James shot 19-of-31 from the field, 6-of-11 from three, and 12-of-13 from the line while adding 10 rebounds and three assists in nearly 39 minutes of action.

The 56-point effort tied Trae Young‘s NBA season-high and is the most points LeBron has scored in a game for Los Angeles, Buha notes. James said he was just happy to get a win.

It’s funny, our guys were following me off the floor tonight going into the locker room and they asked me, ‘How does it feel to score 56?’” James said. “I said, ‘Right now, I don’t give a damn about the 56. I’m just happy we got a win.’ That’s just literally the first thing that came to my mind.”

James’ spectacular performance was historic for a couple other reasons, Buha writes. He passed Karl Malone for the most combined regular season and postseason minutes, and became just the fourth player to record 50-plus points in a game at age 37 or older, joining Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Jamal Crawford.

There’s really no words for it,” coach Frank Vogel said of James’ 56-point game. “An incredible performance by the best to ever do it, in my opinion, and as I’ve said.”

The Lakers have had an undeniably disappointing season, barely clinging to the No. 9 seed in the West with a 28-35 record, but James has been consistently great on offense. He’s now tied with Giannis Antetokounmpo for second in the league in scoring with 29.4 points per game, just a tenth of a point behind Joel Embiid‘s league-leading 29.5. It’s James’ highest scoring average since 2009/10.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • A source tells Marc Stein of Substack that James was a leading supporter of Alex Caruso and badly wanted the Lakers to re-sign him, but the team declined to offer Caruso a contract comparable to the four-year, $37MM deal he received from the Bulls last summer due to luxury tax concerns. Caruso was having a strong season for Chicago, but has played just 28 games to this point and is currently sidelined with a fractured right wrist.
  • Appearing on NBA Today, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports (video link) that the Lakers haven’t moved on from Vogel due to long-term injuries to Anthony Davis and Kendrick Nunn, and more importantly the front office doesn’t think that replacing Vogel would make a difference in the team’s performance. “(The Lakers) would like to get through the rest of this season with Frank Vogel,” Wojnarowski said.
  • Prior to Saturday’s game, in an appearance on NBA Countdown (video link), Magic Johnson said the trade for Westbrook “could go down as the worst trade in Laker history” if L.A. is unable to advance past the play-in tournament.
  • D.J. Augustin and Wenyen Gabriel are eager to make an impact with their new club, according to Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group. “I know they haven’t been playing up to everybody’s expectations, I would say,” Augustin said of the Lakers. “But it’s the NBA, and things happen. But we’re still in a good position where we can still have a chance. And that’s all you need in this league, is a chance.”