Wayne Ellington

Lakers Notes: Westbrook, Klutch, Carmelo, Offseason

The Lakers‘ front office is internally blaming pressure from Klutch Sports Group for last summer’s acquisition of Russell Westbrook, multiple sources tell Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

As has been reported by several outlets since last August, Klutch clients LeBron James and Anthony Davis played a part in recruiting Westbrook, helping convince the Lakers to go after the former MVP instead of trying to sign-and-trade for DeMar DeRozan or acquire Buddy Hield from Sacramento.

Still, while James, Davis, and their agency may have had a hand in the Westbrook trade, VP of basketball operations Rob Pelinka and the rest of the Lakers’ front office ultimately had the final say. Pincus, who suggests that assigning the blame to Klutch Sports “may be an epic level of passing the buck,” writes that NBA front offices should consider their stars’ input but that the top basketball executives are responsible for making the decisions they feel are best for the team.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

Nuggets’ Facundo Campazzo Suspended For Game 1

Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo will be ineligible to suit up for Game 1 of the team’s series against Golden State this Saturday, having been suspended for one game by the NBA, the league announced today in a press release (Twitter link).

Campazzo was hit with a one-game suspension for “forcefully shoving” Lakers guard Wayne Ellington in Sunday’s regular season finale, according to the NBA. Ellington received a $20K fine for escalating the incident by making a “threatening comment” on Twitter after the game.

A video of the incident can be viewed right here.

Campazzo is the second Nugget to receive a one-game suspension this season for shoving a player who had his back turned. Fortunately, Ellington wasn’t injured like Heat forward Markieff Morris was when he was hit from behind by Nikola Jokic in November.

Campazzo was a significant part of Denver’s rotation earlier in the season, but hasn’t played regular minutes in recent weeks, so his absence shouldn’t have a huge impact on the Nuggets, who will be relying more on guards like Monte Morris and Bones Hyland.

The one-game ban will cost Campazzo $20,517, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Injury Notes: Lakers, Jazz, Bulls, Heat

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Anthony Davis is progressing each day as he inches closer to a return to action, as Mike Trudell of Spectrum SportsNet tweets.

Anthony has had a good week … He’s had a productive week,” Vogel said.

Davis continues to do spot shooting, which began on Monday. Davis originally suffered a right foot strain on February 16, so he’s a little more than four weeks into his four-to-six week recovery timetable.

Lakers reserves Carmelo Anthony and Wayne Ellington were both unable to play on Friday at Toronto due to non-COVID illnesses, Trudell relays (via Twitter).

Talen Horton-Tucker missed the game as well, per Blake Murphy of Sportsnet (Twitter link). Horton-Tucker has been battling a Grade 2 ankle sprain.

Here are more injury-related updates from around the NBA:

  • The Jazz are dealing with a plethora of maladies at the moment. Six players were listed as out for Friday’s game against the Clippers, the team announced (Twitter link): Donovan Mitchell (right calf contusion), Bojan Bogdanovic (left calf strain), Danuel House (left knee bone bruise), Hassan Whiteside (non-COVID illness), Trent Forrest (right wrist sprain), and Udoka Azubuike (right ankle sprain).
  • Bulls coach Billy Donovan says Lonzo Ball has been experiencing discomfort in his rehab, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “He has not responded,” Donovan said. “There’s no setbacks. It’s still the same thing. He has not been able to do anything full speed. And anytime we get him close to that, there’s discomfort. So I think they’re going to probably at least look at, you know, ‘Do you back off and let him rest for a little bit and see if that helps?’” Johnson notes that Friday marked seven weeks since Ball underwent surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his left knee, and given his lack of progress, it seems highly unlikely he’ll return in the six-to-eight week recovery timetable Chicago originally provided. Donovan said there’s been no talk of Ball missing the remainder of the season, but the team is still determining the next steps in his recovery process.
  • On a more positive note, Donovan said Patrick Williams has been a full participant in G League practices with the Windy City Bulls, with no setbacks. He also said there was a “very real” possibility that Williams could return to action versus Toronto on Monday or Milwaukee on Tuesday, Johnson tweets. Williams has been targeting a return next week; he’s been out since October due to wrist surgery.
  • Jimmy Butler (sprained right ankle) and Victor Oladipo (back spasms) both missed the Heat‘s 120-108 win over the Thunder on Friday, Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes. It’s the third time Butler has sprained his right ankle this season, Chiang notes, which is definitely a concerning trend. However, the injury isn’t considered serious. On the bright side, Caleb Martin (hyperextended left knee) and P.J. Tucker (left knee irritation) were both able to play after being listed as questionable. Martin had missed the past three games for the 47-24 Heat, who hold the No. 1 seed in the East.

Lakers Notes: Horton-Tucker, Ellington, Carmelo, Defense

A pair of Lakers guards are working toward their returns to the court, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN relays (via Twitter).

Head coach Frank Vogel told reporters on Monday that Talen Horton-Tucker has had the stitches removed from his surgically-repaired right thumb and will begin shooting on Tuesday. Vogel also said that Wayne Ellington, who has yet to play this season due to a hamstring injury, will practice with the South Bay Lakers in the G League before debuting for the NBA team.

Horton-Tucker and Ellington are among a handful of Lakers that have yet to play this season due to injuries — Kendrick Nunn and Trevor Ariza have also been on the shelf since the regular season began. The club has managed to stay afloat in part by getting contributions from bench players who weren’t expected to play regular roles, including undrafted rookie Austin Reaves and recently-added veteran Avery Bradley.

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  • Carmelo Anthony, who scoffed at the idea of playing a bench role for the Thunder back in 2017, said on Sunday that he believes there’s a “misconception out there” about his willingness to play any role asked of him. “I think people don’t really understand me,” the Lakers forward said, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “… I’m easily adaptable, man, to any situation.” Anthony is thriving in a reserve role so far this season, averaging 16.7 PPG on .500/.522/.786 shooting in seven games (27.0 MPG).
  • With strong defenders like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marc Gasol, and Alex Caruso no longer on the roster, the Lakers are asking their stars to do more “dirty work” on the defensive end, as Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group details. “I think for a lot of our guys – Bron, A.D., Melo, Russ – a lot of their careers they’ve had a lot of ‘dirty work’ guys around them,” Frank Vogel said. “And now they have to support each other in that way and really commit to guarding their own man and executing our scheme.”
  • Count Vogel among those that believes the NBA should consider tweaking its rules to crack down on the so-called “Euro foul,” as Mike Trudell of Lakers.com tweets. While the NBA has made some changes this year to how fouls are called, the league has yet to address these intentional fouls to stop fast breaks.

Lakers Notes: Vogel, Westbrook, Reaves, Ellington

Lakers coach Frank Vogel believes fans and the media are overreacting to an 0-2 start, writes Bill Oram of The Athletic. Friday night was particularly bad for L.A. as the team was blown out by the Suns in a game that saw Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard get into a sideline altercation, Rajon Rondo have a dispute with a courtside fan, and Vogel receive a technical foul after running onto the court to question a call.

“We’re just disappointed that we’re not winning, that’s all,” Vogel said. “Look, these are some of the greatest players ever to play because of their competitive spirit. If you don’t win, there’s going to be frustration. That’s what makes them great.”

The Lakers are still learning to play together after having the largest roster turnover in the league during the offseason, with just three players remaining from last year’s team. They added a group of former All-Stars, but there are concerns that the roster is too old and doesn’t fit well together. Oram suggests that Friday’s performance reflects a lack of discipline as well.

“I think that can get overly blown when you lose a game,” LeBron James told reporters. “You have some techs here, you see an altercation. You start saying, ‘OK, these guys are ultimately … the whole thing’s frustration.’ Well, we’re competitors. If you don’t get mad at certain things on the floor that you feel like you should have done better, then what are you here for?”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Russell Westbrook was significantly better on Friday than he was in the season opener, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Westbrook put up familiar statistics with 15 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists and was able to drive to the rim several times. L.A. played without a center for part of the fourth quarter, and Buha expects Vogel to continue to experiment with lineups to find the best combination to go with Westbrook.
  • Austin Reaves helped the Lakers rally in the fourth quarter and is making a bid to be part of the regular rotation, Buha adds. The rookie guard gives the offense another play-maker and a three-point threat. “We’re learning about our team,” Vogel said. “Gave some of the other wings a chance, the first chance. Weren’t getting much done as a group in the first three quarters, and as a coach, when you’re down big, you try to change the game with a small lineup and a different guy at the wing. And Austin came in and played really well.”
  • Wayne Ellington‘s season debut will be delayed at least one more game, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Ellington has been ruled out for Sunday’s contest with a strained hamstring, but the team hopes he’ll be available sometime during the coming week.

Kendrick Nunn To Miss Multiple Weeks With Bone Bruise

Lakers guard Kendrick Nunn has been diagnosed with a bone bruise in his right knee and he’ll be out multiple weeks, coach Frank Vogel told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and other members after Thursday’s practice (Twitter link).

Nunn dealt with an ankle sprain in the same leg during training camp, though the club was hopeful he’d be back by opening night. He had an MRI on the knee after experiencing some soreness and it revealed the bruise. He’ll be re-evaluated in about two or three weeks, according to Vogel.

Nunn signed a two-year contract with Los Angeles after Miami pulled its qualifying offer to him, making him an unrestricted free agent in August. Nunn reportedly turned down more money from the Knicks and other suitors in order to join the Lakers. Nunn was projected to be Russell Westbrook‘s primary backup at the point, along with seeing some minutes at the shooting guard spot.

His absence will thrust veteran Rajon Rondo into the backup point guard role and newly-acquired Avery Bradley could also see action there. Wayne Ellington has been ruled out of Friday’s game against Phoenix with a hamstring injury, McMenamin adds.

Injury Notes: Diakite, P. Williams, C. White, Zion, Lakers

Thunder forward Mamadi Diakite has been diagnosed with a left hip fracture and has been ruled out indefinitely, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter links). Diakite sustained the injury during Sunday’s preseason game against Milwaukee, Mussatto adds.

It’s an unfortunate turn of events for Diakite, who was claimed off waivers by the Thunder last month and was trying to prove he deserved a spot on the regular season roster. Only $100K of Diakite’s minimum-salary contract is guaranteed, making him a potential casualty of a roster crunch.

Although the Thunder haven’t revealed their plans for their 15-man regular season roster, they’re carrying 13 players on guaranteed contracts, and Kenrich Williams is a lock for the roster despite his non-guaranteed salary. That leaves just one available 15-man spot — if Diakite’s injury takes him out of the running, Gabriel Deck and D.J. Wilson would likely be the top contenders for it.

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

  • Bulls forward Patrick Williams appears to be nearing a return. He participated fully in Wednesday’s practice and said his injured ankle “feels good,” per Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic (Twitter link). Meanwhile, Bulls guard Coby White, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, still isn’t close to being cleared for contact. Head coach Billy Donovan said on Wednesday the team is about three or four weeks away from determining the next step in White’s rehab process (Twitter link via Cody Westerlund of 670TheScore.com).
  • Pelicans head of basketball operations David Griffin said last month he thought Zion Williamson, who underwent offseason foot surgery, would be ready for opening night. However, head coach Willie Green confirmed on Monday that Williamson still isn’t running or participating in team activities, according to William Guillory of The Athletic, who says Zion’s uncertain status leaves New Orleans in limbo with the regular season around the corner.
  • Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is hopeful that Malik Monk (groin) and Kendrick Nunn (ankle) will be ready to go by opening night, per Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group (Twitter links). However, veteran guard Wayne Ellington is dealing with a hamstring strain that makes him more of a question mark for the start of the season.

Lakers Notes: Centers, Monk, Two-Ways, Brown, Queen

With Anthony Davis expected to see more action at the center spot this season, it remains to be seen how much playing time former All-NBA big men Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan will get at the five for the Lakers. However, as Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times writes, Jordan isn’t overly concerned about how many minutes he’ll play.

“That’s the blessing of it, having a lot of different lineups that you can use. And I think each game is gonna have a say on what we do,” Jordan said on Saturday. “We can be rolling with a huge lineup. And, you know, we’ll win with that. And some games may need us to go small. And I think that at this point of my career, of all of our careers, you know, at the end of the day, ultimately, we just want to be able to win and be able to achieve something as a collective.”

Howard, who played a career-low 17.3 minutes per contest last season in Philadelphia, shares Jordan’s philosophy.

“Leave the ego at the door, leave it at home when you wake up,” Howard said of his role. “There’s no need to have it. We all represent this emblem that’s behind me, this Laker logo. We understand that, and it’s whatever the team needs to win.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Malik Monk‘s impressive preseason debut on Sunday further complicates an already-crowded battle for playing time at shooting guard, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who observes that the Lakers will have to find time at the two for Monk, Wayne Ellington, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kent Bazemore, and Kendrick Nunn. Nunn has generally played point guard, but may not see much action there if Russell Westbrook plays big minutes and Rajon Rondo has a regular role, Buha notes.
  • Cameron Oliver, Mac McClung, Chaundee Brown, and Trevelin Queen are the camp invitees currently in the mix for the Lakers’ second two-way contract slot, but the team could end up going outside of the organization to fill that spot, as Buta writes in the same story. “We’re gonna see how the preseason plays out,” head coach Frank Vogel said. “See who all is available, both the guys that are here, or who are around the league, guys that might get cut, and we’ll make a decision closer to opening night.”
  • If the Lakers do convert one of their current camp invitees to a two-way contract, Brown and Queen may be the frontrunners, says Buha. Both of those players are wings, which might be the Lakers’ biggest need.

Pacific Notes: Green, Ariza, Ellington, Booker, Kings Guards

Draymond Green is skeptical that the current Warriors roster can produce championship results, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. He doesn’t see how incorporating second-year centers James Wiseman and two first-round rookies into the mix with veterans who have won won multiple championship can deliver another title.

“Historically, we have not seen that work, where you have a mix of old … well, I wouldn’t say any of us are old. … But a mixture of experience and hardly any experience, historically, in just being a fan of the NBA,” he said. “I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen someone have success with that.”

Green, who also spoke of his relationships with coach Steve Kerr and GM Bob Myers, said he won’t urge teammate Andrew Wiggins to get vaccinated, feeling that it’s “none of my business” and “it’s not my place to tell what he should or shouldn’t do” in regard to medical decisions.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Who will start for the Lakers along with the Big Three of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook? It’s up for grabs and the speculation entering camp was that the two leading candidates would be Trevor Ariza and Kent Bazemore. Ariza still remains the favorite to claim the small forward spot but 3-point shooter Wayne Ellington is the current favorite to be Westbrook’s backcourt partner, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic.
  • Suns star guard Devin Booker recently tested positive for COVID-19, but returned to practice on Friday. He confirmed he’s been fully vaccinated and has passed the league protocols, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic reports. Coach Monty Williams said it’s unlikely Booker will play in Monday’s preseason opener at Sacramento.
  • The Kings are expected to show a lot of three-guard lineups this season. De’Aaron Fox said it’s up to those players to make it work, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee writes. “We’ve talked about playing three guards and, at the end of the day, what you give up is size, so that comes from rebounding and defense, but we have to buckle down and do that,” Fox said. “If we can’t, then obviously the three of us won’t be able to play together and coach (Luke Walton) is going to have to figure something else out, but we all want to play together.”

Pacific Notes: Clippers, Paul, Ariza, Lakers, Howard

The two-year, $21.6MM commitment the Clippers made to Reggie Jackson, including a $10.38MM cap hit next season, will have major tax implications for the team, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. After accounting for new contracts for Jackson and Kawhi Leonard, who is expected to sign for the maximum, the Clippers’ tax bill is projected to be $95MM. Taking into account both salaries and tax penalties, the cost of the roster will be $265MM, says Marks.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • In a separate tweet, Marks provides the specific details on Chris Paul‘s new four-year, $120MM contract with the Suns, confirming a report that the deal includes $75MM in guaranteed money. It will start at $30MM before dipping in year two and increasing again in the third year, which is partially guaranteed for $15.8MM. The structure will allow Phoenix to stay out of the tax in 2021/22 and ensures the deal’s cap hit will be lowest in ’22/23, when potential new contracts for Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges go into effect.
  • Trevor Ariza, who has signed a one-year deal with the Lakers, said that Russell Westbrook recruited him, Mark Medina of USA Today tweets. Westbrook called Ariza approximately 20 minutes after Westbrook was traded to the Lakers, the veteran forward said. He also said his children urged him to sign with the Lakers.
  • The Lakers may be stockpiling aging veterans like Ariza, Carmelo Anthony, Wayne Ellington and Dwight Howard to help LeBron James and Anthony Davis win another title, but Howard said there won’t be a lack of energy or enthusiasm, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. “I think we have new life, all of us coming together and playing,” he said of the Lakers’ vets. “I think it’s going to provide new life being able to see who we have on our roster, who’s going to be playing alongside of us each and every day. I think we’ll have so much energy it will be hard to contain.”