Stanley Johnson

Lakers Notes: Vogel, Westbrook, Trade Targets, Johnson

Prior to the Lakers‘ game against Indiana on Wednesday night, head coach Frank Vogel addressed recent rumors about his tenuous job security, suggesting he’s unfazed by reports that state he’s on the hot seat and is being evaluated on a game-to-game basis.

“I don’t feel like I’m under siege,” Vogel said, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “It’s not hard to do my job; I’m very focused on the task at hand. I’ve always been that way.”

Although Vogel downplayed concerns about his status, his decisions down the stretch in the Lakers’ loss to the Pacers seemed to reflect some added urgency. As McMenamin writes in a separate story, Vogel removed nine-time All-Star Russell Westbrook from the lineup during crunch time after Westbrook continued to struggle with his shot and failed to execute on defense. Vogel said after the game he was “playing the guys that I thought were going to win the game.”

According to McMenamin, the Lakers’ coaching staff has been debating for weeks whether to remove Westbrook during late-game situations, but had hesitated due to concerns about how it would affect the guard’s psyche. The staff finally pulled Westbrook in the fourth quarter on Wednesday after receiving assurances from management that it supported the hard-line stance, sources tell ESPN.

Westbrook left the arena after the game without speaking to reporters, but it’s probably safe to assume he wasn’t thrilled to be on the bench for the final 3:52 of the loss. “Would you think that would bother Russ not being in a late game?” teammate LeBron James asked rhetorically when reporters pressed him on the subject.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • James expressed no desire to see Vogel replaced when asked on Wednesday about the coaching situation. “Coaching staff has been great,” LeBron said, per McMenamin. “They put us in position to succeed, and it’s up to us to handle the business, so there’s always things that we all can do better, but there’s no blame.” Veteran forward Carmelo Anthony took a similar stance: “Frank’s not out there. It’s up to us to go out there and execute and play basketball and win some games.”
  • The decision to bench Westbrook adds even more intrigue to the ongoing Vogel saga, Bill Oram of The Athletic writes. Both Oram and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that Vogel’s job isn’t in immediate jeopardy and that the head coach is traveling with the team to Orlando for Friday’s game. The Magic have an NBA-worst 8-38 record, so it seems safe to assume a loss tomorrow wouldn’t bode well for Vogel.
  • In an article for Bleacher Report, Eric Pincus examines the Vogel situation and considers possible roster moves for the Lakers. Sources tell Pincus that Ben Simmons, Jerami Grant, Harrison Barnes, and Myles Turner are among the potential targets L.A. has looked at, but it’s hard to imagine the team having the ammunition to outbid rival suitors for any of those players.
  • Speaking to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Lakers forward Stanley Johnson said he isn’t sure whether the Lakers will keep him beyond his second 10-day contract, but he’s trying to “give (his) best effort” to show he deserves a full-season commitment. Spears’ piece includes a few other interesting quotes from Johnson, including his account of how an “honest conversation” with Raptors president Masai Ujiri last year helped inspire him.

Lakers Notes: Davis, Nunn, Johnson, Vogel

The Lakers have cleared Anthony Davis to begin on-court, full-contact workouts, according to Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Davis, who hasn’t played since December 17 due to a sprained left knee, underwent a reevaluation on Monday and team doctors determined that recent testing showed no damage to the knee.

Although Los Angeles hasn’t provided a specific timeline for Davis’ return, people with knowledge of the situation tell Woike and Turner that the big man could be back during the club’s upcoming six-game road trip. That trip will begin on Friday in Orlando and runs through Sunday, January 30.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • While the update on Davis was relatively positive, the same can’t be said of point guard Kendrick Nunn. As Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group relays, head coach Frank Vogel told reporters on Monday that Nunn’s right knee “didn’t respond well” during his ramp-up process, and his Lakers debut isn’t imminent. “Bone bruises are tricky, and his timeline is delayed,” Vogel said. “Still have no firm timeline on it, but he’s pulled back from workload until it calms down.”
  • Stanley Johnson, back under contract on his third 10-day deal, scored 10 fourth-quarter points on Monday vs. Utah and played a key role in helping the Lakers snap their three-game losing streak. As Turner writes for The Los Angeles Times, Johnson’s impact and role keep growing and he’s making a strong case for a rest-of-season commitment.
  • In case you missed it, Vogel is firmly on the hot seat, with the team said to be evaluating him on a game-to-game basis. In his latest Substack column, Marc Stein argues that, while Vogel isn’t blameless in Los Angeles’ up-and-down performance this season, holding him culpable for the team’s struggles is “outright laughable.”

Lakers Sign Stanley Johnson To Third 10-Day Deal

JANUARY 17: Johnson is officially back with the Lakers on a new 10-day contract, the team confirmed today (via Twitter).

JANUARY 16: The Lakers plan to sign forward Stanley Johnson to a third 10-day contract, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Johnson’s second 10-day deal with Los Angeles expired overnight.

Johnson has received significant playing time over the course of his two 10-day deals, carving out a role on the team. In nine games, he’s averaged 5.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 20.3 minutes per contest, shooting 46% from the floor. He’s started in five of those games.

Prior to signing with the Lakers, Johnson was playing with the team’s G League affiliate. The 25-year-old holds past experience with the Pistons, Pelicans and Raptors.

Los Angeles has lost three straight games and currently ranks seventh in the West at 21-22. This will be Johnson’s second standard 10-day contract (his first was a hardship), meaning the Lakers will have to sign him for the rest of the season or let him go once it expires.

Stanley Johnson Signs 10-Day Deal With Lakers

JANUARY 6: Johnson’s 10-day contract is official, the Lakers announced (via Twitter)

JANUARY 5: Forward Stanley Johnson is likely to sign a 10-day deal with the Lakers on Thursday, sources tell Dave McMenamin of ESPN (via Twitter). Johnson’s 10-day hardship deal with the Lakers expired on Monday, and he made a strong impression on the club with his on-ball defense and toughness, says McMenamin.

The 25-year-old Johnson averaged 6.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, and 1.4 APG in five games (three starts) with Los Angeles. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, there’s no difference in salary between signing Johnson to a couple of 10-day deals and then signing him to a contract that covers the rest of the season at the end of January vs. signing him to a rest-of-season deal on Thursday, so the move is all about maintaining roster flexibility ahead of the trade deadline on February 10.

Johnson, a Los Angeles native, signed with the Bulls on a 10-day hardship deal last month but never suited up for the team after entering the league’s health and safety protocols. He spent training camp and preseason with Chicago, but was released prior to the season. He had been playing with the Lakers’ G League squad, South Bay, prior to being called up to the NBA. In six games with South Bay this season (30.5 MPG), Johnson put up 15.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 2.2 SPG with a .405/.286/.750 shooting line.

There had been mutual interest between Johnson and the Lakers to reach a contract agreement, especially after the team traded Rajon Rondo to the Cavaliers to clear a roster spot. The No. 8 overall pick in the 2015 draft, Johnson has played for the Pistons, Pelicans, Raptors and Lakers since entering the NBA. He has proven capable of providing energy and defensive versatility, but his offensive game has always been limited. In 376 career regular season games, he has averaged 6.2 PPG on .376/.297/.764 shooting in 19.8 minutes per contest.

Lakers Notes: Johnson, Collison, Rondo, Bradley, Monk

There’s mutual interest between the Lakers and Stanley Johnson to reach a contract agreement, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets.

Johnson has been playing on a 10-day contract under the hardship exception but that expired on Monday. The Lakers currently have no players in the protocols but traditional 10-day contracts can be signed as early as Wednesday. Johnson could sign up to two traditional 10-day contracts, since the hardship contract didn’t count against those deals. The team could also bring back Johnson on a standard contract.

Johnson has averaged 6.8 PPG on 45.8% shooting, 2.8 RPG and 1.2 SPG in five games, including three starts. He has also made a strong impact with his defense.

Darren Collison‘s 10-day hardship deal also expired on Monday.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • The club has an open roster spot due to the three-team deal that sent Rajon Rondo to Cleveland. That deal was made official on Monday. Los Angeles wasn’t eager to move on from Rondo but needed the roster flexibility, McMenamin writes. “It wasn’t like we wanted to depart from Rondo,” coach Frank Vogel said. “But it’s just one of those front office decisions that you have to make difficult decisions and to lose a guy like Rondo is obviously very difficult.”
  • The Lakers could also open up another roster spot if they waive Avery Bradley before Friday, when his veteran’s minimum contract becomes fully guaranteed, McMenamin notes in the same story.
  • Malik Monk, who is on a one-year, minimum-salary contract, has been making the most of his recent opportunities, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register writes. Monk, who has averaged 20 PPG over the last five contests, was motivated by other teams’ lack of interest in the free agent market. “It kind of hit me hard when nobody really wanted me besides the Lakers, man,” he said. “So I just put fuel in my tank and just held it in until the time until I get time to play, man, and prove I can play for a long period of time. That’s what I’m doing right now.”

Lakers Notes: LeBron, S. Johnson, Vogel

LeBron James started his second game of the season at center Friday night, and that could be the lineup tweak that helps the Lakers survive until Anthony Davis returns, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. James continued his recent hot streak with 43 points and 14 rebounds, and the added spacing created plenty of opportunities for his teammates.

“This could be something that makes the game easier for him,” coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s not wrestling so much and there’s more space for him to be a roller, there’s just a lot of positives to that. Can’t really get away with it with certain matchups on the other end and obviously when AD comes back he’s going to play a load at the five and then we can play this smaller lineup as well.”

The small-ball approach is familiar for point guard Russell Westbrook, who was with the Rockets when they adopted a center-less lineup two seasons ago. Vogel doesn’t want to make that type of commitment, saying the decision on when to use LeBron in the middle will depend on matchups.

“You play Houston, Christian Wood at center, that’s a clear, ‘Yeah, let’s put Bron at center.’ That’s an easy one,” Vogel explained. “Next game, Steven Adams, biggest, strongest guy in the league; let’s play Dwight (Howard) at center. That’s an easy one. These next few games in the middle, there’s gonna be a lot of in-between types of decisions that we have to make on a game-by-game basis.”

There’s more from Los Angeles:

  • James marked his 37th birthday this week, but his performance suggests he still has a few good years left, notes Bill Oram of The Athletic. There are two considerations that are likely to delay LeBron’s retirement — he needs about two more seasons to threaten the career scoring record held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and he’s two years away from getting the opportunity to play in the NBA at the same time as his son. “I’m on the other side of the hill,” James said, “so we’ll see where the game takes me. We’ll see where my body takes me and my mind. As long as my mind stays fresh and my body stays with that, I can play the game.”
  • Stanley Johnson got to live out his childhood dream of playing for the Lakers when they signed him to a hardship contract, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Now he has a chance to stick with the team for the rest of the season, likely filling an open roster spot once the expected Rajon Rondo trade is completed. “Stanley is huge in what we’re trying to do,” said assistant coach David Fizdale. “With his motor and with his defensive intensity and prowess, we can really use that right now.”
  • The Lakers’ poor performance during the five games while Vogel was in the health and safety protocols should boost his job security, Buha states in a separate story.

Rondo Trade Notes: Grades, Finances, More Details

The Cavaliers are set to acquire Rajon Rondo from the Lakers in exchange for Denzel Valentine, which will mark the first trade of the 2021/22 regular season. Valentine, who’s on a partially guaranteed contract, is expected to be waived by Los Angeles.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter), Rondo is enthusiastic about the opportunity to play more minutes with the young Cavs and was happy to learn of the trade after the Lakers informed him that it was a possibility.

Here are some more details on the transaction, which has yet to be officially completed:

  • In an Insider article for ESPN-plus, Kevin Pelton grades the trade for both teams. He likes the Lakers’ side of things more and isn’t optimistic about Rondo’s performance for the remainder of the regular season.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic, however, thinks it’s a deal that makes sense for both the Cavs and the Lakers. Hollinger notes that Cleveland is desperate for another ball-handler after season-ending injuries to Ricky Rubio and Collin Sexton, and with Darius Garland and Cedi Osman still in the health and safety protocols. With Rondo as a short-term solution, the Cavs will buy themselves some time to remain in the playoff hunt, but Hollinger thinks they’ll still be active on the trade market in search for more backcourt help. The Lakers, meanwhile, save approximately $3.1MM in luxury tax payments and free up a roster spot, presumably to sign Stanley Johnson.
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN provides a video breakdown of his thoughts on the trade. Like Hollinger, Marks thinks the deal is a win-win for both teams, with the Lakers saving money and opening a roster spot, and Rondo providing leadership and high basketball IQ to the Cavs. He views it as a no-risk deal for Cleveland.

Lakers Notes: Westbrook, LeBron, Monk, S. Johnson

Russell Westbrook is being criticized for a poor shooting night Saturday against the Nets, but LeBron James came to the defense of his teammate after the Lakers suffered their fifth straight loss, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Westbrook turned in another triple-double, but he shot just 4-of-20 from the field, committed five fouls and three turnovers, and missed a shot at the rim in the closing seconds of the game.

“He gave us extra possessions, he gave us a lot of looks around the basket, which I know that he can’t stand (failing to convert) as well,” James said. “But as far as the effort piece, if a guy plays hard, if a guy leaves it all out on the floor, I got no problem with that. It’s a make-or-miss league.”

L.A. sent three rotation players and a draft pick to the Wizards over the summer to acquire Westbrook, who they hoped would form a dangerous Big Three with James and Anthony Davis. However, the results have been mixed at best as the Lakers are 16-18 and Westbrook is averaging just 19.6 points per game, shooting 45.1% from the field and 30.4% from three-point range and committing 4.6 turnovers per night. There have been rumors that the front office has already discussed trading him, but his contract, which includes a $47.1MM player option for next season, makes that difficult.

“A big part of it is he just wants it so bad,” acting head coach David Fizdale said. “I mean, you can just see it in him, everybody does. He wants it so bad. And I know that’s just hard for him when it doesn’t work out. And I know he cares like crazy.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • L.A. is in danger of becoming the first franchise not to maximize James’ considerable talents, contends Bill Oram of The Athletic. LeBron’ presence used to mean an almost automatic trip to the NBA Finals, but apart from the title run in 2020, the Lakers haven’t won a playoff series since signing him and may be headed for another appearance in the play-in round.
  • The team got a boost from Malik Monk, who returned to the lineup Saturday after missing five games while in the health and safety protocols, per Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Monk learned he was in the protocols during the team’s recent road trip and wound up spending five days in Minnesota.
  • Appearing in his first game since signing a hardship contract, Stanley Johnson was happy to be back on the court and playing for his hometown team, Turner adds. “I kinda just like let it happen,” Johnson said. “I was in quarantine a day ago, like 36 hours ago … and I have barely time to do anything and they throw me in the game and I play a lot of minutes. I’m just, one, blessed and grateful to even be here right now and just learn as much as I can to be as useful as I can for this team.”

Lakers Sign Darren Collison, Stanley Johnson To 10-Day Deals

4:45 PM: The 10-day contracts for Collison and Johnson are now official, per Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group (via Twitter).

12:28 PM: The Lakers intend to sign guard Darren Collison and forward Stanley Johnson to 10-day contracts via hardship exceptions, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that the team hopes both players can be available for Saturday’s Christmas Day contest vs. Brooklyn.

Collison made a surprise retirement announcement just ahead of free agency in the summer of 2019, citing family and religious reasons. In his final NBA season in 2018/19, he averaged 11.2 PPG and 6.0 APG with a .467/.407/.832 shooting line in 76 games (28.2 MPG) for the Pacers.

There were reports that Collison might return with the Lakers or Clippers during the ’19/20 season, but nothing came of those rumors and he later said they were overblown. However, the 34-year-old reportedly worked out for the Lakers and Warriors this summer, signaling that he remained open to the idea of a comeback. Now, for at least 10 days, it’s happening.

Johnson, 25, signed a 10-day hardship deal with the Bulls earlier this month, but entered the health and safety protocols before appearing in a game with the team. Assuming he tested positive for COVID-19, it appears he’s now fully recovered.

The No. 8 overall pick in the 2015 draft, Johnson has played for the Pistons, Pelicans, and Raptors since entering the NBA. He has proven capable of providing energy and defensive versatility off the bench, but his offensive game has always been limited. In 371 career regular season games, he has averaged 6.2 PPG on .375/.298/.761 shooting in 19.7 minutes per contest.

Collison and Johnson will be the Lakers’ third and fourth hardship signings, joining Isaiah Thomas and Jemerrio Jones. The team currently has five players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Bulls’ Ayo Dosunmu, Stanley Johnson Enter Protocols

The Bulls‘ COVID-19 outbreak continues with Ayo Dosunmu and Stanley Johnson both being placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago.

They are the sixth and seventh Chicago players to enter the protocols, along with Coby White, Javonte GreenDeMar DeRozan, Matt Thomas and Derrick Jones Jr.

Johnson just joined the team on Thursday, signing a 10-day deal under the hardship exception. The Bulls added a second hardship player, Alfonzo McKinnie, on Friday. Dosunmu, a rookie guard, has started the last two games due to the depleted lineup.

The Bulls still have 11 active players, so there doesn’t appear to be any danger of tonight’s game in Miami being postponed. The NBA hasn’t called off any games so far this season after COVID-19 caused chaos with the schedule last year, particularly in the early part of the season.

Schaefer adds that Alex Caruso, who has missed the past three games with a strained right hamstring, has been listed as available for tonight.