Terry Rozier

Lakers Rumors: Westbrook, Role, Ham, Trade Talks, Schröder

Despite the recent additions of Patrick Beverley and Dennis Schröder, Russell Westbrook is increasingly likely to remain on the Lakers‘ roster, according to Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic.

However, sources tell The Athletic that Westbrook’s role might change, with the team “strongly” considering having the former league MVP come off the bench in 2022/23. New head coach Darvin Ham has the “full backing” of the organization to determine lineups for the upcoming season, and Westbrook will have to outperform his new teammates during minicamp, training camp and the preseason to remain the Lakers’ starting point guard, Buha and Amick write.

Unless the Lakers can find a trade that they believe makes them a legitimate title contender, Westbrook is “highly likely” to stay on the roster, sources tell The Athletic.

A major part of that line of thinking is the Lakers want to keep their financial and trade options open for ’23/24, when they project to have $30MM+ in cap room for free agency, per Buha and Amick. Westbrook is on an expiring contract worth $47.1MM, and the Lakers have been reluctant to trade their 2027 and/or 2029 first-round picks to offload him.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Los Angeles is banking on Ham being able to optimize Westbrook’s talent — and get through to him in a way that Frank Vogel couldn’t — as well as a return to health for Anthony Davis in order for the ’22/23 season to be successful, sources tell Buha and Amick.
  • According to Buha and Amick, the Lakers discussed a four-team trade with the Jazz, Knicks and Hornets prior to Donovan Mitchell being dealt to Cleveland, with an early framework sending Bojan Bogdanovic and Terry Rozier to L.A.
  • Los Angeles continues to show interest in Bogdanovic, with The Athletic’s duo reporting that Jordan Clarkson and Malik Beasley have been included in recent talks with Utah for Westbrook. However, a deal is considered unlikely because of the aforementioned reasons — the Lakers don’t want to part with first-rounders and Clarkson has a $14.3MM player option for ’23/24 that would eat into the team’s potential cap room.
  • Along the same lines, Buha and Amick write that dealing Westbrook to the Pacers for Buddy Hield and Myles Turner, which has been rumored multiple times, is also “not expected” — Hield has a $19.3MM cap hit in ’23/24.
  • Schröder made an Instagram post expressing his excitement about returning to the Lakers, saying that he wanted to “make s–t right!” Schröder’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, tells Mark Medina of NBA.com (Twitter link) that the team informed Schröder that “there will be a lot of minutes for everybody” despite a crowded backcourt.

Kemba Walker, Isaiah Thomas On Hornets’ Radar

The Hornets are keeping an eye on the point guard free agent market and are considering the possibility of reuniting with Kemba Walker, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (video link).

Walker was drafted by Charlotte out of UConn with the ninth overall pick in 2011 and spent his first eight NBA seasons with the Hornets before signing with Boston as a free agent in 2019. He made three All-Star teams during his time in Charlotte and earned a fourth All-Star nod in his first year as a Celtic, but has been slowed by knee problems since then.

After being traded from Boston to Oklahoma City during the 2021 offseason, Walker was bought out by the Thunder and signed with the Knicks. However, he was limited to just 37 games with New York in 2021/22 and didn’t look like his old self. The 32-year-old was traded to Detroit in a salary-dump deal earlier this month and is expected to be bought out again, though he remains on the Pistons‘ official roster for the time being.

Having been bought out twice in two years, Walker would seem unlikely to land more than a minimum-salary contract in free agency, but the Hornets could theoretically offer more than that — they have their full mid-level and bi-annual exceptions available.

Walker’s level of interest in returning to Charlotte is unclear.

The Hornets currently have 13 players on standard contracts and only one of them, LaMelo Ball, is a true point guard, though Terry Rozier will also have some ball-handling responsibilities. Charlotte seems likely to fill one of its two remaining roster spots with a point guard.

According to Charania, the Hornets are also mulling the idea of bringing back Isaiah Thomas, who was solid down the stretch last season and emerged as a locker room leader in Charlotte. Thomas is still unsigned after averaging 8.3 PPG on .433/.397/.933 shooting in 17 games (12.9 MPG) for the Hornets last season.

The Hornets are in no rush to fill their two open roster spots, as they continue to monitor Miles Bridges‘ legal situation, Charania notes.

Point Guard Rumors: Brogdon, Knicks, Wizards, Morris, Murray

Although the Wizards and the Knicks are the two teams that have most frequently discussed a possible Malcolm Brogdon trade with the Pacers, people around the league are skeptical that either team would include its 2022 lottery pick in a package for Brogdon, says Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

If those league officials are right, that means a Brogdon trade could end up looking more like Portland’s deal for Jerami Grant. The Trail Blazers are giving up future picks (and a swap of 2022 second-rounders) for Grant, but aren’t including this year’s No. 7 overall pick. The Wizards and Knicks pick 10th and 11th, respectively, and will likely attempt to keep those picks as they pursue Brogdon.

According to Fischer, the Wizards have been open to discussing Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in trade conversations, while the Knicks have explored trade options involving Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, Evan Fournier, Kemba Walker, and Cam Reddish.

Here are a few more rumors related to the point guard market:

  • With the Wizards widely believed to be seeking a trade for a veteran point guard, one potential target worth keeping an eye on is Nuggets guard Monte Morris, according to Josh Robbins and David Aldridge of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Responding to rumors about Dejounte Murray‘s possible availability, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com tweets that the Cavaliers have had conversation with the Spurs about Murray dating back to the trade deadline in February.
  • Besides Brogdon, Morris, and Murray, some other point guards believed to be available via trade this offseason include Mike Conley of the Jazz, Terry Rozier of the Hornets, Devonte’ Graham of the Pelicans, and D’Angelo Russell of the Timberwolves, according to Fischer.

Hornets Rumors: D’Antoni, Atkinson, Bridges, Trade Candidates

Mike D’Antoni is scheduled to meet with Hornets owner Michael Jordan on Tuesday to discuss the team’s head coaching position, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson had agreed earlier this month to become Charlotte’s new head coach, but backed out of his agreement with the team over the weekend.

D’Antoni, who was also a finalist before the Hornets chose Atkinson, had reportedly been scheduled to meet with Jordan a couple weeks ago, but it’s unclear if that sit-down ever took place — Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report wrote today that Atkinson was the only candidate to meet with the Hornets’ owner.

Besides D’Antoni, Terry Stotts was the other candidate believed to be a finalist for the Hornets before they reached a deal with Atkinson. It’s unclear if the team has any plans to meet with Stotts again now that its head coaching search is back on.

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • The Hornets want to retain “a large portion” of James Borrego‘s coaching staff, since many of them have one guaranteed year remaining on their current contracts, according to Fischer. Atkinson had wanted to bring in some of his own assistants, but he and the Hornets weren’t able to come to financial agreements for them, sources tell Fischer, who notes that Charlotte’s assistant coaches are known to be among the NBA’s bottom five in terms of salary.
  • Fischer adds that Atkinson’s decision not to join the Hornets doesn’t appear to have anything to do with a succession plan in Golden State, since there’s no indication Warriors head coach Steve Kerr plans to go anywhere anytime soon.
  • The Pistons and Pacers are believed to have interest in pursuing restricted free agents this summer and have been the only teams mentioned as potential threats to pursue Hornets RFA Miles Bridges, reports Fischer. Shams Charania of The Athletic wrote on Monday that Charlotte may be reluctant to match a maximum-salary offer for Bridges.
  • The Hornets are expected to gauge the trade market for Terry Rozier, P.J. Washington, Kelly Oubre, and Mason Plumlee “in advance of Bridges’ free agency,” writes Fischer. The fact that Fischer links those potential trade talks to Bridges’ contract situation suggests that Charlotte may be trying to save some money that could be put toward Bridges’ new contract.

Lakers Not Interested In Using First-Round Pick To Trade Westbrook

Teams that have spoken to the Lakers about Russell Westbrook have been demanding at least one first-round pick in any potential trade, league sources tell Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

However, the Lakers haven’t been receptive to that idea and have no intention – at least for the time being – of using one of their future first-rounders to facilitate a Westbrook deal, Buha reports.

Westbrook is expected to pick up his $47.4MM player option for the 2022/23 season and will be one of the league’s most expensive players following a disappointing first year in Los Angeles. Although he’ll be on an expiring contract, Westbrook will be a negative trade asset, with teams only willing to take him on if the Lakers sweeten the pot.

Having already traded away a pair of future first-round picks, the Lakers can currently only trade either their 2027 or 2028 selection. After next month’s draft, they’d be able to include their 2027, 2028, and 2029 first-rounders in trade discussions — if they move the ’27 or ’29 first-rounder, they wouldn’t be able to trade the ’28 pick due to the Stepien rule.

But the front office appears averse to attaching any of those picks to Westbrook, and Buha suggests it’s not just a negotiating stance to regain leverage. League sources tell The Athletic that people within the franchise genuinely believe that the right head coach and supporting cast can help Westbrook fit in better going forward.

Buha personally believes that bringing back Westbrook would be a mistake, arguing that the Lakers should be willing to include a first-rounder if necessary to make a deal or even to take the approach the Rockets did with John Wall, leaving the point guard at home to start the season. Waiving and stretching Westbrook’s contract or attempting to negotiate a buyout are other possible paths for L.A., but Buha views those as unlikely.

While the Lakers may not be interested in giving up a first-round pick just to dump Westbrook’s salary, it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t be more open to the idea if they’re getting a couple legitimate rotation players in return.

Buha identifies the Pacers and Hornets as potential trade partners that may appeal to the Lakers, listing Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner, Buddy Hield, Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, P.J. Washington, Kelly Oubre, and Mason Plumlee as possible veterans of interest. I’m skeptical that a couple of those players would be legitimately attainable in a Westbrook deal, even with a first-round pick attached, but if the Lakers were willing to put two first-rounders on the table, more options would open up.

Hornets Might Have Interest In Russell Westbrook

League insiders have increasingly mentioned the Hornets as a team that might have interest in trading for Lakers guard Russell Westbrook, writes Marc Stein at Substack.

Charlotte would only be interested in Westbrook in order to create long-term financial flexibility, and based on salary-matching rules, the team would have to send out roughly $38MM to acquire the former MVP. Stein points to Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier as contracts the team might want to move to accommodate a new deal for Miles Bridges this summer, plus the future max extension of LaMelo Ball.

Hayward has been very productive when healthy for Charlotte, but injuries have again been a concern. After appearing in 44 of 72 games last season, he’s played in 49 of 79 contests this season and is listed as doubtful for Thursday’s matchup with Orlando (Twitter link). Hayward will earn $30.075MM next season and $31.5MM in 2023/24.

Rozier has also been productive over the past few seasons. His four-year, $96.26MM extension starts next season, so he’ll be under contract through ’25/26.

Pairing Hayward or Rozier with Kelly Oubre could work as a framework of a deal, Stein says. He also notes that Hornets owner Michael Jordan has long admired Westbrook, although it isn’t known whether that would play a factor in a potential trade.

The Rockets remain the most logical trade partner for Westbrook due to John Wall‘s salary being a near-perfect match, but the Lakers might not find that any more palatable than they did previously, considering Houston was asking for a first-round pick, per Stein.

League sources tell Stein that the Lakers also haven’t ruled out using the waive-and-stretch provision on Westbrook’s contract, which would split his $47.06MM player option over three seasons with annual hits of $15.69MM. Going that route would take Los Angeles out of the luxury tax and make it much easier to retain Malik Monk; the team badly wants to bring him back, so it’s considered a viable possibility.

Eastern Notes: McMillan, Harden, Irving, Rozier, Washington Jr.

Hawks coach Nate McMillan believes enough is enough and that the NBA should pause the season, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. The Hawks are one of several teams dealing with major COVID-19 issues. “Of course I think that way, but it’s not up to me,” McMillan said. “The league is trying to keep this season going. Of course, it’s really frustrating for us and a lot of other teams.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • James Harden is looking forward to getting Kyrie Irving back in the Nets lineup, even on a limited basis, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Irving is expected to see action in some road games sometime next month. “Obviously, we all know how special of a talent Kyrie is and what he means to this organization and our team. So just to be around him, even if it’s only for road games, will be huge for us,” Harden said. “He obviously makes all our jobs a lot easier.”
  • Hornets guard Terry Rozier admits he needs to step it up on the defensive end, as he told Rod Boone of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). “To be honest, my defense all year just hasn’t been there all year as far as effort,” he said. “I’ll be the first to say it.” Rozier was re-signed to a four-year, $96.26MM extension this summer.
  • Two-way player Duane Washington Jr. got a chance to play 11 minutes on Sunday due to Pacers backcourt injuries. He contributed two points, two rebounds and two assists. Washington, who has been averaging 19.5 PPG in the G League, took a three-hour bus from Indianapolis to Chicago to play in the game, according to James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star. “He did a nice job for us,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He played with high energy, he moved the ball, he scrambled around defensively, and offensively you’ve got to guard him. He’s a guy that can shoot and make shots. It’s really a great opportunity for him.”

COVID-19 Updates: Rivers, Millsap, Hornets, Holiday, Brooks

The Nuggets are expecting Austin Rivers to exit the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Tuesday, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post. It may take an extra day or two before Rivers is fully cleared to play, but his impeding return means Davon Reed‘s time with the team is likely done for the time being, Singer notes.

Denver signed Reed to a 10-day contract using the hardship exception on December 4. That deal will expire after Monday’s game, and with Rivers due back, the Nuggets will no longer be eligible to carry an extra player via the hardship provision.

Although Reed will likely head back to the Grand Rapids Gold – the Nuggets’ G League affiliate – he made a strong impression on the team during his time in the NBA and could be back later this season, says Singer (via Twitter).

Here are a few more COVID-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Nets forward Paul Millsap has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, sources tell Malika Andrews and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Millsap is averaging a career-low 11.2 minutes per game in Brooklyn this season, so his absence shouldn’t create a huge hole in the team’s rotation.
  • Hornets forward Jalen McDaniels and center Mason Plumlee cleared the league’s health and safety protocols on Monday and were sent to the G League to complete a conditioning/rehab assignment with the Greensboro Swarm, the club announced (via Twitter). Charlotte still has LaMelo Ball and Ish Smith in the protocols, but the team is moving closer to getting all its affected players back after Terry Rozier was cleared on Sunday (Twitter link).
  • Pacers wing Justin Holiday, who has missed the team’s last five games while in the health and safety protocols, returned to practice on Sunday and said he’ll likely remain unvaccinated after having contracted COVID-19, writes James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Assuming his stance doesn’t change, Holiday won’t be eligible to cross the Canadian border to play in Toronto on March 26.
  • Dillon Brooks‘ stint in the health and safety protocols was a short one. The Grizzlies forward received clearance on Saturday after being placed in the protocols on Thursday, as Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. The quick reversal suggests Brooks may have registered a false positive test.

Southeast Notes: Reddish, Bogdanovic, Okongwu, Hornets, Sabonis, Martin

Hawks forward Cam Reddish, who is recovering from a wrist injury, went through a full practice on Thursday, according to coach Nate McMillan. Reddish did some shooting and participated in drills at 75% speed. He’s listed as probable to play on Friday.

Bogdan Bogdanovic still needs more time to return from his ankle injury, Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports in a series of tweets. “Bogi’s not doing anything other than shooting. He looks better,” McMillan said. “He’s up on his feet and he’s moving around.”

Second-year big man Onyeka Okongwu is continuing his rehab assignment from shoulder surgery. He’s with the G League College Park Skyhawks and is expected to play on Thursday.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • There’s been no change regarding the Hornets‘ COVID-19 issues. LaMelo Ball, Jalen McDaniels, Mason Plumlee, Terry Rozier and Ish Smith are all listed as out for Friday’s game against Sacramento due to the league’s health and safety protocols, the team’s PR department tweets. Charlotte’s depleted roster has managed to beat Atlanta and lose two close games to Philadelphia since those players were sidelined over the weekend.
  • With a recent report claiming that the Pacers may shake up their roster, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington examines whether Domantas Sabonis should be a trade target for the Wizards. Hughes notes that Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant are expected to return soon and the front office would like to see how they fit with their revamped roster. Hughes adds that the club already has the look of a playoff team and the addition of Sabonis may not move the needle all that much.
  • Caleb Martin may eventually have his two-way contract converted to a standard deal by the Heat but there are luxury tax concerns, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. Martin has been active for 24 of the Heat’s 26 games and can only be active for 50 games under two-way rules. If he remained on the active roster for every game, he’d be able to play until nearly the end of January. But the Heat would have to wait a couple of weeks after that to convert his contract in order to avoid surpassing the tax threshold.

Four Hornets Players, Including LaMelo Ball, Placed Under Protocols

Hornets starting guards LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier have entered the league’s health and safety protocols and are expected to miss several games, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Frontcourt players Jalen McDaniels and Mason Plumlee have also been placed under protocols, the team’s PR department tweets.

Those players will be sidelined for at least 10 days unless they record two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart. Charlotte is scheduled to play five games over the next 10 days — Sunday at Atlanta; two home games vs. Philadelphia Monday and Wednesday; another home game vs. Sacramento on Friday; and a road test against Dallas next Monday.

The team sent players and staff members home from the practice facility as a precautionary measure, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. If all have tested positive, the Hornets could sign another player under the hardship exception, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

Charlotte is in the midst of a three-game losing streak but still has a winning record at 13-11. Ball had 36 points and nine assists against Milwaukee on Wednesday and is averaging 20.0 PPG, 8.3 APG and 7.7 RPG in his second NBA campaign. Rozier is the team’s third-leading scorer at 17.7 PPG, 3.6 APG and 3.5 RPG.

Until the duo returns, the Hornets will have to improvise in the backcourt with Ish Smith and Kelly Oubre likely to move into the starting lineup and Cody Martin and James Bouknight backing them up.

Plumlee has been sidelined with a calf injury since November 24 but was expected to return on Sunday. He’s averaging 6.8 PPG and 7.3 RPG as a starter. McDaniels is averaging 5.5 PPG and 3.3 RPG off the bench.