Troy Brown

Lakers Notes: Davis, Offseason Additions, Trade Market

Anthony Davis is seeing more minutes at center since Darvin Ham became the Lakers‘ head coach and he’s still trying to get comfortable in that role, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. After Monday’s game, Davis looked back at L.A.’s last championship season when he was usually on the court with either JaVale McGee or Dwight Howard.

“I think roles just changed a little bit as far as me and positions,” he said. “In ’19/20, I was a roamer where I could be on whoever the forward is and help take everyone. It’s tough for me to do that when I’m guarding the five. Still can do it – still have to do it, find a way to do it.”

Goon notes that the Lakers have been through several centers since then, but none has been as effective. They tried Marc Gasol, Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan, and even brought Howard back. Thomas Bryant‘s thumb injury this season and Damian Jones‘ disappointing start have forced Davis to spend most of his time in the middle.

There’s more from Los Angeles:

  • A 2-8 start has led to speculation that Davis might be traded, but the Lakers aren’t giving serious consideration to that option, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Buha points out that Davis is seeing the ball less since his switch to center, with a 25.5 usage percentage that’s the lowest since his second NBA season. However, his defense is as good as ever and Buha believes he would be the favorite for Defensive Player of the Year if L.A. had a better record.
  • Even though they aren’t winning, a lot of the Lakers’ offseason moves are working out, Buha adds. Lonnie Walker is fourth on the team in scoring and has been worth the investment of the mid-level exception; Troy Brown is starting and has been L.A.’s best 3-and-D option; and Juan Toscano-Anderson has provided energy and defense off the bench. An exception has been Patrick Beverley, who is posting career-low numbers in several offensive categories.
  • The Lakers will be “prudent” with their first-round picks in 2027 and 2029, says Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link). With the team not even assured of reaching the playoffs, Charania hears that the front office may only be interested in “marginal” deals, rather than seeking a major trade involving those first-rounders.

Lakers Notes: Trades, Ham, Roster, Davis, James

Are the Lakers holding out for a big move? Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated said on “The Crossover NBA Show” that they’re hoping for a “bigger piece to come loose” in a deal involving Russell Westbrook and their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks (hat tip to Peter Dewey of LakersDaily.com). Beck didn’t reveal the specific player that the front office may be targeting but says it’s not Kyrie Irving or the Pacers’ package of Myles Turner and Buddy Hield.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • First-year coach Darvin Ham says there’s not much the front office can do in terms of trades or a free agent signing because of financial constraints and the fact they’ve already used the mid-level exception, (Twitter video link). “Were a tax offender, right? Just can’t go out and start spending money everywhere to build a team,” Ham said. “We have three first-ballot Hall of Famers that a chunk of our budget is being spent on and there’s only so much left.”
  • The Lakers’ roster shortcomings are inescapable, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register notes. They own the worst offense rating in the league and their defense has regressed in recent games. Lonnie Walker IV and Troy Brown are the only newcomers who have made a positive impact, according to Goon, while free agent additions Thomas Bryant and Dennis Schröder haven’t played due to injury.
  • Many people around the league are enjoying the Lakers’ front office’s struggles and one executive interviewed by Heavy.com’s Steve Bulpett declared “there’s no more championships” on the horizon. “Look where they are now and tell me when the hell they’re going to have a chance to compete for a championship again,” the executive said.
  • Anthony Davis (lower back tightness) and LeBron James (left foot soreness) are listed as probable for Wednesday’s game against the Clippers, Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

Lakers Notes: Brown, Ham, Westbrook, AD, LeBron

Lakers free agent addition Troy Brown was a full participant in Saturday’s practice and is set to make his season debut on Sunday against Portland, according to Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group.

The team has been vague regarding Brown’s back issue, but Brown revealed that it’s a pretty serious one — he’s been dealing with a herniated disc, the same injury that caused Brook Lopez and Ben Simmons to undergo surgery within the last year. Goon writes that the Lakers have been cautious not to overextend Brown, who had been limited to non-contact work for weeks until recently.

Head coach Darvin Ham lavished praise on what Brown might provide to the team.

Just his size, his athleticism, his length, his ability to shoot,” Ham said, per Goon. “And he’s just a young player that’s got NBA games under his belt already that we’re super excited about. I think just his attention to detail, making sure he’s in the right space, right place within the offense, and defensively him really wanting to help, and I think he will.”

At 6’6″ and 215 pounds, Brown is one of the few true wings on the Lakers’ roster, and at 23 years old, he could have some untapped upside. Still, he only averaged 4.3 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 66 games (16 MPG) for the Bulls last season, so it would be pretty surprising if he had a major impact on his new team after dealing with a back injury.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Ham continues to publicly support Russell Westbrook despite his shooting struggles, Goon relays in the same article. Westbrook was 0-of-11 from the field against the Clippers, though he did compete hard on defense, which pleased Ham. “That’s what I asked of him and that’s what I preached this summer and everybody looked at me like I was crazy,” Ham said. “But Russ is still an elite athlete, and those are the things I’m talking about when I’m saying sacrifice. Not to take anything away, necessarily, but for him to diversify his game. And he’s been trying to do that.”
  • Anthony Davis, who took a hard fall in the loss to the Clippers on Thursday, had been listed as probable for Sunday’s game, which typically means the player will wind up playing, and that is indeed the case. Ham confirmed the news to reporters (Twitter link via Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times).
  • Refusing to improve the roster around LeBron James is squandering what’s left of the superstar’s prime and “that’s negligence” from the front office, argues Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Zillgitt says that the lack of shooting on the Lakers’ roster is particularly perplexing given how successful James has been when surrounded by shooters throughout his career. For what it’s worth, the Lakers currently trail the Blazers 55-48 at halftime and are 1-of-16 from three-point range.

Lakers Notes: Davis, James, Westbrook, Brown, Ryan

With Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and Russell Westbrook sitting out at least two games apiece so far this preseason, the Lakers have yet to get an extended look at their three stars together. The trio was available in the first preseason contest last Monday, but Davis missed the next two before returning on Sunday, while James and Westbrook have rested for the last two games.

Injuries often prevented Davis, James, and Westbrook from sharing the court last season, but head coach Darvin Ham isn’t worried about his stars not getting enough time together before opening night. As Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times writes, Ham said that the team is sticking to its plan and that the rotations in the final two games of the preseason will look more like what we should expect in the regular season.

Davis, who was dealing with some lower back tightness last week, looked good in his return on Sunday vs. Golden State, pouring in 28 points in 21 minutes en route to a 124-121 win. As Woike observes, it was the Lakers’ first preseason victory since 2020.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Within the same story, Woike notes that Troy Brown, signed as a free agent in July, is unlikely to be available for the start of the regular season due to a back injury. “He’s right on schedule with what he’s supposed to be doing,” Ham said. “When we do get him back…we’re excited about him. He was having a great summer before he hurt his back.”
  • Camp invitee Matt Ryan had a big game for the Lakers on Sunday, knocking down six three-pointers and scoring 20 points. He may have gotten himself a job today,” Ham said after the game (Twitter link via Woike).
  • As Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report tweets, the Lakers have 12 players on standard guaranteed contracts, and Austin Reaves and Wenyen Gabriel look like safe bets to make the team on non-guaranteed deals. That would leave the 15th regular season roster spot available for Ryan, assuming L.A. is willing to increase its projected tax bill by carrying a 15th man to start the regular season.

Lakers Notes: Ham, Davis, LeBron, Westbrook, D. Jones

Last year’s disappointment for the Lakers began with an 0-6 preseason, and new coach Darvin Ham wants his team to be focused from the start, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Anthony Davis agrees, citing the need to quickly build continuity after an offseason filled with change.

“I think our team got put together a little later than most teams,” Davis said. “New coach. New system. So we’re kind of behind the eight ball, and we’re trying to speed that process up by doing it the right way. Not by skipping steps. And we’ve been doing that. We’ve been having competitive practices, getting up and down. We’re locking in on our stations on offense and defense, and it’s been good.”

Although Ham wants to start winning right away, he hasn’t decided if Davis, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook will play against the Kings in Monday’s preseason opener.

“I mean, if possible, yeah,” Ham said when asked about their status. “We’re gonna sit down (Sunday) as a staff and talk about what the rotation is gonna look like on Monday. But definitely. Definitely.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Free agent addition Damian Jones has only attempted 43 three-point shots in six NBA seasons, but Ham believes he can develop into a reliable long-range shooter, Buha states in the same piece. If Jones does pose an outside shooting threat, it would solve some of the spacing issues for L.A.’s potential starting lineup. “If I’m open and I’m in the corner and they pass it to me, I’m shooting it,” he said. “I’m comfortable shooting there. I’ve been getting a lot of reps in. Throughout the years, my percentages have been getting better as I’m shooting them. So, it’s good.”
  • Lonnie Walker, who has been dealing with an ankle issue, was a full participant in today’s practice, Buha adds. Troy Brown is expected to return to full contact in about a week, and newly signed Dennis Schröder will join the team in a few days.
  • Davis, James and Westbrook want to prove they can co-exist after playing just 21 games together last season, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Ham has installed a new approach to try to make their partnership work. “We have a three-man package, actually a play call, that they’re going thrive in and it involves all three of them,” he said. “I look forward to that being at a very, very high level. And there’s different nuances in it that they can play around with. … I trust all three of those guys.”

Lakers Notes: Westbrook, Beverley, Nunn, Brown, Walker, Schröder

New Lakers head coach Darvin Ham isn’t committing to having Russell Westbrook in his starting lineup to open the 2022/23 season, telling reporters on Monday that the team has a “variety of options to fill in our backcourt,” as Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group tweets.

It might have made a bad situation in Los Angeles worse if Westbrook had been pulled from the team’s starting lineup last season, but the former MVP appears to be keeping an open mind as he prepares for the coming year. Prior to his Media Day session, Westbrook told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that it doesn’t matter whether or not he feels “wanted” by the Lakers and that he’s “all-in on whatever it takes for this team to win,” even if that means coming off the bench.

Westbrook – who told Wojnarowski that he thinks he, Anthony Davis, and LeBron James can be “unstoppable” – said to reporters on Monday that he has talked to Davis and James at length this summer about what worked and didn’t work last season, and has found those conversations “very beneficial” (Twitter link via Jovan Buha of The Athletic).

While there’s no guarantee that Westbrook – long considered a trade candidate – will spend the entire season in Los Angeles, Lakers head of basketball operations Rob Pelinka said today that the point guard is still one of the NBA’s great players, and expressed confidence that Ham will bring out “another level” in him this season (Twitter link via Goon).

Even Westbrook’s longtime nemesis Patrick Beverley had nothing but praise for his new teammate, suggesting that the rumored animus between the two guards has been overblown and telling Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link) that Westbrook has been his “best friend” on the team since he was traded to L.A. last month.

As we wait to see whether this season goes any smoother for Westbrook than his first season in Los Angeles did, here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Now that James has signed an extension with the team this offseason, the Lakers are willing to trade future draft assets to upgrade the roster, Pelinka confirmed today. However, Pelinka stressed that the team will only get one chance to trade those 2027 and 2029 first-round picks and said that any deal involving those draft assets must clearly improve the club’s title chances (Twitter links via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin).
  • Kendrick Nunn has been cleared for all contact work after missing the entire 2021/22 season with a knee injury, but new additions Troy Brown (back) and Lonnie Walker (ankle) are limited for the time being, Pelinka said today. Walker downplayed his ankle issue, telling reporters that he has been running, jumping, and cutting on it, and is pretty close to being fully healthy (Twitter links via Goon).
  • Dennis Schröder isn’t at training camp yet because he’s working through a visa issue, per Pelinka, but it shouldn’t be too long before he joins the team (Twitter link via Goon).
  • Neither Pelinka nor Ham is worried about the Lakers’ wing defense, tweets Buha. “We should be one of the elite defensive teams in the league,” Ham said. “… We have the personnel for it.”
  • In a full story for The Athletic, Buha poses 10 key questions facing the Lakers, starting with Westbrook’s role and future. Buha also considers the team’s starting lineup battles, where the shooting will come from, and what to realistically expect from LeBron in his 20th NBA season.

Lakers Notes: Westbrook, Closing Lineup, Nunn, LeBron

While former Lakers head coach Frank Vogel benched Russell Westbrook late in games a small handful of times last season, new coach Darvin Ham will have more power to do so this season, assuming Westbrook remains on the roster and Ham decides there are better fits in crunch time, says Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

Buha expects Westbrook to get opportunities to close out games, but notes that it will depend on his shooting, decision-making, and defense.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis are, of course, locks to be part of the Lakers’ “closing” five, and Buha views Austin Reaves as the next-best bet to join that group because he can be a secondary ball-handler. Buha predicts that Juan Toscano-Anderson and Troy Brown will fill out the closing five in instances when Westbrook is on the bench.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Although Kendrick Nunn recently said he feels 100% healthy after missing the entire 2021/22 season due to a knee injury, he has yet to resume playing five-on-five, which will be the “next big hurdle” in his recovery process, Buha writes. The expectation for now is that Nunn will be ready to go for training camp.
  • Buha believes that the Lakers are done adding veteran free agents this offseason, and that any additional roster changes would come via trade. He notes that the team could also be active on the buyout market after the 2023 trade deadline.
  • LeBron James will become eligible on Thursday to sign a contract extension with the Lakers, but Chris Mannix of SI.com doesn’t believe James will be in any rush to sign that deal, since he can maintain leverage and keep pressure on the team by taking his time. He could sign that extension at any time up until June 30, 2023.

Pacific Notes: Iguodala, Rollins, Lakers, Murray, Clippers

The Warriors only have 11 players on standard contracts so far, leaving at least three openings on their projected regular season roster. According to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, it’s possible one of those spots will be filled by Andre Iguodala.

Golden State hasn’t set any sort of deadline for Iguodala to make a decision on whether or not he wants to continue his playing career, so there will be a roster spot available for him if he decides he wants to continue playing, Slater explains.

Second-round pick Ryan Rollins also appears likely to claim one of the 15-man roster spots. He has a stress fracture in his foot, but Slater says there’s a belief he should be ready to go by training camp and he’ll likely receive a standard contract rather than a two-way deal.

Quinndary Weatherspoon, who received a two-way qualifying offer from the Warriors, is another player to watch, according to Slater, though he says the team’s preference would be to keep Weatherspoon on a two-way contract rather than a standard deal.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • While some rival scouts and executives questioned the Lakers‘ decision to use their taxpayer mid-level exception on Lonnie Walker and didn’t love the signing of Troy Brown, the general reaction to the team’s free agency moves has been positive, says Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. In particular, Los Angeles received “high marks” for getting centers Thomas Bryant and Damian Jones on minimum-salary contracts, according to Woike.
  • In an episode of The Void Podcast, Kevin O’Connor, J. Kyle Mann, and Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer make the case that the Kings made the right choice picking Keegan Murray over Jaden Ivey, suggesting that Murray is an ideal fit for Sacramento’s roster.
  • The contracts signed by Moses Brown, Jay Scrubb, and Xavier Moon with the Clippers are all Exhibit 10 deals, Hoops Rumors has learned. That means they’re one-year, non-guaranteed minimum-salary contracts which won’t count against the cap unless the player makes the regular season roster.

Lakers Officially Sign Jones, Brown, Toscano-Anderson

The Lakers have officially completed three signings, according to a team press release. The trio of players are center Damian Jones, wing Troy Brown and wing Juan Toscano-Anderson.

Jones, Brown and Toscano-Anderson were all signed to minimum-salary contracts. Both Brown and JTA received one-year deals, while Jones got a two-year deal with a player option.

Jones, 27, had a solid season with the Kings in 2021/22 after struggling to find a standard roster spot in ’20/21. In 56 games this season (18.2 MPG), Jones averaged 8.1 PPG and 4.4 RPG while shooting 65.8% from the field and 71.8% from the line.

Brown, 22, was the 15th pick of the 2018 draft and spent his first two-plus seasons with Washington before being traded to Chicago last year. The Bulls declined his qualifying offer after he struggled to make an impact this season, averaging 4.3 PPG and 3.1 RPG on .419/.353/.769 shooting in 66 games (16 MPG).

Toscano-Anderson, 29, spent the last three seasons with the Warriors and recently won a title. In 73 games (13.6 MPG) in ’21/22, he averaged 4.1 PPG, 2.4 RPG and 1.7 APG on .489/.322/.571 shooting.

Because the three players are on minimum contracts, the deals can be completed before the transaction moratorium ends on July 6.

Lakers To Sign Lonnie Walker, Damian Jones, Troy Brown Jr.

The Lakers are signing Lonnie Walker to a one-year, $6.5MM deal, Damian Jones to a two-year, minimum-salary deal with a player option, and Troy Brown Jr. to a minimum deal, according reports from Shams Charania of The Athletic and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (All Twitter links here). Brown’s contract is for one year, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

Walker, 23, was the 18th pick of the 2018 draft and spent his first four seasons with the Spurs. He’s a very athletic guard and has shown glimpses of potential, but struggled with efficiency last season (.407/.314/.784 shooting line).

In 70 games (23 MPG) with San Antonio last season, Walker averaged 12.1 PPG, 2.6 RPG and 2.2 APG. The Spurs decided to withdraw his qualifying offer just before free agency opened, making him unrestricted and free to sign with any team. The move wasn’t very surprising considering the Spurs were better with him off the court (+2.1 net rating) than on it (-3.0), so he’ll be looking to build up his value in Los Angeles after an up-and-down tenure in San Antonio.

Jones, who turns 27 today, had a solid season with the Kings in 2021/22 after struggling to find a standard roster spot in ’20/21. In 56 games this season (18.2 MPG), Jones averaged 8.1 PPG and 4.4 RPG while shooting 65.8% from the field and 71.8% from the line.

After being drafted 30th overall in 2016 by the Warriors, Jones spent his first three seasons with Golden State but struggled to find a consistent role. He’s long and athletic, but was raw coming out of college. He made stops in Atlanta, Phoenix and L.A. from 2019-21 before landing with Sacramento, where he developed into a solid backup center.

Brown, 22, was the 15th pick of the 2018 draft and spent his first two-plus seasons with Washington before being traded to Chicago last year. The Bulls declined his qualifying offer after he struggled to make an impact this season, averaging 4.3 PPG and 3.1 RPG on .419/.353/.769 shooting in 66 games (16 MPG).

By using the taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Walker, the Lakers will be limited to a minimum contract for Max Christie, whom the team selected with the 35th pick of the draft last week. Christie’s deal will be limited to two years, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks relays (via Twitter).