Lakers Rumors

LeBron: Injuries Killed Our Chemistry

  • Many people believe the ill-fated pursuit of Anthony Davis wrecked the Lakers’ season but they blame injuries for their downfall, as Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register reports. “Throughout the whole season we just had bodies and bodies and bodies and bodies be down,” LeBron James said. “And it’s just hard for us to have any type of rhythm, any type of camraderie, and type of chemistry on the floor when (Coach Luke Walton) has to play with the lineups over and over and over and try to figure out different scenarios on the court to be successful.”

Jason Kidd: I’d Love To Coach LeBron

Jason Kidd would welcome the opportunity to coach LeBron James, according to an ESPN report. Kidd, whose name has surfaced as a possible candidate for the Lakers head coaching job if Luke Walton is dismissed after the season, made the comment on ESPN’s The Jump.

“When you talk about the best player in the world, you always are going to say yes because as a coach or as a teammate, he’s always going to make you better because you’re going to work,” Kidd said. “As a coach, X and Os, you got to be on point. And as a teammate, you’re going to work extremely hard because you know he’s going to need you to make that shot or come up with a defensive play. And so, that would be a great honor to coach any elite basketball player, and I’ve got that opportunity in Giannis (Antetokounmpo). And hopefully somewhere down the road, I can have another star.”

Kidd confirmed he’s actively seeking another head coaching position. He’s also considered a prime candidate to take over at his alma mater, California. Kidd, who was fired by the Bucks last season, said “it’s nice to be wanted.”

Kidd praised Walton for doing an “incredible job” through injuries and other issues. Kidd was understandably coy about whether he covets Walton’s job.

“We’ll wait until the season’s over to see what opportunities come about and hopefully, there’s one that fits,” he said.

Kidd’s coaching career began with the Nets. He was 139-152 with Milwaukee and took the team to the playoffs twice.

JaVale McGee Posts Career-Best Statistical Night

  • Although the Lakers are out of the running for the playoffs, JaVale McGee had the best night of his 11-year career on Friday, notes Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. McGee, who will be a free agent again this summer, lit up the scoreboard with 33 points and 20 rebounds in a win over the Nets. “Get wins and play hard,” he said of his philosophy for the rest of the season. “That’s what our mentality is. There is no slacking. As a team that’s not making the playoffs, I’m planning on playing teams that are supposed to make the playoffs and knocking them out too. Might as well.”

Lakers To Consider Jason Kidd As Coach

Jason Kidd will get strong consideration to be the next coach of the Lakers if they decide to replace Luke Walton, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Hall of Fame point guard has been out of coaching since being fired by the Bucks in January of 2018. Kidd has a career record of 183-190, spending one season as coach of the Nets and three and a half in Milwaukee.

Wojnarowski’s tweet came in response to a message from Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link) that Kidd is expected to be targeted by his alma mater, the University of California, which fired Wyking Jones earlier today. Woj suggests that Kidd will be reluctant to accept a position in college if he believes an NBA job is available, particularly one as glamorous as the Lakers’ position.

Kidd has made no secret of his desire to return to the NBA sidelines and interviewed for the Pistons’ opening last summer before they hired Dwane Casey. He addressed the Knicks during their trip to Phoenix earlier this month and spent time giving instruction to New York’s young point guards.

Walton has been under fire in L.A. since the start of the season as expectations rose sharply after the signing of LeBron James. Recent reports indicate that it’s almost certain that Walton will be replaced after the Lakers missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year.

Lakers Talked To Lonzo Ball About Changing Shoes

Lonzo Ball and his family have been the most visible representatives of Big Baller Brand, but the Lakers expressed concern that BBB shoes might be responsible for Ball’s frequent ankle injuries, according to Ramona Shelburne and Paula Lavigne of ESPN.

Ball has been sidelined since hurting his ankle on January 19 and was ultimately shut down for the rest of the season with a Grade 3 ankle sprain and a bone bruise. It’s the third ankle injury in two NBA seasons for Ball, who played just 47 games this season and 52 last year.

“Yeah, they talked to me,” Ball said of Lakers management. “They asked me about it, and I told ’em, ‘I feel comfortable.’ If I wasn’t comfortable, I wouldn’t play in ’em. If I didn’t play in [his signature BBB shoes], I’d play in Kobe [Bryant’s signature Nike shoe]. I work out in [LeBron James‘ signature Nike shoe], but that’s because they’re heavier.”

Ball told the Lakers he was willing to make adjustments to his Big Baller shoes, but said he meant “just minor things.”

The Lakers also reached out to Alan Foster, a partial owner of Big Baller Brand, about customer complaints to the Better Business Bureau, the ESPN story states. The company received a failing grade from the bureau in 2018 because of 184 consumer complaints, mostly related to shipping issues.

“They still have an F with us,” Blair Looney, president of the Better Business Bureau of Central California and Inland Empire Counties, told ESPN. “We are continuing to work with them on straightening things out.”

The information about the Lakers is contained in a larger story about Ball ending his relationship with Foster, the family’s former business manager, over concerns about a criminal past and his inability to account for $1.5MM.

LeBron James, Luke Walton Address Lakers Missing Playoffs

As the final buzzer sounded on Friday, the Lakers suffered a 111-106 loss to the Nets and were also officially eliminated from postseason contention for the sixth consecutive season. Having signed LeBron James last summer, the Lakers had anticipated returning to the playoff picture this spring.

However, after getting off to a strong start, the Lakers slumped following James’ Christmas Day groin injury and then went just 3-12 since the All-Star break, closing the door on a potential trip to the postseason.

“It’s not what we signed up for. Throughout the year, things happened. Suspensions, injuries, things of that nature,” James told reporters after Friday’s loss. “And just not being able to play sustainable basketball for 48 minutes. But you don’t even try to wrap your head around it, you just keep pushing. Just try to get better tonight, move onto tomorrow, and go from there.”

James’ prolonged absence was not the only obstacle the Lakers faced. Injuries to Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Ingram and others contributed to the team’s decline. After Friday’s loss, the Lakers wield a 31-41 record and could finish this season with a worse record than last year’s (35-47).

For head coach Luke Walton, who has seemingly been in the hot seat all season, the message will be to compete. With no playoffs this season and his future uncertain, Walton said it’s the team’s obligation to play strong down the stretch.

“It’s going to be that message every day for the final three weeks,” Walton said. “It’s still about players getting better. It’s still about going out there and respecting the game and giving everything we have to try to win. We owe that, like I said, to ourselves, our teammates, the organization, to the fans.” 

As the Lakers prepare for their final 10 games, James — who missed more games than he ever has in a season and is entering his age-35 year — said he plans to play as much as possible, regardless of the team’s standing.

“I’m probably going to have a conversation with the coaching staff and my trainer and go from there,” James said “But I love to hoop. S**t, I’m going to have five months and not play the game. So, you know, hopefully, I can be in as many games as possible.”

Jeanie Buss Has Opportunity To Become Active Owner

  • Jeanie Buss has a golden opportunity to become more of an active owner with the Lakers following their disappointing season, Bill Oram of The Athletic writes. The underwhelming acquisitions made by president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka, a lack of overall camaraderie between the players, and an awkward fit on the court have generated questions from fans and league observers, something Buss will have to take a closer look at during the offseason.

And-Ones: Kobe, Wilkes, Young Cores

Kobe Bryant spent his entire 20-year NBA career with the Lakers and doesn’t regret doing so, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t thought about what it would have been like to play for another franchise. In a Q&A with Frank Isola of The Athletic, Bryant suggested that the idea of playing for the Knicks was one that intrigued him.

“I always kind of dreamed about playing in New York and what that would have been like,” Bryant said. “It’s true. As a fan, the Garden was the historical arena. … There is like three historical arenas. Chicago Stadium and Boston Garden were torn down. The only thing left was MSG. So, I always wanted to be a part of that history and play in it. So, New York was a team … it would have been pretty good to play in that city.”

Bryant also shared some opinions on the Lakers, telling Isola that he thinks they’ll be “just fine” whether or not they decide to trade some of their younger players, and offered praise for Giannis Antetokounmpo (“He’s just scratching the surface”) and Zion Williamson (“Lot of potential”). He also laughed off Isola’s inquiry on whether he’d consider returning to the Lakers and teaming up with LeBron James.

“That’s an easy one … because I don’t want to play no more,” Kobe said. “I’m done.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • After testing the draft waters a year ago and ultimately returning to school, UCLA sophomore Kris Wilkes will sign with an agent and enter his name in the 2019 NBA draft, tweets Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. Wilkes, the No. 67 prospect on ESPN’s big board, averaged 17.3 PPG on .432/.337/.671 shooting for the Bruins this year.
  • Which NBA teams appear to have the brightest futures based on their young talent? Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports tackles that question, identifying which clubs have the most promising young cores. The Sixers lead the way, while the Hawks, Bulls, and Suns fall outside of Goodwill’s top five.
  • A number of players who were bought out and/or waived last month have made an impact for new teams, according to Jordan Hicks of Basketball Insiders, who points to Wesley Matthews (Pacers) and Enes Kanter (Trail Blazers) as a couple veterans having success for their new clubs.

Lakers Sign Scott Machado To 10-Day Deal

MARCH 21: The Lakers have officially signed Machado to a 10-day contract, the team announced today in a press release.

MARCH 20: Veteran guard Scott Machado will sign a 10-day contract with the Lakers, tweets Michael Scotto of The Athletic.

The 28-year-old was in training camp with L.A., but was waived just before the season began. His only prior NBA experience was six games with the Rockets during his rookie year of 2012/13.

Machado has spent this season with the South Bay Lakers in the G League, where he posted a 16.4/3.4/8.0 line in 45 games. He was recently named G League Player of the Week, according to Scotto.

The Lakers have a full 15-man roster, but Andre Ingram‘s 10-day deal is about to expire, so it appears the team will opt not to re-sign him to create room for Machado.

Doc Rivers Plans To Be With Clippers For A “Long Time”

Everyone is going to the Lakers — or at least that’s what the rumor mill might lead readers to believe. The latest subject of Lakers-related speculation was Doc Rivers, as there were whispers that he might be considering leaving the Clippers for the club’s intra-city rivals. Rivers dismissed that idea today.

“I have a job and the Lakers have a coach,” Rivers said, via Ben Golliver of the Washington Post (Twitter link). “I’m going nowhere. I can tell you that, straight, up front. I’m going to be here until [Clippers owner] Steve Ballmer says get out. I plan on being here a long time.”

Ballmer previously reworked Rivers’ contract, allowing him an opt-out in 2019. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), that extension has been again reworked into a longer deal.

“This summer, we decided to extend my contract,” Rivers explained. “…[Steve] did something I don’t think any owner would do. He gave me an out where I could opt out this summer.

“We wanted to test each other, we thought this was the right fit, but we wanted to make sure. As my dad said, ‘Trust everybody, but cut the cards.’ It was one of those things.

“Early this year, we both decided let’s end this thing, take this out, extend it and make it a longer deal. We’ve long decided on that but we chose not to say anything about it.

“…Steve was a man of his word. He gave a coach a chance to do what he wanted to do. This coach chose to stay right where he’s at and I’m very happy about it.”

The exact terms of the extension have not yet been made public, but Rivers said that his job “is not done,” adding that one of the reasons he came to the Clippers was to win a championship. Another goal was to make the franchise a free agent destination.

What’s clear is that Rivers plans to be part of the Clippers’ free agent pitches this summer as they compete with the Lakers and many other teams for top available talent.