Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers Sign Nigel Hayes To 10-Day Deal

JANUARY 19: The Lakers have officially signed Hayes to a 10-day contract, the team announced today in a press release. The deal will run through next Sunday.

JANUARY 18: The Lakers plan to sign forward Nigel Hayes to a 10-day contract, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. The 23-year-old went undrafted out of Wisconsin last summer but did end up briefly catching on with the Knicks in training camp.

Hayes averaged 14.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game across three seasons with the Badgers and will slot into a Lakers depth chart that could use depth down low.

In 30 games with the G League’s Westchester Knicks this season, Hayes has averaged 14.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per contest.

Pacific Notes: Ball, CP3, Clippers, Kings

Lonzo Balls balky left knee kept him out of the Lakers‘ loss to the Grizzlies on Monday and will likely sideline him for at least another game, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk writes. Ball underwent an MRI on Sunday after he complained of discomfort and he will not be able to return until the swelling subsides.

“I know my body the best,” Ball said. “So as long as I can run, that is pretty much all I need. So as soon as I can run and the swelling goes down a little bit, then I should be ready to go.”

Ball, 20, had played well since he returned from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for six games from late December through early January. In total, Ball has averaged 10.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG, and 7.1 APG in 36 games for Los Angeles. The Lakers are 0-6 without Ball and are also currently without Brandon Ingram who is day-to-day with a sprained ankle.

Check out other Pacific Division notes below:

  • Before the melee that ensued during and after in the Rockets‘ matchup against the Clippers in Los Angeles on Monday, former Clipper Chris Paul did not want to be the focus of the game, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes. Paul spent six seasons with the Clippers before he was traded this past offseason to Houston, pairing him with perennial Most Valuable Player candidate James Harden. However, after the game was over, it was Paul and several of his Rockets teammates entering the Clippers locker room looking for a confrontation with several L.A. players that was the story.
  • Michael Lee of The Vertical examines the Clippers dynasty that never was. While Los Angeles compiled an impressive list of stars, such as Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and others, the team was never able to escape the first round of the playoffs.
  • Several Kings player have voiced their displeasure with the way things are going for the team and that could be beneficial for the organization’s rebuild, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. Jones argues that if players continue speaking up, the team will have to speed up its efforts to put forth a contending team with winning players.
  • With the trade deadline approaching, James Ham of NBC Sports takes a look at which Kings veterans could be on the move and the impact they could have on the market.

Mavs, Lakers To Pursue DeMarcus Cousins In Free Agency?

Not many NBA teams currently project to have maximum-salary cap room this offseason, but for those teams with space, DeMarcus Cousins figures to be a top target. Appearing on Nate Duncan’s Dunc’d On Podcast this week, Marc Stein of The New York Times identified the Mavericks and Lakers as two teams expected to push the Pelicans for Cousins, though he cautioned that New Orleans still looks like the frontrunner.

“I think most teams around the league believe that the Pelicans will re-sign Cousins unless he doesn’t want to stay there,” Stein said, according to RealGM. “I think the Pelicans are the clear favorites. Now, I would say there’s an expectation – and maybe it’s even speculation on the part of rival teams – but I’ve heard Dallas and the Lakers mentioned most frequently. Those are teams that are expected, whatever ‘expected’ means, to make a run at him.”

The Lakers figure to have enough room for at least one max player, if not two, but as Stein acknowledges, LeBron James and/or Paul George may rank higher than Cousins on L.A.’s list of potential targets. As for the Mavs, options for Wesley Matthews and Dirk Nowitzki would cut into their space significantly, but the team may still have enough flexibility to put a max offer on the table. Noting that there has been Cousins-related chatter for a while in Dallas, Stein suggests that a pursuit of the big man “would be a very Mark Cuban move.”

While it’s worth surveying the potential free agency landscape for Cousins, it’s probably still too early to get a real sense of which teams will pursue him most aggressively and where he could realistically land. The Pelicans’ success – or lack thereof – during the rest of the 2017/18 season figures to play a major part in the 27-year-old’s summer decision. New Orleans will also be able to offer more years and more money than any other team.

Cousins is currently in the midst of perhaps his best all-around season, averaging an impressive 25.5 PPG, 12.6 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.6 BPG, and 1.5 SPG to go along with a .474/.356/.749 shooting line.

Lakers Sign Gary Payton II To Two-Way Deal

JANUARY 15: The Lakers have officially signed Payton to a two-way contract, the team announced today in a press release.

JANUARY 14: The Lakers are planning to sign Gary Payton II to a two-way contract, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. Payton began the 2017/18 campaign with the Bucks, but despite starting six games for the team, averaged just 2.5 points and 1.4 rebounds per game.

Payton will slide into the vacant two-way slot that the Lakers opened up on Friday with the release of Vander Blue.

Per Bill Oram of the Orange County Register, Payton is expected to join the team in Memphis ahead of the Lakers-Grizzlies tilt on Monday.

Payton has yet to make much of a mark at the NBA level but drew attention at Oregon State thanks to his Hall of Fame father. Gary Payton Sr., of course, suited up for the Lakers in the twilight of his career.

Payton was waived by Milwaukee on December 18 when the Bucks opted to bring Sean Kilpatrick aboard on a two-way contract.

Lakers Notes: Ball, Zubac, Hayes

Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball is headed for an MRI on his left knee after he experienced soreness this morning, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. There is no word on the severity of Ball’s soreness but Youngmisuk noted that the MRI is “precautionary.”

Ball, 20, has already missed time this season due to injury. The second overall pick from last year’s NBA Draft missed six games in late December-early January due to a right shoulder injury. Los Angeles will face the Grizzlies on the road on Monday and depending on the MRI, the team may be without Ball.

The rookie has played well since he returned from the aforementioned injury. All told, Ball is averaging 10.2 PPG, 7.1 APG, and 7.1 RPG in 36 games this season. In addition to facing scrutiny about his play, Ball has had to answer questions about his outspoken father, LaVar Ball, who has criticized the Lakers’ organization and its coaches.

Check out other Lakers news below:

  • After the Lakers waived Andrew Bogut, Croatian big man Ivica Zubac believed he would see an increased role for the Lakers, but that has not been the case, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register writes. Zubac, 20, has appeared in just 11 games for the Lakers — something that’s hard to believe since he entered the summer at the Lakers’ starting center. Instead, Zubac has seen frequent action in the G League. “I think I really improved in those games,” Zubac said. “It’s harder when you’re not playing in the NBA but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.” 
  • Tomorrow is the deadline for two-way deals and one name connected to the Lakers recently has been Wisconsin product Nigel Hayestweets Adam Johnson of 10Days2Ways.

Buss, Johnson Tweet Support For Luke Walton

Lakers majority owner Jeanie Buss and team president Magic Johnson offered public support to coach Luke Walton today for the first time since last week’s disparaging comments from LaVar Ball, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

Buss went first, tweeting a photo of herself with GM Rob Pelinka and Walton, accompanied by the hashtag #InLukeWeTrust.

Johnson followed with a pair of tweets, reading “So proud of my players and Coach Walton for winning their 4th game in a row against the Mavericks” (Twitter link) and “Coach Luke Walton has the playing some of their best basketball of the season right now.” (Twitter link)

L.A. has won four straight games since Ball, the father of rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, claimed Walton has lost the team and that players no longer support him.

Rumors emerged Friday that the Lakers might have interest in former Grizzlies coach David Fizdale. Sources told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN that Buss was concerned about the situation and wanted to make her support for Walton clear.

“Jeanie has always been great,” Walton said. “There is no doubt that they support me. I haven’t seen the tweet, but again, I don’t have Twitter. But I know they support [me and the coaching staff].”

The front office tried to ignore LaVar Ball’s comments so it wouldn’t be seen as responding to the parent of a player. A Lakers source recently told Shelburne there’s “not even a conversation” about replacing Walton, who still has three seasons left on a five-year contract reportedly worth $25MM.

Lakers Waive Vander Blue

The Lakers have waived two-way player Vander Blue, the team announced today in a press release. Assuming he goes unclaimed, Blue will become an unrestricted free agent on Sunday.

Blue, who was in camp with the Lakers in the fall, was cut at the end of the preseason, but rejoined the team on a two-way contract. Over the course of the 2017/18 campaign, the 6’4″ guard has appeared in 15 games for the South Bay Lakers, averaging 19.0 PPG and 5.3 APG. However, he has struggled with his shot, posting a .390 FG% and .333 3PT% in the G League. Blue also played in five NBA games for L.A.

With Blue no longer occupying one of the Lakers’ two-way slots, the team has an opening and will have until Monday to fill it. January 15 represents the last day this season that NBA clubs can sign players to two-way deals.

The Lakers also have an open spot on their 15-man NBA roster, created when they waived Andrew Bogut last weekend.

Lakers Decide Not To Sign Jamil Wilson

The Lakers have changed their minds about offering a 10-day contract to Jamil Wilson, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The free agent forward was named in a civil suit filed this week involving sexual battery and fraud, according to a TMZ report. It’s not clear if the suit had anything to do with the Lakers’ decision, but league sources tell Wojnarowski the team hasn’t ruled out the possibility of adding Wilson in the future.

“Jamil has been irreparably harmed by the recent accusation which has now resulted in damage to his NBA career,” said Wilson’s agent, Steve McCaskill of Catalyst Sports. “We will not tolerate these false accusations, but will pursue all legal remedies with the full force of the law.”

L.A. was expected to sign Wilson today so he would be available for Thursday’s game. The team had hoped he could help reinforce the roster during a stretch of five games in 10 days, according to Bill Oram of The Southern California News Group (Twitter link).

Wilson was waived Saturday after playing 10 games for the cross-town Clippers, 10 of which were starts. He averaged 7.0 points in a little more than 18 minutes per night on a two-way deal. Wilson, 27, had spent time in training camp with the Suns and Mavericks in past years, but this season marked his first NBA experience.

Lakers Have ‘Complete Faith’ In Luke Walton

Despite not publicly expressing support for their head coach in the wake of comments made by LaVar Ball this past weekend, the Lakers have “complete faith” in Luke Walton, a person with knowledge of the club’s thinking tells Sam Amick of USA Today. The same source tells Amick that the Lakers have no regrets about using the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft to select Lonzo Ball.

Speaking to ESPN in Lithuania, Lonzo Ball‘s father suggested over the weekend that Walton had lost his players’ confidence, but that assertion hasn’t been corroborated by any public or private sources in recent days. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported on Sunday that Walton’s job status was “not even a conversation” for the Lakers’ brass, and Amick’s report today further confirms that the franchise still envisions Walton as a potential long-term head coach.

According to Amick, the support for Walton goes all the way to ownership, though there has been silence from the front office and ownership since LaVar Ball spoke out. In a separate piece, Amick questions why the Lakers haven’t issued any public statements on the issue, noting that there would be a way to do it without mentioning LaVar or offending the Ball family.

With no comment from Magic Johnson or Rob Pelinka on the subject this week, rival coaches from around the NBA have jumped in to defend Walton and to rip ESPN for their handling of the elder Ball’s comments. Lakers players such as Kyle Kuzma have also endorsed Walton, with Kuzma telling reporters that he “loves” playing for the L.A. head coach.

We stand by Luke,” Kuzma said on Monday. “I know the front office does.”

Walton is in the second year of a five-year contract worth a reported $25MM.

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