Lakers Rumors

Latest On Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler wants to sign a five-year maximum deal with a new team next year, which is why he wants out of Minnesota this season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Butler, who is expected to opt out of his current contract next summer, is limited to four years and about $140MM if he changes teams in free agency. However, his Bird rights will transfer in any trade, so if a team deals for him, it can make a five-year offer in the neighborhood of $190MM.

Butler was hoping for a larger extension offer from the Wolves than the four-year, $100MM+ deal he turned down in July, Charania adds. However, Minnesota was prohibited by CBA rules from offering more than that amount this offseason unless the team renegotiated Butler’s contract, which would require cap room.

Executives from other teams believe a Butler trade will happen at some point this season, but it’s not clear where he will go or when it might happen. Butler identified the Knicks, Nets and Clippers as his preferred locations when making his trade request, but the Wolves are under no obligation to grant his wishes. Another report tonight identified the Clippers as the early front-runner.

Brooklyn and L.A. seem motivated to try to land Butler, Charania adds, while New York is reluctant to part with draft picks and young players. The Celtics have the assets to make a play for Butler, but don’t need him with Gordon Hayward‘s return from ankle surgery. Charania suggests the Sixers may also check into Butler’s price tag.

There’s more to pass along as teams line up for a shot at Butler:

  • Butler didn’t put the Lakers on his list, reportedly because he isn’t interested in a complementary role to LeBron James, but even if he wanted to go there the team would have difficulty putting together an offer for the next three months, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. L.A.’s roster is filled with newly signed free agents who aren’t eligible to be traded until December 15. The team would need to send out at least $16MM to match salaries and has a limited pool of players to pick from. Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram would give them a combined $13.2MM, but the Lakers aren’t likely to part with two young stars when they can offer a max deal next summer. They could have kept Luol Deng for salary matching purposes, but Pincus states that Butler was never a priority for the organization.
  • The Nets have young talent, a couple of large expiring contracts and their first-round pick for the first time since 2013, notes Michael Scotto of The Athletic. Caris LeVert is considered a core piece of the organization, but Brooklyn may be willing to part with the versatile guard for a player like Butler. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is coming off his best NBA season, but will be eligible for restricted free agency next summer. Impending free agents Kenneth Faried ($13.76 million) and DeMarre Carroll ($15.4 million) could both be useful to match salaries.
  • The Heat would love to acquire Butler, but may not have the assets to make a deal work, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson and Hassan Whiteside could all be traded one-for-one for Butler, adds Anthony Chiang of The Herald, but he states that Minnesota will be looking for younger talent such as Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo.
  • Oddsmaker Bovada lists the Timberwolves as 3/2 favorites to still have Butler when the season starts, relays Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). The Sixers are next in line at 11/4, followed by the Knicks at 15/4, the Lakers at 5/1 and the Nets and Celtics each at 15/2.

Latest On Jimmy Butler

With training camps around the corner, the NBA rumor mill has sprung back into action today, as word broke that four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler is seeking a trade out of Minnesota. Butler even has a few specific destinations in mind, having reportedly told the Timberwolves that he’d have interest in being dealt to the Nets, Knicks, or Clippers.

In his full report on the Butler situation, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski provides several more tidbits on the All-NBA wing, so let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • Butler’s list of preferred landing spots could expand based upon the willingness of the Timberwolves and rival teams to negotiate a deal, league sources tell Wojnarowski.
  • For now, Tom Thibodeau and the Timberwolves have little interest in dealing Butler, preferring to keep him and attempt to make a deeper playoff run in 2018/19, says Wojnarowski. Thibodeau’s “tenuous” status with team owner Glen Taylor may play a part in that stance, according to Woj, who notes that it would be tough for Minnesota not to take a step backward in the short term by trading Butler.
  • Butler is into the idea of playing a central role for a big-market club, per Wojnarowski. The Lakers are a less appealing option now that LeBron James is on the roster, since Butler would be playing second fiddle there.
  • The Clippers, Nets, and Knicks have varying levels of interest in Butler, each “prioritizing him in different ways,” writes Wojnarowski. All three teams will have substantial cap room next summer, so acquiring Butler (who will have a $30MM+ cap hold) could hinder their ability to pursue other stars.
  • According to Wojnarowski, the Heat are another team with interest in Butler. Going after him in free agency likely won’t be an option for Miami, since the club doesn’t project to have cap space in 2019.
  • While initial reports suggested that there were teams with whom Butler would be willing to sign an extension, Wojnarowski clarifies that the former Bull wants to be sent to a team that would plan on re-signing him to a five-year max contract as a free agent in 2019. Such a deal is currently projected to be worth nearly $190MM — it remains to be seen if any team would make such a huge investment in a player who will be 30 years old when he reaches free agency.

Northwest Rumors: Butler, Porter, Thunder, Aminu

The Nets, Knicks, Nuggets, Sixers and Lakers are potential landing spots for Jimmy Butler if the Timberwolves decide to trade him before he hits free agency next summer, Frank Urbina of HoopsHype opines. Butler is reportedly meeting with Minnesota’s brass on Monday to discuss his future with the organization. The Nets could offer a package featuring the Nuggets’ top-12 protected 2019 first-round pick, as well as defensive-minded wing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, while Denver could make either Jamal MurrayGary Harris and Michael Porter Jr. the centerpiece in a deal for the All-Star wing, Urbina adds.

We have more from around the Northwest Division:

  • Porter is trying to return to full strength after two back surgeries and there’s no guarantee he’ll play this season, Christopher Dempsey of the team’s website writes in a player profile. The Nuggets will keep him on the sidelines until they’re convinced the rookie forward won’t have any setbacks. There’s no timetable on when he will be ready to make his debut, Dempsey adds.
  • Defense will be the Thunder’s biggest strengths this season, according to Basketball Insiders’ season preview of the team. The return of Andre Roberson from his knee injury and the subtraction of Carmelo Anthony give the Thunder five above-average-to-elite defenders in their lineup. Oklahoma City’s biggest issue is closing out games but without the chemistry issues caused by trying to fit Anthony in with Russell Westbrook and Paul George, its performances in the clutch should also improve this season.
  • Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu and center Jusuf Nurkic have returned to Portland after competing in regional FIBA World Cup qualifiers last week, according to Casey Holdahl of the team’s website. Aminu helped Nigeria go 3-0 during the tournament but Bosnia and Herzegovina went winless in two games despite the efforts of Nurkic.
  • Shooting guard Darius Johnson-Odom has remained in Minnesota to work out following his recent tryout with the Timberwolves, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. He could still be added to the training camp roster, Wolfson adds.

Lakers Notes: Ball, Redick, Zubac

Lonzo Ball‘s ability as a passer has never been questioned but his ability to shoot has been a concern ever since the 2017 NBA Draft.  As Ball prepares for his sophomore campaign, it appears he has simplified the release on his jumper, Joe Morgan of Sporting News writes.

In his first season, Ball shot 36% from the field and 30.5% from beyond the arc. Those numbers are going to need improvement as he prepares to play with LeBron James, a notorious playmaker who relies on outside shooters. There is reason to believe that Ball can be an effective shooter as he shot 55.1% from the floor and 42.1% from three-point range in his lone season at UCLA.

Based on videos of Ball in preseason workouts, it appears he has dropped the hitch in his release that had been a concern. With a simplified jumper, it should help Ball have a quicker — and hopefully more accurate — release.

Check out more Lakers notes below:

  • Speaking of reliable shooters, after LeBron James signed with the Lakers, the team reportedly intensified its pursuit of veteran sharpshooter J.J. Redick. Appearing on Zach Lowe’s The Lowe Post podcast (via USA Today), Redick said there was an opportunity to join the Lakers, but he also had offers from the Pacers and Suns. Redick ultimately re-signed with the Sixers.
  • Both Ivica Zubac and Svi Mykhailiuk are with their respective national teams as they both approach a berth in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, per Zubac is with the Croatian team while Mykhailiuk is with the Ukranian team

Clippers The Top Destination For Kawhi Leonard Next Summer?

Before Kawhi Leonard has even suited up for the Raptors, his top destination in free agency next summer is the Clippers, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. During an appearance on 710 ESPN Mason and Ireland, Shelburne labeled the Clippers as Leonard’s top pick with the Raptors his second choice and Lakers coming in third.

The Los Angeles native has reportedly preferred to end up back home with either the Lakers or Clippers. Several reports over the past year suggested that Leonard’s preference was joining the Lakers, who already signed LeBron James.

After a tumultuous and injured-riddled 2017/18 in San Antonio, the Spurs dealt their superstar to Toronto earlier this summer. Based on several reports, Leonard is excited and prepared for the upcoming season. Just last month, we relayed that Leonard was “keeping an open mind” about his future with the Raptors.

Early impressions on Leonard out of the Toronto camp have been positive. Recently, assistant coach Phil Handy provided an update on Leonard, who missed most of last season with a quad injury.

“He’s doing great,” Handy said. “He’s in great shape. Body looks good, he’s feeling good, he’s moving well. I don’t anticipate any issues or any problems. He’s working hard and he’s a hard worker.”

Earlier this week, Leonard’s longtime teammate with the Spurs and current teammate with the Raptors, Danny Green, opined that the two-time Defensive Player of the Year would have a hard time leaving Toronto.

“The city of Toronto is gonna be hard to turn down after being there,” Green said.

Northwest Notes: Deng, Abrines, Hernangomez

Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau defended the signing of forward Luol Deng, saying the veteran forward can help his team in a number of ways, Steve Aschburner of reports. “He’s only 33,” the Wolves coach said. “He takes great care of himself. He knows how to prepare for the season. For us, the fact that he can play [multiple spots] and he’s a veteran, it’s a long season, you like to have players like that. And he’s familiar with what we want to do.” Deng signed a one-year, $2.4MM contract with the Timberwolves after reaching a buyout agreement with the Lakers and clearing waivers. Thibodeau has taken criticism for being too partial to ex-Bulls players but he shrugs it off, as told Aschburner. “Whether a guy has played for me before or in a system where (GM) Scott (Layden) had been before or maybe where one of our assistants had been, if you feel like you know a player well and he fits into your system, then why not do it?,” Thibodeau said. “To me, I don’t really care what other people think. I care about what we think.”

We have more from around the Northwest Division:

  • Deng gave up $7.5MM over the next two seasons in his buyout with Lakers, including $3.6MM that was allocated to the upcoming season, salary cap expert Albert Nahmad tweets. He’ll recoup two-thirds of the latter giveback with his Wolves contract, meaning he’ll receive a total of $16.7MM for the season, Nahmad adds.
  • Alex Abrines is just entering his prime at 25 years old and the Thunder swingman could be in line for an expanded role, Nick Gallo of the team’s website writes. Abrines averaged 15.1 MPG in 75 regular-season appearances last season could see some crunch-time minutes this season, Gallo adds. “You can focus on certain points of your game. (I’ll) especially keep improving on defense and then just develop my offensive game,” Abrines said. “Not just being a shooter, trying to put the ball on the floor, playing some big roles and being able to create for my teammates.”
  • Nuggets forward Juan Hernangomez could enjoy a bounce-back season, Christopher Dempsey of the Nuggets’ website opines. Hernangomez appeared in just 25 games last season after seeing action in 62 games the previous campaign, in part due to a bout with mononucleosis, Dempsey notes. Hernangomez could play a bigger role off the bench this season because of his long-range shooting and hustle, Dempsey adds.

Sixers, Lakers Interested In Jamal Crawford

The Sixers and Lakers both have interest in signing veteran guard Jamal Crawford, according to Marc Spears of EPSN (hat tip to Miguel Gargaritano of Clutch Points).

Appearing on “The Jump,” Spears said Crawford isn’t close to making a decision on a new team, but Philadelphia and L.A. are among the contenders. The 38-year-old also had contact with Golden State, but the Warriors won’t have a roster spot to offer if Patrick McCaw re-signs.

Crawford spent last season with the Timberwolves, but was frustrated by a lack of playing time. He appeared in 80 games, but averaged just 20.7 minutes per night, the lowest since his rookie year, and saw his numbers decline across the board from where they had been with the Clippers.

The Sixers have 19 players signed and 14 guaranteed contracts, so they have room to add Crawford. He would bring firepower to the reserve unit and give the team a much-needed 3-point shooter.

The Lakers also have 19 players under contract with 14 guaranteed. Crawford would add a veteran presence to the L.A. backcourt, which is short on outside shooters to help stretch the floor for LeBron James.

Stronger Kyle Kuzma In Position To Improve

  • A much-improved physique will put Lakers sophomore Kyle Kuzma in position to break out in 2018-19, Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype writes. The forward was a surprise success as a rookie last year and will look to make further progress after gaining strength in his shoulder and back.
  • There are plenty of things to like about what the Lakers did this offseason and projections for how they’ll fare in 2018-19 vary wildly. One question, James Blancarte of Basketball Insiders wonders, is whether or not the franchise will be able to resist the urge to shake up the roster with a trade if things don’t begin as expected in Los Angeles.

Andrew Bynum Works Out At Lakers’ Facility

Andrew Bynum‘s attempted NBA comeback included an appearance this week at the Lakers’ practice facility, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. It wasn’t considered an official workout for the team, but Bynum was permitted to participate in activities at the gym.

L.A.’s current front office has an “open door” at the facility for current and former players, Charania adds (Twitter link). Bynum spent seven season with the Lakers, earning All-Star honors in 2011/12. He is arranging workouts with other teams in his quest to return to the NBA after a four-year absence, according to Charania.

Now 30, Bynum hasn’t had a successful season since his All-Star campaign. The Sixers picked him up in 2012 in the four-team trade that sent Dwight Howard to L.A., but knee problems prevented him from ever suiting up for Philadelphia. He signed with the Cavaliers in 2013 and played 24 games before being traded to the Bulls, who immediately waived him. Bynum’s last NBA experience was two games with the Pacers late in the 2013/14 season.

Andrew Bynum Working Towards NBA Comeback

After last playing in the NBA during the 2013/14 season, Andrew Bynum is working to make a comeback in the league this season. According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania (Twitter link), Bynum has hired representation as he looks to schedule team workouts in the coming weeks, with training camps around the corner.

Bynum is still just 30 years old, but it remains to be seen how much he can provide NBA teams at this point of his career, especially given the league’s trend to small ball and centers that can keep up with guards on the perimeter.

Bynum struggled with injuries throughout his career, preventing him from developing into a perennial All-Star during his prime. Bynum played seven seasons with the Lakers and averaged 11.7 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, making the All-Star game during the 2011/12 season.

After being traded to the Sixers as part of the Dwight Howard trade in the 2012 offseason, Bynum continued to have issues with his knees, which prevented him from suiting up during the 2012/13 campaign. After his contract expired following that season, the 76ers didn’t look to bring Bynum back, allowing him to explore options as an unrestricted free agent.

Bynum signed with the Cavaliers in the following summer, but was quickly traded to the Bulls during the 2013/14 season, who subsequently waived him to receive luxury tax relief. While Bynum later struck a deal with the Pacers that same season, he continued to struggle with knee issues and only appeared in two games with Indiana.

A former top-10 pick in the draft, Bynum showcased a varied post game and ability to defend the rim when with the Lakers. Any team in need of rim protection or a scoring option at center could look to bring Bynum in for a workout during training camp, but clubs will certainly be cautious about giving him a roster spot, given his injury history and the trends of the league.