Lakers Rumors

Carmelo May Land With New Team Before Trade Deadline

It has been more than two months since Carmelo Anthony appeared in an NBA game, fueling speculation that his long career may be coming to an end. However, two sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic that Anthony has “multiple” options available to him and is expected to pick one before next month’s trade deadline.

According to Amick, it’s not clear whether these options would involve a trade – since Anthony is still technically on the Rockets‘ roster – or whether he’d be released and subsequently signed by a new club. Either way, there are “strong signs” that he’ll resume his NBA career at some point this season, Amick writes.

LeBron James has expressed some interest in bringing his good friend to Los Angeles, and the Lakers have been the team most frequently linked to Anthony, as Amick notes. But the fact that L.A has a full roster is “no small obstacle,” a team source tells Amick. It’s unclear whether the Lakers would be willing to replace any of their current players with Carmelo, particularly since there are questions about the the 34-year-old’s conditioning and overall game.

Anthony has seen his production slip over the last two seasons in Oklahoma City and Houston. Although the veteran forward averaged a career-high 6.4 three-point attempts during his 10 games with the Rockets, he still displayed an affinity for deep two-point shots, and has been a liability on defense. Carmelo’s on/off-court statistics have reflected his struggles, as Houston had a -9.0 net rating in his minutes this season.

As we wait to see where Anthony ends up, it’s worth noting that the Rockets would certainly prefer to trade him rather than release him outright, since doing so would take the team off the hook for the tax penalties associated with his $1.51MM cap hit.

A team with interest in Anthony might not mind trading for him, as long as that club isn’t also a taxpayer, since the Rockets have already paid over half of his 2018/19 salary — the financial commitment for a team acquiring him would essentially be the same as signing him to a new minimum-salary free agent contract.

Latest On LeBron James, Lakers

LeBron James won’t travel with the Lakers on the team’s upcoming two-game road trip to Oklahoma City and Houston, the club announced today in a press release. However, James – who continues to recover from a groin injury – has been cleared to practice once the Lakers return next week.

ESPN’s Dave McMenamin first reported that James would miss at least two more games, noting that the four-time MVP hasn’t officially been ruled out for Monday’s showdown vs. the Warriors. LeBron won’t have much practice time under his belt at that point though, so returning for that game would be a best-case scenario.

In a conversation with Sam Amick of The Athletic, agent Rich Paul said that James hasn’t targeted any specific return dates and won’t get back on the court until he’s fully healthy. Stressing that “we’re not on nobody else’s timeline,” Paul noted that he and his client don’t want to risk re-injury by coming back too soon.

According to Paul, doctors initially estimated that James would miss between three and six weeks. The injury occurred just over three weeks ago, so LeBron remains right on track, and won’t let the Lakers’ recent slump accelerate his timeline.

“Obviously he cares (about the team’s struggles),” Paul said. “The man wants to play. He’s f—ing itching to play, but he can’t put himself in that situation. It’s just, you’ve really got to do the right thing and it has zero to do with his age, or the fact that he’s played 16 seasons – nothing to do with that. This is a tendon. It’s not a shoulder, or an ankle, or an elbow. The smart thing to do is to do the smart thing. You can’t allow media, or the fact that the team might be losing, to dictate what’s best for you, and we won’t. He’s progressing. He’s not ready yet.”

Here’s more on LeBron and the Lakers:

  • James’ groin issue is already the worst injury of his 16-year career. He’s also on track to set a new career-high in games missed — he has never sat out more than 13 in a single season, and if he misses Monday’s game against Golden State, it would be 14 in 2018/19. Joe Vardon of The Athletic takes a closer look at how LeBron is coping with a rare health problem.
  • The Lakers’ struggles without James have – perhaps unfairly – increased the pressure on head coach Luke Walton, whose seat appears hotter than ever before. Multiple sources tell ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, however, that Lakers management “continues to project support” for Walton, both publicly and privately.
  • Walton shouldn’t be blamed for the Lakers’ recent slide, according to Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times, who suggests that president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka should take responsibility for assembling a mismatched roster.

Lakers Notes: Walton, Meeks, Ingram, Ball

Controlling owner Jeanie Buss holds the key to Luke Walton‘s future as head coach, Bill Oram of The Athletic opines. If team president Magic Johnson urges Buss to make a coaching change in the near future or at the end of the season, she would have to choose between her loyalty to Johnson and her faith in Walton, Oram continues. There is growing uneasiness about Walton’s job security following a loss to the woeful Cavaliers, making the team 3-7 with LeBron James sidelined by a groin injury. Johnson’s unpredictable, ultra-competitive nature and his concerns about the staff increase the possibility of him pushing Buss to make a move, Oram adds.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • Free agent shooting guard and former Laker Jodie Meeks is a potential roster addition as the team looks to improve its outside shooting, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin tweets.  The career 37.2% 3-point shooter worked out for the Sixers on Monday. The Lakers, who have an open roster spot, rank 27th in long-range shooting at 33.5%.
  • Andre Ingram set a G League record for most career games played over the weekend, according to a G League tweet. Ingram, currently with the South Bay Lakers, played his 402nd game on Saturday. The 33-year-old guard made his NBA debut last season with the Lakers, appearing in two games.
  • Lonzo Ball would rather lead by example because he’s not as vocal as veterans like James, Rajon Rondo and Tyson Chandler, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN reports. Ball has stepped up his efforts to be a leader with James and Rondo nursing injuries.

Lakers Notes: Playoffs, Walton, Ball, Ingram

In an NBA Insiders piece for ESPN, writers Kevin Arnovitz, Chris Herring, Brian Windhorst, Andre Snellings, and Kevin Pelton discuss the Lakers’ playoff chances with superstar LeBron James missing extended time with the groin injury he suffered on Christmas Day against the Warriors.

As one may expect, the consensus among the writers is that the Lakers will still probably make the playoffs, assuming James doesn’t suffer a setback during rehab and miss additional time beyond what was reasonably foreseen.

With approximately 40 games remaining, the general opinion from the ESPN scribes is that James will probably have to play somewhere around 30 to 35 of those games for the Lakers to feel safe about their playoff chances, meaning LeBron needs to be back relatively soon.

In addition to the playoff race, other topics discussed include the identity of the Lakers’ second-best player, whether the team should and/or will make a big trade before the deadline, and where the Lakers’ ceiling stacks up relative to other teams in the Western Conference. The entire article is worth a read.

There’s more from the purple and gold this afternoon:

  • If the Lakers do miss the playoffs, it will be a “nightmare scenario” for the NBA and its “broken playoff format,” writes Ben Golliver of The Washington Post. The Lakers could potentially miss the postseason with 45 wins while the sixth, seventh, and eighth seeds in the Eastern Conference could all have losing records. Having one of its most popular franchises shut out of the playoffs while three teams in the East make the playoffs with inferior records could be the catalyst for change the NBA playoff system needs.
  • Sam Amick of The Athletic sat down for an extensive one-one-one conversation with Luke Walton to discuss him working in his dream job as the head coach for the Lakers, the team’s much-needed win in Dallas earlier this week after his challenge to his young players to play with more passion, and the overall challenge of both coaching and playing without James.
  • The Lakers continue to wait for both Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram to blossom into what a team ultimately expects of players taken No. 2 overall in the draft. But as Mark Heisler of the Orange County Register writes, time is running out. On July 1, the Lakers could potentially trade for the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis, one of the best players in the NBA. And if they do so, both Ball and Ingram may be going to the Big Easy unless they show their worth the rest of the season.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/10/19

Here are Thursday’s NBA G League assignments and recalls from across the league:

Examining Whether Lakers Have A No. 2 Option Behind LeBron James

LeBron James Out At Least Three More Games

The Lakers will have to get by without star forward LeBron James for at least a few more games. According to a press release issued today by the team, James is making progress in his recovery from a strained groin and has been cleared to increase his on-court “functional basketball movements,” but won’t be re-evaluated until next Wednesday.

James suffered his groin injury on Christmas Day, with his team rallying in his absence to complete a blowout win over Golden State. The Lakers lost five of their next six games without LeBron, but have bounced back this week after head coach Luke Walton challenged some of his younger players. Los Angeles beat the Mavericks in Dallas on Monday and picked up a home win over Detroit on Wednesday.

Even if James is cleared to play when he’s re-evaluated next Wednesday, that timetable will keep him out of action for the Lakers’ next three games. He’ll be sidelined for the team’s contests at Utah (Friday), vs. Cleveland (Sunday), and vs. Chicago (Tuesday).

After those three games, the Lakers’ next three are against Oklahoma City, Houston, and Golden State, so LeBron figures to do all he can to get back for some or all of those Western Conference showdowns.

In James’ absence, the Lakers figure to continue leaning heavily on starting forwards Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope playing a major role off the bench and Michael Beasley also seeing some minutes.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/9/19

Here are Wednesday’s NBA G League assignments and recalls from around the league:

  • The Lakers assigned rookie Isaac Bonga to their South Bay affiliate, according to a tweet from the G League club. Bonga has appeared in just six NBA games, averaging 1.0 PPG, but has much better stats in the G League, where he is putting up 12.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per night while shooting nearly 41% from 3-point range.

Amick’s Latest: T. Chandler, Walton, Joerger

Before he signed with the Lakers, Tyson Chandler gave legitimate consideration to joining the division-rival Warriors instead. As he tells Sam Amick of The Athletic, Chandler loves Golden State’s style of play and was told the team would be interested in adding him, but he knew there may not be much of a role for him when DeMarcus Cousins returned.

“For me, it became (a question of), ‘Where would I make the most impact?'” Chandler said. “Do I want to go there and — back-to-back champs — just a well-oiled machine, be one of the guys, maybe be that vet on the bench after DeMarcus comes back? Or do I want to come to the Lakers, where they were teeter-tottering a little bit, struggling at the time, but I’d seen it coming alive, and I’ve always loved the draft picks and the young players that they had here, and then (LeBron James) coming here, and then (Rajon) Rondo, and then having those vets? I’m like, let me go ahead and hop in that dogfight.”

Amick’s wide-ranging article on The Athletic also touches on several other topics, including whether or not Kevin Durant should (and would) shoot more three-pointers, Austin Rivers‘ adjustment to Houston, and more. Here are a few other highlights:

  • The dynamic between Lakers head coach Luke Walton and team management is complicated enough that it’s worth keeping an eye on for the rest of the season, says Amick. However, a source close to the situation tells him that there are “no signs of imminent danger” for Walton.
  • There has been speculation that Dave Joerger could be a good candidate for the Timberwolves‘ head coaching job since he’s a Minnesota native and has fans within the organization. There’s no indication that it’s likely though, according to Amick, who hears from sources that Joerger is still extremely high on the Kings‘ young core.
  • Previous reports, including a couple from Amick, have suggested that there’s tension between Joerger and Kings assistant GM Brandon Williams, but that situation appears “more tenable” as of late, per Amick. Sources tell The Athletic that Williams spent a lot of time on the road during the weeks after Joerger asked him to leave a November shootaround, in a concerted effort to relieve tensions. All signs now point to Joerger remaining safe in Sacramento at least through the end of the 2018/19 season, Amick adds.
  • For what it’s worth, here’s what Joerger told James Ham of NBC Sports California when asked about the Timberwolves‘ job: “Obviously I’m a Minnesota kid, so it’s interesting, but at the same time, my focus is right here, right now. I mean, we’re having a great time with our guys. We’re watching them grow every day. I feel like I’ve worked my tail off, I know the players have and the coaching staff — to put us in a position where we have tremendous chemistry.”

International Notes: Kilpatrick, M. Williams, China, Pitino

Sean Kilpatrick received an offer to play for Panathinaikos is Greece, but turned it down as he waits for another NBA opportunity, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando. The news was first reported by George Zakkas of SDNA.

Saturday marked the first day that NBA teams could offer 10-day contracts, and Kilpatrick, who has gone that route with four organizations, is hoping it will be his way back into the league. He played for four teams last season, starting the year with the Nets before being waived in December. He signed a two-way deal with the Bucks later that month and was converted to a regular NBA contract before being waived in March. He signed a pair of 10-day deals with the Clippers, then finished the season with the Bulls before they waived him over the summer.

The 29-year-old averaged 6.3 points per game last season, including 15.4 PPG in nine games with Chicago.

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Matt Williams, who started last season as a two-way player with the Heat, has reached an agreement with GS Kymis in Greece, Lupo notes in a separate story. Williams began this  season with KTP Basket in Finland. He got into just three games with Miami before being waived in December of 2017.
  • The Lakers and Nets will play a pair of preseason games in China, according to an ESPN report. The contests are set for October 10 in Shanghai and October 12 in Shenzhen. It will be the third appearance in China for LeBron James and possibly the fourth for Lance Stephenson, who will set a record if he remains on the roster.
  • In the wake of Steve Alford’s firing at UCLA, a group of boosters is targeting Panathinaikos coach Rick Pitino, writes Adam Zagoria for Forbes. Pitino made his debut with the Greek team late last month and is under contract for the rest of the season, so the move couldn’t take effect until the 2019/20 season. A source tells Zagoria that Pitino is “very interested” in taking over the Bruins. Approval from the UC Board of Regents is seen as the main obstacle in light of Pitino’s dismissal from Louisville amid his alleged role in an NCAA scandal. Murray Bartow is serving as interim coach at UCLA.