NBA trade deadline
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Lakers reportedly willing to ‘listen to pitches’ for Kyle Kuzma trade

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Looking for an advantage in a tight race with the Clippers, Bucks, and other teams that see themselves as contenders, the Lakers would love to make a roster upgrade at the trade deadline. The problem? They sent most of the players and picks teams would want back in a trade to New Orleans to land Anthony Davis, and the veteran expiring contracts on their roster have little value around the league.

The Lakers do have Kyle Kuzma.

Los Angeles GM Rob Pelinka is at least listening to offers for their young star, reports Sam Amick at The Athletic.

What’s more, sources now say the Lakers have shown a recent willingness to listen to pitches for Kuzma.

And … we’re off — sort of. From the Lakers’ perspective, this open-phone-lines approach is merely a case of Pelinka doing due diligence as opposed to having substantive discussions. If only because nothing of real interest has come their way — yet.

It would take a lot in return for Pelinka and the Lakers to give up Kuzma, but maybe not as much as some Lakers’ fans think.

Consider the Lakers situation: A win-now team in need of more playmaking (Kuzma is not a playmaker, he’s a finisher and with the Lakers a sixth man). The Lakers are nearly wholly dependent upon LeBron James to run the offense, when he sits the Laker offense is 13 points per 100 possessions worse, falling to a 101 net rating that would be worst in the league. Rajon Rondo is not the answer.

If Kuzma can bring back a quality shot creator to both pair with LeBron and Anthony Davis, and to run the show when LeBron sits, it could be a good trade.

Plus, this summer Kuzma is eligible for an extension of his rookie contract. It seems a longshot the sides reach an agreement on a number for an extension — as long as Davis is on the Lakers Kuzma is a sixth man, but he doesn’t see himself that way — which would make Kuzma a restricted free agent in 2021. That summer, a team could try to poach Kuzma for a salary the Lakers just aren’t willing to pay. How much do the Lakers want to pay to keep Kuzma on the roster? (Remember, this coming July the Lakers will max out Anthony Davis with an extension, a deal that everyone around the league expects will come together quickly. Which means the Lakers are going to have a payroll in the luxury tax for years.)

Kuzma’s box score numbers have taken a hit with Davis getting more touches at the No. 2 option. Kuzma is averaging 12.1 points and 3.5 rebounds a game, shooting just 42.5 percent overall but 35.4 percent from three (he’s shooting 55 percent on corner threes this season, a positive in his game). His play has been up and down as he has struggled to find a consistent role on this team.

Maybe another team sees a scorer as what they need and are willing to give up a good playmaker to get one. Maybe.

Most likely, Kuzma is with the Lakers come the playoffs. But it’s the smart move for Pelinka and the Lakers to listen to offers.

 

 

Lou Williams admits “I probably could have made a better quality decision”

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Lou Williams is far from the first man to regret a trip to a strip club — or to be put in a kind of “time out” for it.

Williams was out of quarantine and back on the court for the Clippers Tuesday and afterward owned up to the mistake of swinging by the Magic City strip club in Atlanta to pick up some food while he was out.

“Well, in hindsight, I think as far as the public safety issue goes, I probably could have made a better quality decision. I was a little naive in that aspect,” Williams said after Devin Booker ripped L.A.’s heart out. “I went somewhere after a viewing of somebody I considered a mentor, somebody I looked up to, first black man I seen with legal money in my life.

“The funeral home was a couple blocks away from one of my favorite restaurants. It’s been documented how much I talk about this place, how much I eat there. I just did something that was routine for me. I frequent that place at that time of day, 5:30, 6:00 in the afternoon. At the time I thought I was making a responsible decision.

“After looking back on it, with everything going on in the world, the pandemic, maybe it wasn’t the best quality decision. I chalk it up that that, take my L and keep moving.”

Williams had been granted permission to leave the NBA’s restart bubble in Orlando to attend the memorial in Atlanta. But he detoured by the Magic City strip club in Atlanta for some grub — the club does sell “LouWill lemon pepper BBQ wings” although a worker at the club said she gave Williams a dance while he was there. However, the league’s concern was not the food or what goes on in the club, it’s the other people in a confined indoor space who were not following the same safety protocols Williams was supposed to be observing. That’s what got him a 10-day quarantine. Thanks a lot, rapper Jack Harlow.

What did Williams do for 10 days?

“I was able to finish a couple of books. I did some crossword puzzles,” he said. “I had 10 minutes to pack up my room, so I was able to get out my studio stuff. I stayed engaged on Zoom with the practices. Had 30 minutes to work out every day.”

Williams, on a minutes restriction, had 7 points on 3-of-8 shooting on Tuesday. His bench pick-and-roll partner, Montrezl Harrell, is still outside the bubble after the death of his grandmother. The Clippers will need both of them at full strength once the playoffs roll around.

Report: No second bubble, scrimmages or practices for other eight NBA teams

Bulls guard Coby White vs. Hawks
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The on-again, off-again idea of a second bubble? The on-again, off-again idea of the eight NBA teams not continuing at Disney World even scrimmaging or practicing?

It’s all looking unlikely.

Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic:

There is growing belief among the NBA’s eight franchises not in Orlando that a second bubble site being built for minicamps and intrasquad scrimmages will not happen, sources tell The Athletic. There is pessimism about in-market minicamps for group workouts happening as well.

“There’s nothing happening,” one GM told The Athletic after a Tuesday call between the eight GMs and league officials. “It’s a shame. It’s a huge detriment to these eight franchises that were left behind.”

I’m so sick of some of these eight teams whining. They’re not playing because they weren’t good enough to qualify for the resumption. Deal with it. Every year, some teams get eliminated before others. This is different in degree, not kind.

Besides, are these eight teams watching the high level of play in the bubble? After a long layoff, teams look energetic and fresh. Long offseasons could give the eight eliminated teams an advantage next season.

Playing basketball safely amid the coronavirus pandemic is costly – both in terms of operational expenses and lifestyle sacrifices for participants. It’s worthwhile for the continuing 22 teams because the revenue being produced by the resumption.

That wouldn’t necessarily be the case for the other eight teams. Maybe there’s value in fulfilling local TV contracts, but the remaining games are a poor product. Scrimmages and practices would be even less marketable. Impending free agents especially have little reason to care about continuing.

I understand why many of the eight teams want to do something. But it’s probably just not worth it.

Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr. out for season with torn left meniscus

Jaren Jackson torn meniscus
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Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 22 points and was the best Grizzlies player against the Pelicans on Monday night, showing off his athleticism and touch from three.

He also tore the meniscus in his left knee during the game, the Grizzlies announced Tuesday.

Even with the short offseason, Jackson should be ready to play at the start of next season.

This is a serious blow to the Grizzlies, who are 0-3 in the bubble and now just lost their best player through those three games. He has been the best source of offense for the Grizzlies in the bubble, feasting on defenders who cannot match his speed.

Jackson, a 6’11” big out of Michigan State, averaged 17.4 points and 4.6 rebounds a game this season, shooting 39.4% from three. He’s still developing, but he looks like a classic modern big — can protect the rim, can post up or make plays from the elbow, and can shoot the three — who is developing a strong chemistry with Ja Morant. They could be the cornerstones of the Grizzlies’ future.

First, Jackson has to get healthy.

Watch Devin Booker drain turnaround game-winner to beat Clippers

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Devin Booker is a serious problem.

The Suns All-Star guard scored his 34th and 35th points of the night on a turnaround game-winner at the buzzer= over Paul George — who defended him well. He called game.

Ivica Zubac opened the door for Booker to win it. The Suns had the ball with 31 seconds to go and the Clippers — Kawhi Leonard in particular — defended it well, forcing Ricky Rubio into a difficult, high-arcing shot he missed. Zubac did a good job grabbing the rebound, but then he hurried the outlet pass and Mikal Bridges tipped it, Deandre Ayton grabbed it, and the Suns got to reset and take one more shot.

Devin Booker took the final shot, a game-winner. That man is a problem.

The bubble Suns are now 3-0.