Associated Press

Lonzo Ball to have surgery on his knee next Tuesday

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This was expected when it was announced Lonzo Ball had torn the meniscus in his left knee:

He will need surgery.

It is happening next Tuesday, the team announced.

While we’re still short details, Ball should be fully recovered and ready to go by training camp. Most likely he will have the meniscus repaired rather than removed (which is what surgeons prefer to do).

All this really means is it will be difficult to trade Ball before he gets back on the court and looks right (some teams might have considered taking him as a sweetener in a salary-dump trade of Luol Deng). Some in the Lakers’ organization think people around Ball leaked it for that reason, to keep him in L.A.

The Lakers sent Ball messages this summer — they went out and signed Rajon Rondo and then Magic Johnson said this about Josh Hart at Summer League:

Those are shots across the bow of Lonzo and Lavar Ball — Lonzo must earn his starting job, it is not a birthright. There are legit challengers for his minutes, and he’s not been so good that an off-the-court annoyance will be ignored.

Ball averaged 10.2 points and 7.2 assists per game last season and made the NBA All-Rookie second team. This summer he had been working hard on his conditioning and jumper. We will see how his knee and those shots look come the start of camp.

Report: Lonzo Ball suffers torn meniscus in his left knee

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Lonzo Ball‘s trade value — which was already limited — just dropped some more.

Ball has torn the meniscus in his left knee, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports. That said, he should be good to go next season.

That’s not a ton of detail, we don’t know the type of surgery that will follow — can this be repaired, or is part of the meniscus going to have to be removed. Doctors prefer to repair, and that has fewer long-term ramifications — young players such as Ball fully bounce back from that kind of surgery. If some of the meniscus needs to be removed, that could signal more knee issues and maintenance down the line.

Bottom line, this should not be a long-term problem. However, it will give teams that might have considered taking him as a sweetener in a salary-dump trade of Luol Deng some pause.

Ball has been working hard on his game and conditioning this offseason. According to those that have seen him, he is in much better shape, which should help his push-the-pace style of play next season. More comfort with his jumper while being contested is another area of need.

Ball was not scheduled to play for the Lakers in Summer League anyway, this does not impact that.

GM Danny Ainge calls Celtics’ blockbuster trade “unlikely”

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The San Antonio Spurs want the Celtics to go all-in on the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes — an offer of Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris (for salary balancing), and next year’s Kings’ first-round pick (No. 1 protected only) could win the bidding.

Danny Ainge and the Celtics are not moving fast on this — nor should they be. Do nothing this summer and the Celtics are still probably the team to beat in the East next season (let’s see how free agency shakes out before getting to formal with rankings). Sources say that Boston is not eager to include Brown in any deal, and they are not doing anything without both fresh medical reports on Leonard’s quadriceps tendonitis, and talking to the man and his representatives. Which is wise.

Boston president Ainge also admitted it makes a deal getting done unlikely. Here is what he said, via Chris Forsberg of ESPN.

“If I feel like it’ll help our team — we explore every trade of players of certain magnitude or superstar, first-ballot Hall of Fame-type of players,” Ainge said Friday after the Celtics formally introduced first-round pick Robert Williams at the Auerbach Center. “We’re going to take a look and kick the tires and see if there’s something there. But that’s all.

“I think those things are unlikely.”

Right now the Lakers and Sixers are the teams pushing hard to get a deal done, both feeling pressure because they believe that if they land Leonard, LeBron James will shortly follow.

The Lakers appear to be the frontrunner. Los Angeles is trying hard not to put all their best assets on the table — reportedly they have been slow to offer Brandon Ingram. It’s going to take him to get a deal done (I have been told the Spurs do not want Lonzo Ball), and probably Kyle Kuzma as well, plus a third team to absorb Luol Deng‘s contract (and that team will want a serious sweetener in the mix). For the Lakers, that is worth it if it lands Leonard and LeBron, but they are rightfully trying to extract the best deal they can. Los Angeles is also reported to be talking to Denver and other teams looking to unload a bad contract and would surrender a first-round pick the Lakers could give the Spurs as well, but taking on that contract would likely mean no Paul George (who, according to sources, is seriously considering a short contract to stay in OKC).

Philadelphia’s offer is reportedly Dario Saric, Robert Covington, and the Miami Heat unprotected 2021 pick. The Sixers ould include Markelle Fultz instead of Saric, if the Spurs wanted, and they have other picks and options to throw in the mix.

It’s in the Spurs hands right now, and they are going to be patient and wait for the best offer they can get. They can afford to wait on Boston, putting pressure on L.A. If the Lakers think they can get Leonard and not give up Ingram or other key assets, this could drag out. Complicating LeBron’s decision.

Still, things are trending the way Lakers fans want.

Reports: Spurs want Celtics all-in for Kawhi Leonard trade talks, Boston slow playing it

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The Spurs have come to grips with the fact they are going to have to trade Kawhi Leonard.

We know the Lakers are coming hard — if they can swing a Leonard trade in the next week they are almost assured of landing LeBron James in free agency. (As an aside, don’t buy the rumor that Leonard doesn’t want to play with LeBron, sources told me that is not the case.) The 76ers are trying to get in on the Leonard sweepstakes, too, although it’s fair to ask if their offer (centered around Markelle Fultz or Dario Saric and picks) will get much traction.

Who the Spurs want to get deeply involved with is the Boston Celtics. Boston has the combination of good young players (Jaylen Brown, for example) and picks (Boston could have four first rounders in 2019) that interests the Spurs more than Brandon Ingram an anything the Lakers can push into the pot.

Boston, however, is slow playing it. They are not all in yet, according to multiple reports. That starts with Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

I had heard before Jayson Tatum is not available for a Leonard trade. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald confirmed that and reports that Boston wants medical reports and to talk to Leonard before they get serious.

As noted in a recent Herald story, the Celts would need assurances that Leonard’s quadriceps injury is healed and that he would be willing to stay with the team beyond next year. Leonard can opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent after the 2018-19 season. He played in just nine games this season because of the quad problem, and questions about whether he could and should have played more strained his relationship with the Spurs…

It’s not believed the Celts are willing to move either Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown, and whether they’d put the 2019 Sacramento first round pick (protected only if it’s No. 1 overall) on the table likely is dependent on the sides getting serious enough to allow the C’s permission to speak with Leonard, gauge his interest in Boston and check his medical information.

Brown and that Kings’ pick is what the Spurs are reportedly most interested in. So if the young studs are off the table, what exactly is Boston looking to trade. Meet Kyrie Irving, reports Jake Fischer at Sports Illustrated.

San Antonio has informed teams its preferred target in any Leonard trade is the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, sources say. Teams have noted this is likely a negotiating tactic, and it’s widely believed in league circles Boston is more likely to propose a deal centered around Kyrie Irving and future picks. But based on previous behavior, the Celtics are unlikely to overpay for Leonard.

It’s hard to picture the Spurs — who are doing some serious rebuilding if/when they trade Leonard — taking on Kyrie Irving, who will be a free agent in 2019.

The Spurs have to be careful with the timing of their moves. On the one hand, they would be happy to drag this out for a while, see if they can get more teams involved, and if that makes life difficult for the Lakers then that’s a nice bonus. However, wait too long and have Boston pull out of the running altogether, and suddenly they lose leverage. If the Spurs can pressure the Lakers to going all in on this (likely with a third team to absorb Luol Deng‘s contract, hello Atlanta), that may get it done. It depends on the signals Boston sends.

There are so many moving parts, all of this could still go just about any direction.

Another report Spurs will not trade Kawhi Leonard within West

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The people around Kawhi Leonard made it clear (through leaks to the media, not by talking to the Spurs at first): Leonard wants out of San Antonio, and he wants to go to Los Angeles. Specifically, the Lakers.

Almost as quickly, the Spurs leaked that they were not going to trade Leonard to the Lakers or any team in the West.

Sam Amick of the USA Today echoed that sentiment in his discussion of LeBron James‘ offseason options on Saturday.

But in the days that followed, the Spurs wasted no time in sending this message all around the NBA: The only Western Conference team he might be playing for is theirs.

Fellow West teams have been told, in essence, to get lost – none moreso than the Lakers, according to ESPN. As it stands, the Spurs are determined to either fix the situation or trade Leonard to an Eastern Conference team.

Leonard has leverage here: He can tell teams he will not re-sign with them and will leave as a free agent. That will scare off most teams who don’t want to put in

Would it scare off Boston or Philadelphia? The rumor is no. Those teams have real interest in Leonard, and both have the assets to get a deal done and make the bet that a year in their cultures, with their coaches and top players, a year contending, and with their fans and city would win Leonard over. Just like Oklahoma City made that bet with Paul George. Also, whoever trades for Leonard will be able to offer a five-year, $188 million contract, while as a free agent the max will be four years, $137 million. For a guy who just missed almost an entire season with an injury, that guarantee can matter.

Boston could go all in on an offer — Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris, the Kings first-round pick next season (top one protected) and the Clippers first round pick next year (lottery protected). Philadelphia could put together an offer of Markelle Fultz, Robert Covington, and Miami’s unprotected 2021 pick (the first year high schoolers likely re-enter the NBA draft, making it a deep one).

The question is would those team put in all those assets on a bet they would win Leonard over?

The other big looming question, when the offers start to come in will a rational Spurs front office reconsider and look at a trade from the Lakes of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, a future first, and the contract of Luol Deng to balance out the numbers. Would they consider it superior because they like Ingram? (That trade may require a third team to take on Deng’s contract, and the Lakers might need to throw in Lonzo Ball or some other sweetener to get a team to take on Deng’s $36 million remaining.)

Expect the Spurs to take their time with this, try to win Leonard back over, then consider all their options. They are in no rush, in fact, they’d love to create a bidding war for Leonard. Any offer from Boston and Philadelphia on the table in July will be on the table in September when training camps open. The Lakers, however, may be in a very different space.

It’s going to be a very interesting next few weeks.