Lakers connected to Lonzo Ball, Carmelo Anthony with crucial offseason ahead

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New York Post 14 July, 2021 - 03:31pm 14 views

Is Lonzo ball a free agent?

New Orleans is unlikely to match a significant offer sheet on Ball, sources said. Ball, 23, is among the top point guards on the free-agent market. ... The Clippers got plenty of points out of Reggie Jackson this postseason, but he's a free agent and will be looking for a hefty raise. The Bird WritesLonzo Ball could move on from Pelicans in free agency

By Elizabeth Karpen

July 14, 2021 | 4:31pm | Updated July 14, 2021 | 4:31pm

This offseason will be the Lakers’ chance to rebuild a championship roster.

As the NBA Finals wind down and the Aug. 2 free-agency start date approaches, the Lakers are reportedly interested in Lonzo Ball and Carmelo Anthony.

The Lakers were eliminated from the playoffs in six games by the Suns in the first round.

For a team that consistently struggled with outside shooting throughout their title defense, that should be a priority for Los Angeles as it bolsters the roster.

The 23-year-old Ball is a soon-to-be restricted free agent who played for the Lakers between 2017-19 before being traded to the Pelicans as part of the package for Anthony Davis.

Back in March, Ball’s father, LaVar, said that his son wanted to leave New Orleans in a radio interview. While Lonzo has denied these rumors, it is unclear if the Pelicans would match an extensive offer sheet for the point guard.

According to a Substack newsletter by New York Times reporter Marc Stein, the Lakers are hoping to bring Ball back.

The team is hoping to allow James and Davis to spend more time off the ball and are looking for a playmaker whom can facilitate open shots for the two stars.

Stein, however, noted that a potential reunion would be “obstacle-strewn.”

New Orleans can match any offer made to Ball, and the Lakers may lack the cap space to provide a sizable offer. The two teams could possibly figure out a sign-and-trade agreement, but that would also open up a $142 million hard cap that the team is already dangerously close to hitting.

The Clippers and Bulls also have a high level of interest in Ball, according to The Athletic.

Ball provides an arsenal of defensive versatility and his 3-point shooting (37.5 percent) has improved in New Orleans. Ball averaged 14.6 points, 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game in 55 starts last season.

There have been previous reports that Anthony and the Lakers are interested in one another.

Come August, Anthony will be a free agent after two seasons with the Blazers, and while he no longer averages over 35 points as he did with the Knicks, the 37-year-old still has a lot to offer a team.

For the past two seasons, the forward averaged 14.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists in around 25 minutes per game as he successfully went from star to veteran role player.

Unlike Ball, Anthony is known for his outside shooting; this season he posted his best career 3-point percentage at 41 percent.

The 10-time All-Star is still searching for his first NBA championship and is notably close with James.

Read full article at New York Post

Lakers expected to search for ways to reacquire Lonzo Ball, per report

CBS Sports 14 July, 2021 - 06:38pm

Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers desperately wanted to partner up when he was a collegiate prospect four years ago. The Lakers overcame the lottery odds to land the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, a feat LaVar Ball claims that he "spoke into existence." The Lakers used that pick on Ball, but only a year later, their timeline accelerated after signing LeBron James in free agency. The Lakers traded Ball to the New Orleans Pelicans in a package for Anthony Davis and went on to win the 2020 championship as a result. Ball, a Los Angeles native, seemed destined to be a footnote on that championship rather than a contributor to future Lakers titles.

But now, however slim it may be, there appears to be a chance for a reunion. Marc Stein reported in his Substack newsletter that the Lakers are seeking out a playmaker that would allow LeBron James to spend more time at power forward and Anthony Davis to spend more time at center. On that front, he writes to "expect to eventually hear of them searching for potential pathways, however obstacle-strewn they would be, to reacquiring restricted free agent-to-be Lonzo Ball."

As Stein suggests, there would be a number of obstacles standing between the Lakers and Ball. The most obvious is that Ball is only a restricted free agent. The Pelicans can match any offer sheet made to Ball, and the Lakers don't have even have the cap space to sign him to a lucrative one. The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Tuesday that the Pelicans are unlikely to match a significant offer sheet for Ball, though, so they might be open to sending him to Los Angeles in a different sort of arrangement.

The Lakers won't have the cap space to sign Ball outright, but they could work out a sign-and-trade arrangement with the Pelicans if Ball agrees.  This is where the most serious obstacle for the Lakers emerges. Acquiring any player through a sign-and-trade hard caps a team at the apron, a figure roughly $6 million above the luxury tax. The final number has not yet been set for next year's apron, but it should come in somewhere around $142 million based on a projected 3 percent bump in the cap. The Lakers already have $76.4 million committed to James and Davis alone, and they have another $5 million in dead money on their books after using the stretch provision to waive Luol Deng. 

Let's say Ball costs $20 million next season. That would leave the Lakers only around $40 million to fill out the entire rest of their roster. They already owe roughly that much to Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell (if he picks up his player option) and Marc Gasol. Some of those players would be involved in the Ball trade, but some would likely stay, and the Lakers also have to decide what to do about their own free agents. They'd likely prefer not to lose Dennis Schroder, Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker for nothing.

If the Lakers view Ball as a third star, they might be willing to sacrifice the depth it would take to fit him into their salary structure and play next season under a hard cap. In theory, his newly developed catch-and-shoot excellence, defensive versatility and transition playmaking would make him a strong fit as an off guard, but the Lakers need another half-court shot-creator more than anything. That has never been Ball's strong suit, and there are players already under contract with other teams that the Lakers could pursue instead who could fill that role without triggering a hard cap. 

In other words, Ball probably isn't returning to the Lakers. Another team Charania mentions as a possibility for Ball, the Clippers, has the same problem. If he does leave the Pelicans, a team like the Bulls or Knicks that can create meaningful enough cap space to sign him outright, would probably make more sense. But if Ball is willing to sacrifice enough money to be a Laker, or if the Lakers truly see him as the missing piece in a possible championship run, there are ways to lure him back to Los Angeles on a market-value contract.

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Every Lonzo Ball 3-Pointer From The 2020-21 Season

Bleacher Report 14 July, 2021 - 06:38pm

Lakers Bringing Back Lonzo Ball?

Lakers Nation 14 July, 2021 - 06:38pm

Podcast: Is a Lonzo Ball reunion possible for the Lakers?

Silver Screen and Roll 14 July, 2021 - 03:41pm

Just gotta speak it into existence.

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On the latest episode of “The 30”, a Silver Screen & Roll podcast, your hosts Jas Kang and Sabreena Merchant get into the pros and cons of a theoretical Lonzo Lakers reunion. Ball is drawing interest in free agency, so it’s not like the Lakers would be alone in such a pursuit. And the Pelicans aren’t exactly fans of dealing with the Lakers, so rest assured, the price would be high.

Jas and Sabreena discussed how Ball’s game has evolved in his two years in New Orleans, and how he would fit with this new iteration of the Lakers. They also talked about what routes the Lakers could take to actually get Ball back in Los Angeles, and whether those are realistic given their impact on the rest of the team’s roster construction.

They also spend some time talking international basketball. They go over what they think are the main problems with Team USA thus far, and give Jas some space to lament the repeated failing of the Canadian men’s national team, before offering some predictions on the upcoming Olympic Games.

Rich Paul reveals conversation with Lonzo Ball prior to breakout season

Yahoo Sports 14 July, 2021 - 02:45pm

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

It’s not a coincidence that those off-court changes led to dramatic on-court success, though Ball’s work ethic played into that as well. Recently, Ball’s agent with Klutch Sports, Rich Paul, revealed a conversation he had with Ball prior to the season that led to his big year.

“Our conversation was just about him being himself. These guys are so young and everyone wants to evaluate the movie before it’s over. These kids are 19 20, 21, 22. Imagine in the corporate space, somebody telling you you’re 22 years old, but you’re not going to be successful. So, I told him we’re playing the long game, man. And for Zo, he came in with whatever the knock was on his shot, but in NBA you’ve got nothing to do but work on your game. So he’s done that and he’s earned the position he’s in and he’ll continue to get better.”

Ball revealed on “Ball in the Family” in the fall the decision-making behind his choice to join Klutch.

“Rich has a ton of connections. He’s not only helped me in the basketball world, he’s helping me off the court as well. Whether it’s music, clothing, art, anything, he’s definitely going to help me out. Like I said, I’m happy that he’s on my team and I think it was a win-win across the board.”

Ball’s off-court conversations weren’t the only contributing factor in his season with New Orleans in which he averaged a career-high in points and shot a career-best from 3-point range. His work with assistant coach Fred Vinson contributed largely to his improvements, but all of it seems to stem from how his mindset changed away from the court.

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Yahoo Sports 14 July, 2021 - 12:26pm

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

Each prospect wore the No. 5 with “Clarke” on the back of their jerseys to honor former Kentucky Wildcat Terrence Clarke, who died in a car accident in late April. Clarke was signed to Klutch Sports.

Klutch Sports clients who attended the workout as spectators were Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Maxey, Jordan Clarkson, Montrezl Harrell, Talen Horton-Tucker, J.R. Smith, Lonnie Walker, Miles Bridges and Lonzo Ball.

More than 30 kids from youth and families from USC/IYA and Heart of Los Angeles — which provides underserved youth with free programs in academics, arts and athletics — also were provided access to the event.

Paul’s business empire continues to grow. The first three years since launching his agency in 2012, he staffed four employees. Now, he has approximately 40 staff members. In addition to his partnership with United Talent Agency, Paul is demonstrating the immense power he has seized in relatively short time.

Paul’s pro days over the past few years have been a subject of conversation within league circles ever since ESPN agreed to exclusively air them. Last year was the first time ESPN broadcast the workout, featuring the eventual No. 1 pick Edwards and the No. 21 pick Maxey.

Following the hour-long pro day workout Tuesday, Yahoo Sports sat with Paul to discuss how this arrangement came to be, the criticism associated with it from rival agents, why he believes it’s a win-win for all parties and he spoke on a big free agent he’ll be working on this summer in Ball.

Chris Haynes: Having your pro day on national television is unheard of from a sports agency. How did you go about pulling this off?

Rich Paul: What I’d like to say first is the one thing I’m extremely proud of is to see the team we’ve built. Everyone played a major role. Being able to just walk into the gym and see everything positioned properly and running efficiently, it’s a testament to the hard work my team has put in to build something impactful and not just about making money. I can’t thank my team enough. Now regarding our first pro day [in 2019], we had 110 executives in the gym with Darius Garland, Darius Bazley and Talen Horton-Tucker. And last year with Anthony Edwards and Tyrese Maxey, we didn't have the ability to have executives in the gym because of COVID. So, I had to think fast. I thought about a streaming idea and then this opportunity came to mind and I said, let's see if this works. And it has worked because obviously the world was stopped. It made sense. It had such a good viewing that we brought it back again this year. And this year, we got a bigger group. Some are top-10 picks and some may go undrafted, but for us, the pre-draft process is about teaching guys how to develop great habits. Whether you go on to be a great basketball player or not, that's not for me to decide. But you can learn things, you can develop structure, great habits and build that foundation on doing things the right way and develop a routine that carries you throughout life. So that's what we focus on.

CH: From a recruiting standpoint, I’d imagine it has to be a significant selling point to being the only agent that has his pro day broadcast nationally?

RP: Well, we’re the only one that can say that for now. I'm pretty sure that the competition isn’t too pleased. They were already complaining to the league, so they'll figure it out and complain to the networks. But at the end of the day, it's just about being innovative and trying to lead the way for all the guys, even guys we don't represent. It’s a brotherhood, so if me opening this door allows other people to benefit that we don't even represent, these are young men and women and so great. Let's go. I'm OK with that.

CH: I noticed I didn’t see many executives here. Why is that?

RP: Well, the league wouldn't allow them to come.

(This year, pro days for NBA agencies were held in Chicago immediately after the pre-draft combine in Chicago last month to ensure that healthy and safety protocols were enforced. Paul declined to have his pro day in Chicago.)

RP: Well, doing it this way, this is something great for these young men. I didn’t want to spoil their opportunity and this experience as well. So, I was like, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ We’ll do our own pro day and if the pro scouts are not allowed to be there, then they can watch them on TV. And as far as teams getting film, they can get whatever they need from us. Look, they’ve seen these guys since they were in the seventh grade. They know what they can do.

CH: Are there any concerns of overexposing certain guys in a workout on national TV if a player doesn’t have a good workout?

RP: Well, what level are these men trying to play on? It’s not like they’re going to be playing games at the YMCA. And again, it’s not about makes and misses. At 19 years of age, it’s about building a foundation and having an understanding of why you do the things you do. We’ve had guys miss every shot and the team drafted them, a guy make every shot and the team didn’t draft them. There’s really no rhyme or reason. There’s guys that go No. 1 and they’re out the league. You had guys go 46 or 47 and they're going to the Hall of Fame. We've got a guy playing right now in the Finals with Khris Middleton being the 35th pick in the draft. So that's the competition. Instead of people saying, ‘Man, that's a real great idea. Nice job,’ they'd rather say something negative. But I'm not getting into that. At the end of the day, I’m trying to find ways to do what we can and what's best for our guys. So that's what I do.

CH: Looking beyond the draft, you’ve got some free agents to get deals for this summer and one of them is New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball, who will be a restricted free agent. What do you two ultimately want?

RP: We’re open-minded. In free agency, we all understand what that is in this landscape of business. He's a really good young player with the ability to become a great player. And so I think there's a lot of interests there. We're open-minded. The phone lines will definitely be open come free agency. At the end of the day, we'll look to make the best deal.

CH: Is New Orleans still an option?

RP: We’re open-minded to the landscape of the league.

CH: Lonzo has made quite the market for himself considering how his career started. When he contemplating signing with you, what were those conversations like?

RP: Our conversation was just about him being himself. These guys are so young and everyone wants to evaluate the movie before it's over. These kids are 19, 20, 21, 22. Imagine in the corporate space, somebody telling you you're 22 years old, but you’re not going to be successful. So, I told him we’re playing the long game, man. And for Zo, he came in with whatever the knock was on his shot, but in NBA you’ve got nothing to do but work on your game. So he's done that and he's earned the position he's in and he'll continue to get better.

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The Sportsrush 14 July, 2021 - 11:05am

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I think LeBron and Lonzo had a big brother/little brother connection. As a gifted passer, Lonzo has nothing but respect for LeBron James, who is obviously still the best passer in basketball. More @Undisputed, now on FS1. https://t.co/SL0SOwldIZ

— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) July 14, 2021

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Report: Is a Lonzo Ball-Lakers reunion in the works?

Yahoo Sports 13 July, 2021 - 03:05pm

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

In Stein's most recent report on his Substack, he outlined the Lakers' desire to add a playmaker to the Anthony Davis-LeBron James duo, and that Ball's name was floated as a possibility.

"Expect to eventually hear of them searching for potential pathways, however obstacle-strewn they would be, to reacquiring restricted free agent-to-be Lonzo Ball for that reason," Stein said.

Given the Lakers' current salary cap inflexibility, such a move might necessitate going through New Orleans directly -- the very team the Lakers traded Ball to in the Anthony Davis deal in 2019. That's because Ball is a restricted free agent this summer, and while the Pelicans may not be in a position to match a max contract, they would be able to match a deal that comes in lower.

Could that mean a sign-and-trade is in the offing?

The Lakers selected Ball second overall in the 2017 NBA draft. He started 95 of 99 games he played for them in his first two NBA seasons before being shipped away in the Davis trade.

Ball, for his part, informed the media in May he'd love to stay in New Orleans going forward.

"That's a conversation between me and my agent moving forward. But obviously I would love to be back," Ball said. "I built a bond here with the coaches and the teammates who are here. I definitely wouldn't mind coming back at all."

In March, father LaVar Ball said in a radio interview ahead of the NBA trade deadline that his son wanted out of New Orleans, but Lonzo has never indicated as much.

Ball played in 55 games (all starts) in 2020-21 and finished with averages of 14.6 points (a career high), 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals. In his four-year career with the Lakers and Pelicans, Ball has averaged 11.7 points, 6.4 assists and 5.8 rebounds.

The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to have interest in signing Lonzo Ball in free agency, Marc Stein reports.w

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Lakers will try to reunite with Lonzo Ball?

Larry Brown Sports 13 July, 2021 - 02:24pm

The Big Baller Prince of Chino Hills could be making his way back home.

Veteran journalist Marc Stein reports this week that the Los Angeles Lakers covet one more difference-making playmaker. The reason is so that LeBron James and Anthony Davis can spend more time at the power forward and center positions, respectively. Stein adds to expect the Lakers to search for pathways to re-acquire Lonzo Ball for that very reason.

Ball, 23, will be a restricted free agent this offseason. He was drafted by the Lakers No. 2 overall in 2017 and spent the first two seasons of his career with them before being sent to New Orleans in the Davis blockbuster.

There is some urgency for the Lakers at the point guard spot with incumbent Dennis Schroder, a free agent as well, seemingly pricing himself out of their range. Ball also sparked reunion hysteria via a recent Twitter exchange with James. Thus, Laker fans who haven’t already recycled them might be wise to hold onto their Ball jerseys for now.

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Report: Lakers expected to have interest in Lonzo Ball in free agency

Yahoo Sports 13 July, 2021 - 11:47am

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

However, a different, far more intriguing team could insert itself into the equation in the coming weeks. Long-time NBA reporter Marc Stein’s latest newsletter on Tuesday morning noted the Los Angeles Lakers were in search of a playmaker that could allow LeBron James and Anthony Davis to play in the frontcourt. One very interesting name was mentioned:

“Word is that the Lakers, on top of their well-chronicled need for more shooting, covet one more difference-making playmaker who would allow James and Davis to spend more time at power forward and center.

Expect to eventually hear of them searching for potential pathways, however obstacle-strewn they would be, to reacquiring restricted free agent-to-be Lonzo Ball for that reason.”

Stein is certainly not offering much in the way of reporting on the matter, but even if it’s informed speculation, it’s a link that would be a fascinating plot to the offseason.

The Lakers would have to do some extreme jumping through hoops to reacquire Ball. As a team well over the salary cap, signing him outright would not be an option. A sign-and-trade would be their only avenue to acquire him.

Los Angeles has its own free-agent-to-be, Dennis Schroder, who is set to sign a contract in the same neighborhood of Ball’s, which would make a trade easier to facilitate. However, it’s unlikely the Pelicans would have interest in Schroder outright, meaning a third team would have to be brought into a deal.

Would a team like the Bulls or Knicks, both of whom have a need for a point guard, have interest in acquiring Schroder while sending assets to the Pelicans who would, in turn, send Ball to Los Angeles? Both Chicago and New York would likely need the pot sweetened in some regard to take part in a sign-and-trade when both franchises could simply outright sign Schroder.

It all adds complications to Ball returning to the purple and gold, but that it’s even an option provides intrigue to the offseason.

In sifting through the rumors surrounding Ben Simmons' imminent departure from Philadelphia, reporter Marc Stein found one interesting nugget that emerged from the Los Angeles Lakers. No, not that Simmons would be heading to Hollywood, but rather that the Lakers are interested in reacquiring former top draft pick Lonzo Ball. In Stein's most recent report on his Substack, he outlined the Lakers' desire to add a playmaker to the Anthony Davis-LeBron James duo, and that Ball's name was floated as a possibility.

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