The Lakers structured their salary cap to make sure they would have space next summer for a maximum-salaried player—whether he comes via free agency or trade. League sources say that when James became convinced Irving couldn’t be persuaded to stay in Cleveland, he suggested to the Cavs front office that it deal Irving to the Blazers for All-Star point guard Damian Lillard. The Cavs never called the Blazers, but James’ interest has led to speculation about the Lakers trading for Lillard.
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James wants to play with Lillard, according to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, who recently reported that has been the case “since before LeBron even signed with the Lakers.” ESPN’s Zach Lowe also noted that James has a healthy respect for Lillard’s game. (For context below, Lowe made a “crazy prediction” the Trail Blazers could fall short of expectations this season, leading to the departure of a key member of the franchise.) “The most enticing mega-trade on the board not involving Anthony Davis: Lillard to the Lakers for a package centered around Lonzo Ball. Lillard is a perfect fit next to LeBron, and LeBron respects Lillard’s game, per sources familiar with the matter. The Lakers could absorb Lillard into cap space this summer without sending out giant matching salaries — salaries they don’t have on the books.”
With all this being said, yet another star could be staring at change, and this time it could help form an L.A. superteam. Here’s a quote by Kevin O’Connor, from The Ringer podcast: LeBron wants to play with Damian Lillard. He’s one of the guys he’d like to play with and that’s chatter around the league. It has been since before LeBron signed with the Lakers, it was one of the many indicators that he was heading there.
The most enticing mega-trade on the board not involving Anthony Davis: Lillard to the Lakers for a package centered around Lonzo Ball. Lillard is a perfect fit next to LeBron, and LeBron respects Lillard’s game, per sources familiar with the matter. The Lakers could absorb Lillard into cap space this summer without sending out giant matching salaries — salaries they don’t have on the books.
The three-time All-Star point guard, speaking publicly for the first time this summer, squashed rumors of his unhappiness and shot down reports he’s angling to leave Rip City for the Los Angeles Lakers or any other franchise. “I’m not unhappy,” Lillard said Sunday. “I love where I live. I love the organization. I love our coaching staff. I love where I am.”
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December 12, 2018 | 3:57 am EST Update
The Clippers, it seems, closely watch every Raptors and Warriors game this season. Even though they are having a terrific season of their own — experiencing the rare joy of expectation-free success in the NBA — the Clippers are rather transparently obsessed with chasing Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant in free agency next summer.
But even by these modern standards, the Clippers’ pursuit is still a little revolutionary. Raptors officials have noticed a Clippers employee at roughly 75 percent of the team’s games thus far this season. That has included president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank, which is rare. Presidents and general managers are almost never seen attending a game that doesn’t involve their teams.
Tobias Harris, the centerpiece of the Griffin trade, might be headed to his first All-Star Game and has been so valuable that some executives think they should use one of their max slots on him. The reviews for rookie point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who the Clippers semi-hid by promising him they’d draft him in the lottery, and he at least partially shut down workouts, have been excellent.
On Saturday Dinwiddie became eligible for a four-year contract extension worth a maximum of $47.5 million. But despite being the poster child for the Nets’ much-hyped player development (he was a finalist for last season’s NBA Most Improved Player Award), Dinwiddie still does not have an extension. “No news. Nothing to report,” Dinwiddie’s agent, Raymond Brothers, said. “Dec. 8, it came, it’s gone. I don’t have an extension,” said Dinwiddie, 25. “Just let Raymond and [Nets general manager] Sean [Marks] talk about it. I already said what I needed to say.”
One NBA source proclaimed surprise the Nets didn’t offer Dinwiddie an extension, and at least three others suggested he would be worth more in the unrestricted free-agent market next summer, when a number of teams should be flush with cash. So, by all accounts, he is offering the Nets a hometown discount.
Dinwiddie also has been linked with the point guard-needy Suns. Phoenix now reportedly is looking at a three-way deal that would send Trevor Ariza to the Lakers and ship Los Angeles’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a third team in order to get them their guard.