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Barring something amazing on the Kawhi Leonard front, it seems like the biggest news and rumors surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers is fully in the past.
Granted, something could still happen with Leonard. But it’s hard to see the Lakers striking a deal with the San Antonio Spurs when the front office happens to hold all the leverage. They want Leonard, sure, but they can also wait until he’s a free agent or drag feet while the Spurs receive no other viable trade offers.
This isn’t too exciting for fans, of course. There’s at least summer ball to watch and a few whispers on the rumor mill about free-agent leftovers and one critical knee injury to keep tabs on as the summer approaches.
Lonzo Ball’s Injury
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
As Lakers fans surely know, the knee injury belongs to a guy by the name of Lonzo Ball.
Already facing interesting pressure thanks to the addition of a veteran like Rajon Rondo, the breakout rookie now has to deal with a health hurdle before battling for minutes.
According to the latest reports, Ball will go under the knife but should be back in time for training camp:
Sam Amick @sam_amick
Even with Lakers announcement that Lonzo Ball is undergoing arthroscopic surgery to his left knee on Tuesday, I’m told he’s still expected to be ready for training camp.
Ball posted averages of 10.2 points, 7.2 assists and 6.9 rebounds per game last year and should only improve while serving as the court general for an offense boasting James. He’s “ready to compete” with Rondo, according to a source who spoke with The Ringer’s Bill Oram.
With Ball, it’s important to remember he battled injuries with the knee for most of his rookie season. Him getting back to 100 percent is a key step in the process for the team moving forward, so it’s viable Rondo’s addition is also a way to let Ball take as much time as he needs.
While a training camp return date sounds great, the Lakers will survive if there is a setback and their rising star point needs more time.
LeBron and Team USA
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
Things aren’t nearly as interesting on the James front now that he’s arrived in Los Angeles and put ink to paper with the team.
Hence the type of shorts James wore to Summer League capturing headlines.
Kidding aside, it turns out James won’t be at USA Basketball’s minicamp July 25-27, according to sources who spoke with ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin.
This isn’t too surprising for James, as the 33-year-old superstar still averaged 36.9 minutes over the course of 82 regular-season games last year and averaged north of 41 in each of his four playoff series, including an even 45.0 during the four-game sweep at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.
James didn’t play on the 2016 USA Basketball team, but he’s one of 35 players included in the pool that will be whittled down to 12 names for future events. With Gregg Popovich serving as coach now and James’ affinity for the Spurs head coach well known, his involvement with things moving forward will be interesting.
David Nwaba Update
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Here’s a name Lakers fans haven’t heard in a while.
David Nwaba impressed the Lakers at the end of the 2016-17 season, turning enough heads on short-term contracts to end up spending 70 games with the Chicago Bulls the following season. Given a rare chance to break through, the Cal Poly product averaged 7.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists while solidifying his status as a defensive-minded forward.
The Bulls have created an opening by permitting Nwaba to become a restricted free agent, which is something the Lakers might pounce on in the near future:
David Aldridge @daldridgetnt
No surprise: several teams have reached out to @dnwaba0, whose qualifying offer was rescinded by Chicago Thursday, making him an unrestricted free agent. Spurs, Lakers among many, per source, with no frontrunner. Bulls still could re-sign him as well.
Nwaba would see the court with the Lakers at an interesting clip, at least. His defensive skills would come in handy late in games, and he’s shown he can guard more than one position, which is a valuable commodity in today’s NBA.
Viewed a different way, Nwaba also fits the tough-guy theme the Lakers have tried to establish around James. Besides Rondo, the team has added Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee, clearly aiming to surround James with veterans who can adapt to any situation or role. Nwaba isn’t as experienced as those guys, but the specific skill set fits right into the equation.
While it doesn’t sound like the market for Nwaba is heating up right now, the Lakers might want to get out in front of it if they like what he brought to the table two years ago.