The Lakers started off the NBA’s free-agency period with a series of determined moves, clearly focused on adding youth and athleticism—maybe a bit of hunger, too—to a group that was overwhelmingly old and slow last year. Lonnie Walker IV was added, as well as former Laker big man Damian Jones, Bulls wing Troy Brown Jr., and ex-Warriors favorite Juan Toscano-Anderson.
The Lakers then beat out the Celtics for center Thomas Bryant, a former Laker who signed a minimum deal.
Since then, though, it has been crickets from Lakerland. With July halfway gone, there is some impatience growing within the organization.
“They’re eager to do something,” one Western Conference executive said. “The team they have is just not good enough right now. Everyone there wants to see a resolution to the (Russell) Westbrook situation. They want to see about Kyrie (Irving). They want to get what they can from Indiana once they start selling off pieces, whether it is Buddy Hield or Myles Turner or both. So there is some major impatience, and they are looking at LeBron (James) maybe getting an extension next month and they want to have everything in place. Well, nothing’s in place yet.”
James is eligible to sign a two-year extension worth more than $100 million beginning on August 4, but there is some skepticism about whether he will do so without a roster revamp. That could leave him open to free agency next summer.
With the Nets weighing Kevin Durant offers and Utah looking at dealing away Donovan Mitchell, though, the NBA offseason has ground to a halt. “The things the Nets and Jazz are doing will take some time,” the exec said. “No one is going to hurry up because they want to help the Lakers give LeBron an extension.”
Boston Celtics: Robert Williams Update
What’s next for Celtics center Robert Williams? Well, weeks and weeks of rest.
A source told Heavy Sports that Williams has been feeling good after grinding through the postseason despite having had surgery to fix a meniscus tear in late March. Williams came back ahead of schedule but dealt with knee soreness and swelling throughout the playoffs, appearing in 17 of the Celtics’ 24 postseason games.
Williams averaged 10.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 29.6 minutes over the course of his breakout season last year. That slipped, though, to 7.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 23.2 minutes as coach Ime Udoka managed his playing time while Williams fought to stay on the floor.
The Celtics were plus-5.5 points per 100 possessions when Williams was on the floor in the playoffs, second-best on the team.
But in the time since the Finals, Williams has experienced no setbacks or further knee issues. The plan is to take six weeks of rest, and he will then report to the Sanford Power training facility in Irvine, California, to being to ramp up for the season.
New York Knicks: Soft Market for R.J. Barrett
The Knicks have put out word that 22-year-old guard R.J. Barrett, preparing for his fourth season, will not be available in trades, even in a blockbuster deal for Mitchell, whom New York has targeted for about a year. But one Eastern Conference general manager says that fact was mostly met with shrugs because of Barrett’s contract situation.
Barrett is entering the final year of his rookie scale contract.
“R.J. is extension-eligible,” the GM said. “That is a tough position. He might want max money or something close to it. He is not going to get it. It’s a tough negotiation for the Knicks with that because you have to commit to $30 million per year for a guy who is very good as a scorer and has potential but has not shown he is an elite player, really. There is interest in R.J. but no one wants to trade for him, then take on the job of negotiating with him. Let the Knicks do that.”
If Barrett does sign an extension this offseason, he will be very difficult to trade because of CBA rules that will designate him as a base-year compensation player. He could be traded once next offseason starts on June 30. If Barrett does not sign an extension, he will be a restricted free agent next summer.
The Jazz have made it clear that it will be draft picks, not players — even young talents like Barrett — which will determine whether they trade Mitchell.