Fred VanVleet, DeAndre’ Bembry and Talen Horton-Tucker each suspended one game by NBA

Toronto Raptors guards DeAndre’ Bembry and Fred VanVleet and Los Angeles Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker have each been suspended one game without pay and Raptors forward OG Anunoby and Lakers forward-center Montrezl Harrell have each been fined for their roles in an on-court altercation, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

Bembry, VanVleet and Horton-Tucker have each been suspended for leaving the bench area during an on-court altercation.

Anunoby, who received a technical foul and was ejected, has been fined $30,000 for initiating the incident by grabbing Schröder by the leg and recklessly flipping him to the ground after the two became entangled following a common foul committed by Schröder.

Harrell, who received a technical foul and was ejected, has been fined $20,000 for aggressively entering the altercation and shoving Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr.

The incident occurred with 2:24 remaining in the first quarter in the Lakers’ 110-101 win over the Raptors on April 6 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.

Bembry will serve his suspension tonight when the Raptors play host to the Chicago Bulls at Amalie Arena. VanVleet, who has missed the past two games with an injury, will serve his suspension in the next regular season game for which he is eligible and physically able to play.

Horton-Tucker will serve his suspension tonight when the Lakers face the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Lakers plan to allow limited fan attendance at home games starting April 15 vs. Celtics

STATEMENT FROM THE LAKERS

We are incredibly excited that the State of California announced guidelines [yesterday] that will allow Lakers fans to return to STAPLES Center.

Now that we have the guidance, we will work with LA County Public Health and STAPLES Center to finalize our plans to have fans safely attend our games starting with the Lakers vs. Celtics game on April 15.

We look forward to welcoming Lakers fans back to STAPLES Center to continue the journey with us to defend our NBA title.

Clippers plan to allow limited fan attendance at home games starting April 18 vs. Timberwolves

STATEMENT FROM THE CLIPPERS

With the State of California announcing that Los Angeles County has moved into the orange tier, we will continue working closely with the L.A. County Department of Public Health and STAPLES Center to determine the guidelines for safely hosting fans at Clippers home games this season.

With the new guidelines in place, we are planning for a certain number of fans to attend our game against Minnesota on April 18.

Lakers bulk up at center, sign Andre Drummond

The Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday signed center Andre Drummond, Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka announced.

“Andre Drummond gives us powerful, anchor-point skills on both ends of the court,” Pelinka said. “We feel extremely fortunate to add a player of his caliber and magnitude to our core group at this stage of our journey to defend the NBA title.”

Drummond appeared in 25 games (all starts) for Cleveland this season, averaging 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks in 28.9 minutes per game. In 624 games (573 starts) for the Cavaliers and Pistons, he has averaged 14.6 points, 13.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.5 blocks in 30.9 minutes. Drummond has played and started in eight career playoff games, tallying 15.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.4 blocks in 32.3 minutes.

Per the Los Angeles Times, “the Lakers aren’t adding George Mikan here, but they’re getting a good two-way center who has probably been undervalued over the last handful of seasons because he’s never played on a team with weapons like the Lakers have. At full strength, he’ll give them a dimension the Lakers haven’t had this season — a big man who can operate at and above the rim, making him an ideal partner for James and Dennis Schroder in pick-and-roll sets. And defensively, he’s an active player who blocks shots, gets steals and owns the glass — he’s led the league in rebounding five times and is averaging 13.5 this season.”

A two-time NBA All-Star, Drummond has led the league in rebounding four times and was named to the All-NBA Third Team following the 2015-16 season. Drummond is one of 20 players in league history to record more than 9,000 career points, 8,500 rebounds, 850 steals and 950 blocks. He is also the NBA’s all-time leader in seasons with at least 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 100 steals and 100 blocks, having accomplished the feat four times.

Lakers legend Elgin Baylor has passed away at age 86

Former Lakers player and Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor passed away peacefully of natural causes today in Los Angeles at the age of 86. Baylor was surrounded by his wife, Elaine, and his daughter, Krystal.

“Elgin was the love of my life and my best friend,” said Elaine. “And like everyone else, I was in awe of his immense courage, dignity and the time he gave to all fans. At this time we ask that I and our family be allowed to mourn his passing in privacy.”

Born on Sept. 16, 1934, in Washington, D.C., Baylor played one season at the College of Idaho before transferring to Seattle University, where he led the team to their first NCAA championship game before being drafted first overall by the Minneapolis Lakers in 1958. Baylor averaged 24.9 points, 15.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists as a rookie en route to Rookie of the Year honors. Baylor would go on to play 14 seasons for the Minneapolis and Los Angeles Lakers, earning NBA All-Star honors 11 times with 10 First Team All-NBA appearances. After retiring from basketball in 1971, Baylor went on to serve as a coach for the New Orleans Jazz and Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Clippers.

“Elgin was THE superstar of his era – his many accolades speak to that,” said Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss. “He was one of the few Lakers players whose career spanned from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. But more importantly he was a man of great integrity, even serving his country as a U.S. Army reservist, often playing for the Lakers only during his weekend pass. He is one of the all-time Lakers greats with his No. 22 jersey retired in the rafters and his statue standing guard in front of STAPLES Center. He will always be part of the Lakers legacy. On behalf of the entire Lakers family, I’d like to send my thoughts, prayers and condolences to Elaine and the Baylor family.”

Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977, Baylor’s No. 22 jersey was retired by the Lakers on Nov. 3, 1983, and a statue honoring Baylor was unveiled on April 6, 2018, at STAPLES Center.

Elgin is survived by his wife Elaine, a daughter (Krystal), a son and daughter (Alan and Alison) from a previous marriage, and a sister (Gladys Baylor Barrett).

Funeral arrangements are pending.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued the following statement today regarding the passing of Elgin Baylor:

“Elgin Baylor set the course for the modern NBA as one of the league’s first superstar players. An 11-time All-Star during his Hall of Fame career with the Lakers, Elgin produced remarkable results with his athleticism and groundbreaking style of play, including setting an NBA Finals record with 61 points in Game 5 of the 1962 championship series – a performance made all the more extraordinary by the fact that he had spent part of that season away from his team while on active duty in the Army.

“In addition to his legendary playing career, Elgin was a man of principle. He was a leading activist during the height of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s and an influential voice among his fellow players. After his retirement, Elgin remained a part of the NBA family as both a coach and an executive, imparting his wisdom to generations of NBA talent. Elgin will be deeply missed, and we send our thoughts and prayers to his wife, Elaine, his family and friends.”

National Basketball Players Association Statement on the Passing of Elgin Baylor

“It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the recent passing of Hall Famer Elgin Baylor. Elgin’s success as a player, coach and executive in this league was unparalleled. He had a profound impact on the game of basketball and the generations of players that followed him.

During his playing career, Elgin was a strong voice for the collective group, standing up to push for guaranteed benefits and improved working conditions for all players. Elgin’s early advocacy played a vital role in the formation of our union and we are forever grateful for his courage and contributions.

We send our prayers and condolences to his wife Elaine, his family and the entire Lakers organization.”

Lakers forward Jared Dudley suffers knee injury

Veteran Lakers forward Jared Dudley has suffered a serious injury. Via the OC Register:

As of Sunday afternoon, however, it is worth wondering how much longer Dudley’s blue-collar run through the NBA will last after the Lakers revealed that the forward has torn the MCL in his right knee. Already a little-used player who has struggled with injury for much of the season — Dudley has scored just six points in 11 appearances this season — it could be one of the closing drumbeats of a charmed career.

The Lakers said Dudley was still evaluating his treatment options as of Sunday evening and was not yet officially ruled out for the season. Depending on the grade of tear, such injuries can take anywhere from several weeks to several months to heal. The Lakers have 34 regular season games remaining before the playoffs begin in mid-May.

It’s an unwelcome addition to a lengthy injury report: For Monday’s game at Golden State, the Lakers are already without Anthony Davis (right calf strain), Marc Gasol (health and safety protocols), Alex Caruso (mild concussion) and Kostas Antetokounmpo (health and safety protocols). Even though Dudley hasn’t played much this season, he’s gotten recent nods for defensive presence without Davis to man the middle.

The Lakers are 25-13 this season. Dudley, who will turn 36 this summer, barely plays this days and is averaging 0.5 points, 1.7 rebounds and 0.5 assists in 6.9 minutes per game.

Lakers’ Anthony Davis out at least another two weeks

Anthony Davis, who has been out of action due to a right calf strain, was examined by team doctors this evening. The Lakers say that he is progressing in his recovery and has been cleared to enter the next phase of his return to play process.

Davis will be re-evaluated by team doctors in two weeks.

In 23 games played for the 24-13 Lakers this season, Davis is averaging 22.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.8 blocks in 32.8 minutes per game.

Lakers sign center Damian Jones to another 10-day contract

The Los Angeles Lakers signed center Damian Jones to a second 10-day contract today.

Jones has averaged 4.0 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 10.3 minutes through three games with the Lakers after signing with the team on February 25. In 17 games (one start) with Los Angeles and Phoenix this season, Jones is averaging 2.0 points and 1.4 rebounds in 7.4 minutes.

The Lakers are 24-13 this season, which is the third best record in the Western conference, behind the Jazz and Suns. They’re being led in scoring by LeBron James at 25.8 points per game, Anthony Davis at 22.5 ppg (in just 23 games played), Dennis Schroder at 14.9 ppg, Montrezl Harrell at 13.8 ppg (almost entirely off the bench), and Kyle Kuzma usually off the bench at 11.5 ppg.

Lakers salary cap situation

The NBA trade deadline is later this month. As the defending NBA champions, the Lakers look poised to compete for the title again this year. So, big moves aren’t likely. But for a look at roster flexiblity, here’s the OC Register:

Because of the structure of the offseason contracts for Montrezl Harrell and Wesley Matthews, the Lakers are hard-capped, meaning they can’t spend above $138.9 million in salary. They are currently $3.1 million under that number, which is not a lot in NBA money, and even less when you consider that the Lakers can only add veteran minimum contracts because they are above the salary cap threshold ($109.1 million).

Those are a lot of technical terms, but the practical meaning is the Lakers can’t add anyone that they can’t pay a pro-rata veteran’s minimum deal, which at the current moment is less than $1 million. That may hurt them in the hunt for a buyout market candidate: Free agents will have to be motivated to sign with them to win rings.

The hard cap also means that the Lakers will have a very difficult time taking on salary. Even though they have two roster spots available, they have to stay below the $138.9 million mark no matter what, which means there’s almost no fungible way to trade for players with bigger contracts than the salary they’re sending out (usually there’s some leeway). Many of the Lakers’ best trade pieces are underpaid, like Alex Caruso ($2.7 million) or Talen Horton-Tucker ($1.5 million) who are still on smaller deals.

The Lakers are the top-ranked defensive team in the NBA so far this season. What they could use is another player who can provide some offensive punch.

LeBron James calls Jaylen Brown ‘underappreciated’

It’s always cool when LeBron James tells the world that you’re a good basketball player. Via the Boston.com:

After Thursday’s victory over the Toronto Raptors, Celtics wing Jaylen Brown was informed that LeBron James selected him to his All-Star team, calling him “Jaylen Under-Appreciated Brown” on the TNT broadcast.

Brown raised his eyebrows at the recitation of James’s compliment and chuckled.

“That’s great,” Brown said. “To have one of — if not the — best player select you and point out some of the things you’ve been doing or some of the things he’s seen, is great. I appreciate him for that.”

Brown’s season deserves appreciation. The fifth-year wing — and first-time All-Star — is averaging 24.8 points per game on a tidy 49.8 percent shooting, including 38.9 percent from 3-point range. Brown started the season hot and has been one of the league’s best mid-range shooters while aggressively going to the basket. On Thursday, he worked his way to the free-throw line 16 times, making 11.

The Celtics haven’t stood out in the first half of this season. They are a modest 19-17 entering the All-Star break, which is the Eastern conference’s fourth best record. Not bad, but not as good as expected. A pair of key Celtics guards have played limited games so far: Kemba Walker 19, Marcus Smart 17. While Walker is active, Smart could return fairly soon after the break.