Pelicans forward Zion Williamson reportedly good to play Friday against Lakers

The Pelicans should have some frontcourt power back in the mix for their game against the Lakers tomorrow. Via the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

After missing Wednesday’s game due to an inconclusive test result, Zion Williamson has received clearance to play Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers, a team source said.

Williamson was held out of the Pelicans’ 111-106 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Following the inconclusive test, Williamson took subsequent tests, the results of which came back negative. That clears the way for him to face LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the defending champion Lakers on national TV.

The Lakers are Western conference-best 10-3 this season, while the Pelicans are 13th in the conference at 4-6.

Lakers 7-0 on road so far this season

The Lakers are just 3-3 at home so far this season, but an impressive 7-0 on the road. Via the OC Register:

It’s a season in which home-court advantage means as little as ever, but it still has to mean something: The Lakers have not yet lost on the road.

Momentum continued to pick up for the league leaders, as the Lakers (10-3) swept aside the rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder, 128-99, on Wednesday night to improve to 7-0 away from Staples Center – the best road start in franchise history. The visitors never trailed.

Wednesday’s effort looked as breezy as the previous two wins in Houston: LeBron James drilled five 3-pointers to lead with 26 points, adding seven assists. Anthony Davis played just 24 minutes, adding 18 points.

Leading the team in scoring so far this season is LeBron at 24.2 points per game, Davis at 22.5 ppg, Dennis Schroder at 14.3 ppg, Montrezl Harrell off the bench at 13.0 ppg, and Kyle Kuzma mostly off the bench at 10.8 ppg.

NBA fines Markieff Morris and DeMarcus Cousins

Los Angeles Lakers forward Markieff Morris has been fined $35,000 and Houston Rockets center DeMarcus Cousins has been fined $10,000 for their roles in an on-court altercation, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, which occurred with 2:15 remaining in the first quarter of the Lakers’ 120-102 victory over the Rockets on Jan. 10 at Toyota Center, began when Morris committed a Flagrant Foul 1 by knocking Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate to the ground.

Cousins continued the incident by shoving Morris to the floor, for which Cousins was assessed a technical foul. Morris further escalated the situation by charging after Cousins, shoving him and continuing to aggressively pursue him. Morris was assessed a technical foul and ejected.

Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schroder playing well as new Lakers

The Lakers started the 2020-21 NBA season with a loss to the Clippers on Tuesday, but enjoyed a convincing win over the Mavericks on Christmas Day today.

But beyond the team’s 1-1 record after two games, the bigger picture is that two of their new additions are playing as well as expected:

Dennis Schroder’s first two games as a Laker: 14 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists Tuesday, 18 points and six assists today. His shooting was off in that first game, but that’s a minor footnote.

Montrezl Harrell’s first two games as a Laker: 17 points (6/7 FG), 10 rebounds and three assists Tuesday, 22 points (10/13 FG) and seven rebounds today.

Schroder has been starting, while Harrell has come off the bench. But that doesn’t matter. Both can produce points in a hurry, and make LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers as a whole even better than they were before.

Which is scary for the league, since this team also happen to be the defending NBA champs.

An area of concern for the Lakers is the center spot. New addition Marc Gasol, who turns 36 next month, isn’t off to a great start. It’s something to watch in the next few weeks.

It was an incredibly short NBA offseason, especially for Heat and Lakers

Here’s the Miami Herald discussing how short the offseason was for the Heat. Of course, this also applies to the Lakers, who beat the Heat in six games in the 2020 NBA Finals:

The Miami Heat had a two-month offseason to recover from a season that took about a year to complete.

The NBA offseason lasted just 71 days, which is the fewest between the end of a season and the start of the next season in NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL history, according to Elias Sports.

COVID-19 is the reason for the abbreviated offseason, with the pandemic extending last season all the way to October. The Heat lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Oct. 11, and the Heat begins the 2020-21 regular season on Dec. 23.

“If I’m honest, nobody cares if you’re ready or not,” guard Goran Dragic said when asked if the Heat will be ready after the short break.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis may not rush into NBA preseason

Starting Friday, we’ll have NBA games again. Sure, it’ll just be preseason. But just 11 days after that, the regular season tips off, and that’s real basketball right there.

This Friday, the Lakers are one of the team’s taking court. But some key stars may not participate. Via the OC Register:

While the team is slated for a preseason game against the Clippers on Friday night at Staples Center, they probably won’t be at full strength. And after Tuesday’s training camp session, the team’s third as a group, Coach Frank Vogel said of stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, “it’s probably unlikely that they play.”

It’s not a surprise: The team has pitched patience since returning to the court in the last week, given that the Lakers are just two months removed from winning the 2020 title. Normal offseason rhythms have been interrupted, and team trainers and medical staffers have cautioned coaches about diving too quickly into game-ready play.

While Davis said he’s not normally the kind of player who seeks out pick-up sessions in the offseason, he has a routine of working with trainers in smaller settings. After winning a championship with the Lakers in October then taking much of last month to sort out a new contract, he’s gotten little of his normal offseason plan accomplished – the Lakers’ four-game preseason, with just two weeks until the regular-season opener on Dec. 22, now serves as part of the ramp-up to playing shape.

Normally, all key players participate in preseason, but usually play very limited minute But this season’s training camp and preseason period is very brief, so teams will have to develop chemistry in a hurry.

Fortunately for the Lakers, they just won the NBA championship. So while they did make some offseason changes, they have no reason to rush.

Lakers re-sign Quinn Cook after waiving him in November

The Los Angeles Lakers waived Quinn Cook a few weeks ago, but have had a change of heart. The team re-signed the guard yesterday.

Last season with the Lakers, Cook played in 44 games, coming off the bench for 43 of them, for an average of 5.1 points (.425 FG%), 1.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 11.5 minutes per outing.

Over the course of his NBA career, playing for the Lakers, Mavericks, Pelicans and Warriors, Cook in 165 games has an average of 6.8 points (.463 FG%, .407 3FG%), 1.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 15.1 minutes.

Huge Lakers news came a few days ago, with the team formally re-signing superstar forwards LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Neither move was a surprise, but big transactions becoming official is always a relief.

Lakers re-sign Jared Dudley

The Los Angeles Lakers have re-signed forward Jared Dudley.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Dudley’s contract with the Lakers is “for the veteran minimum of about $2.5 million.”

Dudley played in 45 games (one start) for the Lakers last season, notching 1.5 points and 1.2 rebounds in 8.1 minutes per game. In 892 career games (286 starts), Dudley owns averages of 7.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists. He has played in 42 career playoff games, tallying 4.4 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 15.4 minutes.

Lakers re-sign Kostas Antetokounmpo to a two-way contract

The Los Angeles Lakers yesterday re-signed Kostas Antetokounmpo to a two-way contract.

Antetokounmpo appeared in 38 games (37 starts) for the South Bay Lakers last season, averaging 14.1 points (.623 FG%), 7.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.3 blocks in 25.4 minutes. He tallied 10 double-doubles with South Bay and scored in double figures 33 times, including eight games with 20+ points. In five games with Los Angeles, Antetokounmpo averaged 1.4 points in 4.0 minutes.

Lakers waive Jordan Bell

The Los Angeles Lakers waived center Jordan Bell today.

The Lakers had just recently acquired Bell, along with Alfonzo McKinnie, in their trade with the Cavs for JaVale McGee and a future second round draft pick.

Last season, Bell played in 29 games for the Timberwolves and Grizzlies, averaging 3.2 points and 2.8 rebounds in 8.8 minutes per game.

He has played in 154 career games (16 starts) for Golden State, Minnesota and Memphis, averaging 3.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 12.0 minutes per game.