The LA Lakers have seemingly had a change of heart when it comes to potentially trading one of their stars.
Plus a leading championship contender is reportedly seeking depth to strengthen their roster ahead of a title push.
Catch up on all of the latest whispers in our NBA Rumour Mill!
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LAKERS LOOKING LIKELY TO KEEP WESTBROOK
All the talk throughout the offseason and the Lakers’ disappointing 5-10 start has been when, and for who, not if Los Angeles would trade point guard Russell Westbrook.
However, with the 2017 league MVP impressing in a new role off the bench and the team recently going on a three-game winning streak, his potential departure may be less inevitable than once assumed.
According to a report by Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, a number of executives around the league think that Los Angeles may have second thoughts about trading the nine-time NBA All-Star now that his play is helping the team win games.
“Some executives believe the Lakers will stand pat and ride out the Westbrook experiment if he continues to produce off the bench,” he said.
Since taking up the reserve point guard role, the two-time league leading scorer has been averaging 16.8 points (up from 10.3), 8.6 assists (up from 4.3) and five rebounds per game while shooting 43.6 percent from the field (up from 28.9) and 39.6 percent from three (up from 8.3), a huge improvement on his 30.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc for his career.
Westbrook’s play has improved so dramatically since being removed from the Lakers’ starting rotation that he has firmed into a $2.50 favourite to take out the coveted NBA Sixth Man of the Year award this season.
Odds courtesy of TAB
SUNS EYEING REINFORCEMENTS
The Phoenix Suns are reportedly eager to pursue a trade for Atlanta Hawks wing Bogdan Bogdanović, according to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor.
“League sources say Bogdanović remains on Phoenix’s radar; he checks a lot of boxes as a shooter, ball-handler, and rock-solid defender,” he wrote.
The Serbian international would likely help Phoenix fill the three-and-d role in their rotation, with the Suns still seeking to trade Jae Crowder.
However, Bogdanović would likely be an upgrade on Crowder, having averaged 15.1 points (compared to 9.4) and 4.0 rebounds per game last year with the Hawks, spending time as both a starter and reserve. He shot 36.8 percent from three-point territory (compared to 34.8) after showing more range in 2021-22 when he hit 43.8 percent of his attempts (compared to 39.9).
The 30-year-old is yet to play in 2022-23 as he recovers from a knee injury suffered last season, but reportedly took part in three-on-three action during practice for the first time Sunday.
Bogdanović isn’t the only player the Western Conference leaders are interested in, with earlier reports indicating that the Suns are in the market for role players such as Harrison Barnes of the Sacramento Kings, Kyle Kuzma of the Washington Wizards and Kenyon Martin Jr. of the Houston Rockets, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Charania also reported that John Collins from the Atlanta Hawks was on Phoenix’s radar, but that the Suns seem “uninclined to take on the long-term money” of his deal during his second season of a five-year, $125 million contract.
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MAVS LINKED TO GUARD AS KNICKS CHASE FUTURE FIRST ROUND PICK
The Dallas Mavericks are reportedly being touted as a possible destination for New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley as they chase support for star point guard Luka Doncic, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy Sports.
“Dallas is a team that would fit the profile,” a Western Conference executive told Deveney.
“He [Quickley] would be a good fit there, but they’re trying to get deeper all over, so it is hard to say where they will focus. Point guard is a need.”
The executive reportedly also believes the Mavericks would need to part with at least a first-round draft pick to convince the Knicks to part with Quickley as they are chasing ammunition to trade for a big name star.
“The Knicks are still trying to stockpile picks,” the executive said.
“That is what it is all about for them. They are approaching things like there will be a star who they can get – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Anthony Davis, [Kevin] Durant, Karl-Anthony Towns, someone – a star who comes on the market soon. They want picks. If they can get two first-rounders for Quickley, they would, but that is too high a price. Maybe a young guy or a prospect playing in Europe, someone like that, and a first-rounder, a protected first-rounder, that is probably where the market ends up on him.”
The Mavericks are hoping to go at least one step further in the playoffs this season after losing 4-1 to eventual champions, the Golden State Warriors, in the Western Conference finals last year.
Despite Doncic seemingly taking his play to another level this season, he is equal $3.50 favourite to win his first league MVP award, Dallas have looked like a one man show as they currently languish in 8th spot in the stacked Western Conference with a middling 9-7 record.
If they want to make a serious title run, they will likely need to make moves throughout the season to improve their depth and relieve some of the burden placed on their 23-year-old face of the franchise following the loss of Jaylen Brunson in free agency this past offseason.
Odds courtesy of TAB
TEAMS MONITORING TROUBLED STAR
The Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit Pistons are reportedly among the teams “monitoring” Miles Bridges’ free agency situation, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The 24-year-old remains a restricted free agent after he pleaded no contest to a felony domestic violence charge on Nov. 3 as part of a deal with prosecutors and was sentenced to three years of probation. He is also required to attend domestic violence counseling and parenting classes, undergo weekly drug testing and complete 100 hours of community service.
Bridges was arrested on June 29 after he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend in front of their two children.
The NBA is investigating the forward and can still fine, suspend or disqualify him if it determines he violated its policy on domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.
Bridges had the best season of his career in 2021-22, averaging 20.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 80 games while shooting 49.1 percent from the floor and 33.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Since the Hornets extended their former first-round draft pick a qualifying offer before he was arrested, they can match any offer he receives from another franchise. According to an earlier report by Eric Pincus of the Bleacher Report an “executive familiar with the Hornets’ thinking” believes the franchise still views Bridges as a “core piece”.
EAST CONTENDERS ‘ENGAGED’ IN TALKS FOR CROWDER
Two of the top Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls are reportedly interested in trying to acquire the services of disgruntled Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder via trade, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Charania reported that both the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks “have been engaged” with the Suns in trade negotiations focused on Crowder.
The former second-round draft pick had been a productive member of a Phoenix team that made back-to-back deep playoff runs, including a 2021 NBA finals appearance, over the last two seasons but has not played at all this season amid the Suns attempts to find a trade partner.
Crowder is in the final year of a three-year, $29m ($43.7m AUD) contract, but reportedly officially requested a trade back in September due largely to his desire for a contract extension that the Suns were unwilling to offer, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7.