How would Zion Williamson fare on the ATP Tour? The Duke star and top NBA prospect would excel. That is according to Miami Open finalist John Isner.

Williamson is set to be taken with the number one pick in the 2019 draft as the 18-year-old continues to star for Duke this season.

After setting up a showdown with Roger Federer in the Miami Open final, American veteran Isner discussed the prospect of Williamson playing tennis.

"Well, that would be scary," Isner said when asked what Williamson might be like as a tennis player.

"It's like LeBron [James], if he chose to play any other sport, he'd excel in it. Wouldn't matter what it is.

"I think Zion is cut from the same cloth."

Star freshman Williamson led the way as top-ranked Duke avoided an upset against Virginia Tech in the NCAA tournament on Friday.

Williamson posted 23 points and six rebounds in Duke's nail-biting 75-73 win in the East Region semi-finals, which has the Blue Devils one victory away from the Final Four.

Paul Pierce said LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers need more than top NBA prospect Zion Williamson if they want to return to the playoffs.

The Lakers are already out of the postseason equation and they could – albeit with slim chances – win the NBA Draft lottery.

If Lakers somehow beat the odds and land the number one pick, Duke sensation Williamson would be the obvious choice.

But if you ask 2008 NBA champion and MVP Pierce, that single addition will not put the Lakers back in the postseason.

"Y'all need a lot. ... A lot. A lot," Pierce told TMZ. "Zion is not the saviour, but he's very good. But y'all need more than that."

Then when asked if he thought James should change teams, a cheeky Pierce said before driving away: "No. LeBron is doing well out here with his production company."

Pierce has been harsh on the Lakers since their season started to spiral out of control.

Last month, former Boston Celtics star Pierce said the Lakers should shut down James to preserve him for next season.

James, however, has continued to play and play well down the stretch. Just last week he had a triple-double against the Sacramento Kings and said afterwards: "I know we're out the playoff race, but if I'm on the court, I'm going to play how I play, and I play to win.

"I owe it to myself, and obviously with the fans continuing to show up, they know we're not making the playoffs; by me owing it to myself, it automatically gives to our fans when I'm out on the floor."

 

Luke Walton fully expects to be back coaching LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers next NBA season.

Reports have surfaced that the Lakers are planning to fire their third-year head coach after Los Angeles failed to reach the playoffs again this term.

However, Walton believes he will still be in charge of the Lakers in 2019-20.

"I fully expect to be coaching this team again next season," Walton told The Athletic.

The Lakers are reportedly considering former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue if they axe Walton this offseason. 

They have also been linked to Rick Carlisle and Jason Kidd.

Walton, 39, said he was not focusing on the speculation.

"I just view it as outside noise," Walton said. "Unless someone from within our group is telling me that, I just view it like all the other things we've gone through as a team this year. Those are things that I don't have the time to worry about.

"I've got more important things to do like getting the team better and doing my job."

James left the Cavaliers and signed a four-year, $153.3million contract with the Lakers last July. But, the Lakers have struggled and are already out of playoff contention.

"There's different rumours and everything else," Walton said. "Unless some kind of information comes from someone within our organisation, I don't pay attention to it and I don't concern myself with the rumours."

Los Angeles entered play against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday with a 33-41 record.

LeBron James will not play in the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, the team announced.

James is reportedly on a minutes restriction and is not expected to play in back-to-backs for the rest of the season. He tallied 23 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds in Los Angeles' 124-106 win over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.

James is averaging 27.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.2 assists during his first season with the Lakers and is shooting 50.8 per cent from the field and 33.4 per cent from three-point range.

The Lakers, however, have struggled and were eliminated from playoff contention earlier in March.

"Obviously, it's been a tough season for all of us," James said last week. "It's not what we signed up for. Throughout the year, things happened. Suspensions, injuries, things of that nature. And just not being able to play sustainable basketball for 48 minutes.

"Playoffs are never promised. You've got to come out and work. For me personally, you just continue to put the work in and see what you can do to help."

Jason Kidd said it would be an honour to coach LeBron James as he discussed the possibility of joining the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kidd, who was fired by the Milwaukee Bucks in January 2018, has been linked to the Lakers job if Luke Walton is fired after the NBA season.

The 2011 NBA champion also could head to the collegiate ranks as he is reportedly the leading candidate to replace Wyking Jones at California.

"I think Cal is a great institution. We'll see what happens," Kidd told ESPN. "Right now, it's nice to be wanted.

"And it just tells me I'm doing the right thing. And I think the year off helps clean up some things too, just to refocus and have that energy.

"We'll wait until the season's over to see what opportunities come about and hopefully, there's one that fits."

Kidd said the Lakers were one of the best franchises in the "world" but added Walton has done an "incredible job".

"If you ever have the opportunity to wear the purple and gold, you can't turn that down, as a coach, as a player, because they're all about championships," Kidd said. "They have a process."

LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers and signed a four-year, $153.3million contract with the Lakers in July 2018.

The three-time NBA champion is averaging 27.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.1 assists during his first season in Los Angeles, where the playoff drought continues.

"When you talk about the best player in the world [in James], you always are going to say yes because as a coach or as a team-mate, he's always going to make you better because you're going to work," Kidd said. "As a coach, X and Os, you’ve got to be on point.

"As a team-mate, you're going to work extremely hard because you know he's going to need you to make that shot or come up with a defensive play. So, that would be a great honor to coach any elite basketball player."

Kidd, who was a 10-time All-Star as a player, registered a 139-152 record and made two playoff appearances during his time with Milwaukee. He also coached the Brooklyn Nets for one season.

LeBron James vowed to "never cheat the game" after starring for the already-eliminated Los Angeles Lakers with a triple-double in their 111-106 victory over the Sacramento Kings.

The Lakers' hopes of reaching the playoffs were extinguished last week, meaning James will not be involved in the postseason for the first time since the 2004-05 season.

Having appeared in each of the previous eight NBA Finals series for either the Miami Heat or the Cleveland Cavaliers, James could be forgiven for easing off as the Lakers' disappointing season winds down.

Yet after scoring 29 points, making 11 rebounds and providing 11 assists against the Kings on Sunday, James said his passion for the sport meant his effort level would remain high.

"I would never cheat myself," James said in his on-court with Spectrum SportsNet.

"I know we're out the playoff race, but if I'm on the court, I'm going to play how I play, and I play to win. So I will never cheat the game.

"There's such a thing called 'game gods' - and they're watching no matter what you're doing. It's our obligation to go out and be a professional, and that's what I'm about."

Lakers coach Luke Walton believes James' attitude stems from the fact he is one of the NBA's leading figures.

"I've talked to 'Bron sporadically throughout the season," Walton said in his post-game news conference. 

"He knows it and I think he takes it very serious.

"He's been the face of the NBA for however many years now. He's aware of that and I think he takes that responsibility very seriously."

LeBron James described the Los Angeles Lakers' season as "not what we signed up for" after they were officially eliminated from playoff contention.

James will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2005, with a 111-106 defeat to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday ending the Lakers' slim postseason hopes.

Despite tallying 25 points, 14 assists, and nine rebounds, James labelled his performance as "s****y" and said: "Obviously, it's been a tough season for all of us.

"It's not what we signed up for. Throughout the year, things happened. Suspensions, injuries, things of that nature. And just not being able to play sustainable basketball for 48 minutes.

"But you don't even try to wrap your head around it, you just keep pushing. Just try to get better tonight, move onto tomorrow, and go from there.

"Playoffs are never promised. You've got to come out and work. For me personally, you just continue to put the work in and see what you can do to help."

The Lakers' campaign has had its ups - notably a Christmas Day win over the Golden State Warriors and a comeback triumph against the Houston Rockets in the first game after the All-Star break.

However, James suffered a groin tear in the defeat of the Warriors and the victory over the Rockets has been followed by a run of 12 losses in 14 outings.

It remains to be seen how many games James will play down the stretch with no meaning attached to their remaining fixtures.

The 34-year-old added: "I'm probably going to have a conversation with the coaching staff and my trainer and go from there.

"But I love to hoop. S***, I'm going to have five months and not play the game. So, you know, hopefully I can be in as many games as possible."

LeBron James will not be in the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-06 NBA season.

With Los Angeles' 111-106 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, the Lakers have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Los Angeles' record now stands at 31-41 for the season and the Lakers sit at 11th in the Western Conference.

James' Lakers were in contention for much of the beginning of the season until the four-time MVP suffered a groin injury Christmas Day.

He missed his team's next 17 games, which saw Los Angeles go 6-11 and fall out of a playoff spot.

The Lakers never recovered and have gone 11-27 since James suffered the injury.

LeBron James is in contention to return for the Los Angeles Lakers against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, coach Luke Walton has confirmed.

James sat out the Lakers' defeats to the Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks as his team continue to manage their star player's minutes.

But Walton is hopeful the 34-year-old will return against the Nets after coming through Thursday's practice.

"We had 12 bodies [for practice]," Walton told reporters. "Lebron did about half of practice."

When asked if he expected James to be ready for the Nets, the coach added: "Yeah, we'll see how he feels tomorrow, but I think he'll go tomorrow."

James' switch to the Lakers has not produced the results many were expecting, with the team set to miss out on the playoffs in the Western Conference.

Injuries – including a number suffered by James – have hampered their chances, but Walton has been proud of the team's determination to keep fighting.

He added: "The injuries we have and where we're at in the season, it can be easy to quit sometimes and our guys are going out there and competing and playing as hard as they can and giving us a chance to be in the games. 

"We felt like we should have won two of those games, and we were in all of them with limited numbers. So as long as we keep getting that type of effort, I'm happy with the group."

Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant told LeBron James not to give up and keep pushing as the NBA playoffs slip away.

James arrived from the Cleveland Cavaliers amid much hype and fanfare, however the Lakers are 31-40 and set to miss the postseason in 11th position in the Western Conference.

The three-time NBA champion has not missed the playoffs since 2004-05, while the Lakers have not featured in the postseason since 2013.

Bryant pointed to the number of injuries the Lakers have had to overcome, including losing James (groin) for several weeks and shutting down Lonzo Ball (ankle) and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) for the rest of the season.

"It was unfortunate because it got hit with so many injuries in rapid succession," Bryant said on ESPN's 'Get Up'. "When they were rolling, I mean, they were playing very well, I think exceeding people's expectations.

"But then they got hit with all these injuries. Kind of set 'em back, knocked them off-kilter a little bit. It's hard to reboot that and so now they get caught in that rut. But next year should be better." 

When asked what advice he would give Lakers president Magic Johnson, Bryant said: "It's just a matter of being patient. Obviously they'll make smart decisions.

"You have opportunities, things, pieces that you can trade, assets of that sort, or you can stay with the young guys who are extremely talented and have great upside and let them develop. Either direction you go should be a good direction." 

As for what he would tell veteran James as he tries to turn the franchise around: Do not give up.

"You just gotta keep pushing," Bryant said. "Seasons like this are what make the championships worth it."

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will both sit out Tuesday's game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Milwaukee Bucks.

James has been ruled out with groin soreness, the Lakers announced, while Antetokounmpo is nursing a sore ankle that had left him questionable for the game.

The Bucks confirmed that as well as Antetokounmpo, who is listed as day to day, Sterling Brown, Pau Gasol and Donte DiVincenzo will also not feature.

After being rested on Friday against the Detroit Pistons, James played on Sunday in the defeat to the New York Knicks.

With the Lakers on the verge of missing the playoffs, the four-time MVP has seen his playing time already reduced to a career-low 35.3 minutes per game.

The Bucks, who sit on top of the Eastern Conference with a 52-18 record, will be hosting the Lakers (31-39) in Milwaukee.

Luke Walton defended LeBron James after the Los Angeles Lakers star faltered in the final quarter of a 124-123 defeat to the New York Knicks on Sunday.

James was rested for the loss to the Detroit Pistons on Friday, but made his comeback two days later at Madison Square Garden.

It proved to be one to forget for the legendary forward, who scored 33 points but saw a shot to win it with 2.3 seconds remaining blocked by Mario Hezonja.

James was 4-for-15 from the field in the final quarter, but Lakers head coach Walton said he should not take the blame for a 39th defeat of a miserable season for his side.

"He's one of the all-time great players in our league," said Walton. "He understands time and score and everything else.

"So, he's earned that right to take the shots he feels comfortable with. As opposed to some younger guys, you draw things up and tell them what to look for and tell them where to go at what time.

"He's earned the right to feel that out and take the shots he feels like are going to be good for him."

The Lakers led by 11 points in the final quarter, but were unable to prevent an eighth defeat in their last nine games as the Knicks snatched only a 14th victory of the season.

LeBron James is set to make his first appearance at Madison Square Garden as a Los Angeles Lakers player on Sunday.

James will suit up against the New York Knicks after being rested for a 111-97 defeat to the Detroit Pistons on Friday.

Josh Hart also comes back into the Lakers side as they attempt to avoid a third consecutive defeat.

The struggling Lakers are 31-38 and 11th in the Western Conference, while the Knicks are 13-56 in a poor season for both teams.

LeBron James will miss the Los Angeles Lakers' trip to the Detroit Pistons having played in the previous 15 games.

The Lakers said their star forward will not play against the Pistons due to "load management" with the groin injury that kept him out for a month earlier this season. 

The rest day comes a night after James played 31 minutes, 47 seconds in a loss at the Toronto Raptors, the second of a five-game road trip.

Los Angeles have dramatically reduced James' minutes since he passed Michael Jordan to go third on the NBA's all-time points list on March 6.

After playing at least 37 minutes in nine of 10 games prior to that milestone, James has topped out at 33:24 since. 

James has not missed a game since February 2, but Los Angeles have gone just 4-11 in that span and sit 11th in the Western Conference at 31-37. 

Sitting Friday would seem to indicate James will be available on Saturday at the New York Knicks and on Tuesday at the Milwaukee Bucks to wrap up the road trip. 

Russell Westbrook may have taken things a bit too far during his heated exchange with a Utah Jazz fan on Monday but there are several people in his corner, including LeBron James.

Westbrook was captured on video screaming "I'll f*** you up, you and your wife" to a heckler during the Oklahoma City Thunder's 98-89 win over the Jazz and he explained after the game that the spectator told him to "get down on your knees like you used to".

The Jazz banned the supporter from Vivint Smart Home Arena, while Westbrook was fined $25,000 for "directing profanity and threatening language to a fan."

When asked about the incident, Los Angeles Lakers superstar James backed his fellow NBA MVP.

"Russ is married with three kids, a set of twins. And no matter if you like him or love him or the way he plays the game, he's one of the most loyal people that I know, one of the most down-to-earth guys that I know. And that guy just took it too far on the other end," James said.

"There could have been some words Russ could've said a little differently, but at the end of the day, he was in the right, that guy was in the wrong.

"Stand up and I salute the Utah Jazz and their organisation doing what they did, and we move forward."

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