Jerry West Rumors
Of note, Dudley also offered his opinion regarding Los Angeles and his tenure with the Clippers. “I love L.A., maybe not the Clippers, but I love L.A.,” Dudley told Basketball Insiders. “But overall I think it’s just a good place. I mean the Clippers had one of the best teams they’ve had when I was there with CP and Blake. I think you see with them, it’s like the Titanic, it’s slowly going down. You can tell they’re getting ready to blow this thing up with the All-Star break coming up and all the injuries and Jerry West taking over.”
19 Dec 17
Bryant started only seven games in his first two seasons on Harris’s veteran-laden, win-now squad. Even before that, shortly after draft night in 1996, Vlade Divac tried to short-circuit the agreed-upon trade that would send Bryant from the Charlotte Hornets to the Lakers by threatening to retire at age 28 rather than leave Los Angeles. Divac ultimately came to terms with swapping Hollywood for Charlotte and consented to joining the Hornets. Bryant went on to lead or colead five Laker teams to championships, clash with O’Neal throughout their eight seasons together and tune out critics of his often shot-happy approach to finish his career as the league’s No. 3 career scorer (33,643 points). Yet as he reflects on it now, as the general manager of the Sacramento Kings, Divac said: “I wasn’t happy leaving L.A., but if I was Jerry West, I would have traded me for Kobe, too.”
As the Lakers’ longtime roster architect, Jerry West was famously smitten by the predraft workout performance that Bryant, then 17, unleashed against the longtime Lakers defensive standout Michael Cooper, who was an assistant coach by that point. As Harris tells it, Tracy McGrady had an even more impressive audition for the Lakers one year later, prompting West to make a brief but serious push to try to acquire McGrady’s draft rights and team him with O’Neal and Bryant. “I don’t think anybody can look at an 18-year-old and say he’s a Hall of Famer,” Harris said. “You couldn’t even do that with Michael Jordan. And Kobe Bryant was a young 18 in his first season. He was still in a pretty normal teenage body, compared to when LeBron James came in and had a man’s body. “McGrady came in the next year with a more mature body and worked out so well that Jerry kind of tooled around with the idea that maybe we should just go ahead and make a deal for whatever it took to get this guy — even though it’d be a step back in the short term — to have two guys like this on the same team.”
They’ve done it with a new administration led by president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry. They were not team owner James Dolan’s first choice. Dolan had one of his most trusted allies, entertainment executive Irving Azoff, talk to Jerry West to see if the NBA legend wanted to take over for Jackson last June, league sources with knowledge of the discussions told Sporting News.
Azoff brought Dolan and Jackson together in 2014, but in this instance, West told Azoff that the time wasn’t right to come to New York. Instead he opted to settle into an advisory role to Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.