Before the Lakers hosted the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 17 in what would be their 31st loss in 46 games, Jeanie Buss sat down for dinner with Johnson, the Hall of Fame Lakers point guard who remained a close friend. Jeanie is two years younger than Magic, and the two have shared a “genuine, innocent, youthful connection” from the day he arrived as a 20-year-old rookie in 1979, Rambis said.
On that night, the friends reminisced about the days of Lakers glory, and Jeanie shared her concerns about the direction of the franchise. She had already given serious thought to deposing her brother and Kupchak from their roles. “Earvin and I were basically raised by the same person,” she said. “We see things the same way.”
Last summer, they spent $136 million of precious cap space on veterans Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov, who made little sense for the direction of the team. “I just didn’t understand what the thought process was,” she said, “whether our philosophies were so far apart that I couldn’t recognize what they were doing, or they couldn’t explain it well.”
Given those challenges, is it possible that the Lakers won’t win another title in Jeanie’s lifetime? She doesn’t think so. “I believe that Earvin will win another championship,” she said. “I believe in him.”
In registering his preference to Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert for a trade, league sources said, Irving divulged that he’s become increasingly uneasy about a future that includes a roster constructed to complement LeBron James — a roster that could well be devoid of James come free agency in 2018.
The Cavs are paying James’ Klutch Sports clients Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith for significant deals, and those contracts won’t easily leave the Cavaliers’ books. The Cavaliers have a singular tradeable asset, and it’s Kyrie Irving. Which he knows because Cleveland had included him in trade talks around the NBA draft, league sources told ESPN. Long before Irving voiced his desire to be moved, Cleveland had considered the possibility, too — and perhaps did so with a nod from James.