Yes, Bryant had to shoot 50 times to reach 60 points. No one seemed to mind. And yes, he was exhausted, breathing so hard that his teammates wondered if he could keep going, if passing him the ball over and over, setting screens upon screens, would wipe him out before the fourth quarter. Only, he became stronger in the fourth quarter. He made big shots, including two immense 3-pointers to complete an improbable 101-96 comeback victory over the Jazz. An hour later, Bryant stood on the court with his longtime agent, Rob Pelinka, and told him about that 3-pointer with 30 seconds left that secured the victory. No legs, Rob. Nothing left. “Shot it with my arms,” Bryant said.
As much as people want to say, ‘Oh the front office positions are ones of leadership,’ I’ve said before that for Magic and me, this is a position of service. We have to serve our player community so that they can become the best versions of themselves. We have to serve the fans, we have to serve the agent community and media community, and just do a good job. This Lakers brand can inspire so many people when things are going the way they can here. It’s a huge responsibility, and it is different from representing an individual. You see that when you come to work every day; there’s more of a team environment in a lot of the meetings, goals and things we discuss. The team approach that the players have on the court we have to have in the front office, and I see those things flowing together.
And then to the specifics to team building, there are a lot of uncertainties. Do we have our draft pick in June, or do we not? What free agents do extensions? What free agents become true free agents? What players from other teams are teams going to think about trading? There are millions and millions of combinations. It’s almost like a Rubik’s Cube. If you’re trying to solve it, there are many different combinations and turns you could make to get to the end path. You have to really study that board hard and make all the right turns to get there, but there is likely more than one way to get to the end.
Magic Johnson: Rest in peace Charlie Murphy, a very talented writer, actor, and comedian. Condolences to the Murphy Family!
"The choice is the Lakers," she says crisply. Whatever emotion she'd felt these past few months is long gone from her voice. The emotional sludge underlying this family drama isn't a few months old. It's 50 years old. The last three months were just the final act in a play that's been running their whole lives. "I'm really proud of my sister for putting her business hat on," Janie Buss says. "I know how hard it was. My dad's dying wish was to leave the Lakers to all of us and that we would all get along. He'd be sickened if he saw what was going on with my older brothers." (Neither Jim nor Johnny, through his lawyer, responded to repeated requests for comment.)
Jim resigned as a co-trustee and was replaced by Janie, who firmly supported her older sister; the balance of power, and with it the ability to control the management of the trust, had now shifted firmly toward Jeanie. And on April 3, the court formally granted Jeanie's petition to compel the three trustees -- now Jeanie, Janie and Johnny -- to do everything reasonable within their power to ensure she remains the Lakers' controlling owner and a board member for the rest of her life. The war was over with nary a whimper. "This was not what [Dr. Buss] wanted," Jeanie says. "But he did empower me that if there was ever a threat, that I had the power and authority to do this."
Adrian Wojnarowski: Lakers assistant GM Glenn Carraro has resigned, league sources tell @The Vertical. Carraro had been with franchise since 2000.
Ever since the Lakers hired Walton in the 2016 offseason after serving as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors for the previous two years, Walton said Buss has “been incredible” as she has offered support as they talked in person or via text message. “As a coaching staff, it’s really nice to hear and know,” Walton said. “We can do things that we feel are best for the team and not have to worry for now at least if we’re a part of that future. It’s very comforting to coach that way.”
“It’s a tough spot to be in with the people that hire you aren’t here anymore. Even before that happened, I always had a good relationship with her and have had random talks with her before any of that went down,” Walton said of Jeanie Buss. “She was great with the vision she had, what she saw and the way she sees things playing out. That made it a little easier even before we had official talks after all that stuff went down.”
Jeanie Buss' high-powered attorney says her courtroom victory against her brothers was a "good old-fashioned ass whooping" ... and says Jeanie vows to "bring some glory back to Los Angeles." As we previously reported, Jim and Johnny Buss tried to overthrow Jeanie and gain control of the team -- but Jeanie's legal team, headed by Adam Streisand, shut them down real quick.
Ramona Shelburne: Jeanie Buss tells ESPN: "It's great that we were able to work this out so fast. We've resolved everything clearly and cleanly and now we can get back to work. Laker fans deserve success - and now we can focus again on bringing it to them. "I'm also very happy that my sister Janie is becoming a Trustee of my family's Trust. I love her, I trust her and I'm excited to work alongside her."
Ramona Shelburne: Jeanie Buss: "Now we can get back to work. Laker fans deserve success - and now we can focus again on bringing it to them."
Ramona Shelburne: Jeanie Buss: "I'm also very happy that my sister Janie is becoming a Trustee. I love her, I trust her and I'm excited to work alongside her
Four years after the death of the legendary Jerry Buss, his daughter finally, formally emerged Monday as the powerful leader of Los Angeles’ most powerful sports franchise. The Lakers are now Jeanie Buss’ team. It’s official, it’s indisputable, and it’s for as long as she wants.
Jeanie and brothers Jim and Johnny agreed to a legal stipulation, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, that Jeanie will serve as the Lakers’ controlling owner for as long as the Buss family owns the team. At the same time, Jim, who led the recent attack on Jeanie’s throne, agreed to resign as one of three trustees, surrendering that position to sister Janie, who is Jeanie’s ally. The third trustee is still Johnny, who was also part of the coup but can now count on being outvoted if he decides to challenge his sister again.
Adam Streisand, Jeanie’s attorney who has rescued both local NBA teams after earlier navigating the sale of the Clippers to Steve Ballmer, said the message is clear. “I can’t imagine a more important symbol for Los Angeles pride than the L.A. Lakers,” said Streisand in an interview with The Times. “Now with the Lakers having the ability to focus on the basketball court and not the legal court, I think all Laker fans can breathe a sigh of relief.”
Those optimistic that their replacements, Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson, can do better aren't alone. The former went on “The Vertical Podcast with Woj” Thursday and explained why he feels as though the Lakers should be an appealing destination for prospective free agents. “This analytic was compelling,” Pelinka said. “More Lakers jerseys have been sold in the world than all other 29 teams combined. Listen, if I'm a player and I'm thinking about my future, and I'm thinking about the megawatt power of the Lakers' brand, all the powder keg of relationships you can form in LA, with entertainment moguls, the legacy of excellence and championships here that the Buss family is going to continue to provide, Magic Johnson's vision, hopefully some of my expertise in trades and managing the cap.
O’Neal’s unveiling validated AEG’s clairvoyance on his accomplishments with the Lakers. But his statue also represents how he reconciled with the Lakers after he was traded to the Miami Heat following the 2004 NBA Finals loss to Detroit. “The Buss family has done a lot for me and we’ve had great times together,” O’Neal said. “We had a million great times and probably one bad time. The million great times are the times we always remember and the times that count.”
Los Angeles Lakers president Jeanie Buss has asked her older brothers Johnny Buss and Jim Buss for assurances they'll vote for her to remain both the controlling owner and a member of the team's board of directors for the rest of her life, according to documents filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday. The documents were in response to a filing by Jim and Johnny's attorneys that affirmed they'd vote her in to the team's board of directors for at least the next year.
In a letter sent to Jeanie Buss and other members of the Lakers' board on Feb. 24, Jim and Johnny proposed a slate of four directors that did not include Jeanie Buss or Joey Buss, who had previously served on the board. Jeanie Buss' lawyers argued in court March 2 that Jim and Johnny are breaching their fiduciary responsibilities as trustees by not including her in the slate of proposed directors.
Well after practice ended on Thursday, Lakers second-year guard D’Angelo Russell sat for a talk with Lakers associate coach Brian Shaw. Russell later stood up to listen to Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Brian Shaw. Throughout those long discussions, one common message emerged on what they want to see from Russell for final 14 games of the 2016-17 season, including when the Lakers (20-48) host the Milwaukee Bucks (33-34) on Friday at Staples Center. “Be aggressive no matter what my role is,” Russell said after Friday’s morning shootaround. “Just be aggressive.”
Pelinka had turned the agency over to employees Brandon Rosenthal, Erika Williams and Day. "She's in the position right now" Harden said. "She's working hard for it." Asked if Day is taking the steps to become certified as an agent with the players association, Harden said, "That's the plan."
While D’Antoni finished with a combined 67-87 record with the Lakers, he dismissed an idea of the front office playing any role in his struggles. “They did everything for me they could possibly do. There’s nothing else to ask of them,” D’Antoni said of Kupchak and Jim Buss. “It was a tough time. We had to deal with a transition period and injuries.”
D’Antoni fielded criticism of whether his system fit the personnel and the team’s poor defense. “Nobody wanted me there in the first place. So the whole atmosphere was toxic. But it had nothing to do with them,” D’Antoni said of Kupchak and Jim Buss. “They were great. They were more than great. Without a doubt, they never wavered. I’m always indebted to Jim and Mitch for getting me back in the coaching realm.”
Arash Markazi: Magic Johnson Sports at LAX is now selling Los Angeles Chargers gear. pic.twitter.com/qXEcwtuXyY
Jerry West was interested in returning to the Lakers, where son Ryan has carved out a useful role with the old and new regime, but, though Jeanie Buss will forever revere Jerry, he didn't match her vision for the future, according to NBA sources. Bryant is loyal to Pelinka, but Bryant is sticking to his personal plan to stay focused on business pursuits rather than maximizing his basketball legend or taking on any actual Lakers role under new management.
Mark Medina: After talking with Pelinka, Luke said he has final say on basketball issues (playing time, strategy) & Pelinka has final say on personnel
Mike Trudell: Magic said he totally understands how frustrated and upset Lakers fans have been w/t last few years, because he’s been just as upset.
Mike Bresnahan: Two weeks ago, Magic said he wanted to hire someone "smarter than him." He just said Pelinka is "teaching me the CBA right now as we speak."
Tania Ganguli: Rob Pelinka charted out potential free agents for the next 5 years, Johnson says. Who would be available, how much they could make.
Tania Ganguli: "We have to get better talent for Luke to coach," Pelinka says. Adds they'll do that while developing young guys. Mentions 3 lottery guys.
Mark Medina: Rob Pelinka said he has "absolutely" talked to Kobe about having possible involvement. Pelinka: "He's 100% behind everything Laker"
At one point, he fielded a call from Kings general manager Vlade Divac inquiring about the Lakers' interest in All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins. Johnson told his former teammate that, as a consultant, he wasn't empowered to answer that kind of question, and he referred Divac to Kupchak. But Johnson never heard another word from the front office, even when the Lakers engaged in discussions with the Kings on Feb. 19.
Divac, who sources say believed he had a very narrow window to trade Cousins before ownership changed its mind, wanted to act quickly and knew he had ownership approval for trades involving the Pelicans' Buddy Hield and the Lakers' Brandon Ingram.
By the time the Lakers got involved, Divac and Pelicans general manager Dell Demps, both in New Orleans for the All-Star Game, had met four or five times in person to discuss a deal, sources told ESPN's Marc Stein. He was negotiating over the phone with Jim Buss and Kupchak -- despite the fact that Johnson was in New Orleans that weekend for ESPN. Jeanie Buss had previously instructed Kupchak and her brother that she was to be consulted if they discussed trades involving any of the Lakers' three recent lottery picks. The only word she got of the Lakers discussions with the Kings --which involved two of those three lottery picks -- came after Jim Buss called Jesse Buss and pressed him for a recommendation on an offer he said would quickly expire. Jesse Buss tried to text Jeanie Buss, but the deadline was fast approaching. Not long after, before Jeanie Buss or Johnson even knew about the Lakers' attempts, the Kings finalized the deal with the Pelicans.
When the Lakers worked out Larry Sanders, a free-agent big man with a history of depression and substance-abuse issues, Johnson wasn't informed or consulted. Jim Buss had scheduled a meeting with Johnson and Kupchak for the Monday after the All-Star Game, but it seemed that would be the first time Johnson would really get to talk to them about strategy. As far as Jeanie Buss was concerned, it was already too late.
Bryant is too fresh off his playing career and deep into his business pursuits. But it's worth noting that he met with Buss and Rambis in February to give his opinion on the state of the franchise. He also advocated for Pelinka, his former agent, who will take over as the Lakers general manager. That left Johnson, who was probably Buss' first choice, anyway. He reached out to check on her after the announcement that her engagement to Jackson was off. They planned to have dinner, and the rest happened quickly. When you've been operating without trust for so long, it makes the desire for it even stronger -- and there are few people in the world whom Buss trusts more than Johnson.
“She’s got by far the strongest side of the argument,” the person said. “She needs to press her advantage, clarify this and get it out of the way. “Ultimately, it comes down to money. If somebody wanted to buy the brothers out, I’m sure there’s a price.”
A person with direct knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition they not be identified said the tension between the siblings has been building since last fall. The person said scenarios including buying out the brothers’ stakes in the team or borrowing money on their behalf were discussed before the matter became public.
The person with direct knowledge of the situation called the $25-million distribution “highly unusual.” Among the other action items: amending the bylaws to indemnify directors and barring the controlling owner and others from purging emails.
“I am beyond grateful to join the Lakers front office,” said Pelinka. “The Lakers are a gold standard for sports franchises in the world, so we all share a responsibility to pursue excellence in everything we do. Excellence is what the Lakers stands for, what Jeanie Buss and Earvin Johnson embody, and what Coach Walton demands from our players. That obsession for greatness is what will bring Lakers basketball back to a championship level. With Jeanie and Magic guiding the vision, I am thrilled to help architect the future. I am really excited to get to work.”
“We have worked closely with Rob for many years and have first-hand experience with his knowledge of the league and the business of basketball,” said Buss. “In our recent discussions, it was clear that he also shares our goal of returning the Lakers to being an elite NBA franchise. Together with Earvin and Coach Walton, I believe we are in a great position to bring winning basketball back to the Lakers.”
“Rob’s knowledge of the NBA landscape and the CBA, as well as his relationships with GMs around the league, are invaluable,” said Johnson. “After running a successful sports agency and as someone who truly understands the inner workings of salary caps and player negotiations, he will bring the additional skills and experience needed in the Lakers executive office. Rob is a winner and the Lakers are fortunate to have him.”
Ramona Shelburne: A group of Lakers fans have started a website to support @Jeanie Buss called "We're With Jeanie" werewithjeanie.com
Johnson beat Bird to it. The phone call lasted less than five minutes, consisted mostly of small talk and might have touched only briefly on the fate of Indiana star Paul George. “I wasn’t motivated to move Paul George at the deadline,” Bird said. “I can’t remember if it was even brought up or not. I don’t think it was. It’s all fake news anyway. You know that. Somebody’s gonna start it and [it] just was a snowball effect. [The phone call] was not about Paul George.”
His advice for Johnson is to understand that. “You can put a team together, what you think’s gonna be a pretty solid team on paper, and then when they get out there they don’t mesh well,” Bird said. “I’m sort of going through that this year. We thought we had a decent team that we thought could compete for the fourth or fifth seed. We haven’t played as well as I thought we would all year. That’s the growing pains. That’s the frustration about it.”
“I’ve been here for, I don’t know how many years, 12, 13, and I haven’t made a deal with Danny Ainge yet,” Bird said. “That should tell you something. I’ve always been closer with Danny, because I played with him for all them years, than Earvin. “Talked to Danny about a lot of trades, but never did one. I just feel it’s gotta be a fair deal for both sides and we never got there. Maybe he thought it was fair, but I didn’t think so.”
Submitting as evidence his own appointment to the Lakers’ coaching job in 1981, or half a lifetime ago, Riley said Magic’s skin color wasn’t the point. At least not the main one. “Welcome to the new seat, whichever seat you just got to sit down in, and to an immediate reaction on both sides of the fence,” he told The Vertical. “With me, it wasn’t as public. There was no internet for it to get picked up on but I heard it within the coaching profession: ‘He didn’t coach in high school, didn’t coach in college, wasn’t prepared. How could he get the most prestigious job in the NBA?’ ” Riley allowed the implicit recognition of the four Showtime championships that followed to marinate for a moment before adding, in a firmer tone: “To adamantly say Earvin is not qualified is nonsense. Like Jerry West, he’s a prodigal son of the Lakers.”
“That’s what happened with the Lakers. Dr. Buss hired West, who established a culture that brought 20 years of winning. West wasn’t afraid to bring in Phil Jackson, but then West left, Phil left, Phil came back, left again, wrote a book criticizing everyone.” In other words, the Lakers began to operate more like the Knicks. When Jerry Buss died in 2013, that left the franchise to the relatively faceless, feeble leadership of his son, Jim. Now Jeanie Buss has won, at least temporarily, an ownership power struggle with her brothers, Jim and Johnny, and she chose Magic. “To me, it’s a no-brainer that Earvin was given that position to capture the attention of the people in L.A. and to try to recapture that sense of continuity,” Riley said.
Among the many things Luke Walton has going for him with this Lakers job, there’s this: he actually talks with Jeanie Buss. Every so often, the 36-year-old coach will pop in to those corner offices at the team’s El Segundo practice facility where Jeanie and her longtime friend, Linda Rambis, work. Walton is nothing if not personable, not to mention savvy, and so the occasional chat with the team president and governor about the state of affairs is something he can certainly handle.
Not that Laker fans should be overly alarmed at the news that Jeanie Buss had to go to court to try to block her brothers, Jim and John, from trying to oust her as head of the franchise. No matter what a judge decides in any future proceeding, Laker fans — and thus, Time Warner execs — will not stand for Jimmy and Johnny, who have never had a real job in their privileged, rich-kid lives, running the franchise. If anyone thinks things have been turbulent, as when fans chanted “We want Phil” at Mike D’Antoni’s debut, that would be like the good old days if Jim and Johnny were ever in charge.
Nevertheless, Jim was far more involved than Johnny, the eldest (he’s 60 to Jim’s 57, Jeanie’s 55 and Janie’s 53) of Jerry’s children with his wife, JoAnn; Joey and Jesse ,whom Jerry had with girlfriend Karem Demel, are 32 and 29, respectively. Johnny raced cars until his father stopped bankrolling him, putting him in charge of the Sparks. The team won two championships in Johnny’s 12 seasons, not that running such a sideshow appeared to appeal to him. He finally tried to get Janie to take over and when she declined, resigned anyway, suggesting it was because they would sell the team. (They didn’t.)
Even if Los Angeles never lands Thomas, the point guard believes the cupboard will not be bare here for long with Magic Johnson now the team’s president of basketball operations. “Some superstar’s going to come here,” Thomas said. “Nah, but it’s good. Magic Johnson is arguably the best Laker ever. So to have him the head of all that and making decisions is a step in the right direction. Everybody respects him. I mean, the Lakers are not going to be, I guess, what they are now forever. He’ll bring some people there.”
Ramona Shelburne: The Lakers have to vote on a board of directors and controlling owner every year. Since 2013 there have been three votes to affirm Jeanie as controlling owner. This years vote has not taken place yet. Last week, the older brothers submitted 4 names for the 3 Buss family spots on the board. The other 2 spots controlled by Phil Anschutz. The names were Jim Buss, Johnny Buss, Dan Beckerman from Anschutz Entertainment Group and Romie Chaudhari. Romie Chaudhari, a property investor who was appointed to the board of Swansea City FC last year, following a boardroom shakeup. None of those names included the Lakers official governor (controlling owner) Jeanie Buss or the Lakers alternate governor, Joey Buss.
Ramona Shelburne: NBA rules state one owner must be designated as a franchise’s controlling owner. Jeanie's lawyer contends the trust states she is the Lakers controlling owner, & therefore, must also always retain a seat on the board. Adam Streisand, Jeanie's lawyer, was also Steve Ballmer's lawyer in the Sterling family trust trial. Jim & Johnny's lawyer Robert Sacks tells ESPN they were never trying oust her as controlling owner. They voted to re-elected her yesterday
Ramona Shelburne: Robert Sacks, lawyer for Jim and Johnny Buss: "Both Jim and Johnny hoped that any issues that might arise would be handled w/in the family. We informed her lawyers orally and in writing that Jim and Johnny fully support Jeanie as the controlling owner of the Lakers. Then inexplicably she then rushed into court saying they’re trying to oust me as the controlling owner. I can tell you, Jim Buss and Johnny Buss, as co-trustees, who vote shares in the Lakers, support Jeanie as the controlling owner. Yesterday both Jim & Johnny Buss signed a formal corporate document that voted trust shares to re-elect Jeanie as controlling owner."
Ramona Shelburne: Long answer: Jim, Johnny and Jeanie are the three trustees for the Buss family trust which owns 66 percent of the Lakers. The older brothers argued they had the votes (2-1) to elect new directors for the team. An emergency meeting was called for March 7. Jeanie's lawyers argued the trust states she's the controlling owner. AND--this is key-- the controlling owner also must be a director. So removing Jeanie Buss as a director would be in violation of the trust's provision that the controlling owner also be a director. Get it?
Ramona Shelburne: This was today. But Jeanie's lawyers pushed for a trial to resolve this once and for all. A trial date has been set for May 15.
“They make a couple good moves, get Dwight (Howard), and it didn’t work out. They were doing the right things ... You have to accept that ‘Ok, we’re not (good), and let’s take baby steps.’ And a lot of times, for New York and Los Angeles, that’s not good enough. “I don’t see (Johnson’s appeal as) being one of the top factors in players deciding whether LA is (for them),” said D’Antoni. “It’s the players they have, the money you’re getting, the role you’re going to have. I see all that way before (the Magic appeal)."
Even with how much he has exerted his influence thus far, Johnson maintained he has his limitations. During the Lakers’ 13th annual All-Access event on Monday at Staples Center, Johnson pledged he would “never interfere” with Lakers coach Luke Walton, “his players and his coaching.” “It’s been really easy. This man is the coach of the Lakers,” Johnson said, pointing to Walton sitting beside him on stage. “I’m not the coach. He is the coach. I sit back and I just watch games, I watch practice. His job is to coach. I may come to him and say, ‘So and so needs to work on this.’ I’ve done that a couple of times. But that’s up to him.”
Pelinka has years of experience sitting on the opposite side of the negotiating table, both battling and collaborating with NBA executives on behalf of his clients. The time spent helping Fisher resolve the 2011 lockout gave him a deeper understanding of the league's complex collective bargaining agreement. "Rob is a master at understanding the CBA. That is the first step of being a quality GM in this league," said former Los Angeles Clippers forward Corey Maggette, now an analyst for Fox Sports. "If he continues to be the person he's always been, a high-character guy, full of integrity and love for the game, he will do fine."
Pelinka helped Bryant get through some of the most difficult years of his career, including the Colorado sexual assault allegations in 2003 (that resulted in a settlement), Bryant's free-agent decision in 2004 and trade demands in 2007. Ultimately, Bryant finished his 20-year career as a Laker and stayed loyal to Pelinka when he branched out to form his own agency. "He truly cared about his guys, as if he was in their shoes," Maggette said. "When things weren't going right for you, he took it hard."
Pelinka has had a long relationship with the Lakers. His role will change, but he won't come in blindly—he's been a power player in the NBA for a long time. "Rob's life as an agent has been to sell people on why he can do the best job for you. A general manager is similar in a lot of ways," said an NBA executive within the Western Conference. "He understands being an agent, understands the cap, and Magic brings the star power and the credibility that not a lot of people can bring."
Johnson on what it was like being involved with trade talks with his old rival and Pacers GM Bird: "We only talked for about two or three minutes about the possibility of a trade, but it was more geared toward later on, not at that moment. It was just saying "Hi, I’m here and we’re looking forward to talking to you later on this summer."
Buss on the latest NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement: "There's 30 teams in the NBA, and I really truly believe that the current CBA and the way the league is set up is that any team at any time can win a championship, and that’s what you really want as a commissioner. You want everybody to have that opportunity. But I think even with an even playing field, there’s something about playing for Lakers fans, Laker nation -- no CBA can make that equal. We have the greatest fans and they can’t take those away from us with the CBA. As long as they continue to do that, I think the Lakers will have an edge and pulling from all our strengths and all our assets, which includes former players, like Magic Johnson, like Kobe Bryant -- those are our strengths."
Johnson on today’s NBA game vs. when he played: "First of all, when I played, it was inside-out, so you pound the ball inside to probably the most dominant player we’ve ever seen in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and then we pounded it to James Worthy, one of the greatest small forwards that’s ever played. And then if [those] two were busy or didn’t want to shoot, then I would go into the post and do my thing. So it was definitely driven by banging the ball down inside. Now, it’s the 3-point line. All the emphasis, even on the fast break -- we’re seeing a lot of teams that would much rather shoot the three than shoot the two. What we’re trying to do, because it’s not just me, I want to make sure that Luke is involved because he has to coach these guys and also what type of offense he’s going to run, those guys have to fit into that offense. What we’re trying to do is make sure that guys want to win. They love to compete and they’re going to love being a Laker. We want guys who want to play for the Lakers, want to play in this town, understand what it means to play for the Laker organization."
Sam Amick on Paul George and the Lakers: I guarantee you he feels a lot better now because Magic is there. The problem they had before, these guys like Russell Westbrook and Paul George who grew up Lakers fans, they would see the purple and gold logo and the Staples Center, then they would see Jim Buss in an arena or on a picture on the Internet and they would just kind of go 'Oh boy.' He just doesn't have a resume.
May 19, 2022 | 12:59 am EDT Update
Jones told Burns & Gambo on Wednesday that he believes Deandre Ayton will be back with the Suns next season. “Deandre had an amazing season and he’s progressed every year and improved every year,” the GM said. “He’s been here and so he’s a big part of what we do. His future with us is something we will address at the proper time which is in the future. He’s a free agent and I’ve said all along, he’s about the same things we’re about which is winning. We’ll address it at the proper time.”
On possible supermax deal for Devin Booker and rookie extension for Cam Johnson. If Booker makes All-NBA this year, he’ll be eligible for a four-year deal worth $211 million while Johnson is up for a rookie extension heading into his fourth NBA season: James Jones: “That’s a part of the business. As your team improves, typically your payroll increases. We’re focused on improving the team and those guys, they deserve the credit. They deserve the accolades and the financial rewards that come with being good players and productive players. It doesn’t preclude us from doing anything. We’re not talking about a luxury tax issues or avoiding those things. That’s not something that’s going to prevent us from continuing to build this team and keep this team together.”
“Had a great year, just one of those nights,” said O’Neal as Ayton finished in Sunday’s Game 7 against Dallas with a career playoff-low five points on 2-of-5 shooting. “Phoenix had a great year, just one of those nights. This is a classy organization. This is a classy team. Can’t say bad things about them. They played hard. Again, even great players have one of those nights.” O’Neal, and fellow TNT NBA analysts Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley discussed Ayton’s future with the Suns after the top overall seed was eliminated by the Dallas Mavericks in Sunday’s Game 7 in Phoenix. “You’ve got to re-sign Ayton,” Barkley said.
“(McGee) played well, he was a great addition to the team, but it all hinges on Deandre Ayton,” Barkley said. “It’s him and Booker. They are the guys going forward. Chris is going to be 38 (years old). He’s going to get the ball to the right person, but it’s time for Booker and Ayton. You can’t have a bad game like they did. Chris, he had a tough night, but Ayton and Booker, they’ve got to play well.”
Once Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson slowed down, caught their breath and stopped rushing shots, the Splash Brothers got on a roll that proved too much for Dallas to stop. Especially because Andrew Wiggins worked end to end to make sure Luka Doncic couldn’t get going. Curry had 21 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, Golden State held Doncic in check and the Warriors beat the Mavericks 112-87 on Wednesday night for a 1-0 lead in the Western Conference finals. “Just make him work, that was the main thing,” Wiggins said.
Doncic scored 20 points but shot just 6 for 18 and 3 of 10 from deep. He made back-to-back 3-pointers late in the first half to get his team within 54-45 at the break, but Curry and Thompson heated up and helped the Warriors pull away in the second half. “A great job. That’s it,” Doncic said. “They did a great job.” Jalen Brunson scored 14 points but missed all five of his 3s for the surprising Mavs, who stunned the top-seeded Suns in a 123-90 thumping in Game 7 on Sunday in Phoenix.
“They did a really good job. Wiggins picking him up full court,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “They went box-and-one, they went zone. We understood coming into the series that we were going to see that. We’ll go back and look at the video and see what we can do better.” Stopping Doncic, who was averaging 31.5 points in the playoffs, is the tall task this time after the Warriors already handled two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic of Denver in the first round, then Ja Morant early last series before his knee injury. “I thought Wiggs was fantastic,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Doncic is as difficult a cover as there is in this league. … It’s important to make him work. He’s so good. Any great player in the league you’re trying to limit the damage that they do.”