This wasn’t merely about an edge. With a thin-enough chance at 55.8 percent, this was all-important. All Lakerdom will feel their agony if their 46.9 percent chance doesn’t come in at the May 16 lottery. These days the Lakers don’t even do no-brainers, like inviting Jerry West back in a consultant’s role like the one he has with the Warriors. A Lakers insider told me it’s not happening … even though the Lakers are aware West would love to be asked back.
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.
June 19, 2021 | 1:07 pm EDT Update
According to a source, Brooklyn’s Blake Griffin asked a Celtics player if he should join the team midseason and was told not to come to Boston because of the apparent dysfunction. At season’s end, multiple sources close to the players said several members of the locker room were welcoming a coaching change, noting Stevens did not appear to hold key players accountable, with complaints he was favoring Smart over others.
Walker maintained his professionalism throughout the season but his health issues, the team’s poor performance and boos from TD Garden fans — something that particularly “pissed him off,” according to multiple sources — made him sour on his situation in Boston and had spoken privately about being willing to move to a new team. It had become clear he was not going to be in the team’s long-term plans.
While Walker’s struggles might have made him seem like a disappointment relative to his role and salary, he was still good last season. He is well-liked, known for his geniality and positivity. According to multiple team sources, there was some dysfunction in the locker room, with the relationship between Stevens and Walker characterized as tension-filled. Sources also suggest that Stevens was also perceived to be harder on Walker than on other top players.
Several team sources felt Stevens was more aggressive with certain players this season, which included Walker who was criticized for his defensive mistakes. Those sources said Walker and Stevens began to butt heads, though the pair were considered to have a productive working relationship and mutual respect for one another.
The Los Angeles Lakers are in the market to hire a new head athletic trainer after injuries ravaged their 2020-21 season. Nina Hsieh, promoted to head trainer two years ago, did not have her contract renewed, sources told ESPN.
L.A. let Marco Nunez go in April 2019 after three years at the helm after a season in which Lakers players lost 212 games because of injury. Before Nunez, Gary Vitti served in the role for more than 30 years. More changes are expected as the team is in the process of restructuring its approach to player health, sources told ESPN.
June 19, 2021 | 12:07 pm EDT Update
Malika Andrews: Nets Jeff Green, in part, on what he expects from Kevin Durant in tonight’s Game 7: “He’s been carrying us and I believe tonight won’t be no different. He’s going to go out there and play his heart out and put us on his back and lead us to the win.”