Ryan Ward: Magic on Kobe Bryant: “He will always be r…

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“We can’t say a lot but we will correct the situation,” Johnson said Monday. “It’s under my watch. I apologize to Jeanie, and that was the main thing. I told her she could take it out of my salary because I don’t want the Lakers to be paying that fine. … I don’t want her spending $500,000, because she didn’t do anything. That’s on me.”
The league also said it had previously warned the Lakers after Johnson joked with Jimmy Kimmel on the late-night host’s talk show about what communication he is allowed to have with George if they would see each other in the offseason. “This is just on a late-night show being funny,” Johnson said after touring a donation facility he helped organize with West Angeles Church to benefit victims of Tropical Storm Harvey. “But now I know I can’t do that. We’re OK. I haven’t thought twice about it. We made a mistake. … It’s under my watch. I’m gonna make sure it doesn’t happen anymore.”
The league's investigation found that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and George's agent, Aaron Mintz, had discussions in which George's name came up and Pelinka offered a "prohibited expression of interest" to Mintz. The finding comes off a little like a state trooper pulling over a single car for speeding when the flow of traffic is all pushing 80, or the NCAA targeting a specific program for a probe while infractions run rampant among all its competitors in the conference in which it plays. That is to say, if there is a rule in place that can't be universally enforced, those who do get caught for breaking it end up as almost sympathetic characters in a way.
Magic Johnson recently became the president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. Do you see Magic succeeding in his new role and would you do something like that in the future? Julius Erving: “I think Magic is going to succeed because he’s succeeded at every level and has taken on every challenge that’s put in front of him and channel it. “It’s not the role for me. It’s just not. I had my time in basketball and now I kind of like having the freedom that I have…that role is one that locks you in.”
Here is what Peter Vecsey, who was the first to report on the issue, said about potential punishments (via Patreon): “If deemed guilty, the Lakers’ franchise could be docked multiple draft picks (Timberwolves lost five first-rounders, got two back, but were shut out of draft in 2001, ’02 & ’04), their hierarchy could be suspended for a year or more (like T’Wolf owner Glen Taylor and GM Kevin McHale and a team lawyer for entering into a fraudulent series of contracts with Joe Smith) and fined millions (it cost Wolves $3.5M). The most severe punishment could be forbidding the Lakers to sign George when he’s free next summer.”
Tania Ganguli: Pacers triggered the Lakers tampering investigation, so I asked for their comment. From GM Pritchard: "We accept the league's findings."

https://twitter.com/CBSSportsNBA/status/903300344460959745
Ira Winderman: Lakers fined $500,000 by NBA for tampering issue with Paul George. But ruling does not preclude Los Angeles from eventually signing George.
Trudell: Let’s be honest, you guys had to be pretty happy with your selection while watching Kuzma rip up Las Vegas, with the qualifier that it’s “only Summer League.” When did he first get on your radar from a scouting perspective? Jeanie Buss: He’s been on our radar for a couple years now playing in the Pac-12 at Utah. We got to see them come play at USC and UCLA, as well as (outside of Los Angeles). I personally saw him when he was a freshman, but he didn’t play that much. I – and some of our scouts – saw him again when he started to play more as a sophomore and of course when he excelled as a junior.
Buss: We’ve had our eye on him because he’s multi-positional at the four and the three at that size (6’9’’). He has an ability to pass, shoot the ball, run the floor … good athlete, good understanding of the game. He was always intriguing to us. He just started to shoot the three this past year at Utah, and he didn’t shoot it that well at the beginning of the season. But as the season went on and in conference play he started to get more confidence with (the three).
Jeanie Buss: 💥Happy Birthday💥Kobe!! @Kobe Bryant #Lakers GOAT 🐐 #NBA 5x Champion, husband, father and my forever my friend. #TheBest
“Pelinka for sure knows how to tamper without getting caught,” one agent told me. “Pelinka will do whatever it takes to get players. Magic could easily have done something dumb and got caught for it, though.” The only difference between what teams usually do and this is that a complaint was filed, and the league must investigate. It’s possible that Magic slipped somewhere with an incriminating text or email. After all, he even went on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and joked about tampering.
The Lakers have been under investigation by the NBA for tampering allegations since May because of a conversation Magic Johnson had on a television show about then-Indiana All-Star forward Paul George that angered Pacers owner Herb Simon, according to several NBA officials who were not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing matter. The interview took place in April. Team officials aren’t allowed to make contact with a player or their representatives until the free-agency period opens on July 1.
The lawyers from the NBA and the outside counsel the Lakers hired to review the matter each deposed owner Jeanie Buss, Johnson, who is the president of basketball operations, and general manager Rob Pelinka in May, according to the officials.
According to several NBA officials, it would be difficult to prove that the Lakers have tampered with George. The officials also said the Lakers could be fined and have draft picks taken away if it is tampering allegations are proven.
The following statement was issued today by Alison Bogli, Director, Media Relations regarding the NBA’s investigation into the teams’ alleged tampering violation: "As the NBA's statement made clear, we cannot comment about the specifics of any ongoing investigation. We can confirm, however, that we are cooperating fully with the NBA in the hope of clearing our name as soon as possible."
The Indiana Pacers filed tampering charges with the NBA against the Lakers, and the league issued a statement Sunday saying that a probe is underway. The Lakers are denying the allegations filed by the Pacers, insisting that there is no evidence of tampering, and they expect to be cleared in the matter, a team source told ESPN.
If the league office's probe can prove that the Lakers were guilty of tampering with George while under contract with Indiana, Los Angeles can be punished in several ways, including a loss of draft picks, financial fines up to $5 million or even future restrictions on acquiring George and possible suspensions of offending officials.
Peter Vecsey: NBA investigating Lakers 4 purported tampering w PGeorge. Independent law firm handling interviews of Buss, Magic. patreon.com/petervecsey
Now Lakers president Jeanie Buss is getting into the mix. Buss appeared on the Petros and Money Show and AM 570 LA Radio and said that Kobe Bryant is the only other rookie to have as much excitement surrounding him as Ball: “No other draft pick, except maybe Kobe Bryant, has had this kind of excitement about him.”
“There’s something special about Lonzo […] I think because he just wants to play basketball, he’s selfless. He has a certain charisma and I think the fact that his teammates at UCLA loved playing with him and all the nice things that they have to say about him, I think he’s going to bring an element that’s very similar to Magic Johnson.”
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.
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.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: Their job is to make the Lakers a destination place again for the biggest free agents in the game. Lebron is going to be the biggest free agent in the game next year. The Lakers are going to be in full Paul George mode from now until July 1 next year … for Lebron, it’s started, and it started from the day they took over.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Magic Johnson said his father would talk often about how he needed to watch Kentavious Caldwell-Pope more often. Magic says KCP was his father's favorite Piston. Magic not only loves his defense but that "he's mean. And we need someone mean... we got a steal. We never thought we would have an opportunity (to get him). We are happy. And my dad's happy."
“(The Celtics are), of course, a little ahead of us,” he said. “Danny (Ainge)’s done a great job, when you think about drafting and (Gordon) Hayward, who is . . . the guy just knows how to play, you know? And you put him in with (Isaiah) Thomas. You put him in with all the rest of the great players that they have. And then I think you’ve got one of the best young coaches in all of basketball in Brad (Stevens), and we feel like we have a great young coach (Luke Walton). “So we got young talent; they have young talent. They’ve got a little bit more with (Al) Horford and Hayward, the veterans who are stars, especially Hayward. And then hopefully next summer we can add something to our roster. So I think it’s going to come together.
Lonzo Ball made a good impression on the woman who signs his checks -- with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss telling TMZ Sports, "The future looks bright." Buss was leaving Madeo on Bev Hills on Sunday when we asked about all the action in Vegas -- where the Lakers' summer league games are in full swing.
Do the Laker moves at all, do they affect you today?” Jerry West: “Well, what have they done? You know something, every year when people… I love Earvin Johnson, OK? I love him. I will admire him forever. But just because people do things doesn’t always make it right. How many times has the first player failed in the draft? Three times. Everyone gets excited about the draft. I’m excited even though the Clippers don’t have a draft pick at this point in time. Laker fans should be excited about it, they should be. But there’s so much more to this than meets the eye.
Adam Zagoria: The Lakers now have the 2, 27 and 28 picks on Thursday. Blazers also have 3 first-rounders. Nets only have 22 in first round.
She got married once, for three years, in the 1990s, and doesn’t think she’ll do it again. She likes children and would have liked to have some but felt that would have required multitasking she didn’t feel equipped to do. “For me, the burning desire has always been about building what my family had,” said Buss, now 55. “Making it better and keeping it healthy and strong. That’s a motivating factor for me in my life. I’m in the right place for me. I haven’t always made the right decisions, but everything has been consistent about the choices that I’ve made. That part is easy.”
Johnny maintains that his intention was never to usurp his sister’s authority. He says he worried that Johnson would spend too much in pursuit of a championship. He says he and his brother were aiming for a majority on the board to get control of the budget, but insists he did not know about the effort to elect a board without Jeanie. “I immediately apologized to Jeanie saying, ‘Hey, look. This is not what I wanted. Please don’t include me in this,’” Johnny said. “Jeanie did not accept my apology. Decided to publicly string me up and you know, it was sad.” A source close to the Buss family who was not authorized to speak publicly denied that Johnny had ever apologized and insisted that the conflict only became public because of actions taken by Jim and Johnny.
In the month since, however, the Lakers have been taking and making calls about trading the pick, said a source who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. They’ve had scenarios presented to them, and offered their own.
Steve Kyler: Lakers have told agents they have made no promises to anyone. Would be a bad look if new leadership does that right out the gate. twitter.com/turkdaddydolla…
Here are Riley’s views on different subjects courtesy ESPN’s Arash Markazi’s twitter feed: On what will happen when they are talking about making a trade with each other: “It depends on who calls who first. If I call him first then he ain’t going to say anything. If he calls me first I’m going to say, ‘I know that I can make your team better. .. Let’s have a conversation, let’s forget about the cap ramifications and start talking player personal. … I got a treasure of players. ..’”
But the Lakers have not reached out to West, preferring to have Magic Johnson serve as president of basketball operations and Rob Pelinka as general manager. Mitch Kupchak was relieved of his duties as the GM and Jim Buss was let go from his job as executive vice president of basketball operations in February by principal owner Jeanie Buss.
“I love the Lakers, OK,” West said on the nationally syndicated radio show. “And it’s a different situation now, a different time, and obviously I wish everyone well over there. My son works there. I’m very proud that he works there.” His son is Ryan West, who is the Lakers’ director of player personnel.
West still has a fondness for the Lakers and would like to be back with them in some capacity. “Sometimes I thought that in my life that maybe that might be something that I can revisit, or they would want me to revisit,” West said. “But that didn’t happen. At times, I don’t say I was disappointed, but it kind of sent me a message that they wanted to go elsewhere, which is fine. But to say that I wouldn’t have liked to ended my career there, that wouldn’t necessarily be true either.”
Since that fateful day, Stern has said many times he rejected the trade in his capacity as acting owner of the Hornets (the NBA owned the team at the time), not as commisioner, but during an appearance on the “Nunyo and Company” podcast, Stern revealed some new information: The Lakers still could have potentially completed a deal for Paul (emphasis mine). “(My decision) was only based on what was good for New Orleans, or what was not good for New Orleans. It had nothing to do with the Lakers at all. And in fact, in the course of the weekend, we thought we could re-do the deal. We really thought that Houston would be ready to part with Kyle Lowry; and we had a trade lined up for Odom that would have gotten us a good first round draft pick. Not we, but my basketball folks. But Mitch Kupchack at the time panicked, and moved Odom to Dallas. So the piece wasn’t even there for us to play with at the time. So that was it — just about what was good for the then New Orleans Hornets.
Magic was asked if had talked with Riley. “Oh yeah, I talked to Pat,” he said. “Going to see Pat in a week.” Magic went on to say that not only are Golden State and Cleveland the two best teams in the NBA but they also are “the two best conditioned teams. Look at LeBron, oh my goodness, this guy is not slowing down because he’s in world class shape. And that whole team is in great condition. Look at Golden State, the way they move the ball and the way they keep moving coming off screens. … you got to be in world class shape to do that and I think we have to get in world class shape to be able to get better.”
In a 23-minute conversation, Magic dropped the phrase “world class” shape five times when talking about the demands he will make on the Lakers in 2017-18. Riley used the phrase four times last month when he met with the media and coach Erik Spoelstra said it five times. “We had too much body fat on everybody so we want everybody to drop that body fat, get into world class shape,” Magic said. “Those who don’t come in world class shape are not going to be playing. … Get into shape or find a new home.”
Scott said he “felt betrayed, lied to and deceived” by former Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and former executive Jim Buss. Though he had only two guaranteed years on his four-year contract, Scott contends that Kupchak and Jim Buss previously promised him they would exercise the team option for his third year. Scott also believes the Lakers used him to manage Bryant during his final seasons and farewell tour before making the coach a scapegoat for the franchise’s struggles. “If I asked him to do certain things, Kobe would do it because of his respect for me,” said Scott, who mentored Bryant during his rookie season in 1996-97. “Basically, you just wanted me there to help you guys get through the next two years, so Kobe doesn’t go crazy on you guys. I would be the one that can handle it. They know me. I’m not going to back down. I’m not going to be intimidated by anybody.”
Scott said he “felt betrayed, lied to and deceived” by former Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and former executive Jim Buss. Though he had only two guaranteed years on his four-year contract, Scott contends that Kupchak and Jim Buss previously promised him they would exercise the team option for his third year. Scott also believes the Lakers used him to manage Bryant during his final seasons and farewell tour before making the coach a scapegoat for the franchise’s struggles.
“If I asked him to do certain things, Kobe would do it because of his respect for me,” said Scott, who mentored Bryant during his rookie season in 1996-97. “Basically, you just wanted me there to help you guys get through the next two years, so Kobe doesn’t go crazy on you guys. I would be the one that can handle it. They know me. I’m not going to back down. I’m not going to be intimidated by anybody.”
Johnson had more of an optimistic edge about Bryant’s involvement with the Lakers’ future in a recent interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio, saying he will turn to the five-time champion to point out any blind spots and that there’s a plan in the works to incorporate Bryant more fluidly. “Kobe wants to be a part of it,” Johnson said. “He wants to be involved, and I told him any kind of way he wants to be involved. We don’t want him to come into work every day, no. We just want his expertise and to pick his brain. And also, to show me or tell me what’s missing. So then I can say, ‘OK, hey, maybe I missed that. I’m going to jump on that.’ He’s got great ideas, so we’re going to implement a plan where we can have him involved.”
Once it became clear that no team had leapfrogged the Lakers on Tuesday night — guaranteeing that the Lakers would keep the pick, which would have been sent to Philadelphia if it had fallen out of the top three — the first stages of a Ball-Laker union were underway. That union could yet be derailed by goings-on between now and draft day, including the potential for a Lakers trade. But for now, this pairing carries the odor of inevitability. In fact, some executives around the league have been concerned about their ability to get Ball in for a workout between now and the draft in June. With the Lakers keeping their pick, front offices with the potential to land in the top three have been bracing themselves for the possibility that Ball will simply refuse to work out for any team other than the Lakers.
Magic Johnson: Having a great time in NY with Rob at the NBA Draft lottery. Our 2nd pick will be a great start to rebuilding the @Los Angeles Lakers!
The Lakers’ wave of sea changes in their basketball operations department included Rudy Tomjanovich, who coached the Lakers 43 games into the 2004-05 season before abruptly resigning and serving as a consultant for the Lakers in various capacities in subsequent years. A Lakers spokesperson attributed Tomjanovich’s departure to “part of the reorganization of basketball operations,” which took place shortly after the 2016-17 season ended in mid-April. Last season, Tomjanovich served as a consultant and scout for the Lakers’ basketball analytics department. Tomjanovich’s son, Trey, also is not part of the staff after serving as a consultant and helping with statistical analysis in the basketball analytics department.
“One of the great things is most of the players that are lottery candidates attend,” Pelinka told The Times during a brief break in a busy day. “It’s a really good time to get to have some social interaction with the players and understand what type of people they are, what their character is."
There’s a lot of bad blood between agents, as we recently wrote in our behind-the-scenes look at the lives of NBA agents. Could that cause problems for Pelinka – or just be really awkward – for Pelinka when it comes time to negotiate against his former rivals? Agent No. 1: “Initially, I thought it was going to be awkward. When they announced that Rob was getting the Lakers’ job, I didn’t know what to think. I had never talked to him – not because there was any bad blood between us, but just because we never had a reason to connect. But ever since the first time that we talked since he took the job, I could not be more of a fan of ‘GM Rob Pelinka.’ He’s amazing. And he’s so considerate because he kind of understands where we’re coming from as agents. He knows our side of the business, and I think actually gives him a leg up in terms of dealing with all of us. He’s been nothing but professional and has done an excellent job with the transition into his new role. With Bob Myers and Justin Zanik, it was the same way. I’ve talked to them a few times since they made the transition from agent to executive. All of those guys are just extremely understanding and more attuned to what we’re dealing with. They also know the language we use, how we operate and how we think. To be honest, I think it actually helps in certain situations. I’m obviously not saying that you need to have agent experience to be an excellent executive, but I don’t think it’s a hindrance in any way.”
What are some of the skills that Pelinka displayed as an agent that could translate to his role as general manager of the Lakers? Agent No. 2: “His ability to understand and interpret the Collective Bargaining Agreement is huge. As an agent, you have to know all of the different rules, you have to understand the business, you have to be able to communicate with people – from players to families to other people around the NBA – and you have to present information well. There’s a sales element to both jobs. Being a GM, there’s obviously recruiting involved. In free agency, you’re meeting with players and giving them your pitch. Well, Rob has been recruiting guys and meeting with players as an agent for a long time. When you’re a GM and you’re offering the same contract as another team, you have to sell your organization, highlight your strengths and be persuasive. It’s very similar to when agents are meeting with potential clients. I think there are a lot of similarities in terms of the skills you need to be successful. I think that’s why a guy like Justin Zanik, who left the agent business to become an executive and is now with Milwaukee, has done so well. He’s a super smart guy and he does the things I mentioned well.”
Do you think Pelinka will be able to attract some of his former clients to Los Angeles? Agent No. 2: “I really think it’s possible. If you’re one of his former clients and you’re a free agent, who are you going to trust most? When five GMs are giving you their pitch, who do you trust the most and believe in the most? All things being equal, you’re probably going to go with the guy you’ve known for a long time and who helped you throughout your career. Could that be an advantage for him? I definitely think it could. Now, at some point, that’s going to run out. Years from now, he’ll have less and less guys in the league. But in the short-term? That’s absolutely an advantage.”

http://twitter.com/NickFriedell/status/862790271615901701
Baxter Holmes: Magic Johnson will be representing the Lakers on stage at the May 16 draft lottery. Lakers GM Rob Pelinka will rep team in the drawing room.

http://twitter.com/MagicJohnson/status/855861208389373952
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.
Storyline: Lakers Front Office
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December 7, 2021 | 2:59 am EST Update

Ben Simmons likes report of Damian Lillard wanting to play with him

Interestingly, after the rumors of Lillard wanting to play with Simmons spread like wildfire online, the Australian guard caught win of the development and showed his interest in it. While the 25-year-old didn’t directly address it, he did “like” a post on Bleacher Report Instagram discussing the news.
Goorjian hopes Simmons finds a new home to help him flourish again and stressed that the Aussie had full support from the Boomers camp moving forward. “I just hope right now he finds a team, finds a place where he’s comfortable and gets on with his career,” he said. “I said to him: ‘We’re here for you. You’ve had some situations at Philly with your teammates, with the coach, with the organisation. You come here; we’ll welcome you with open arms. I think you’re going to love the environment, it’s your call.’”
Storyline: Ben Simmons Trade?
The Nets still have championship aspirations, and the presence of Irving, who averaged 27 points, five rebounds and six assists last season, would certainly help in achieving that goal. They are still paying the seven-time All-Star for the road games he misses due to the team’s decision to not employ him as a part-time player for away contests. “From what I’ve seen, they’re still a good team without Kyrie, but they definitely need him,” former Nets guard Deron Williams recently told Bally Sports. “I hope everything gets figured out. But as far as my thoughts on Kyrie, he’s doing what’s best for him. I respect what he wants to do.”
Storyline: Coronavirus Vaccine