So Bryant told her, “Cut it all out at once. I know it’s hard to do, but if you want to turn this ship around, and turn it around sooner rather than later, then you’ve got to make those hard decisions.” Especially if the Lakers primary free agency target was the greatest player in the game. “Jeanie, I know who we’re trying to get; we know who we’re trying to get, so that player is not going to come here with all of this shit going on. It’s not going to happen,” Bryant told her. “So if you do want to have that focus, and go after that player, then I’m telling you that you’ve gotta clean house, and you’ve gotta just reshuffle the deck and start anew. You have the new practice facility (the UCLA Health Training Center) that we’re just moving into (in the summer of 2017). We’ve got new management, and off we go. But that player is not coming here unless you do that.
“As a player, it’s like, listen, it’s a cultural thing. You’ve got to have the right culture around, especially for him at this stage of his career,” Bryant explained. “You don’t want to come to a team and deal with a bunch of bullshit, right? You don’t want to come here and be part of an organization where the walls are talking and stuff is getting out left and right and you have this camp and that camp. You don’t want to do that. So I said, ‘You’ve got to start anew.’”
The Los Angeles Lakers have hired Kurt Rambis as Senior Basketball Advisor, it was announced today by President of Basketball Operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson. In his role, Rambis will report to Johnson and support the basketball operations and coaching staffs in their day-to-day functions.
“As a member of the Showtime Lakers, Kurt is a champion and knows how to win,” said Johnson. “He has been an integral part of the Lakers organization winning four NBA championships as a player and an additional four as a part of the staff. His insights and wide range of experiences will be a huge benefit to our operations.”
Pelinka explained how his time as an agent helped him make the Lakers attractive place to James and other players on “The Official Lakers Podcast”: “I think in addition to Kobe, just working as a player representative for all those years, it kind of let me into the mindset of what the players want from the franchises they’re playing for. What are the important things? Because I would hear all the complaints, like ‘Hey this team needs to do this better or that better.’ And I would witness the strengths because strengths aren’t complained about.”
Harrison Faigen: In a rollercoaster of an analogy, Rob Pelinka compared a kitten learning how to be a lion to the young core getting to practice with LeBron. pic.twitter.com/Fqi0CP8A1g
Mike Trudell: Magic said Rondo has been terrific in 5-on-5’s. Didn’t want to play on LeBron’s team, but wanted to run the other team. Within one of the scrimmages, Magic added that Svi barely missed a shot. Thinks he hit 6 straight 3’s.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Magic Johnson says Lonzo Ball has gotten stronger, has shot very well when he was able to be on the court due to his knee this offseason and could have a “breakout season.” pic.twitter.com/XHtY7vl1Gs
Ryan Ward: Magic Johnson on if he’s worried about how new-look #Lakers & characters will mesh: “No concerns. We love that they’re all different individuals and they bring something different to the table. We needed some grittiness, some toughness.”
Mike Trudell: Magic noted that this team is going to run, period. Doesn’t want it to just be on LeBron to control. He noted several players (Rondo, Lonzo, B.I., Lance, etc.) that can push it. Pelinka added: “We want this team to have a lot of engine thrust, and not just from one player.”
Mike Bresnahan: Magic on plans for LeBron in Laker offense: “We don’t want his usage to be high, like he has to have (the ball) all the time,” Magic said, adding that plenty of other players could initiate offense with the ball (Rondo, Lonzo, Ingram).
Kyle Goon: Magic says Kentavious Caldwell-Pope "looks like a different guy." Also says Kyle Kuzma has grown a lot. "He got mad because he wasn't in the top 100."
Kyle Goon: Magic says of the center position: You know how the game has gone. There's not a true center backup.
Tania Ganguli: "We're very happy," Magic Johnson says when asked about the center position. Talks about how the game has changed and says he'll leave things up to Luke Walton. Mentions Beasley and McGee.
Kyle Goon: Magic Johnson kicks off talking about a pickup game he watched with the Lakers today. He's enjoyed seeing LeBron up close in the gym: "Oh my goodness, it’s something to watch."
MT: What can you tell me about how the Moe Wagner pick came about? Jesse Buss: We’d been tracking him for a couple years now at the University of Michigan, and some of the tournaments he’s played in overseas with his (German) national team commitments. He’s a player that has good size and a very high skill level. His has the ability to shoot, pass and handle the ball at that size (6’9’’), which is solid. He’s a high basketball IQ player with a great motor that really runs the floor well. That’s one thing that was definitely attractive. He had this personality when he came in and worked out for us where he showed a lot of toughness and charisma. That’s something that we definitely value as an organization as a whole. Obviously, (GM) Rob (Pelinka) has a connection with the University of Michigan, and he got as much information as possible about Moe before we made that selection. At summer league, I thought he rebounded better than I expected. I thought he showed a knack for getting down there and banging and rebounding better than he did at Michigan.
MT: Now that LeBron James is a Laker, does Wagner’s skill set stand out a bit more, especially if he’s able to knock down threes as he was at Michigan? Jesse Buss: Yeah, because he’s our only guy that can play the five position that can stretch the floor the way he did in college. He didn’t shoot as well in Summer League, but that was a small sample size, of course. I think that’s a natural fit right there. Obviously, LeBron has had a tremendous amount of success having shooters around him in his career. It just gives us a lot of different options, with a lot of bigs who can do different things.
During an appearance on “The Rich Eisen Show," Jeanie Buss revealed that she’s been trying to get Bryant to join his former agent Rob Pelinka and fellow Lakers legend Magic Johnson in taking some sort of formal role with the organization, but that thus far she’s had no luck in doing so (h/t Matt Moreno Lakers Nation):
Jeanie Buss: “I’m constantly trying to get Kobe Bryant to get more involved. He’s got so many other projects that he’s doing. He’s so creative and he’s got so many different things. He knows how much I need him and how much his support means to me. He always has an open door to anything he wants to do with the Lakers.”
Buss: I have complete faith in Magic Johnson in terms of his ability to be a leader, to know how to put together a winner. And I have patience. And I think what he’s done has exceeded my expectations, how quickly they’ve kind of turned around the roster.
B/R: LeBron is signed for several years, and the Lakers have this young core. It's early, but can you envision Los Angeles being a place to settle down? Michael Beasley: I've felt like that every year for the last eight years, so I'm going into this situation with the mindset of playing basketball for a year and coming home to Atlanta at the end of the year and whatever happens, happens. I want a long-term contract, two, three, four years, 100 percent. But at this point, I'm tired of getting my hopes up and smashed. But the Lakers organization, from Rob Pelinka to Jeanie Buss to Magic, they've treated us like family. So, they did nothing wrong as to why I feel the way I feel. It's just kinda like a battered-dog situation. I'm gonna take it a day at a time, and hopefully the days don't end.
Mike Trudell: LeBron to @Rachel__Nichols on why he came w/out another current All-Star: “I love the young guys…I believe Rob and Magic and Jeanie have done an unbelievable job in reshaping what the organization should be in the last few years. I feel like they know what’s best for the team."
Yet it’s one thing to not sign with the Lakers, and quite another to not even take a meeting with Magic Johnson and company — or anyone else. "The reason why I didn’t (take a meeting) is that coming down to free agency and before it was about to open (on July 1), I felt really good where I was at," George said. "I felt I was in a good place with Oklahoma. I wanted to come back to LA. That story was true. The narrative on that was true.
Like others his age, Can Pelister lives with his parents and can’t stop listening to Drake’s latest album. He likes going to movies, eating out and cheering for the local soccer club. “A typical 20-year-old kid,” Pelister said last week while sitting inside a bustling Istanbul café. He is working his way through a local university, with plans for a degree in sports management. But his job makes that pretty tricky. He is an international scout for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Pelister, whose birthday was just last month, is younger than Lonzo Ball, who will be 21 in October, and two-thirds of the players drafted in June. But if 20-year-olds can be counted on to help NBA teams in the playoffs — Jayson Tatum, anyone? — Pelister has proved they can contribute behind the scenes, as well. Believed to be the youngest full-time scout in the NBA, Pelister will have traveled to 25 different countries by the end of this summer, bouncing from continent to continent to study prospects and draft reports that he sends back around the globe to L.A.
Pelister joined the Lakers in October, after assistant general manager Jesse Buss approached first-year GM Pelinka about bolstering the organization’s international presence. Since 2012, Maceiras has been the team’s lone conduit in Europe. But as the game has flourished overseas, the amount of resources NBA teams devote to scouting outside the U.S. has followed suit.
Alex Kennedy: Kimmel: "Before you sign these guys, did you talk to LeBron?" Magic: "For sure. Dr. Buss, before we made moves, would always come to me [to ask] what I thought of a guy or trade. I want to do the same. LeBron's played against these guys so he knows them even better than myself."
Laker GM rob Pelinka spelled it out last week, confirming reports that the surprising moves for Lance Stephenson and Rajon Rondo were Johnson’s choices, not LeBron’s. “Earvin and I had a conversation and LeBron echoed this sentiment,” said Pelinka. “I think to try to play the Warriors at their own game is a trap. “No one is going to beat them at their own game so that’s why we wanted to add these elements of defense and toughness and depth…" It won’t work. If the Lakers just came up with a counter-revolutionary adjustment that contains the shining emblem of an offensive revolution that was years of changing schemes and rules in the making, it will make all else in their storied history look like a bunt.
Bill Oram: Magic: "We're gonna go to LeBron and say hey if there's a deal to be made or a guy's available,'What do you think about this guy?'" That's how it was when he played w/ Jerry West and Dr. Buss. "The ultimate decision-maker ... is me."
Bill Oram: Magic Johnson is discussing his pursuit of LeBron James on a conference call w/ reporters."Dr. Buss was the ultimate closer and I was trying to steal a page out of his book and bring the greatest player in the world to the Lakers."
Of course, that didn't make it easier to fall back asleep the morning of July 1, as James made the choice that would either validate the Lakers' new course or send them back to the whiteboard. "I had friends in town and was hanging with them," Buss said. "But I must have been staring at my phone the entire time." Finally, a few minutes after 5 p.m., she got a one-word text from Paul: "Congratulations." "I'll never forget that moment as long as I live," she said. "This would make my dad really happy. This is something that he would want to accomplish."
Ohm Youngmisuk: Kobe to @Stephen A. Smith on Magic: 'They might have to get this dude another statue [for all he has done]. What Magic is pulling off is absolutely incredible. The legacy he has for this franchise and what he's doing [now], it's ridiculous.'
James clearly trusts Jeanie Buss, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka more than he ever trusted Gilbert. The four-year, $154 million deal he agreed to Sunday includes three guaranteed years. The fourth year is a player option, according to a source with knowledge of the deal. The last time he gave Cleveland a three-year commitment was 12 years ago when he was coming off his rookie deal. He even gave the Miami Heat and Pat Riley four years guaranteed in 2010. Despite his willingness to spend, James never trusted Gilbert enough to give the Cavs the same lengthy commitment.
Tania Ganguli: Some non-free agency news. The Lakers are working to find a role for Kurt Rambis in their organization, likely in some sort of front office position or on the coaching staff.
Bill Oram: I think Magic Johnson just set a Jim Buss-esque timeline. He said there are great FA classes each of the next two summers. “If I fail,” he said, “I shouldn’t be in this position.”
Tania Ganguli: “If you’re judging us on one summer, that’s ridiculous,” Magic Johnson said. He adds that if he doesn’t get it done eventually, he’ll step down. “She won’t have to fire me,” he says of Jeanie Buss
Mike Bresnahan: Magic Johnson said he didn’t feel pressure about free agency, which starts this weekend. “You know how many Finals I’ve been in? You think I’m worried about this?” he said. “I played in nine Finals. No pressure on me. I’ll do my job.”
Harrison Faigen: "We're excited about free agency ... we know we have two summers to deal with... if we don't sign who we think we can sign we'll turn our attention to next summer." -Magic Johnson
Harrison Faigen: Rob Pelinka just shouted out Lonzo and his "ripped, shredded body." #LakersPresserOutOfContext
Tania Ganguli: Jim Hill asks Magic if he expects the two draft picks to play right away. Magic says: "I better not speak for coach Walton. He handles the playing time. ... But I selected them to play."
Zach Lowe: BTW: the Lakers shouldn't care what anyone in a rival front office/coaching staff thinks of them. They're the Lakers -- one of the great orgs in the history of U.S. sports. They are in LA -- an amazing place. But there has been much eye-rolling in the last couple of weeks.
Bill Oram: Magic Johnson introducing draft picks Moe Wagner and Svi Mykhailiuk. "We felt they could add to our team what we were missing," Johnson said.
Mike Trudell: Pelinka was asked about whether there's a sense of urgency heading into free agency: "I’ll feel a sense of urgency until we win a championship. We don’t compete to play games, we compete to win championships."
It began with an innocent and rather hopeless DM via Twitter. “Jeanie, any chance you’d talk to my Chapman journalism class?” I sent it to Jeanie Buss roughly 2 1/2 years ago, when I was an adjunct professor at the Orange, Calif.-based university, charged with teaching 13 aspiring journalists the art of an arguably artless art. I knew the Los Angeles Lakers CEO and co-owner a little bit, in that a half decade earlier we’d shared a lovely two-hour lunch while I was researching my book, “Showtime.” But were we friends? No. Buddies? No. Confidants? No. Amig— “Sure. When do you want me to come?” Um, really? “Of course. What day of the week is your class?” Wednesday evenings. “I’m there.”
I shrugged, and what followed was … magical. Amazing. Terrific. For the next 90 minutes, Jeanie Buss treated my students as if they were her peers. She spoke at length of her role as a woman in a largely male-dominated profession. She explained the mentality of Kobe Bryant, the joy of Shaq, the PR complications of being in a relationship with the head coach (Phil Jackson), the sleepless nights that accompany losing seasons. She was honest and upfront, and when (as she was trying to leave) an obnoxious and clueless student asked if he could have her personal e-mail, Jeanie somehow smoothly escaped without bruised feelings. In short, it was a master class in kindness and decency.
When I called to ask her about it, Jeanie seemed almost surprised. There are jobs a team owner is responsible for, she insisted. Addressing fans has to be one of them. “Why wouldn’t I respond?” she said. “They’re the ones who make this all possible. I want them to know they matter.” Sure, I said. But what about the angry ones? The ugly ones? The haters? “Well, the first thing I do is look to see their profile,” she said. “Usually, if they love the Celtics or are from Massachusetts, they’re beyond my reach. And that explains the hostility. But if they’re polite, that’s all I can ask for.
“This is why the Lakers basically turned basketball operations over to him…to get Laker worthy stars in there to really start to rebuild this thing.” - @TheSteinLine on Magic’s role on the Lakers
Julius Randle on the Lakers not negotiating an extension with him last summer in favor of holding onto their cap space: "I feel like I really had no choice but to separate it [his feelings from the business side of basketball]. I think the extension [had] to be done the day before the season, but I really didn't have a choice. I had to focus on what I could control. I couldn't control not getting that extension or whatever happened throughout the year with coming off the bench. I could just control what I could control. That's just like my preparation, the work that I put in, my focus, my attention, my energy, you know, all those things I could control. I knew that I put in the work, so it was only a matter of time before everything would line up and I just feel like I'm in a better position anyway this summer than if I had worked out an extension last summer. So I guess it's just funny how life works."
Julius Randle on the locker-room dynamic in Los Angeles with the team prioritizing cap space over keeping the team together, and whether not it was weird: "Not weird, I thought it was, I felt like everybody thought it was funny, like it was jokes. Like constantly, nobody ever took any report or anything that was coming out being said seriously. We weren't focused on it, because I think a part of being a player is you realize really quickly that you only have so much you can control. So you can't control being in trade talks, you can't control contract negotiations, you can only control that with your play. And everybody just bought into each other, tried to build something and win games."
June 2, 2023 | 12:55 pm EDT Update
The Phoenix Suns are finalizing a five-year, $31 million deal with Frank Vogel to hire him as their coach, league sources tell The Athletic. Vogel, who guided the Lakers to the 2020 NBA championship, is known for his defensive acumen and detail-oriented approach.
After parting ways with Monty Williams on May 14, the Suns had a thorough coaching search process that led to five finalists. Vogel, former Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers, now-76ers coach Nick Nurse, Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez and Suns assistant Kevin Young each met with Suns owner Mat Ishbia, president of basketball operations James Jones and other team officials in the final stage of the search over the past couple weeks. For the Suns, Vogel’s connectivity and collaborative approach provided the organization confidence that this could be a long-lasting partnership with staying power.
Evan Sidery: Frank Vogel is one of the best defensive tacticians in the NBA. Consistently has his teams elite on that end of the floor. Vogel also puts a heavy emphasis on rim protecting bigs (ex: Roy Hibbert and Anthony Davis). The big question now pivots to whether Deandre Ayton is a fit…
Chase Hughes: The Wizards will host their first pre-draft workout tomorrow. Six players will work out including NCAA Tournament star Markquis Nowell: pic.twitter.com/b3y2trUo9J
June 2, 2023 | 12:40 pm EDT Update
Suns tab Frank Vogel as next head coach
Shams Charania: JUST IN: Frank Vogel is finalizing a deal to become the new head coach of the Phoenix Suns, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium .
Adrian Wojnarowski: BREAKING: The Suns are planning to hire Frank Vogel as the franchise’s next coach, sources tell ESPN. Sides are starting work on a long-term deal. Vogel brings with him a 2020 NBA title and history of constructing high-level defenses.
Shams Charania: The Suns and Frank Vogel are finalizing a five-year, $31 million contract to make the 2020 championship coach the new head man in Phoenix, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium .
Marc J. Spears: Former NBA head coach Doc Rivers has pulled his name from the Phoenix Suns head coach search, a source told @andscape .