Harrison Faigen: Anthony Davis, on Laker fans booing Ru…

More on Los Angeles Lakers Turmoil?

For the second time this season, Russell Westbrook was benched by Lakers coach Frank Vogel to close out a game. Only this time, the Lakers won, beating the New York Knicks 122-115 in overtime on Saturday. And the result made all the difference to Westbrook in accepting the decision. "The best part of this game is that you win," Westbrook said after scoring five points on 1-for-10 shooting with six assists and four turnovers in 29 minutes. "Guys competed. We won the game and that's all that matters."
"That [fourth quarter] stretch was part of it," Vogel said of his decision-making process. "I think obviously Russ was having a tough night on both sides of the ball and Bron was really going. So I knew the ball was going to be in Bron's hands and I felt like we were going to get more from a defensive perspective and off-ball action with Talen, so ... you just make tough decisions in the spirit of whatever the team needs to win a game."
However, Saturday his teammates lifted him up. "I just told him to text me later," James said of his postgame conversation with Westbrook. "I told him to keep going, to stop second-guessing himself during the game. There were a couple of times where he had good looks, second-guessed himself and a couple times where he had some drives and he had them and second-guessed himself. He's an instinctive player and he should never, what he's done in this league, he should never second-guess himself if he's put the work in -- and he's put the work in. So I just told him to just hit me later. "And I don't need to harp on what we need to say to him. I mean, he's a big-time player. And I have the utmost confidence in his ability, not only for this team but for himself, individually."
NBA Central: Laker fans are booing Russell Westbrook after this awful miss.

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With 25 seconds left on the clock. Avery Bradley misunderstood a Frank Vogel directive not to foul and instead sent 2022 NBA All-Star Young to the free-throw line. Davis shot a withering glare at the bench and post-match did not hold back in his assessment. “I think the most frustrating part is that we can’t finish games,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of games that we had won and teams come back and beat us.”
Lamar Odom is still holding out hope for this season's Lakers ... telling TMZ Sports despite their struggles, the Purple and Gold are still his pick to win the NBA title. LeBron James and Co. have underperformed so far in 2021-22 -- they're far from the top of the Western Conference and can't seem to find a rhythm. Odom -- who won 2 titles with the Lakers -- says he's not concerned about the Lake Show's lack of success so far ... and it's all thanks to the talent on the roster. "I think they're good enough to win a championship," Odom tells us. "They're still my pick to win the championship. I don't know if that's Laker pride or me just being a Laker at heart. But they're still my pick."
After the loss, Avery Bradley spoke about the Lakers' late revival. They were able to put up 37 points in the 4th quarter, but it wasn't nearly enough. “I think the main thing was the intensity. Just a little too late. We not only dug a hole for ourselves, but I think when we tried to match their intensity, the referees I would say they weren’t ready for our intensity, it was almost too late when we tried to raise our level of play.
"Ultimately, you have to be OK when s--- doesn't go well and I'm OK," Westbrook told ESPN. "I've done everything that's been asked of me here, and I'll continue to do so and ride this out as long as we can toward our ultimate goal -- and that's to win a championship. "We obviously haven't been fully healthy, but I'm committed to making this thing work. The communication is there with everybody in the organization to make this thing work, to make this team we all want it to be in the future. "I have accepted everything that has been asked of me and tried to do it to the best of my ability. I'm not the ultimate decision-maker of if it's working -- or if it's not working. I'm OK with sacrificing some of the things that I've been able to do in this game to win, because that's the most important part of this game. I've done everything they've asked me to do to this point."
Los Angeles Lakers star Russell Westbrook told ESPN that he was disappointed with his fourth-quarter benching in Wednesday's loss to the Indiana Pacers but that he remains undeterred about how to "figure s--- out and do what's best for our team to win in the long run." Asked whether he was surprised that coach Frank Vogel substituted him out of the final four minutes of LA's fourth loss in five games, Westbrook told ESPN: "Surprised, yes. I was disappointed I didn't go back in, but I'm more disappointed that we lost the damn game. "I want to be able to be on the floor to help my teammates and be able to help our team win in games like that -- but that was a decision that was made."
"I think the communication of what (Vogel) wants and how he wants it kind of changes because guys have been in and out of the lineup," Westbrook told ESPN. "Everybody is trying to figure out what to do and how to do it. I try to put my head down and do the best that I can do for our team, and whatever is asked of me I try to do it to the best of my ability. That's all I've been trying to do since I got here."
“You are the Los Angeles Laker, you have that on the front of your chest, that means a lot. That means maximum effort every night, that means winning your home games, unless a Golden State comes in or Arizona, a team that’s really good, you might lose a game at home,” he said on Spectrum SportsNet. “But you definitely beat the Indianas, the Oklahomas, the Houston Rockets. You demolish those teams when they come into your home. That’s not happening. To see the inconsistency it seems no sense of urgency. Nobody respects the Lakers like they used to, they’re not afraid of you anymore.
“By you continuing to lose you just give all teams, not just good teams but some subpar teams like Indiana, like Oklahoma, they come in here they feel like you’re disrespecting, you don’t play them a full 48 minutes and somehow they feel like they’re going to get back in the game. You don’t take care of the little things, you don’t box out, you don’t get back on transition defense all the things that have won 17 championships here it’s not obvious to us here.”
One of the greatest NBA players of all time with the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, and Houston Rockets, Charles Barkley, took a moment to react to the Los Angeles Lakers putting blame on point guard Russell Westbrook and head coach Frank Vogel for recent struggles: “The Lakers are such wussies, and I only say wussies cuz I can’t say the word I want to say. The way they have tried to throw Russell Westbrook and Frank Vogel under the bus is really pissing me off.”
But for NBA legend Charles Barkley, it’s clear that the Lakers’ main problem is the front office. Barkley went into a lengthy monologue on Inside the NBA about the lack of accountability on the part of the Lakers’ decision-makers (via NBA on TNT). “The way they are trying to throw Russell Westbrook and Frank Vogel under the bus is really pissing me off. I’m not gonna sit around like all these clowns on other networks who got their head up the Lakers booties. Now, they’re blaming Frank Vogel and Russell Westbrook. The people up top who put that trash together are running and hiding like cowards, saying ‘Oh it’s Frank, it’s Russ.’ You put all them old geezers out there. Listen, the best guy other than LeBron in the last month has been who? Stanley Johnson. For y’all to be bringing a guy who was on the street and he becomes your second best player, whoever running that trash out there getting away with. It’s ridiculous man.”
Long before Russell Westbrook was benched down the stretch of Wednesday's 111-104 loss to the Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel was given assurances that the organization would support him in taking a hard line while coaching the star, sources told ESPN. Over the past week and a half, Lakers management has told the coaching staff to coach Westbrook as they see fit, even if that means pulling him from a game, as Vogel did for the final 3 minutes, 52 seconds of the fourth quarter against Indiana, sources told ESPN. One source close to the situation described the message from management to the staff as, "You got to do what you got to do."
The coaching staff had been debating whether to pull Westbrook from late-game situations for weeks, sources said, but always refrained because of worries about the lasting impact on Westbrook's psyche. Indeed, even LeBron James danced around the subject of Westbrook's benching, perhaps not wanting to draw further attention to the indignity for the former league MVP. "Would you think that would bother Russ not being in a late game?" he said, answering a reporter's question with a question, rather than giving a straight answer.
Westbrook also had already vacated the locker room by the time his teammates were finished showering, sources said, forgoing any postgame discussion with the team. "I don't think it's nothing personal," said Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony, who recently said that he can relate to the role adjustment Westbrook is going through this season, having done it himself a few years back. "It's just something that he's not used to. You would think somebody like that would be on the court. But with the flow of the game, there's been times I haven't been in the game or other guys haven't been in the game. So I don't think it's anything personal."
"It's just something that Russ has got to ... ," Anthony said before correcting himself mid-sentence, "We gotta help him figure it out." "It's frustrating. I can tell you that," he continued. "It's frustrating as a player who's trying to make it right, trying to do things right. This is new for him. This is a new situation. This is a new environment. We got to help him through it. I mean, that's the only thing we can do, is make sure his mental is right. That's the only thing I care about. I don't care about any basketball stuff when it comes to Russ.
After the Los Angeles Lakers' 37-point loss to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, the second-biggest defeat of LeBron James' 19-year career, another franchise great weighed in with his disgust. "We as Lakers fans can accept being outplayed but we deserve more than a lack of effort and no sense of urgency," Magic Johnson tweeted to his 5.1 million followers. "Owner Jeanie Buss, you deserve better."
"I do not have a reaction," said Westbrook, who scored 19 points on 7-for-15 shooting, an improvement from his recent shooting slump. "Everybody is entitled, in this world, to their opinion. Regardless of what that it is. You can either take it and run with it or you can take it and put it in one ear and out the other or you cannot respond to it.
He was asked about the Lakers still trying to build that trust. “Um, you know, I think we’re getting there,” Westbrook said. This was the Lakers’ 20 different starting lineup in 36 games. How difficult does that make things, Westbrook was asked. “Yeah, you’ve got to figure it out,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. Ain’t nothing you can really say about it but that.” Westbrook was asked how he and James can get more help after the pair continues to put up numbers. “I’m not sure,” Westbrook said. “I don’t know.”
"We understand that we have a lot of attackers, but the careless turnovers where literally you just turn the ball over, there's no pressure or reason for it, those are the ones that get us in trouble," James said. James' most glaring miscue of the night came with 6.7 seconds left and the Lakers trailing by 3, when he threw the ball away to the Grizzlies, denying L.A. the chance to attempt a game-tying shot. "The one thing I think probably hurt us the most down the stretch was the turnovers and the one more play, where [L.A. failed to execute] the easy play to make one more pass to the open man," said Lakers acting coach David Fizdale, filling in while Frank Vogel is in the league's health and safety protocols.
The defeat dropped L.A. -- one of the oddsmakers' favorites to win the championship -- to 8-9 with more than a fifth of the season in the books. "It's never, 'We got 65 games left,'" James said when asked if he can take the long view considering the Lakers' early injuries and how much of the 82-game regular-season slate remains. "We damn sure need to play better, no matter who is in the lineup. We have our system and we need to obviously fast-track it and get better with it so we can play, no matter who is out on the floor, we can play at a high level. ... There's no level of panic. But there should be some sense of urgency anytime we take the floor."
Kyle Goon: Russell Westbrook: "If you just kinda look back and you see the last three or four years, I’ve always been on new teams, so I’m just kind like figuring out the best way to better play. The good part about it is I’m so blessed and thankful that I can do so many different things on the floor, that I can do whatever, with anybody. I can play with anybody. And I’m very comfortable with that. But also I take a lot of pride, and I take a lot of just energy and effort to make sure I can be the best I can be with the guys we have on this team and make the best of this situation.
One longtime scout agreed that Westbrook would be better off as a sixth man. “To me, he’s best with the second unit, having the ball in his hands and pushing the pace. With (James), (Westbrook) will rebound and push it, but many times, no one runs with him… certainly not (James) or (Davis). He is a poor defender on a team FULL of poor defenders. Not a great fit there either. It is just a matter of time before the (Westbrook) volcano erupts. He is so passionate and being an LA kid, wants so badly to succeed … I just don’t see it as a great fit. (James) and (Davis) are NOT changing the way they play, nor can they. I predict a 5-7 seed and first round exit in the playoffs.”
Mike Trudell: After Saturday’s practice, Russell Westbrook continued to note how much the Lakers want to win every game, balanced with knowledge it’s gonna take time to gel. Also noted the pace being obviously faster in the fourth quarter on Friday, with Davis at the 5, which opened things up.
Dave McMenamin: Frank Vogel on the Dwight Howard/Anthony Davis spat: “Those guys love each other. … I’d rather our guys care than not care”
The game’s chippiest moment came between teammates, as Anthony Davis pointed a finger in the chest of Dwight Howard and shoved him down into his chair during the second quarter. They had to be separated by others on the bench. The hostilities were sharp, but brief. Said Howard: “We squashed it right then and there.” Said Davis: “It’s over with.”
Apparently, Howard didn’t wait for the doors to close – preferring to wring out their beef on the court during the timeout. “That’s my brother, that’s my teammate,” he said. “And that’s what I told him. ‘I’m gonna always be here for you, no matter what. I’ll always fight for you, do whatever I can to help this team win.’ He said the same thing. We’re good. We squashed it. There’s no need to try to make it bigger than something else.”
The low point was the shove between Davis and Howard, who disagreed over a pick-and-roll coverage going into a second-quarter timeout. While Vogel acknowledged teammates putting hands on each other was “too much,” the team preferred to keep their settlement behind closed doors. “When you’re getting your ass kicked, sometimes those conversations get heated,” he said. “Those guys love each other. They talked it out. And that’s going to happen from time to time. I’d rather our guys care than not care.”
The Hall of Famer sees similarities between the current Lakers roster and the team from the 2003-2004 season which had accomplished veterans such as Karl Malone, Gary Payton next to Kobe Bryant. That team went all the way to the Finals where they lost 1-4 against the Detroit Pistons. “This team is really giving me that Karl Malone, Gary Payton when they were with Kobe, that kind of feel,” Pierce said on What’s Burnin’ with Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes.

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Montrezl Harrell is not happy with the Los Angeles Lakers. If that has not been made clear by his recent tweets, well it is now following his NSFW comments on Instagram seemingly ripping LA and Frank Vogel’s rotation.
Responding to his followers and haters on IG, Harrell fired back at those coming up with different reasons why he was benched by Vogel, especially in the playoffs. One particular comment claimed that the Lakers head coach didn’t play him because of match-up situations, as Trezz is largely considered a small-ball center at 6-foot-7. Of course, the former Sixth Man of the Year shut down those talks and called it as mere “excuse.” “That s**t isn’t real,” the Lakers forward added.
Hunt: “Probably my favorite thing of all was watching him kind of evolve in front of us. When we first got to the Lakers, I’ll just say Kobe was not a great leader. He did not really know how to lead because he hadn’t really had to because he had so many great personalities and leaders around him. The leader of the Lakers at the time,people won’t say it, but it was Derek Fisher. He was kind of the guy that allowed Kobe to be Kobe. He was out front with a lot of things that needed to be said for the team.”
If D’Antoni does leave Houston, as so many expect, Lue would likely get a serious look from the Rockets, too (with the Jeff Van Gundy candidacy, sources say, likely leading the way).
The 10-year veteran addressed the criminal charges that have since been dropped stemming from an audio recording in which Cousins' ex-girlfriend alleges he threatened to shoot her in the head when it became apparent their child was not going to be present for Cousins' wedding. "It's an unfortunate situation. So, you know, I had a special moment in my life. I wanted all my family to be there. A little piece of happiness going through whatever I'm going through. Things didn't work out the way I wanted it to for my day. I was little upset. So I said some things I shouldn't have said but that person knew where it was coming from," Cousins said on the podcast. "I mean, I've seen a lot of things, heard a lot of stuff -- don't get me wrong, I'm 100 percent against domestic violence. Like, 100 percent. I watched my mother go through that as a child. So when it comes to that, I'm the first advocate for that. But with that being said, I said the wrong thing. Heat of the moment. We've all done it. ... We've all done it. ... "My mama's said way worse, you know what I'm saying? But when it comes to your kids, it's a whole other situation and I'm pretty sure anybody with kids can speak on that. But it was still wrong."
James missed 18 of the next 19 games with a groin injury. He returned to a team in disarray thanks to trade rumors that had half the young roster being shipped to New Orleans for Anthony Davis. "Even some of the old guys were affected," Rondo says. "I can't say a name, but I remember me and the guy were on the bench for the Atlanta game right before the [All-Star] break. The guy was cussing and talking bad about the situation during the game. I was like: 'Snap out of it. That shit is over with. We'll get through it. As vets, we have to move forward and not focus on what the young guys are focusing on. Set an example.' It was a little crazy to see a vet distraught over that.
"Me, I'm kind of numb to it. I was in trade rumors every year in Boston. Eight straight years. You can't really relate to it until you've gone through it. Not knowing the future, waking up every day—and now you're on the phone reading stuff. When I was going through it, there wasn't so much social media; it was just on TV. You'd hear it, or someone would text you about it, but it wasn't so much in your face, with eight different blockbuster or proposed trades and your name in every one of them. Every Instagram scroll, you're in it. So, psychologically, it probably took a toll. ... "Guys may have felt like, 'Oh, I need to prove myself so I won't be traded' or 'They're going to trade me anyway.' Each game you didn't know what the mentality was for those guys: 'Should I give my all to this organization that is about to trade me in two days?'"
In his extensive piece on the Lakers published this week, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes brought up the Pelinka-Rambis dynamic. He went into more detail about it during an appearance on “The Lowe Post” podcast: “I asked quite a bit of people: ‘Why is Linda so loyal to Rob? Why is Rob so loyal to Linda?’ And people in the organization and around the organization — deeply familiar with the Lakers — are like, ‘I’m not sure. I really don’t know, but it’s weird. And because of it, we think Rob is untouchable’ because of how much power Linda wields and how close she is to Jeanie (Buss). I would love an answer to that. I know people in the organization would love an answer to it. “There is some reason why Linda is deeply, deeply loyal to Rob. And given who she is and the power she has, people there believe that gives him — I don’t want to say invincibility — but something within that realm.”
“I thought it was telling that people in the organization, I think it was mentioned in the Spellman anecdote, that Rob will go and say to people ‘We’re making this decision and it’s because this player wants it or this agent wants it,’ and people had become so distrustful of him that they will literally go back to that player or to that agent and say ‘Hey, did this conversation ever actually happen? Did you say these things that Rob said you said? What was the context here?’ And I thought it was interesting, fact-checking the reasons behind it. But yeah, people not being on the same page, this uncertainty about how decisions were made, ‘What information were we using, is this information credible, are we even consulting with people in our organization who have first-hand experience with this particular player?’ It creates a rat’s nest of issues with respect to team-building, free agency, drafts, trades, all of it.”
Holmes then says while Johnson’s comment about never being called into HR may be accurate, there are reasons why complaints about him weren’t taken to HR. “When he was talking, here was my first thought, I actually thought about something that wasn’t in the story. And it was something that a staffer told me about the day that Earvin was hired, and the staffer said ‘I thought the building would have to burn down for him to lose his job.’ And it was representative of what many people say was the power, stature and deep connections that Earvin had to the Lakers and to Jeanie. And as he would display instances of confrontational behavior, demonstrative in these interactions with employees, they would say ‘I can’t stand up to him. He’s Earvin Johnson and this is the Lakers. Who am I?’ They would describe being powerless, but more to the point, they would talk about not being comfortable going to HR with these particular complaints about his behavior.
As drama swirls around the Los Angeles Lakers, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he has "tremendous" confidence in team owner Jeanie Buss and believes the team will turn things around. "I know Jeanie knows how to manage a team," Silver said Wednesday morning in a wide-ranging interview on ESPN's Get Up. "Sure, when things start to go wrong, a lot of fingers get pointed. But they'll figure it out."
Silver also addressed a lunch conversation he had with LeBron James' agent, Rich Paul, which ESPN's Baxter Holmes reported on Tuesday. "He was in the same restaurant," Silver said. "There were two people sitting there. He sat down for a second, and I think he said something along the lines that 'Luke Walton is not the right guy to coach LeBron.' "My reaction was to shrug my shoulders and maybe say, 'Well, who do you think is the right guy to coach?' And he mentioned a name and that was that. I think as commissioner, I don't want to shut people off who have a point of view."
In his remarks, Johnson expressed excitement about the task ahead, but he also made clear he didn't accept excuses or mistakes, and that those who weren't on board with the new management and their mission should leave, according to six staffers who were present.
Pointing upstairs, toward his office, Johnson drove home his point. He had a large stack of resumes sitting on his desk -- "a thousand" of them, multiple staffers recall him saying -- and he could replace any of them at any time. "It was shocking," said one Lakers coaching staff member who was present. "If you're going to be in this business, you bring enough pressure on yourself. You don't need more pressure, especially from someone who's supposed to be an ally."
According to nearly two dozen current and former team staffers, ranging from occupants of executive suites to office cubicles, in addition to league sources and others close to the team, the Lakers under Johnson and Pelinka were fraught with dysfunction, on and off the court. These sources, who feared reprisal and weren't authorized to speak publicly, describe Pelinka and Johnson as managers who made unilateral free-agent acquisitions; triggered a spate of tampering investigations and fines; berated staffers, including Walton; and created an in-house culture that many current and former longtime staffers said marginalized their colleagues, inspired fear and led to feelings of anxiety severe enough that at least two staffers suffered panic attacks.
In the office, the staffer apologized and later, off site, began to cry, according to multiple people with knowledge of the incident. In the months ahead, she would suffer increased anxiety and panic attacks. She was prescribed anti-anxiety medication, quit the Lakers after more than two decades with the team, and began several weeks of therapy, multiple people familiar with the matter said. She gave her notice on Dec. 18, 2017, the same day Kobe Bryant's two jerseys were retired. A Lakers executive said he also suffered panic attacks and had to be prescribed anti-anxiety medication. "Every day you go in there and you get this horrible feeling of anxiety," the executive said. "In the last year, I can't tell you how many panic attacks I've had from the s--- that has happened there."
"There was one time when Kobe, who I worked with for 18 years, was going back to play in Madison Square Garden, and he had just seen 'The Dark Knight,'" Pelinka said. "Obviously, you guys saw that movie, and he's like, 'Hey, hook me up with dinner with Heath Ledger, because he got so locked into that role. I want to know how he mentally went there.' So, he had dinner with Heath, and he talked about how he locks in for a role. "And Kobe used some of that in his game against the Knicks." "The Dark Knight" was released in July 2008, six months after Ledger died. A source with direct knowledge said no such arrangement was made and no dinner ever took place.
In November, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Maverick Carter, LeBron's longtime business partner, met for lunch. James' agent, Rich Paul, was seated at a nearby table, and at one point, approached Silver to complain about Walton, multiple sources familiar with the interaction told ESPN. Paul said he didn't believe Walton was the right coach for the Lakers. Silver shrugged off the remark and asked whom Paul thought would be the right coach. Paul suggested Tyronn Lue.
And so the perception existed among the Lakers' coaching staff that Paul sought to oust Walton. And some players also believed, according to coaching staff members and those players' agents, that Klutch Sports was working to trade them away for a superstar. Given those perceptions, one former Lakers player described Paul's presence on the team charter as a "culture killer." "Coaches know Rich is trying to get them fired, and players know Rich is trying to get them traded," said one agent with ties to the Lakers, who called Paul's presence on the plane "destructive."
Even before Magic’s latest move, sources close to LeBron James expressed concern that the combination of Magic’s messy exit and all the negative Lakers headlines threatened to sabotage their summer. The challenge of convincing another elite star to come to town was already seen as daunting around the league, and now these horrendous optics make that uphill climb far worse.
Jeanie Buss had questioned Magic Johnson several times in the wake of his public resignation, asking to know if there were any issues with Rob Pelinka or anyone else in the organization. They spoke on the phone for hours. They went to a private dinner at Wally's in Beverly Hills on May 2. Multiple Lakers sources told ESPN that each time, Johnson said nothing beyond what he'd said on April 9 -- that he didn't feel like he could be Magic in this role and wanted his freedom back.
Storyline: Los Angeles Lakers Turmoil?
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August 7, 2022 | 4:31 pm EDT Update
Goran Dragic talked to the Slovenian press before Saturday’s prep game against Montenegro and explained his motivation about his return to the Slovenian national team. “I predict the semi-finals, but then anything is possible”, said a smiling Dragic, who is ready to defend the title he won together with a young Luka Doncic back in 2017. However, after five years things are different and Dragic understands it: “In my opinion, I will play a little less minutes, it will not be at that level. I don’t know how much I played, 36 minutes per game? Everything will depend on how I feel. The role will definitely be different. I was Batman, but now I’ll be Robin. The most important thing will be to make sure we have good chemistry and be a leader on the court and lift guys up when it’s most difficult. My role remains the same, Luka’s may have changed a bit more, but I believe that everyone has their own role in the national team and that there will be no problems. We all understand each other, we are one big team, and that’s why we can make a good result. That chemistry is what other teams don’t have.”
Dragic had also to convince the Chicago Bulls to let him play, something that was not ideal for them: “When I had a medical exam with Chicago and sat down with them, they said I’d rather not play. I said I’d rather and in the end it’s the player who decides. I had to go to Chicago, undergo a medical examination and everything else. When you go to a medical examination, you always wait for the results, because you never know what can happen”.
August 7, 2022 | 3:16 am EDT Update

Christian Wood talks trade to Dallas

Make no mistake, though: Much as Wood seemed to revel in the chance to take a breather and hang with young fans, he said he’s wholly focused on the possibilities that lie ahead with his tenure on the Mavs. “It’s a great opportunity for me and for this organization to try and take that next step,” Christian Wood said. “I just want to win games. My main objective is to try and get to the Finals.”
“I’m still counting my blessings and happy to be here,” he said. Specifically, the 6-foot-9 center was speaking about being a Maverick. But on Thursday, that gratitude could also extend to his time with the kids he got to work out with in Plano.  “I was once that little kid that would look up to NBA players and hope that he would sign my shoe or hope that I would be able to meet him in person,” he said. “With kids, I can be myself and I can be a kid myself. So it’s fun.”