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.”
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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.”
Dave McMenamin: Kyle Kuzma on his talk with LeBron about his trainer, Clint Parks: “I just told him I can’t control what another man says. Obviously I don’t feel that way. Everybody knows what me and Bron have a great relationship. And I left it at that.”
Dave McMenamin: Kuzma said his tweet on Dec. 27th had nothing to do with Parks’ IG post. “If you follow me, you see I tweet random things all the time. It had nothing (to do with it). No correlation. I didn’t even see what he said at first. … Why would I even do that? It makes no sense.”
Dave McMenamin: Kuzma on his relationship with James: “I mean, it’s great. When you’re around people multiple years you get to know them more.”
Mike Bresnahan: How have players handled the Lakers’ four-game losing streak? “I think they’re a little bit edgy,” Coach Frank Vogel said. “Appropriately edgy, I would say.”
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?'”
For the most part, though, Rondo argues playing for the Lakers wasn’t as chaotic as it has come to appear from the outside. “Biggest market, biggest media, you know what you’re coming into with LeBron James on the team,” he says. “To me it wasn’t as crazy. The way things ended, the way Magic exited, maybe. Things happen. You learn. … I think we held it together as best as possible.”
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.”
Silver said interactions like that are fairly common. “I think he just wanted to say it out loud,” Silver said. “I don’t think he had any expectation that I would repeat that to anyone.”
Ryan Ward: Magic Johnson on what he would’ve done differently w/ #Lakers: “I would’ve hired my own people from the beginning. The one thing I didn’t get to do is hire everybody that wanted. Rob [Pelinka] & I got put together. I inherited Luke Walton, so I didn’t get to hire my own people.”
Ryan Ward: “That was on me. I allowed him [Rich Paul] to do that.” (via @SportsCenter)
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.”
The message would set the tone for what many staffers describe as Johnson’s confrontational demeanor over the next two years. “If you questioned him on anything, his response was always a threatening tone,” said a Lakers front office staffer who interacted with Johnson directly. “He used intimidation and bullying as a way of showing authority.”
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.
Riley and Magic won five championships together under the ownership of Jerry Buss, the father of current owner Jeanie Buss. It was the springboard of a long and illustrious career for Riley, who remains forever linked both to the Buss family and to Magic. “Surprised by his comments? No, not at all,” Riley tells ESPN on Monday afternoon.
Pat Riley: “I’ll tell you about Earvin — and it’s what I love about him, but also what I have cautioned him about — he’s going to speak his mind. If that’s how he felt, that’s how he felt. He’s not going to leave a hanging curveball out there about backstabbing and whispering. He manned up today. That’s who Buck is. He would never tolerate that. He never has tolerated that.”
“I have thought [about returning to the Lakers] only from a sentimental standpoint,” Riley says. “But I was never pursued by them. Nobody officially contacted me. I have about 20 friends wishing I would come back, but nobody asked. They had Magic. When you are in the position that Earvin was in, when you turn over the organization to somebody like him, there’s only one person who can say no to you. That’s your owner. It’s the same for me here in Miami. If [Heat owner] Mickey Arison says no, that’s it. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t have power.
With the Lakers coming off their sixth straight season missing the playoffs, and still without a head coach, angry fans are holding a protest outside Staples Center Friday demanding changes. Protesters gathered around noon at the intersection of South Figueroa and West 11th streets. The organizer, fan Charlie Rivers, a University of Arizona graduate student, claims that owner Jeannie Buss has allowed nepotism to dictate the direction of the team.
Wearing the Lakers signature purple and gold and holding up a sign with an image of LeBron James, one fan told CBSLA the message is clear: the Lakers need help on the court and off. “You know what, we want a star. We want another star free agent,” he said. “KD [Kevin Durant], Kyrie [Irving].” IMGhttps://twitter.com/CBSLA/status/1126935948804206594
Marc J. Spears: Warriors forward Kevin Durant told @TheUndefeated that he was excited about his entire body of scoring work during Clippers series, not just the 50 tonight. KD says scoring will be a lot harder vs Rockets & physical defender PJ Tucker. Not worried about 1 day off between series.
Such was the case on Wednesday when the scroll during ESPN’s First Take read that the “Lakers have a lot of work to do to repair relationship with LeBron.” Turns out, LeBron was watching, and he decided to respond in real time. “That. Is. Not. Truuuue! It’s not true at all!”
One of the headaches and near-debacles of the final stretch of Johnson’s tenure came in late February. In what could have been a catastrophe, the Lakers needed to prevent point guard Lonzo Ball from undergoing a potential unauthorized surgery on his left ankle that was planned by estranged former business partner Alan Foster and with LaVar Ball’s knowledge, multiple team and league sources told The Athletic.
The Lakers found out about Ball’s situation when Lonzo Ball called General Manager Rob Pelinka, and the organization informed him that they would not allow it and could void his contract if he went through with the procedure, sources said. The Lakers then arranged transportation to bring Ball home, sources said. This could have been a disastrous moment for the Lakers, with a core player potentially undergoing a procedure that could have blindsided the organization. But Johnson and Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka communicated with those around Lonzo, working with his then-agent Harrison Gaines to squash the procedure and bring him back to Los Angeles, sources around the team with knowledge of the situation said. Gaines declined to comment when reached by phone.
Beyond the early-season meeting, communication between Walton and the front office was fraught, sources told ESPN. At one point, Pelinka sat in on coaches’ meetings, involving himself at a granular level in Walton’s workload. In another example, Walton went weeks without hearing a peep from Magic Johnson. Both tactics were unusual for an NBA team.
Stephen A. Smith: “Let me tell you what’s going on here: Magic Johnson feels betrayed. Magic Johnson feels betrayed by folks within the Lakers’ organization. Not Jeanie Buss, but folks within the Lakers’ organization. He was hearing the chirping and whispering, which he alluded to in the press conference.”
Ryan Ward: Josh Hart on Magic Johnson: “At the end of the day, he made a decision that he thought was best for him. We wish him all the luck. We’re grateful for the two years he had with us. Wish him the best of luck. That’s about it.”
Sam Vecenie: Asked executives around the league last night at Hoop Summit, then again this morning in regard to Magic Johnson. General thought was “Magic doesn’t need this shit.” Basically, most executives are cognizant of the constant scrutiny and figured Magic felt ”why should I want that?”
Chris Grenham: Danny Ainge tells @Toucherandrich that he hasn’t reached out to Magic Johnson and he probably won’t. Said they don’t have that kind of relationship but he has a great deal of respect for Magic.
He didn’t have the professionalism to tell LeBron, a source close to James confirmed, forcing one of the greatest players of all time to learn about Johnson’s decision through the media. Never mind, as the source also confirmed, that LeBron had met with Johnson, Pelinka, and his agent, Rich Paul, on Saturday to discuss the future of the franchise without even a hint that this was coming. Three days later, Johnson was engaging in a 40-minute public therapy session with reporters that only sparked more questions about what he had done.
Walton, some people of Lakers prominence had suggested, had wanted to play LeBron off the ball and thus sparked all those moves that didn’t pan out. Sources with knowledge of Walton’s thinking pushed back vehemently on this suggestion – as if the public record wasn’t enough to quell the notion on its own. Walton, quite clearly, was being made out to be the fall guy.
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss recently gave Magic Johnson permission to fire coach Luke Walton at the conclusion of this season after being informed of Walton’s unwillingness to “bulk up” his coaching staff, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Johnson, who held an impromptu news conference outside the Lakers’ locker room Tuesday to announce his resignation as president before the team’s final game of the season against the Portland Trail Blazers, had been displeased with Walton’s ability to effectively make in-game adjustments and he felt the coaching staff lacked the experience and expertise to foster player development, sources said.
Johnson wanted to replace Walton during the season, but Buss was reluctant to venture down that road until now, sources said. The 59-year-old business mogul told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday he had the power to do what he saw fit for the franchise and said what would have transpired after exit interviews on Wednesday had nothing to do with why he made the shocking decision to resign.
Lakers Statement on Earvin “Magic” Johnson: There is no greater Los Angeles Laker than Earvin Johnson. We are deeply grateful to Magic for all that he has done for our franchise – as a player, an ambassador and an executive. We thank him for his work these past two years as our President of Basketball Operations.
Bill Oram: A glimpse of Magic Johnson’s exit, concluding with Magic telling other media members, “I want you to take care of my Michigan State guy,” @Ohm Youngmisuk. pic.twitter.com/qdljCVlqVv
Arash Markazi: LeBron James didn’t address the media and had his security try to stop reporters who came near him. LeBron on the phone: “Crazy, crazy, crazy.” Yep. pic.twitter.com/PObznj26Rd
Arash Markazi: What’s your reaction to the Magic news? JaVale McGee: “I don’t got no reaction.” Were you surprised? McGee: “Yeah.”
The brain trust Buss relies on within the Lakers is fairly small. It includes Johnson and Linda Rambis, Buss’ friend and the organization’s manager of special events whose title does not accurately reflect her influence.
Rajon Rondo: Y’all are so busy analyzing what happened in the last 48 seconds of the game that y’all missed the opportunity to highlight, congratulate, and praise Lebron wholeheartedly on his accomplishment. Most of y’all have made a career out of discussing Lebron James, and y’all can’t pay the man some respect. Since y’all missed it, let me do it publicly. Congratulations Lebron on EVERYTHING. You deserve all the success and happiness that God and the Universe has to offer. Congratulations My Brother. Keep being great! 👊🏾👊🏾
Mirjam Swanson: Zubac after the Clips took care of business vs. the Knicks: “That’s how we gotta be. When I was with the Lakers, we didn’t have nights like this. Every game was a close game for us, but now with the Clippers, this team is really locked in, every possession against every team.”
Ben Golliver: Lakers’ LeBron James after loss to Grizzlies (via @SpectrumSN): “If you’re still allowing distractions to affect the way you play, this is the wrong franchise to be a part of and you should just come in and be like, ‘Listen, I can’t do this.’”
“I’ve been in this league 40 years. A lot of players got traded on Thursday. Guess what’s going to happen next year? A lot of players going to get traded, and a lot of players will stay home. I talked to our guys. They’re in a good place. That’s all that matters.” But are they, really? That’s not the case if you talk to sources close to several key players. “Guys will be professional, but it will never be the same,” one agent who represents a Lakers player said.
Kyle Goon: Kuzma on Magic’s meeting: “Everybody always preaches professionalism and buying into the team, and we’re past the trade deadline. We honestly should stop talking about it because it really doesn’t matter right now. The only thing that matters is trying to get into the playoffs. “
Kyle Goon: Occasionally, JaVale McGee seems to apply his own brand of logic when responding to a question. He didn’t really get my question of how it felt to meet with Magic today: “Uh, I felt good. How am I supposed to answer that? How did I feel? Tingly inside? I don’t know.” I LOL’d.
Ryan Ward: LeBron James on time it takes to mesh w/ new additions: “This is a different season. Different circumstances because we’ve been injured. I’ve was injured. We’ve had guys that was in & out of the lineup throughout the whole season & then we have a couple new guys coming in..
“I love our team. I love the guys,” Johnson said. “It’s a tough part of our business whether you’re mentioned in trade talk, or you get traded. It’s a tough part of professional sports, but they came together and played great against Boston. My job is to make sure we stay together as a team and stay focused on the goal, which is to make the playoffs.”
“It’s a part of business, it’s a part of being a professional athlete,” he said Saturday. “I’m going to hug `em and tell them that we got to come together and our goal is still in reach, which is to make the playoffs.”
Ohm Youngmisuk: Asked if the Lakers are worried that relationships with the players have been fractured due to the trade rumors, Rob Pelinka says Magic Johnson, Luke Walton and himself have “really close relationships” with the players and that all players “understand there is a business component” to playing in the NBA.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Rob Pelinka on trying to get the locker room to move forward from all the trade rumors involving so many players on the roster: “You can choose how to respond. Does it draw you closer or push you apart?” Pelinka hopes that the Lakers, with two new shooters, will make the playoffs and let an all-time great like LeBron James lead the Lakers far. He made a comparison to the Patriots and hoping that other role players can shine in the postseason like Julian Edelman did.
Sensing that the Lakers have been weighed down by the persistent trade rumors over the last few weeks, Magic Johnson, the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, plans to meet with the team this weekend in Philadelphia, according to two people with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. Johnson wants to encourage the Lakers to stay the course and to focus on the task ahead with 27 regular-season games left to play, one person said.
Johnson will listen to every player who wants to speak, hoping to have an open dialogue with his team so they can all move forward together, one person said. The Lakers are chasing a playoff spot despite missing All-Star forward LeBron James for 17 games during the middle of the season. The Lakers (28-27) are in 10th place in the Western Conference standings, 1½ games behind the eighth-place Clippers (30-26).
The Lakers are limping into Boston after a 42 point loss to the Pacers. The obvious question after such a loss, after all those public rumors, in a game that featured LeBron’s return, is whether the players are being adversely impacted by what’s happening. “I don’t know, that’s a question for those guys,” LeBron said. “It’s just all part of the business, and when you truly understand that, and you truly know this is a business, but you give 110 percent to whatever situation you’re in, then you’re able to live with it. But I know this has to be tough on guys that for the first time in their career, especially if you’re a young guy, to hear your name in trade rumors when you’ve been somewhere for a few years.”
“I’ve never put a cap on how many years I want to be a part of this league or how many years I want to play the game of basketball,” he told reporters. “I think the time will tell itself, you know, when it’s time for me or I feel like it’s time for me to stop playing. But I don’t see it in the foreseeable future.”
Kyle Goon: Michael Beasley on his statement to @YahooSports, said he’s “standing up for myself.” Thinks that the report of tension between him and Luke Walton should’ve stayed in the locker room, and he doesn’t want to dwell on it — “I left that in Golden State.”
Harrison Faigen: LeBron on if the trade rumors have affected the team: “I don’t know. Obviously we have a lot of guys that have been in trade talks these last couple weeks that have never been in that position before… I know it has to be tough, especially on our young guys.”
Mike Trudell: Lance Stephenson: “I felt like our energy was down, and Indiana (took advantage).” He said trade talks “definitely” impact guys, and that while it’s tough, they’re professionals and have to focus and handle it. Can’t use it as an excuse.
Harrison Faigen: Luke said that trade rumors “affect everyone differently.” He added that he’s played on some teams that were able to get past them, and some that didn’t show up to play.
The Los Angeles Lakers discussed the testy exchange between coach Luke Walton and several veteran players after L.A.’s Saturday loss in Golden State before turning the page to Tuesday’s game against the Indiana Pacers. “We address it, because that’s how I believe our culture should be,” Walton said following shootaround Tuesday morning. “We’ll talk about everything that needs to be [brought up]. But it wasn’t a big thing. We discussed it, moved forward.”
Los Angeles Lakers forward Michael Beasley released a statement to Yahoo Sports on Tuesday that disputes the reported postgame incident he allegedly had with head coach Luke Walton after Saturday night’s loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Beasley, in addressing the situation for the first time, denies it was such a heated incident. “This past Saturday after the Warriors game, Coach Walton and our team had a conversation after a tough loss. Despite reports to the contrary, there was nothing physical between Coach Walton, me, or any other teammate,” Beasley said. “I’ve sat back in the past when stories have been twisted and misreported, but I won’t do that this time. I respect Luke and I respect this team. We are trying to win a championship together.”
Several veteran players, including Michael Beasley and JaVale McGee, had emotionally-charged verbal exchanges with Walton, snapping back toward the coach’s playing time distribution and rotations, sources said. When Walton was making his points, it was undeniable for some in the locker room that he wasn’t just referring to Beasley and McGee, sources said. For Walton, playing time and rotations have been a difficult balancing act with a roster full of young talent and veterans — needing to satisfy players throughout the roster. As one source with knowledge of the postgame locker room described: “It was a heated scene.”
Players and coaches cooled off before the incident escalated into anything physical, and there was genuine hope around the Lakers that this was what this team needed to cleanse their issues. Beasley is among players who prefer clarity on their role and to be given confidence by Walton, sources said. Beasley and Walton spoke afterward, a source said, and moved past the incident. “They needed to talk things out,” another source said. “They needed it — and it will help them.”
According to sources, Walton made his views known that the we-over-me mentality needed to be more of a priority after the 115-101 loss that came without James (due to load management related to his recent groin strain injury). JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley didn’t agree, according to sources, and pushed back vociferously on that premise.
As he left the locker after media availability time had come to an end, he carried a small Tupperware full of homemade brownies. He shared them with anyone who showed any interest, raved about how delicious they were and the kind soul who had made them for him as a gift, then wandered over to discuss the evening with veteran Lakers point Rajon Rondo.
Shams Charania: As uncertainty surrounds Lakers into deadline week, several veterans — including Michael Beasley — had an emotionally-charged verbal exchange with head coach Luke Walton postgame tonight, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @WatchStadium. It stopped short of turning physical.
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February 28, 2021 | 6:15 am EST Update
Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love is on this quick two-game trip with his teammates so he can continue to rehab a high-grade strained right calf, but the five-time All-Star is “unlikely” to return until after the NBA All-Star break, league sources tell cleveland.com.
Given the Cavs only have two games remaining — Monday in Houston and Wednesday at home against the Indiana Pacers — before a needed nine-day break, sources said the team doesn’t see the upside in pushing it. They want to use the extra days to get his calf better, so he can be 100 percent for the Second Half.
The Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant will still serve as an NBA All-Star Game captain despite a hamstring injury that will keep him from playing. Durant and fellow All-Star Game captain LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers will each draft a roster out of the pool of selected All-Stars. The All-Star draft will air on TNT on March 4. It remained unclear whether Durant will travel to Atlanta for the game on March 7.
A Knicks official said Rivers was at the Garden, but in the back getting treatment for a sore ankle. Rivers was not listed on the pregame injury report submitted to the NBA. On the box score, Rivers was listed with a DNP-Coach’s Decision. Earlier this week, Rivers said of his situation: “I can’t control if I’m traded today, tomorrow or the next day. What I can control is how I am as a player.’’
His father, Mychal Thompson, believes Klay’s basketball lifespan could run until he’s 40 years old. “I said, if you really want to, you can play till you’re 40 years of age, but the key to that is you have to take care of your body, as you go into your 30s,” Mychal said, recounting to NBC Sports Bay Area a conversation he had with Klay.
That doesn’t mean he’s a finished product. There’s a reason the Raptors signed him with G League intentions and not for the NBA roster. The 10-day contract (about $82,000) affords them six games to see how he can fit and progress in their environment. It’s an audition by another name, and not the first time the Raptors have used a 10-day to get a 905 look at a prospect. “This gives us a chance to get Donta down in our system, teach him our ins and outs and the way we operate our offence, our defence, our schemes, and see how he looks running those,” general manager Chad Sanders said. “With Tampa just down the street, it’s a chance for us to get him out there and get some reps and get a chance to evaluate him for the big club.”
Callie Caplan: Luka, on ABC, asked about recent comparisons to Larry Bird’s game: “More, more games to go. A long time before you can compare me to Larry Bird. I just want to keep hooping, have fun playing basketball.”