Storyline: Los Angeles Lakers Turmoil?

170 rumors in this storyline

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.

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“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.
3 months ago via ESPN

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.”
3 months ago via ESPN

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.”
3 months ago via ESPN

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.
3 months ago via ESPN

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.”
3 months ago via ESPN

“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.
3 months ago via ESPN

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.
3 months ago via ESPN

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.”
3 months ago via ESPN

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.
3 months ago via ESPN

“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.

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.

Magic didn't tell LeBron

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.

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.


“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.
6 months ago via ESPN

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.

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.”
6 months ago via ESPN

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.”

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.”

‪During the streak, LeBron James — who admittedly struggles at times with patience — was asked if he’s been tinkering with his leadership approach, and the 14-time All-Star revealed that he was indeed tested during the team’s early struggles. ‬‪“I haven’t changed anything outwardly, but you know me. You know how I am. I almost cracked [last week]. I had to sit back and remind myself, ‘[Expletive], you knew what you were getting yourself into,’” James told Yahoo Sports while laughing after Saturday’s win in Sacramento. “This process has been good for me. I just have to continue being patient.”‬
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August 18, 2019 | 9:06 pm EDT Update
Entering his fifth season, Richardson was involved in a five-game playoff series loss two years ago against the Sixers. There have been many other, heated games with the two teams. His biggest perception of Philadelphia as an opposing player? “The fans, man,” Josh Richardson said during Saturday’s annual Sixers Summer Shore Tour at the PigDog Beach Bar BQ in Wildwood. “The first thing you think about is how hard the fans are to opposing players. It is tough playing against that and I am excited to play on the same side of those fans.”
In looking at his new team, Richardson noted something he thought he would never see, that he will be the smallest player in the starting lineup. The rest of the projected lineup is 6-10 point guard Ben Simmons, 6-9 small forward Tobias Harris, 6-10 power forward Al Horford and 7-2 center Joel Embiid. “I have never been that ever in my life,” Richardson said about being the smallest. “This will be interesting, looking up to my teammates, talking in huddles.”
Not surprisingly, his summer has been spent working overtime on all aspects of his game. “I’ve been grinding,” he said. Smith says he has benefited from extra summer work in the weight room. The Sixers list him at 199 pounds. He said he was about 205 the last time he was weighed before the summer and now says he is 212 pounds. He hopes to become a solid rotation player. “That is the goal,” he said. “Get in the rotation and play hard and do what I do and have fun.”
August 18, 2019 | 7:41 pm EDT Update