Storyline: Los Angeles Lakers Turmoil?

131 rumors in this storyline

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.

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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.
3 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.”
3 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.”‬

Stephen A. Smith: “As an aside, I just wanted, if you don’t mind, I just wanted to deviate away from this particular subject. I wanted to start off the show saying something — when I was in the Lakers locker room last night, Mr. Rondo directed a very disrespectful comment my way. He didn’t say it by name. I was standing right next to him. I just kept my head down because out of respect to the Los Angeles Lakers as an organization, I didn’t want to make a scene. So, I just left it at that. I just want Rondo to know I know that. Number 1. And Number 2 — I stand by my proclamation that he deserved a 15-game suspension for spitting in the face of Chris Paul. And last but not least, I just want to say out of respect for him, I would remind him … I never said anything about why he left Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Sacramento, it goes on and on. I’ll just leave it at that.
6 months ago via ESPN

With the Los Angeles Lakers preparing to play their first game since news emerged of coach Luke Walton’s explosive meeting with president of basketball of operations Magic Johnson, LeBron James said his focus — and his team’s — remains solely on winning. “It doesn’t bother me at all because I don’t pay attention to it, I don’t listen to it,” James said Saturday in advance of the Lakers’ game against the Portland Trail Blazers when asked about the noise surrounding his team

Ball and Kuzma were said to have had an understanding the song was purely for entertainment. Nonetheless, the Lakers reportedly asked the players to scale back on their presence on social media and scale back with the extracurricular activities. It’s a sentiment Hart voiced to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk: “We are 22, 23-year-old kids, we are just taking little subtle jabs and that kind of thing,” Hart said as he and LA Chargers defensive end Isaac Rochell hosted a free screening of “Uncle Drew” for 200 local youth from local nonprofits like Brotherhood Crusade, Boys and Girls Club Venice and The Right Way Foundation in Los Angeles. “It is nothing more than that. We are all close off the court. And that is all it is, just messing around, having fun. We are cool off the court, we are cool on the court. That wasn’t anything.”
1 year ago via ESPN

While Lopez has not been the fit that he and the Lakers thought it could be thus far, the center says he has not had any discussions with his agent, Darren Matsubara, about the possibility of a buyout if his playing situation gets worse. “Obviously I realize it’s a contract year,” the California native said. “I realize my value, not just monetary value whether I would like it to be, I’d love it to be, [but] obviously, [Los Angeles is] home for me. I realize I’m in a contract year, but I’m not super concerned about it.”
2 years ago via ESPN

“The choice is the Lakers,” she says crisply. Whatever emotion she’d felt these past few months is long gone from her voice. The emotional sludge underlying this family drama isn’t a few months old. It’s 50 years old. The last three months were just the final act in a play that’s been running their whole lives. “I’m really proud of my sister for putting her business hat on,” Janie Buss says. “I know how hard it was. My dad’s dying wish was to leave the Lakers to all of us and that we would all get along. He’d be sickened if he saw what was going on with my older brothers.” (Neither Jim nor Johnny, through his lawyer, responded to repeated requests for comment.)
2 years ago via ESPN

Jim resigned as a co-trustee and was replaced by Janie, who firmly supported her older sister; the balance of power, and with it the ability to control the management of the trust, had now shifted firmly toward Jeanie. And on April 3, the court formally granted Jeanie’s petition to compel the three trustees — now Jeanie, Janie and Johnny — to do everything reasonable within their power to ensure she remains the Lakers’ controlling owner and a board member for the rest of her life. The war was over with nary a whimper. “This was not what [Dr. Buss] wanted,” Jeanie says. “But he did empower me that if there was ever a threat, that I had the power and authority to do this.”

Jeanie and brothers Jim and Johnny agreed to a legal stipulation, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, that Jeanie will serve as the Lakers’ controlling owner for as long as the Buss family owns the team. At the same time, Jim, who led the recent attack on Jeanie’s throne, agreed to resign as one of three trustees, surrendering that position to sister Janie, who is Jeanie’s ally. The third trustee is still Johnny, who was also part of the coup but can now count on being outvoted if he decides to challenge his sister again.

Once the Lakers gathered in the locker room, Coach Luke Walton did not just express his displeasure with his team’s play. He became so disgusted with the Lakers’ 30-point halftime deficit to the Clippers on Tuesday that he informed his starters they would begin the second half on the bench. Walton then turned to rookie forward Brandon Ingram. “It (stinks) for you that you have to sit out, too,” Walton said. “You’re out there playing your tail off.”
2 years ago via ESPN

But ever since the team’s dramatic front-office overhaul Feb. 21, when Lakers governor Jeanie Buss fired her brother, Jim, and general manager Mitch Kupchak and promoted Johnson to president of basketball operations, Vitti has been noticeably absent. According to sources close to the franchise, prior to Feb. 21, Vitti had been seen at every home game save for one and at the facility about four days a week when the team wasn’t on the road — but since the regime change, those sources say, Vitti hasn’t been seen at any games, practices, anything.
2 years ago via ESPN

Vitti issued the following comment to ESPN regarding his status with the Lakers: “I worked more than half of my life for the Lakers, and I can honestly look at myself in the mirror and say I gave every ounce that I had every day. I will forever be grateful to [the late Lakers owner and patriarch] Dr. [Jerry] Buss, a man I believe exemplified what I believe to be the trifecta of the most important human values: honesty, kindness and loyalty. Going forward, it’s not my team so Jeanie can do what she thinks is best.”
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April 24, 2019 | 4:28 pm EDT Update