Western Notes: Howard, Kobe, Robinson, Blazers

Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss believes her team let Dwight Howard down during his year there, wants Kobe Bryant to continue playing after his contract expires in 2016, and also tells USA Today’s Sam Amick that the organization is functioning more smoothly with Phil Jackson off to New York:

I think it is trying to find how we’re going to operate together. I believe that Phil was a source of conflict between me and my brother and Mitch, I guess, as well. And now that Phil, as of six months ago, is now off the market and has a job – isn’t in the wings – that source of conflict is removed. And I think that the way we operate is becoming more clear. I’m satisfied with everybody’s role, and now we just need everybody to step up and do what is required of them. For me, that means stepping up and talking about the organization and being the face of the organization and establishing the clear lines of authority and transparency and, ultimately, accountability, which lies on my shoulders.

Buss adds that fellow co-owner and brother Jim Buss, along with GM Mitch Kupchak, have assured her that the team will make progress in win column each season in the coming years. More from the West..

  • Although the Blazers declined to pick up his team option of $4.7MM for the 2015/16 season, Thomas Robinson expressed his desire to remain in Portland, writes Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. “I don’t think that worry should be even close. I want to stay thinking positive and that’s what I’m going to continue to do. Hopefully toward the end of the summer, the Blazers have a different mindset and they want to bring me back, because I want to be a part of this team. Something special is happening here. I want to be a part of it,” Robinson said.
  • Howard says he didn’t bolt from the Lakers because of Kobe, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. “I didn’t leave L.A. because I was afraid of Kobe Bryant,” Howard said. “I went to a good situation for myself. I can’t change people’s opinions, but I did what I had to do for myself.”
  • The Lakers expect big things out of offseason acquisition Carlos Boozer, an assistant coach tells Ryan Primeaux of Lakers.com“He’s a double-double virtually every night when he’s on his game. He provides leadership. He provides a constant, consistent low-post game, and the ability to step away from the basket and keep defenses honest. So he will definitely provide stability for us in the bigs department,” the unnamed coach told Primeaux.

Chuck Myron and Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

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