Jeanie Buss

Pacific Notes: Bogut, Rivers, Crawford, Buss

Andrew Bogut returned to the Warriors this month after spending the last three years away from the team, rejoining the franchise he won a championship with in 2015. Bogut played a key role on that championship squad, forever stamping his mark in history as the club’s starting center.

The break-up between Bogut and the Warriors was rather simple, and both sides understood one another: Golden State cleared cap space as the summer of 2016 approached, gearing up for a run at Kevin Durant in free agency. Bogut was one of the players separated at the time.

“Look, I’m not stupid, man,” Bogut told Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “The dude they made cap space for, I mean, look who he is. I’m not an idiot. You know, if it was someone else, a 12th man, I’d be pissed. But it’s one of the best players in basketball. So I totally get it.

“Was I disappointed? Of course. I wasn’t happy to get traded from a team that just went 73-9, went to the Finals, thought we had a chance to win it, but didn’t. But as far as hating the Warriors? No. I kept in touch with all the guys in this locker room — Andre, Draymond, Steph, Klay at times. Former guys like Harrison. Steve would text me.”

With no hard feelings or ill will toward the team, Bogut left Australia and returned to Oakland for what could be another championship run in the spring. He’s expected to provide frontcourt depth and a veteran presence for the club, with the 34-year-old having already played multiple seasons with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and other former teammates.

Here are some other notes from the Pacific Division tonight:

  • Players on the Clippers appreciate the long-term commitment given by head coach Doc Rivers this week, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register writes. Rivers revealed that he and team owner Steve Ballmer verbally agreed on a contract extension last summer, one that will likely become official in the coming months. “It’s gonna be fun,” Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said. “Obviously, I like playing for Doc. Good coach. He’s helped me get better in ways I couldn’t have imagined. The fact that he’s committed to us the same way we’re committed to him every night on the floor is cool.”
  • Suns veteran Jamal Crawford reflected on his season in Phoenix, calling this year “the most challenging year by far on so many levels” of his NBA career. “This is a younger team and I’m having to lead more,” Crawford said, as relayed by Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. “I’m talking more than I ever have as well. Just different challenges.” Phoenix has the second-worst record in the league at 17-55, with Crawford stepping into more of a leadership role to help the team’s younger players.
  • Jeanie Buss has a golden opportunity to become more of an active owner with the Lakers following their disappointing season, Bill Oram of The Athletic writes. The underwhelming acquisitions made by president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka, a lack of overall camaraderie between the players, and an awkward fit on the court have generated questions from fans and league observers, something Buss will have to take a closer look at during the offseason.

Lakers Briefly Explored Leaving Staples Center For Forum

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and business mogul Irving Azoff had discussions about the idea of moving the Lakers’ home arena from the Staples Center back to The Forum, according to emails obtained by Nathan Fenno of The Los Angeles Times.

As Fenno details, it’s not clear how far those discussions actually advanced, but the Lakers have no plans to move out of the Staples Center when their lease expires in 2025. In fact, the franchise is believed to be discussing an extension for that lease, per The Times’ report.

Still, the messages obtained by Fenno – which began when Azoff reached out to Buss about the idea of “rebuilding” The Forum and moving the Lakers back there – are intriguing. Azoff, an associate of Knicks owner James Dolan, whose MSG Co. owns The Forum, testified in a deposition last year that Dolan would have been on board with the idea of selling the Lakers half of The Forum, according to The Times.

“MSG approached the Lakers about the possibility of returning to the Forum following the end of our Lease at Staples Center in 2025, but nothing came from the discussions,” the Lakers said in a statement on Wednesday.

Azoff’s proposal came just before the Clippers revealed plans to eventually move out of the Staples Center themselves and establish a new home arena in Inglewood. The Clippers’ proposed site is just a few blocks away from The Forum, and the team and city have been waged in a legal battle with MSG Co. The company has attempted to prevent the construction of a nearby arena, which would be a direct competitor for concerts and other events.

As Fenno details, emails between Azoff and Buss show the Lakers’ owner expressing surprise and skepticism at the Clippers’ plans.

“They are all crazy,” Buss wrote in one email. “This is a joke. Why would Adam let this happen?”

Presumably, the “Adam” in question is NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

When Azoff wrote back to say that Silver has “no vote” in the matter and added that there will be a long legal fight, Buss replied, “Didn’t Ballz (Clippers owner Steve Ballmer) see what we did to my brother (former Lakers head of basketball operations Jim Buss)?? He will have nothing but Clippers basketball. Whoopee.”

Since the Lakers don’t intend to leave the Staples Center and the Clippers’ lease runs through 2024, this battle isn’t expected to affect fans anytime soon, but Fenno’s report – which is worth checking out in full – provides an interesting glimpse behind the scenes at the fight over some L.A. real estate.

Pacific Notes: Zubac, Fox, Lakers’ Issues, Free Agency

Young center Ivica Zubac has kept close tabs on his former team and says he could have made a difference for the Lakers if they hadn’t dealt him, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register reports. Zubac was a part of the deal that landed brought power forward Mike Muscala to the Lakers. Zubac has averaged 8.6 PPG and 7.7 RPG in nine games as the Clippers’ starting center. “I’ve been watching almost every game,” Zubac said. “I feel like every time I watch them, I’m like, ‘If I was there, I would help them. I would definitely make a difference on the floor,’ you know? But they’re not my team anymore.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The longtime trainer of Kings guard De’Aaron Fox is now his agent, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. Chris Gaston is newly certified as an agent and has launched the “Family First Sports Firm.” Knicks guard Damyean Dotson has also hired Gaston to co-represent him, Haynes adds.
  • Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and members of the front office believe that rival teams have taken great pains to cause internal damage to the franchise, a knowledgeable source told Sam Amick of The Athletic. President of basketball operations Magic Johnson felt the Pelicans didn’t negotiate in good faith during Anthony Davis discussions, Amick notes. The fact that specific trade packages were being reported throughout the process gives credence to those suspicions that other teams want to cause the Lakers grief.
  • While the Lakers could trade for Davis and/or land a top free agent, it’s also quite possible that they will strike out in those endeavors, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report writes. The future holds nothing more than “maybes” for the franchise and this disjointed season has given it a black eye, Pincus adds.

Jeanie Buss: Lakers’ Anthony Davis Offer Was “Fake News”

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss says reports of what her team offered to the Pelicans in an attempt to land Anthony Davis were exaggerated, tweets Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. Buss addressed the rumors in a speech today at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. She couldn’t mention Davis by name because of tampering rules, but said leaks that the Lakers were willing to trade “our entire roster” for “a certain player” were “fake news.”

A report just before last month’s trade deadline said L.A. was prepared to give up all its young talent, offering Brandon IngramLonzo BallKyle KuzmaIvica Zubac and Josh Hart to New Orleans, along with a pair of first-round draft picks.

The denial from Buss meshes with a report yesterday by ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, notes Christian Rivas of Silver Screen and Roll.

“My sources have told me within the last 48 hours that what we’ve heard the Lakers offered may not be true,” MacMullen said in an appearance on “The Jump.” “… I think there’s some question about just how much did they offer. Did they even get a chance to offer anything?”

There were rumors in the week before the deadline that former Pelicans GM Dell Demps was refusing to take calls from the Lakers to give them a chance to talk about Davis, so MacMullan may be right when she speculates that a formal offer was never made.

No one has confirmed which players L.A. would have been willing to part with to acquire Davis, but there have been reports that the trade talk had a negative effect on many of those whose names were mentioned. The Lakers haven’t played well since the deadline, falling into 10th place in the West with a 30-32 record.

L.A.’s trade plans involving Davis should become clearer once the season is over and negotiations can resume. However, the Lakers will find a more competitive playing field, with the Celtics and Knicks expected to become actively involved, along with other teams.

Jeanie Buss: Luke Walton “Doing A Terrific Job”

There’s a perception in Los Angeles and among many NBA observers that Lakers head coach Luke Walton is on the hot seat, but controlling owner Jeanie Buss said during an appearance on Zach Lowe’s Lowe Post podcast that’s not the case, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com relays. According to Buss, “everyone in the organization” – including top decision-makers Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka – is behind Walton.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure that Luke is successful in his job. That’s our job,” Buss said. “I think he is doing a terrific job. Given the injuries that we’ve had, it’s a challenge and people forget that he has had two of our starters taken away from him and they’ve won really important games on the road, proving what is possible even without LeBron (James)… I think Luke has done an impressive job.”

Buss’s comments don’t come as a real surprise. Even earlier in the season, when Johnson reportedly “admonished” Walton for the Lakers’ slow start out of the gate, the head coach was always said to have the support of Buss, who would ultimately have the final say on any change. Johnson said back in November that no coaching change was planned during the season, and a report last week indicated that the Lakers continued to project support for Walton both publicly and privately.

Walton had the Lakers in position to make the playoffs up until James went down with the groin injury that has now sidelined him for nearly a month. Since then, the team has lost nine of 14 games and slipped to ninth in the Western Conference, albeit just a half-game behind the No. 8 Clippers.

Walton and the Lakers are expected to get some reinforcements soon. As ESPN’s Dave McMenamin outlines, Rajon Rondo is on track to return to the club’s lineup on Thursday vs. Minnesota, filling the hole at point guard created by injuries to Rondo and Lonzo Ball. James is moving closer to a return as well, having participated in five-on-zero play and shooting drills over the weekend, per Walton. However, LeBron isn’t expected to be ready for Thursday’s game.

Lakers Notes: Walton, Meeks, Ingram, Ball

Controlling owner Jeanie Buss holds the key to Luke Walton‘s future as head coach, Bill Oram of The Athletic opines. If team president Magic Johnson urges Buss to make a coaching change in the near future or at the end of the season, she would have to choose between her loyalty to Johnson and her faith in Walton, Oram continues. There is growing uneasiness about Walton’s job security following a loss to the woeful Cavaliers, making the team 3-7 with LeBron James sidelined by a groin injury. Johnson’s unpredictable, ultra-competitive nature and his concerns about the staff increase the possibility of him pushing Buss to make a move, Oram adds.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • Free agent shooting guard and former Laker Jodie Meeks is a potential roster addition as the team looks to improve its outside shooting, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin tweets.  The career 37.2% 3-point shooter worked out for the Sixers on Monday. The Lakers, who have an open roster spot, rank 27th in long-range shooting at 33.5%.
  • Andre Ingram set a G League record for most career games played over the weekend, according to a G League tweet. Ingram, currently with the South Bay Lakers, played his 402nd game on Saturday. The 33-year-old guard made his NBA debut last season with the Lakers, appearing in two games.
  • Lonzo Ball would rather lead by example because he’s not as vocal as veterans like James, Rajon Rondo and Tyson Chandler, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN reports. Ball has stepped up his efforts to be a leader with James and Rondo nursing injuries.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Green, Cousins, Cauley-Stein

Lakers legend Kobe Bryant played a key role in bringing LeBron James to Los Angeles this summer, Sam Amick of The Athletic reveals in a new story.

Bryant, who spent his entire 20-season career with the Lakers, met with team owner Jeanie Buss in February of 2017 to deliver strong advice: Shake up the front office, start new and bring a new culture to the franchise.

“Jeanie, I know who we’re trying to get; we know who we’re trying to get, so that player is not going to come here with all of this s–t going on,” Bryant said, according to Amick. “It’s not going to happen. So if you do want to have that focus, and go after that player, then I’m telling you that you’ve gotta clean house, and you’ve gotta just reshuffle the deck and start anew. You have the new practice facility (the UCLA Health Training Center) that we’re just moving into (in the summer of 2017). We’ve got new management, and off we go. But that player is not coming here unless you do that.

“As a player, it’s like, listen, it’s a cultural thing. You’ve got to have the right culture around, especially for him at this stage of his career,” Bryant explained. “You don’t want to come to a team and deal with a bunch of bull—-, right? You don’t want to come here and be part of an organization where the walls are talking and stuff is getting out left and right and you have this camp and that camp. You don’t want to do that. So I said, ‘You’ve got to start anew.’”

Buss listened to Bryant’s advice, firing older brother Jim Buss and letting go of general manager Mitch Kupchak. In turn, the team promoted Magic Johnson to president of basketball operations and hired Rob Pelinka as new general manager. Fast forward to July of 2018, and the new-look Lakers convinced James to sign a free-agent contract.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

Lakers Rumors: Magic Johnson, Free Agency, George

No NBA team projects to have more cap room next week than the Lakers, who have long been considered the club most likely to make a splash during the 2018 free agent period. Speaking today to reporters though, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson dismissed the idea that he’s stressing his ability to deliver star free agents to Los Angeles in the coming days.

“I’m Magic Johnson,” Johnson said, per Bill Oram of The Athletic (Twitter link). “You know how many Finals I’ve been in? So you think I’m worried about this? I played against Larry Bird in the Finals. I played in nine Finals.”

As Johnson explains, he feels “no pressure” to land a marquee free agent or two next week, since he and the Lakers’ front office don’t consider 2018 the team’s only chance to make a major free agent addition. According to Johnson, the Lakers will remain “disciplined” and are prepared to retain their cap room for 2019 if free agency doesn’t play out like they hope this time around.

“We’re excited about free agency,” Johnson said, according to Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet (Twitter link). “We know we had two summers to deal with. We have the cap space and flexibility. We’re looking forward to July but we’re not putting all our marbles into one summer.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Johnson may not be putting any pressure on himself during 2018’s free agent period, but he sounds like he fully expects the Lakers to make impact moves in at least one of the next two summers. Speaking to reporters today, the Lakers legend suggested he may even resign if the Lakers strike out in back-to-back summers in 2018 and 2019. “It’s going to be a two-summer thing for the Lakers,” Johnson said, per Oram (Twitter link). “This summer and next summer. That’s it. If I can’t deliver, I’m going to step down myself. [Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss] won’t have to fire me, I’ll step away from it, because I can’t do this job.”
  • Buss said on Monday that she has “complete faith” in Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka as free agency nears, adding that she’d “really like” to see the Lakers in the playoffs next season. Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com has the story, including more quotes from Buss.
  • Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated obtained a portion of an apparent Lakers recruiting pitch to Paul George. The leak includes a script for a voice-over that will seemingly be used in a video presentation to a free agent from Palmdale, George’s hometown.

Lakers Front Office Wary Of Tampering Possibility

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN is reporting that the Lakers, who have been fined for tampering twice in the past calendar year (links here), recently called an organizational meeting warning all employees about possible tampering ahead of the upcoming free agent signing period.

The Lakers, who are expected to play a key role during free agency this summer, also sent written notices to employees that referenced possible termination as punishment for anyone who does not adhere to NBA rules.

Per Shelburne, Lakers’ co-owner and governor Jeanie Buss called the meeting, which was led by president of basketball operations Magic Johnson who, somewhat ironically, was involved in both of the team’s prior tampering violations.

As our Hoops Rumors Glossary shows, the July Moratorium doesn’t allow free agent deals to become official until July 6. However, free agents are still permitted to negotiate with teams and agree to terms on new contracts during the moratorium. As such, the Lakers, as with the other 29 NBA franchises, aren’t allowed to begin negotiating with free agents until midnight on July 1.

Buss: Entire Lakers’ Organization Behind Luke Walton

Lakers ownership and management continue to voice their support for Luke Walton, with controlling owner Jeanie Buss the latest to praise the club’s head coach. As Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details, Buss was asked on Tuesday whether Walton will remain the Lakers’ head coach through the season and the 2018 offseason, and she essentially dismissed the idea that it’d even be up for debate.

“Luke Walton is the Lakers’ coach, period,” Buss said. “There’s no worrying about it, there’s no speculation. He’s done a terrific job. He is somebody that the entire front office, the organization is behind.”

Walton’s job performance was questioned – most notably by LaVar Ball – when the Lakers lost nine consecutive games at the end of December and start of January. However, Walton’s Lakers have looked very good since snapping that streak. The club has won seven of its last nine games, including three in a row — L.A. is coming off a Tuesday night upset of the Celtics.

While the Lakers didn’t respond immediately to Ball’s criticisms earlier this month, Buss and Magic Johnson tweeted support for their head coach a week and a half ago, and Buss’ comments this week further cement Walton’s job security in Los Angeles. The Lakers’ private stance reportedly lines up with its public stance, as ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne has previously suggested that Walton’s job status was “not even a conversation” for the franchise.