Jesse Buss

L.A. Notes: Pelinka, LeBron, Rivers, Lawsuit

All signs point to Rob Pelinka having full power to run the Lakers in the wake of Magic Johnson’s resignation, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. Sources tell Amick that the team didn’t contact David Griffin, LeBron James‘ former GM in Cleveland, before he joined the Pelicans earlier this month. They also didn’t try to lure GM Bob Myers from the Warriors or consultant Jerry West from the Clippers.

Pelinka has orchestrated the coaching search ever since the team parted ways with Luke Walton, Amick adds. He identified Tyronn Lue, Monty Williams, Juwan Howard and Jason Kidd as candidates and organized their interviews.

Although Pelinka is running the show, the number of people with a voice in front office decisions has grown since Johnson left. In addition to Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss, the interviews with Lue and Howard were attended by president of business operations Tim Harris, VP of research and development Joey Buss and assistant GM and director of scouting Jesse Buss.

There’s more today from L.A.:

  • James plans to stay out of personnel decisions and will trust Lakers management to assemble a playoff contender, Amick reports in the same story. LeBron bristles at suggestions that he serves as de facto GM wherever he goes and plans to stay out of the spotlight this summer. He released an Instagram video this week proclaiming his faith in the front office.
  • The Clippers‘ performance this year set a foundation for what could be a vastly improved roster next season, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Doc Rivers‘ team gained respect throughout the league by reaching the postseason after trading away leading scorer Tobias Harris in February. “When you are knocked out of the playoffs there’s obviously some times it’s a relief,” Rivers said. “And there are some times you just don’t want it to happen and last night was one of those points. Just the sense of disappointment — even though you know the group you had overachieved, you still don’t want it to end.”
  • A lawsuit contesting the Clippers‘ proposed new Inglewood arena is moving forward, reports Nathan Fenno of The Los Angeles Times. A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has rejected an attempt to block the suit, which was filed by Uplift Inglewood, a community group dedicated to affordable housing.

Coaching Updates: Williams, Lakers, Suns, Cavs

The Lakers sent a big contingent of executives to Philadelphia today for their second interview with head coaching candidate Monty Williams, reports Bill Oram of The Athletic (via Twitter). According to Oram, in addition to GM Rob Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss, the meeting will also include Lakers executives Joey Buss, Jesse Buss, Kurt Rambis, Linda Rambis, and COO Tim Harris.

Williams won’t be the first candidate to meet with such a big group. According to Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (via Twitter), the same Lakers executives met with Juwan Howard on Tuesday and Tyronn Lue on Wednesday. It was Howard’s first interview and Lue’s second for L.A.’s head coaching job.

As Oram observes (via Twitter), it’s somewhat interesting to see the younger Buss siblings, Jesse and Joey, involved in the process. While they’ve been part of the Lakers’ organization for years, their contributions have been limited to the scouting department and the G League affiliate — they’d been largely left out of major basketball operations decisions until now.

Here are a few more coaching-related updates from around the NBA:

  • The Lakers aren’t the only team with interest in Monty Williams. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Suns officials are traveling to Toronto to meet with the Sixers assistant on Friday before Philadelphia opens its series against the Raptors on Saturday. Phoenix received permission earlier this week to interview Williams, who has been identified as the team’s top candidate to replace Igor Kokoskov. The Suns may try to preempt a Lakers offer, Wojnarowski writes.
  • The Cavaliers and J.B. Bickerstaff are working to set up a meeting for next week, sources tell Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Bickerstaff said on Wednesday that he’s “definitely interested” in Cleveland’s head coaching job. Vardon also confirms that Juwan Howard and Jamahl Mosley are the only candidates who have formally interviewed with the Cavs so far.
  • The Cavaliers remain interested in Nuggets assistant Jordi Fernandez, but have yet to officially line up an interview, league sources tell Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). Denver remains alive in the playoffs, so the Cavs will have to work around the Nuggets’ schedule.