Jeanie Buss

Warriors Attempted To Get Lakers To Consider LeBron Trade

Prior to last Thursday’s trade deadline, the Warriors tried – unsuccessfully – to convince the Lakers to consider sending superstar forward LeBron James to Golden State, according to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.

The Warriors’ pursuit of James occurred at multiple levels, per ESPN’s reporting. Klutch Sports client Draymond Green contacted agent Rich Paul in an effort to solicit his help getting LeBron on board with a move to Golden State, while Warriors owner Joe Lacob reached out to Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and Warriors general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. touched base with Lakers GM Rob Pelinka.

Ultimately, the same answer came back from all involved parties — the Lakers had no interest in trading James, and the four-time MVP had no interest in going anywhere, as Paul stated six days ahead of the deadline.

As Wojnarowski and Shelburne outline, the Warriors’ pursuit stemmed from the fact that James seemed to be frustrated by the Lakers’ up-and-down first half. He hinted at those frustrations in some comments to the media and posted a cryptic tweet consisting only of hourglass emoji.

When Lacob reached out to Buss, she told the Warriors owner that while she had no interest in trading LeBron, that she would check in with him and Paul to gauge their thoughts.

Sources tell ESPN that Buss has “operated with the mindset that she wants her star players content with the franchise,” so if he had been unhappy with his situation in Los Angeles, the team would have been open to changing its stance. That wasn’t the case, however, as Paul told both Lacob and Dunleavy that his top client wanted to remain a Laker.

ESPN’s report doesn’t include any details about the package the Warriors would have offered for James, but since the goal was to pair him with Stephen Curry and Green was involved in the recruiting, we can at least safely assume those two wouldn’t have been on the table. Beyond that, there are many permutations Golden State could have explored — an offer involving Chris Paul and/or Andrew Wiggins, plus prospects and draft picks, seems most likely, given that the Dubs reportedly weren’t interested in moving Klay Thompson.

According to Wojnarowski and Shelburne, the Warriors weren’t the only team to check in on James prior to the trade deadline. Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey also inquired on LeBron’s availability, though that’s a common practice for Morey, who also contacted the Suns to ask about Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and/or Bradley Beal, per ESPN.

As ESPN’s duo explains, the Warriors situation was a little different because it began at the ownership level and included a conversation with Paul, whereas Morey is known around the league for making “bold” long-shot trade inquiries. When Morey asked the Lakers about LeBron, Pelinka responded by inquiring about the availability of reigning MVP Joel Embiid, which ended their brief conversation, sources tell Woj and Shelburne.

James will have a decision to make this summer on a 2024/25 player option worth $51.4MM. While he’s considered likely to either pick up that option or sign a new deal with the Lakers, suitors like the Warriors and Sixers may get a chance to pursue him again at that time.

Lakers Notes: Ham, Backcourt, Murray, Reddish, Schröder

After ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and Substack reporter Marc Stein suggested earlier this week that Lakers head coach Darvin Ham isn’t in any immediate danger of losing his job, two more reports have confirmed as much — in even stronger terms.

According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss sent a “long text message” to Ham reiterating her support for him. Meanwhile, Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report says that both Buss and president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka have informed Ham that his job isn’t in any jeopardy.

“I speak to Rob every day and we’re always discussing ways to improve our team and what we can do better as a coaching staff,” Ham told Haynes after the Lakers dipped back below .500 with a Thursday loss to Phoenix. “It’s an open dialogue that I embrace and that is helpful. We’re all trying to get this right and we will.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • As they scour the trade market, the Lakers are seeking “speed and quickness” in their backcourt, according to Haynes, who adds that the team would like to be able to play faster offensively and to acquire a guard who plays solid point-of-attack defense. Rival executives expect the Lakers – along with the Raptors, among others – to begin talking more seriously to Atlanta about Dejounte Murray in the near future, Haynes writes, though he cautions that the Hawks are making it known they’d be comfortable hanging onto Murray and revisiting his trade market in the offseason.
  • The Lakers appeared to have broken out of their recent slump with victories over the Clippers and Raptors earlier this week, but Thursday’s blowout loss at home to the Suns was a discouraging setback, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “I think it’s just a lot of holes in our system right now,” D’Angelo Russell said. “You use the regular season to figure those things out, the ups and downs, the digression, the setbacks, all these things. Injuries just keep playing a part in our success. … I think we can still find the light at the end of the tunnel. We just got to get better, got to keep getting better.”
  • Lakers forward Cam Reddish, who missed games in December due to right knee and left groin ailments, continues to deal with leg issues. He left Thursday’s contest early after experiencing left knee soreness, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
  • As part of a larger conversation with Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, Raptors guard Dennis Schröder looked back on the 2021 extension offer from the Lakers that he turned down. The guard’s former representatives advised him to pass on it, Fischer writes. “I would have signed it,” Schröder said. “I would never just leave money on the table. My mom didn’t raise me that way.” While reports at the time indicated the offer was worth $80MM+ over four years, Fischer suggested in a follow-up tweet that that figure may have been overstated.

Lakers’ Ham: “Aligned” With Owner, GM

Amid a report of a “deepening disconnect” between Darvin Ham and Lakers players due to Ham’s erratic lineups, which have partially been a result of injuries, the team’s head coach says he’s “solid” in his job security and is “aligned” with owner Jeanie Buss and vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka, according to Khobi Price of The Southern California News Group and Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“It comes with the territory,” Ham said of the criticisms. “I’m solid. My governor, Jeanie Buss, the boss lady; our president, Robert Pelinka – we’re all aligned. As long as they’re not saying it, I guess I’m good.

Which I know how they feel about me and the situation we’re currently in. So, we’re all on the same page. My two captains (LeBron James and Anthony Davis), I communicate with them. Our communication has been at a high level.”

Ham didn’t directly mention the report from The Athletic, but he criticized the general use of anonymous sources, like the ones cited in the story.

The one thing that’s crazy is that it reminds me of when I used to watch ‘60 Minutes’ with my father in the ’80s,” Ham said. “And one particular show they were talking about La Cosa Nostra and the mafia and these guys were starting to go to trial and their star witness shows up with a black potato sack over his head and shades. And due to fear, the name can’t really be released.

This seems to be the standard of reporting now for [the] NBA. People on the internet and whatever. And not all reporters – I don’t want to disrespect anybody in the room – but when you say the source is anonymous by choice and they don’t want to put their name on something but they want to give you the information and then you take the information and now everybody gets a chance to dissect it and spread it all out in their own way, it’s kind of disingenuous. And I wish we would get to a place where people are firm enough to stand on what they’re saying and then maybe we can have real dialogue and get to it.”

Ham said he welcomed critiques of his performance and brushed off the speculation.

I don’t mind people critiquing the job I’m doing,” he said. “All I’m going to do is keep my head down and continue to do my job until I can’t do it anymore. Just be solid with what you’re putting out there and please don’t intertwine it with personal attacks either.

That’s what it is, that’s what I signed up for when I decided to become a coach and I’ve been around some great guys who have handled it well and some coaches that haven’t handled it so well. But me? I’m solid. I’ve been through a ton of ‘ish’ in my life and this is a walk in the park. Trust me.”

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Buss, Pelinka, Davis, Fudge

Regardless of how much longer LeBron James spends with the Lakers or how his remaining time with the team plays out, the franchise intends to eventually retire his number, team owner Jeanie Buss tells Mark Medina of SportsKeeda.

“The standard for having your jersey retired as a Laker is when a player is inducted into the Hall of Fame. I have absolutely no doubt that LeBron will make it into the Basketball Hall of Fame,” Buss said. “When he does so, then we will retire his jersey. Knowing that he will make it into the Basketball Hall of Fame, he will have his Lakers jersey retired, no doubt about it.”

As Medina observes, James wore a No. 23 jersey during his first three years with the Lakers and will switch back to No. 23 in 2023/24 after wearing No. 6 for the last two seasons. Buss wasn’t prepared to say whether the Lakers would eventually retire both numbers, but stressed that the team would still retire LeBron’s jersey even if he doesn’t finish his career with the franchise.

“It would mean a lot (if LeBron retires as a Laker). But it won’t change his contributions to Lakers history,” Buss said. “… A player like Shaquille O’Neal has meant so much to Lakers history, but he wasn’t a Laker when he retired from the NBA. But that didn’t change what his part of Lakers history was. When he retired from the NBA, we retired his Lakers jersey.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • In her full interview with Medina, Buss addressed a wide range of Lakers-related topics, including her thoughts on the team’s finish in 2022/23, Rob Pelinka‘s performance, and much more. Regarding Pelinka, Buss explained why she stood by the club’s head of basketball operations when he was facing criticism for the acquisition of Russell Westbrook: “I always felt then and now that Rob was the right person to be in charge of our front office. I continued to do so. Every decision that is made isn’t always the perfect one. But it’s the decision you make after that that counts. We had a roster that didn’t work and wasn’t working. But you can’t change things overnight in the NBA. But you can set yourself up by making the next right decision. That’s exactly what Rob did. … Every decision, you have the opportunity to make the next right decision. That’s what Rob has proven.”
  • Asked about a possible contract extension for Anthony Davis, Buss declined to discuss the subject in any depth. However, in deferring to Pelinka, she hinted that she’d be on board with a new deal for Davis: “Rob said it best. Our intention is that we want to keep continuity with our team. I’ll leave it at that.”
  • The two-way contract that undrafted rookie Alex Fudge signed with the Lakers will cover two years rather than one, Hoops Rumors has learned. Fudge is the sixth player to sign a two-year two-way deal this offseason, as our tracker shows.

Jeanie Buss Discusses LeBron’s Extension, Westbrook, More

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss discussed a variety of topics with Sam Amick of The Athletic, including LeBron James signing an extension with the team, how important Russell Westbrook was last season and more. James agreed to extend his deal earlier this month, while Westbrook has been at the center of trade speculation this summer.

“I’ll stay cautiously optimistic, but it is a big vote of confidence when LeBron James signs a two-year extension, when he had many months to do so,” Buss said as part of a much larger quote. “And you know, it was a priority to us. It’s a priority to the Laker brand that he retire a Laker. We’ll probably enjoy watching him as he approaches becoming the all-time leading scorer in history.”

As Amick notes, James had until June 30, 2023 to extend his deal. He’s now under contract through the 2023/24 season and owns a $50.4MM player option for the 2024/25 campaign. He’s coming off an excellent year, averaging 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game on 52% shooting.

Buss curiously tabbed Westbrook as the team’s best player last season, later clarifying she should’ve used the word “consistent” instead of “best.” Westbrook played in 78 games — the most of anyone on the team — but his production certainly wasn’t where James’ was.

“All I can say is that, from my point of view, (Westbrook) was our best player last year,” Buss said. “He played pretty much every single game, showed up, worked hard. You know, I would have loved to have seen what this team would have looked like if they stayed healthy.

“It’s really tough to win when Anthony Davis isn’t on the court. LeBron was hurt a lot of the season. But Russ showed up every game and played hard every night. And, you know, I just really appreciate him for who he is and what he brings to the team.”

When it comes to health, Buss has a great point. Westbrook, James and Davis only played in 21 games together last season. The games were also scattered throughout the campaign. Chemistry still matters when forming a big three. In 2010/11, James was part of a core that featured Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. The team started 9-8, then wound up going 49-16 after that as a result.

While the Lakers certainly had issues related to their supporting cast, defense and three-point shooting (the team shot 34.7%, ranked 22nd in the league), it’s clear that health issues were a major factor in the club’s failure to reach its full potential. In the end, Los Angeles finished with a 33-49 record and missed the playoffs.

“Last season was a huge disappointment,” Buss said as part of her assessment. “I think if you look back, exactly a year ago there was a lot of media who predicted us to be at the top. We certainly didn’t live up to that expectation, and it was hugely disappointing because you can’t possibly contend for a championship if you’re not even in the playoffs.

“So we made some changes. And, you know, I think changes needed to be made. … We have a new coach, and I’m excited to see what he brings and I want to give him all the time and resources that he needs to build a successful program.”

Lakers’ Jeanie Buss Discusses Down Year, Front Office, More

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss wasn’t happy with the way her team’s season played out, she said in a wide-ranging interview with Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times. With championship expectations and one of the NBA’s most expensive rosters entering the 2021/22 season, Los Angeles went 33-49 and missed both the playoffs and the play-in tournament.

“I’m growing impatient just because we had the fourth-highest payroll in the league,” Buss told Plaschke. “… When you spend that kind of money on the luxury tax, you expect to go deep into the playoffs. So, yeah, it was gut-wrenching for me to go out on a limb like that and not get the results that we were looking for. … I’m not happy, I’m not satisfied.”

As the final decision-maker on Lakers matters, Buss said it was up to her to “make things better” after an “extremely disappointing” year, which could mean making personnel changes on and off the court.

“Absolutely, if we are not living up to the Lakers standard, absolutely I will look at everything,” she said. “… I will make the hard decisions, because that’s what you have to do.”

Although it sounds like front office changes could be on the table if the Lakers have another down year, Buss appears prepared to give VP of basketball operations Rob Pelinka and his group at least one more shot to reshape and upgrade the roster, as well as to hire a new head coach, Plaschke writes.

“In terms of basketball decisions, I have complete confidence in our front office, which is headed by Rob Pelinka,” Buss said. “He is a person that is extremely smart, extremely strategic, everything he does is thoughtful and with purpose. … I have complete confidence that he can put together a roster and find a coach that is going to get us back to where we belong.”

Here’s more from Buss on the state of the Lakers:

  • Buss confirmed that she receives input from Kurt Rambis, Linda Rambis, Magic Johnson, Phil Jackson, LeBron James, and Klutch Sports, but insists that none of those figures have outsized voices within the organization. “Do they have final say? No. Are they running the team? No, no, not at all,” Buss said when asked about James and Klutch Sports, adding that it’s normal for teams to bounce ideas off of their top players. “I am controlling owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, I’m held accountable for every decision that’s made here.”
  • Buss defended Kurt Rambis’ track record against what she perceives as “unfair criticism” and stressed that Linda Rambis has no input in basketball decisions. “In terms of Linda Rambis, she does not have a role in the basketball department; her role is, as it’s been for the last almost 40 years, is as my advisor,” Buss told Plaschke. “She and I have worked together for years and years and years. Why that has become an issue for people, I don’t understand.” Linda helps new Lakers players and their families adjust to Los Angeles, according to Buss: “Every team has somebody like that, in our case it’s Linda. … She’s done that for over 30 years with the Lakers. Not like all of a sudden she’s become the assistant general manager, that’s not true.”
  • Buss believes the Lakers can win another title with James and Anthony Davis as their cornerstones, but declined to speculate on Russell Westbrook‘s future with the team. “Having a conversation like that is premature,” she said. “We have to now find the right coach to lead this team. Depending on the style of play that that coach wants to play, given the roster that we have, it all has to start to come together.”
  • Buss hasn’t given any thought to the idea of selling the Lakers, telling Plaschke that her late father Jerry Buss always wanted to keep the franchise in the family. “I’m not going anywhere. This is exactly what my dad asked me to do. The team is not for sale,” Jeanie said. “… I like to say, my dad had his children, but the Lakers were his baby, and he put me in charge of the baby, and I will make sure that the baby thrives.”

Latest On Lakers: Jackson, Buss, Pelinka, James, Bryant, Westbrook, Vogel

Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson has been in frequent contact with owner Jeanie Buss regarding team matters all season long, according to The Athletic’s Bill Oram and Sam Amick.

It’s uncertain if Jackson, Buss’ ex-fiance, will eventually take a formal role in the future. However, she has relied upon trusted members of her inner circle throughout the team’s tumultuous season and will continue to lean on them to map out the franchise’s offseason approach. Jackson has taken a particular interest in the what The Athletic duo describes as the often uncomfortable dynamics surrounding the Russell Westbrook situation.

It’s unlikely that there will be a change at the top of the team’s front office structure, according to Oram and Amick. GM Rob Pelinka still has Buss’ full support and trust. Kurt Rambis, who works alongside Pelinka as a senior basketball advisor, also remains a strong and trusted voice with the organization.

The story also delves into several other hot topics regarding the Lakers:

  • Among LeBron James‘ inner circle, there are already discussions about the roster and what can be done to fix it for next season. Buss is eager to maintain the trust of James and wants to keep her biggest star happy. The post-All-Star break meeting with James’ representative, super-agent Rich Paul, was aimed at keeping both sides on good terms and quelling any controversies regarding James’ future. Sources close to James insist he does not have issues with the team’s power structure, per Oram and Amick.
  • Kobe Bryant, who was represented by Pelinka, would have been offered a hands-on role in the front office by Buss if not for his untimely death.
  • Coach Frank Vogel will likely be fired unless the team makes a surprising postseason run, per Oram and Amick. However, no final decision has been made.
  • The coaching staff made an unsuccessful push for Westbrook to be traded, according to The Athletic’s duo, who also confirm reports that there’s a growing disconnect between the point guard and the staff, even though Vogel has kept him in the starting lineup.

Pacific Notes: Thompson, Kings, LeBron, Rich Paul

Warriors wing Klay Thompson sourced input from a variety of his NBA colleagues across the league, past and present, while rehabilitating from back-to-back season-ending injuries, writes Mark Medina of Thompson tore his ACL during the 2019 NBA Finals, and subsequently tore his Achilles while ramping up for the 2020/21 season.

“So many people count you out when you go through an injury like this,” Hall-of-Famer Dominique Wilkins, who consulted with Thompson, told Medina. “You know your heart. You just got to stay focused, diligent and tough. You can get back from this.”

Wilkins suffered an Achilles tear while playing for the Hawks, but ultimately returned to his All-Star form afterwords.

Thompson also maintained a dialogue over text with former Warriors teammate Kevin Durant, now with the Nets. Durant tore his Achilles while with Golden State during the 2019 postseason.

“It’s inspiring to watch him and see him look the exact same way prior to the injury,” Thompson said in praising his teammate. “It’s a testament not only to his willpower but his skill level. He might lose a little quickness or a little bounce. But you’ll never lose the ability to put the ball in the hole.”

The 31-year-old five-time All-Star also spoke with Grant Hill and Rudy Gay about their own recoveries from major injuries. Thompson is averaging 17.1 PPG with a reduced minutes load this season as he continues to work his way back, hoping to reclaim his All-Star form come playoff time.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Given that the perpetually rebuilding Kings cannot necessarily rely on big-ticket free agency additions as a small market franchise, Chris Binderman of the Sacramento Bee wonders if Sacramento could benefit from taking a page out of the Nuggets‘ playbook when it comes to adding and developing talent.
  • The 27-32 Lakers find themselves facing an uncertain future after going all-in on Russell Westbrook in a trade this summer. Although LeBron James appeared to voice his relative apathy about a long-term future in Los Angeles during the 2022 All-Star Weekend festivities, he has since expressed his commitment to the team. When Bill Oram of The Athletic openly hypothesized that James might not want to remain with the Lakers beyond the end of his current deal, James retorted in comments to the press. “Anytime Bill says anything about the Lakers it’s going to be negative,” James said. “So, I hope no one in the Lakers faithful listens to Bill Oram. I hope not. He hasn’t said one great thing about the Lakers in so long.” In a new piece for The Athletic, Oram opines that James himself was responsible for the latest rumblings.
  • Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, GM Rob Pelinka, and James’ longtime agent Rich Paul met this week to discuss everyone’s feelings surrounding their team-building strategy. Sam Amick of The Athletic provides more details on the group’s conversation.

LeBron Clears Air, Wants To Stay With Lakers For “As Long As I Can Play”

LeBron James reiterated his desire to finish out his career with the Lakers and said he doesn’t “push the buttons” when it comes to personnel decisions, as he told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and other media members after the team’s loss to the Clippers on Friday night.

James is under contract for one more season and will be eligible to sign a two-year extension this summer.

“This is a franchise I see myself being with. I’m here. I’m here,” James said. “I see myself being with the Purple and Gold as long as I can play.”

James raised a lot of eyebrows with his comments during All-Star weekend that he wouldn’t close the door on a possible return to Cleveland. He also stirred the pot by heaping praise on Thunder general manager Sam Presti for his ability to identify talent.

James also expressed his desire in an interview with The Athletic to eventually play with his 17-year-old son, Bronny. However, James said Friday he hopes that will occur in L.A.

“I also have a goal that, if it’s possible — I don’t even know if it’s possible — that if I can play with my son, I would love to do that,” he said. “Is that, like, something that any man shouldn’t want that in life? That’s like the coolest thing that could possibly happen. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to be with this franchise.”

Bronny would not be eligible to play in the NBA until the 2024/25 season.

In terms of his relationship with the front office, James said his comments about Presti were not a potshot toward GM Rob Pelinka.

“If I comment [on] or compliment the GM that’s in OKC — I really believe he’s done a phenomenal job. And you guys spin that to me saying that Rob is not doing a great job,” James said.

Super-agent Rich Paul, whose agency represents James and Anthony Davis, met with Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss on Tuesday in what could be characterized as a clear-the-air session.

Pelinka consults his superstars regarding potential moves, including the Russell Westbrook trade with Washington that contributed significantly to the Lakers’ poor season. There were also reports James and Davis were unhappy the front office stood pat at the trade deadline.

James says he doesn’t have final say on trades.

“I don’t push the buttons,” James said. “They ask for my opinion, and I voice my opinion and what I believe. But I don’t press any buttons. That’s what our front office is for, and that’s what our leadership group is for.”

He also feels the influence that he and his representative have within the franchise sparks jealousy.

“I mean, I think a lot of people are, to be honest, just jealous of the relationship that Rich has with the front office and with this team and with the relationship that I have, that I’ve grown over the last four years. I mean, that’s what I think it boils down to,” he said.

Rich Paul Meets With Lakers’ Brass, Assures Team LeBron Wants To Stay In L.A.

LeBron James wants to remain with the Lakers and he and his representatives are not insisting on front office changes, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports.

James’ representative, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, met with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and VP of basketball operations Rob Pelinka on Tuesday, and expressed LeBron’s desire to remain with the team beyond this season. James is eligible for an extension this offseason.

Paul also stressed that there’s no push from his side for management changes and that there’s shared accountability, as Wojnarowski described it, for the team’s disappointing season.

James and Klutch Sports were reportedly upset with Pelinka for standing pat at the trade deadline.

Paul also spoke to Buss and Pelinka of James’ desire to finish off the season as strong as possible and then seek to upgrade the roster in the offseason.

Paul’s agency also represents Anthony Davis, who is out several weeks due to a foot injury.

James raised a lot of eyebrows with his comments during All-Star weekend that he wouldn’t close the door on a possible return to Cleveland. He also stirred the pot by heaping praise on Thunder general manager Sam Presti for his ability to identify talent.