Connect with us


NBA PM: Bryant, Buss Talk Frustrating Lakers Season

Kobe Bryant and Jeanie Buss opened up about the Los Angeles Lakers’ struggles and how the team can right the ship … James Dolan makes it

Alex Kennedy



Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel discusses his coaching philosophy, game-day routine and more in this one-on-one interview.

Bryant, Buss Talk Frustrating Lakers Season

This has been one of the worst seasons ever for the Los Angeles Lakers.

L.A. is currently 22-44, which is tied for the fewest wins in the Western Conference, and they were the first NBA team to be officially eliminated from the playoff race last Friday. Fringe players like Kendall Marshall and Ryan Kelly have been thrust into starting roles for the Lakers despite the fact that they’d ride the bench on most teams, and the team has struggled to compete on most nights.

The last year has been frustrating, to say the least, for fans in Los Angeles who aren’t accustomed to sitting at the bottom of the standings and dealing with these kinds of struggles. Last season’s supposed super team severely underperformed, Dwight Howard left as an unrestricted free agent, Steve Nash’s health continues to be an issue and Kobe Bryant sustained back-to-back serious injuries.

Then, as if the Lakers faithful didn’t already have enough to be upset about, they had to watch Phil Jackson become the New York Knicks’ team president on Tuesday. This comes one year after Los Angeles decided to hire Mike D’Antoni as their head coach over the interested Jackson – a move that was questioned immediately and looks even worse today since D’Antoni’s days in L.A. seem to be numbered.

Earlier today, Bryant appeared on the Dan Patrick Show and discussed the team’s current state and future. Patrick said that he didn’t understand why the Lakers didn’t hire Jackson last season and Bryant, who is always blunt, said that he didn’t get the decision either.

“Listen, that makes two of us,” Bryant said on the Dan Patrick Show. “I didn’t really understand it much either.”

Bryant was quick to add that he still believes the Lakers can turn things around and that he has faith in the team’s front office to right the ship.

“What we can do as players is just trust the organization,” Bryant said. “I’ve had conversations with Jimmy [Buss]. Jimmy is really adamant about the direction that he wants to go with this organization. He feels really confident in that fact that he can be able to turn it around. Him and Jeanie [Buss] seem to be really focused on being on the same page, getting on the same page and pushing this organization to have the same legacy that their father was able to maintain for so many years.

“It’s hard to really see that when you’re in this type of situation where things really seem, the future seems really bleak. It’s tough to have that faith and that trust, but that’s what you have to have. I’ve been with this organization since I was 17 years old and I’ve known Jimmy, I’ve known Jeanie and I know they bleed purple and gold, man. They want to do the right thing for the organization. When you have people who are that passionate about it, just as passionate as you are, it’s really just about communication and moving forward in the same direction. I have no doubt that that will happen.”

On Tuesday, after his introductory press conference with the Knicks, Jackson was asked if he would’ve taken a similar job calling the shots with the Lakers. The 13-time champion said that it wasn’t an option. He made it clear that Jim Buss wanted to put his own fingerprints on the franchise and go in a different direction. Jeanie Buss also chimed in, saying that Jackson was never offered a job with the Lakers.

“I think it was clear that Phil wanted to go back to work,” Buss said in an interview with Time Warner Cable SportsNet. “He had been talking to different organizations, and for me personally, I like having Phil around, but there was no role for him with the Lakers. He’s too good of a basketball mind to just sit at home in a rocking chair playing Solitaire. He decided, and I feel comfortable with that, and he knows my commitment is here with the Lakers. The Lakers are my life. For him, the Knicks will be a job that will have a beginning and hopefully for him, success. Not over the Lakers, but in the Eastern Conference, and it’ll someday come to an end because he’s a hired person. But the Lakers are my life and it’s a family business. This is going to be my family forever.

“He was not offered any official position [with the Lakers]. Fans will recall seeing him when we retired Shaquille O’Neal’s jersey, for example. He came and he was part of that ceremony. There were a lot of Laker functions that Phil was with me because he was there to support me, in no official capacity. There is no role in the front office for him for what he could contribute. Maybe I could have him sell sponsorships or do something like that, work security, but I don’t think that would be something that would give Phil the kind of challenge he is looking for that would fulfill him. … With Phil, I wanted him to know that if there was no role for him with the Lakers, he should be free to pursue other interests. I didn’t know if it’d be an NBA team, I didn’t know if was going to a third-world country to volunteer with helping them set up basketball camps. I didn’t know what it was, but I wanted him to pursue something that would fulfill him. Certainly, the decision was his to make and I support him whatever he wants to do.”

Bryant hasn’t hid his frustration this season. A week ago, when he was officially shut down for the rest of the campaign, he told reporters that he expected the front office to make major changes this offseason to right the ship, adding that he didn’t have the patience for a rebuilding effort.

Today, when asked if D’Antoni should be given another year with the Lakers, Bryant hesitated and then didn’t offer a ringing endorsement for the head coach. While he did say that injuries have contributed to D’Antoni’s struggles in Los Angeles, there have been reports indicating that Bryant has no interest in playing for D’Antoni next year and this quote doesn’t do much to dispel those rumors.

“Um, I don’t know,” Bryant said when asked if D’Antoni should get another year in L.A. “It’s been tough on him. The two years that he’s been here, he’s been dealing with so many injuries left and right. He hasn’t really gotten a fair deal, a fair shake at it since he’s been here.”

Jeanie Buss understands Bryant’s irritation. He’s as competitive individual as you’ll find and his team doesn’t seem poised to compete for a championship over the next two years, which very well could be the last of Bryant’s illustrious career. Buss has been just as upset with this season, but she’s confident the Lakers can get back on track.

“I think it’s been extremely frustrating,” Buss said. “I understand why the fans are frustrated. A lot of injuries that weren’t expected and certainly we were all looking forward to the return of Kobe Bryant from his injury, and he came back successfully, but it was short-lived. I don’t think I can remember a season like this in all the years I’ve worked with the Lakers, and the good thing is that there’s going to be a next season and we’ll have an opportunity to get things back on track.

“He’s such a competitor and I can only imagine what he’s going through right now because he has no outlet for that. I lived with it. I lived with Phil Jackson and I know how competitive he is. If that competitiveness is not fed or does not have an outlet, it can drive you crazy. So I understand his frustration and I will talk to him and I will commiserate with him because I know how he feels.”

The Lakers will have a top pick in this year’s draft, which has been hyped up as one of the best incoming classes in recent memory, which should help the team as they try to restock the cupboard. L.A. has $34,116,243 in guaranteed commitments for next season and $25,000,000 for 2015-16.

Dolan: My Goal Isn’t to Be Loved

It’s no secret that many fans of the New York Knicks blame James Dolan for the team’s issues. Dolan is consistently criticized by fans and media alike, and this week has been no different since he has been in the headlines with the hiring of Phil Jackson as the team’s president. Yesterday, it surfaced that Dolan passed out his CDs during free agent meetings back in the summer of 2010, giving critics more ammo.

However, Dolan took some time to go on ESPN Radio’s “The Michael Kay Show” yesterday and he was asked point blank whether it bothered him that he isn’t liked by fans.

“As far as being liked and disliked, I know what my job is,” Dolan told Kay. “I know what I have to do. I go about doing it, you’re not going to be liked by everybody. If your goal is to be liked by everybody, I don’t think you’re going to do such a good job because you’re going to worry more about that than making the right decisions. I don’t read the papers, and I’m sorry to say I don’t listen to talk radio. Tell me something, tell me the living New York sports owner that everybody loves? I haven’t seen any love fests going on for any sports team owners in New York in the time I’ve been here. They like winning and they don’t like losing, and that’s part of the deal.

“My goal isn’t to be loved, my goal is to win, and I would love for the fans to be happy. I want them to be happy. I want them to come to the Garden and have a great time. With the transformed Garden, it’s a great place to go and see a sporting event and that’s what my job is. It’s not to go out there and try and be loved by everybody.”

Dolan also reiterated that Jackson will make all of the basketball decisions in New York. Kay pressed Dolan about this, asking if Jackson had the power to, say, walk away from re-signing Carmelo Anthony.

“It’s his decision,” Dolan said. “That’s my agreement with him. … The way that I manage is that I try to empower the people underneath me. They bring me a plan for the year, or a longer term plan, and we agree on the goal. They’re the ones with the strategy, I’m the one with the checkbook. Beyond that, I think it’s really all Phil’s call. I think we have shown that we’re willing to write checks in order to try and win. And I am probably a little more dismayed that the checks haven’t produced more winning.”

Dolan was asked if this change would’ve been made regardless of the team’s record. He admitted that the team’s struggles led to the move.

“I don’t know, I’m not sure,” Dolan said. “That’s sort of a ‘what if’ question. If the team was in the middle of a 54-game winning season, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to change much. So, you know if it was that kind of difference I think, it might not have happened.”

Dolan also stressed that he doesn’t see Jackson returning to the sidelines as a head coach for the Knicks, even though he is a Hall of Fame coach and won 11 championships in that role.

“I don’t think that’ll ever happen,” Dolan said of Jackson coaching. “That’s not what we’re looking for Phil to do for us. We’re looking to have him build a consistently winning franchise. I think he knows how to do that. I think he’ll put the personnel in place. I think he’s going to be deeply involved in the basketball decisions, the style of play, the makeup of the team, all the things that you would want him to be involved in, and hopefully that it will be a culture that’s built at the Knicks, fostered by Steve Mills too, whose a big part of the equation, and that’s really the job. I mean, if Phil would ever coach, who would say no? But at the moment, that’s not in the cards.”

New York is currently 27-40, which puts them in the Eastern Conference’s ninth seed, four and a half games out of the playoff picture.

March Madness is Here

The 2014 NCAA Tournament is underway, and Basketball Insiders has the most in-depth coverage of March Madness you’ll find:

Want a preview of every single NCAA Tournament game? Click here.

Check out a breakdown of the tournament field by clicking here.

Who are this year’s Cinderella teams to keep an eye on? Find out here.

Can Wichita State win it all after going undefeated? An interview with their star.

Check back over the next few days for more coverage of the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.


1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: James Dolan Says He’s Just 1 of Many Hated New York Sports Owners » First Web Market

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


NBA Daily: The Cleveland Cavaliers Need Tyronn Lue

The Cleveland Cavaliers have faced injury adversity and a roster shakeup, and now face uncertainty regarding coach Tyronn Lue’s health.

Buddy Grizzard



The most enduring image of Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue came moments after his team sealed the 2016 NBA Finals with a third consecutive win after trailing the Golden State Warriors 3-1. As the team celebrated its historic comeback and readied to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy, one camera focused on Lue, who sat on the bench with his face buried in his hands.

The image tells a thousand words about the pressure Lue was under as Cleveland teetered on the brink of elimination for three games. Rather than sharing the euphoria of his players, it seemed that Lue’s emotions centered around the massive weight that had been lifted from his shoulders. Almost two years later, it appears that burden has caught back up with Lue, whose leave of absence for health reasons complicates things for Cleveland with the playoffs just around the corner.

“It’s like losing one of your best players,” said Cavaliers forward LeBron James after Cleveland’s 124-117 win at home over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.

Kevin Love returned from a six-week injury absence to post 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists against the Bucks. James likened Lue’s absence to the burden of trying to replace Love’s output while he was unavailable.

“We’ve got to have guys step up, just like guys trying to step up in Kev’s absence,” said James. “We have to do the same as a collective group as long as Ty needs to get himself back healthy.”

There’s optimism that Lue could return before the playoffs, but there’s a great deal of uncertainty given the seriousness of his symptoms, which reportedly included coughing up blood. Lead assistant Larry Drew, a former head coach with the Bucks and Hawks, will handle head coaching responsibilities until Lue is ready to return.

Kyle Korver played under Drew in Atlanta and said he’s confident in his ability to fill in.

“We’d love to have Ty here and healthy,” said Korver after the Bucks win. “Coach Drew has done this for a long time as well. He coached me for a full year in Atlanta. We know he’s fully capable.”

Korver also doubted Drew would introduce any major stylistic changes.

“I think LD’s been Ty’s top assistant for a reason,” said Korver. “They really think a lot alike. They coach very similarly. We miss Ty, but I think the style of what we do is going to be very similar.”

While style and approach should remain unchanged, what could an extended absence for Lue mean for the Cavaliers? Lue cemented his legacy as a leader by keeping the Cavaliers together as they fought back from a 3-1 deficit to the Warriors, but Drew hasn’t had that kind of success as a head coach.

In 2012, the Hawks had a real opportunity to reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in Atlanta history. The Hawks faced an aging Boston Celtics squad in the first round. The eighth-seed Philadelphia 76ers awaited in the second round after defeating the top-seeded Chicago Bulls.

After splitting the first two games in Atlanta, the Hawks faced a pivotal Game 3 in Boston with the opportunity to retake home court advantage. Atlanta Journal-Constitution beat writer Michael Cunningham used Synergy Sports to break down every offensive possession for Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. His conclusion? For three quarters, Rondo did not score a single basket while guarded by Hawks combo guard Kirk Hinrich.

The Hawks traded a package that included a former and a future first-round pick to obtain Hinrich from the Wizards in 2011. But in Game 3, Hinrich failed to score a point despite his effective defense. Apparently feeling the need for an offensive spark, Drew left Hinrich on the bench in the fourth quarter and turned to career journeyman Jannero Pargo.

With Hinrich out of the game, Rondo’s offense came to life as he slashed to the basket at will. Boston opened the fourth with a 13-7 run before Pargo went to the bench and Atlanta closed on a 15-7 run to force overtime. The NBA did not publish net rating data at the time, but we can now see via historical data that the Hawks were outscored by nearly 52 points per 100 possessions in Pargo’s minutes in Game 3. Rather than entrust Atlanta’s season and his own legacy to a player the Hawks traded two first-round picks to obtain, Drew went with Pargo, a career end-of-bench player.

What does this mean for the Cavaliers? It means the team needs to get Lue back. Drew and Lue are both former NBA players who have received mixed reviews as head coaches. But when his legacy was on the line, Lue pushed the right buttons.

For Drew’s part, in his first postgame press conference since Lue’s absence was announced, he remained publicly deferential.

“Coach Lue is the one who makes that decision,” said Drew when asked about lineup combinations. “That’s not my call. We look at a lot of different combinations — whether guys are starting or whether they are coming off the bench — and we assess everything.”

On the critical question of how lineups will be fine-tuned as the Cavaliers prepare for the playoffs, Drew once again emphasized Lue’s active role even as he steps away from the bench.

“I’ll talk to Ty,” said Drew. “He’s got the final say-so. Whatever he wants, then that’s what we’re going to go with. But if he tells me to make a decision, then I’ll have to make the decision.”

With Lue suffering acute symptoms, there’s no way of knowing when he will be ready to step back into the pressure cooker of a leading role for a team with championship aspirations. But the Cavaliers need him and need his steadying influence and instincts. Cleveland is a team that has battled through injuries and a major roster overhaul at the trade deadline. It also faces the pressure of James’ impending free agency decision this summer.

Now, with the playoffs just around the corner, the Cavaliers must endure uncertainty about Lue’s ability to return and lead the team. James has emphasized that Lue’s health overshadows any basketball concerns, but gave his most terse remark when asked about learning that Lue would step away on the same day Cleveland finally got Love back.

“If it’s not one thing, it’s another,” said James. “That was my reaction.”

Continue Reading


A Breakout Season for Joe Harris

Brooklyn Nets swingman Joe Harris talks to Basketball Insiders about his second chance with the Nets.

David Yapkowitz



The NBA is all about second chances. Sometimes players need a change of scenery, or a coach who believes in them, or just something different to reach their full potential. They may be cast aside by several teams, but eventually, they often find that right situation that allows them to flourish.

Such was the case for Joe Harris. Originally drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 33rd overall pick in the 2014 draft, Harris rarely saw the court during his time in Cleveland. He averaged about 6.4 minutes per game over the course of about one and a half seasons with the Cavaliers.

During the 2015-16 season, his second in Cleveland, he underwent season-ending foot surgery. Almost immediately after, the Cavaliers traded him to the Orlando Magic in an attempt to cut payroll due to luxury tax penalties. He would never suit up for the Magic as they cut him as soon as they traded for him.

After using the rest of that season to recover from surgery, he would sign with the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2016. He had a very strong first season in Brooklyn, but this season he’s truly broken out.

“I think a lot of it has to do with just the right situation in terms of circumstances. It’s a young team where you don’t really have anybody on the team that’s going out and getting 20 a night,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a collective effort most nights and it can be any given person depending on the situation. It’s one of those things where we’re real unselfish with the ball. A lot of guys get a lot of good looks, so your production is bound to go up just because of the system now that we’re playing.”

Known primarily as a sharpshooter in college at the University of Virginia as well as his first stop in Cleveland, Harris has started developing more of an all-around game. He’s improved his ability to put the ball on the floor and make plays as well as crashing the glass and playing strong defense.

In a relatively forgettable season record-wise for the Nets, Harris has been one of their bright spots. He’s putting up 10.1 points per game on 47.3 percent shooting from the field while playing 25.4 minutes per game. He’s up to 40.3 percent from the three-point line and he’s pulling down 3.3 rebounds. All of those numbers are career-highs.

“My role, I think, is very similar to the way I would be anywhere that I was playing. I’m a shooter, I help space the floor for guys to facilitate,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “I’m opportunistic offensively with drives and such. I’m out there to try and space the floor, knock down shots, and then play tough defensively and make sure I’m doing my part in getting defensive rebounds and that sort of stuff.”

Although Harris didn’t play much in Cleveland, he did show glimpses and flashes of the player he has blossomed into in Brooklyn. He saw action in 51 games his rookie year while knocking down 36.9 percent of his three-point attempts.

He also saw action in six playoff games during the Cavaliers’ run to the 2015 Finals. But more importantly, it was the off the court things that Harris kept with him after leaving Cleveland. The valuable guidance passed down to him from the Cavaliers veteran guys. It’s all helped mold him into the indispensable contributor he’s become for the Nets.

“Even though I wasn’t necessarily playing as much, the experience was invaluable just in terms of learning how to be a professional,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “The approach, the preparation, that sort of stuff. That’s why I learned a lot while I was there. All those good players that have had great, great, and long careers and just being able to kind of individually pick their brains and learn from them.”

When Harris came to Brooklyn two years ago, he initially signed a two-year deal with a team option after the first year. When he turned in a promising 2016-17 season, it was a no-brainer for the Nets to pick up his option. Set to make about $1.5 million this season, Harris’ contract is a steal.

However, he’s headed for unrestricted free agency this upcoming summer. Although he dealt with being a free agent before when he first signed with the Nets, it’s a different situation now. He’s likely going to be one of the most coveted wings on the market. While there’s still a bit more of the regular season left, and free agency still several months away, it’s something Harris has already thought about. If all goes well, Brooklyn is a place he can see himself staying long-term.

“Yeah, it’s one of those things that I’ll worry about that sort of decision when the time comes. But I have really enjoyed my time in Brooklyn,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a great organization with a lot of good people, and they try and do stuff the right way. I enjoy being a part of that and trying to kind of rebuild and set a good foundation for where the future of the Brooklyn Nets is.”

Continue Reading

Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: 2018 NBA Mock Draft – 3/20/18

With most of the major NBA draft prospects eliminated from March Madness, things in the mock draft world are starting to get interesting.

Steve Kyler



A Lot of Mock Movement

With the race to the bottom in full swing in the NBA and the field of 64 in college basketball whittled down to a very sweet sixteen, there has been considerable talk in NBA circles about the impending 2018 NBA Draft class. There seems to be a more consistent view of the top 15 to 20 prospects, but there still seems to be a lack of a firm pecking order. Arizona’s Deandre Ayton seems like to the prohibitive favorite to go number one overall, but its far from a lock.

It’s important to note that these weekly Mock Draft will start to take on more of a “team driven” shape as we get closer to the mid-May NBA Combine in Chicago and more importantly once the draft order gets set. Until then, we’ll continue to drop our views of the draft class each Tuesday, until we reach May when we’ll drop the weekly Consensus Mock drafts, giving you four different views of the draft all the way to the final decisions in late June.

Here is this week’s Mock Draft:

Here are some of the pick swaps and how they landed where they are currently projected:

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer. The Brooklyn Nets traded several unprotected picks to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trades in 2015.

The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers’ 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015. The 76ers traded that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the draft pick trade that became Markelle Fultz before the draft; it has 2 through 5 protections and based on the standings today would convey to Philadelphia.

The LA Clippers are owed the Detroit Pistons first-round pick in 2018 as a result of the Blake Griffin trade. The pick is top four protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Chicago Bulls are owed the New Orleans Pelicans first-round pick as a result of the Nikola Mirotic trade. The pick is top-five protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The LA Lakers are owed the Cleveland Cavaliers first-round pick as a result of Jordan Clarkson/Larry Nance Jr. trade. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Jazz/Wolves Ricky Rubio trade this past summer. The Jazz acquired the pick as part of the Thunder’s deal to obtain Enes Kanter in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors’ first-round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets’ first-round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects –

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @BuddyGrizzard, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, and @Ben__Nadeau .

Continue Reading

The Strictly Speaking Podcast


Trending Now