Nick Young mad at Lakers teammates for not helping him in fight

Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young was ejected in the second quarter of a loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night for throwing a punch. Young was furious after a hard foul from Alex Len, and he ended up hitting Goran Dragic in the face during the scrum that followed. After the game, Young expressed disappointment in his teammates for not having his back.

“What I’m mad about is it was 1-on-5, I felt like,” Young said, via ESPNLosAngeles.com. “If somebody [from the Lakers] would have got in the middle, everything wouldn’t have escalated that much.”

One player who chose not to get involved was point guard Kendall Marshall, who stood watching the brawl from a distance. Instagram user davidhaddad24 shared the following meme after the game, and some of the commenters said that Young (@swaggyp1) even “liked” the photo.

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Magic Johnson blames Jim Buss for Lakers’ problems

magic-johnsonMagic Johnson has been arguably the Los Angeles Lakers’ most vocal critic over the past two seasons. Last year, he blasted several Lakers players in an epic Twitter rant urging fans to stop blaming Mike D’Antoni for the team’s struggles. Magic still isn’t blaming D’Antoni this season. Instead, he believes owner Jim Buss is the problem.

“This is what happens when you make the wrong decisions, two coaching wrong decisions, giving Steve Nash that deal, it’s backfired,” Johnson told the LA Times on Wednesday.

“The biggest problem they’re going to have right now … you’ve got to get a guy like Jerry West to be the face of the team. … You’ve got to have someone helping Jim. He’s got to quit trying to prove a point to everybody that he can do it on his own, get his ego out of it, and just say, ‘Let me get someone beside me to help achieve the goals I want.'”

Magic said he believes Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak is “great” but that he is not given enough power. By targeting someone like West for a front office position, he believes the Lakers can attract big-name free agents like the Miami Heat have.

“You need to get someone like Jerry to be the face, so agents are comfortable, players are comfortable, knowing the Lakers are going for a championship. … Look what Pat Riley did in Miami,” Johnson said. “If Pat Riley’s not there, you don’t get LeBron to buy in.

“Everybody’s telling me free agents don’t want to sign [with the Lakers]. … They’re looking at the Lakers now as a team that’s dysfunctional; who’s their leader, who’s the guy?”

Because he believes the 2013-2014 Lakers are a lost cause, Magic also agrees with Charles Barkley that Kobe Bryant should sit out the remainder of the season.

“He’s got to,” Johnson said, adding that the Lakers should have taken their time signing Kobe to an extension. “What is he coming back to? He’s not going to be able to stop the pick and roll, all the layups the Lakers are giving up. He’s been hurt twice, give him the whole year to get healthy.”

Almost exactly a year ago, Magic declared that it was “over” for the Lakers. He was right. He’ll probably be right again this time around.

NBA executive: Everyone knows Kevin Love wants to go to the Lakers

Kevin LoveKevin Love has a player option that will allow him to opt out of his contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves after next season. While he is fully expected to exercise that option, it remains unclear if Love will re-resign with the T-Wolves or bolt for another team. At least one NBA executive believes Minnesota has no chance of keeping him.

Ken Berger of CBS Sports spoke with an Eastern Conference executive who thinks the best move for the T-Wolves would be to trade love. Why? Because he’s going to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers.

“They should trade him,” the exec reportedly said. “No one thinks he’s staying. Everyone knows he wants to go to the Lakers.”

As Berger noted, the Timberwolves are facing a dilemma. They can either do what the Cleveland Cavaliers did with LeBron James and hold onto Love, hoping he decides to stay and sign a max contract, or they can trade him now and get value in return. The Utah Jazz chose to trade Deron Williams and ended up with Derrick Favors, who just signed a four-year, $49 million extension, and draft picks that turned into Trey Burke and Enes Kanter.

Aside from Love being nowhere near as good a player as LeBron, there is one major difference with their two situations. Despite coming up just short of a championship several times, the Cavs were a playoff team while James was still in Cleveland. Love has never made the playoffs with Minnesota and he is clearly frustrated with the way things have gone this year.

LeBron never really gave any indication that he wanted to leave Cleveland until the last second. Love seems to want out, and that will become more obvious if the T-Wolves miss the playoffs again this season. Personally, I believe the team is better off trading him and acquiring picks.

Chest bump to Pro Basketball Talk

Nick Young is officially the Lakers’ marquee player

Lakers Nick Young

For a team that features Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash, whoever thought Nick Young would become the Los Angeles Lakers’ most marketable player? No way anyone would have seen that coming.

A friend pointed out that on the NBA’s Instagram account, the league posted a promo Tuesday for the big Christmas day game between the Lakers and Miami Heat. LeBron James, of course, is featured for the Heat, but with injuries keeping Bryant and Nash sidelines, the league (or ABC) decided to put Swaggy P. on the poster.

The Brooklyn Nets poster is kind of pathetic too, as it promotes Paul Pierce against the Chicago Bulls’ Carlos Boozer, but the rest make plenty of sense. Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony are featured for the Thunder-Knicks game; it’s James Harden and Tony Parker for Rockets-Spurs; and Chris Paul and Steph Curry for Clippers-Warriors. You’ve got a bunch of all-stars right there, and then a bench player.

With the Lakers at 13-15 and Kobe injured, the allure of a Lakers-Heat game just isn’t there.

Lakers extended Kobe Bryant because they believe Jerry Buss would have

Kobe BryantThe Los Angeles Lakers’ decision to sign Kobe Bryant to a two-year contract extension on Monday was about more than just money. Many have wondered why the team would want a player who is 35 years old and returning from a major injury to be the highest-paid player in the NBA over the next two seasons. One of the reasons is that late Lakers owner Jerry Buss would have wanted to give Kobe the deal.

Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss, Jerry’s son, spoke about loyalty on Monday when discussing Bryant’s new contract.

“Loyalty is one of the values our dad instilled in us,” he said, per ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne. “It’s how he ran the Lakers and how we aspire to continue to run the Lakers.”

According to Mark Medina of the LA Daily News, a source close to Jim and his sister Jeanne Buss said their “feeling on it was this is what their dad would have done.”

Does that mean the decision may not be what’s best for the franchise in terms of championship potential? That’s certainly a possibility. The Lakers will still have room to go after free agents this summer, but Kobe will be occupying a very large chunk of their salary cap space. If he is the Kobe of old when he returns, it will be well worth it. If not, the Lakers may have handcuffed themselves until he retires.

Kobe Bryant signs two-year extension with Lakers


The Los Angeles Lakers announced on Monday that the team has signed Kobe Bryant to a two-year contract extension.

Last month, Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss tried to put to rest any speculation that the team was going to allow Kobe to become a free agent next summer. He was apparently very serious when he referred to Bryant as a “top priority.” General manager Mitch Kupchak echoed Buss’ sentiments on Monday.

“This is a very happy day for Lakers fans and for the Lakers organization,” Kupchak said, via ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Arash Markazi. “We’ve said all along our priority and hope was to have Kobe finish his career as a Laker, this should ensure that that happens. To play 20 years in the NBA, and to do so with the same team, is unprecedented, and quite an accomplishment. It assures us that one of the best players in the world will remain a Laker.”

Bryant, who is set to return from an Achilles injury soon, has said in the past that he wants to win two more championships before retiring. He also said that he was not going to take a pay cut to remain in LA, and it appears he stuck to his word. Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times noted that Kobe will remain the highest-paid player in the NBA over the next two seasons with his new extension, making between $40 million and $50 million.

Photo: Twitter/LA Lakers

Lamar Odom reportedly drawing interest from Lakers, Clippers

Lamar OdomLamar Odom has insisted that his NBA career is not over, and the 34-year-old may wind up being right about that. Both the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers have reportedly expressed interest in bringing Odom back.

According to Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPNLosAngeles.com, both LA teams would consider signing Odom if he can show that his turbulent personal life has settled down. As you know, various gossip outlets have claimed Odom has a serious drug and alcohol problem and has been hanging around places like Beacher’s Madhouse getting hammered.

During a recent interview — albeit a very bizarre one — Odom claimed he has been working out and could play right now if the opportunity arose. Sources reportedly told ESPN.com that neither the Lakers nor the Clippers have had recent contact with Odom’s camp aside from checking up on the status of his personal affairs. Both teams would want to “carefully” evaluate the situation before extending a contract offer.

Earlier this week, a report indicated that Bruce Jenner has been mentoring Odom and that Lamar is currently clean and sober. Given the nature of some of the disturbing rumors we have heard about the 14-year veteran, we’d certainly love to see him clean up his act and return to basketball.