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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Articles tagged: Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant says Lakers should not have to recruit stars

Kobe Bryant has heard all that talk about the Los Angeles Lakers having to recruit players, but he thinks the Laker mystique should be enough to bring in the big names.

In an interview with ESPN’s Jalen Rose, Bryant scoffed at the notion of being asked to help recruit players to the Lakers, stating that the true greats didn’t need to be sold on the organization.

“You know, the thing about this franchise is that you shouldn’t need recruiting to come in it,” Bryant said. “It takes a special person to want to play for this franchise, and take the pressure that comes along with playing for this franchise. The pressure of following Magic [Johnson]’s footsteps, myself and the dynasty that we’ve had, it takes a special person to do that.

“And if I need to convince you come here, to carry that legacy forward, then you ain’t the one to be it.”

As much as Bryant would like it to work that way, it simply doesn’t. Star players want to hear what organizations plan to do to make themselves contenders and build around the talent they’re bringing in. It’s not about being sold on handling the pressure in most cases — it’s about being sold on whether the franchise wants to win as badly as the player does. Lakers fans know that, and that’s why they have been trying to recruit a California-born star in their own way.

Isaiah Thomas reportedly ‘ecstatic’ about joining Lakers

Isaiah Thomas Cavs

The Los Angeles Lakers may have some issues to iron out as far as Isaiah Thomas’s role with the team, but it certainly sounds like he’s happy to be there.

According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, sources close to Lakers president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka say Thomas is “ecstatic” to join the organization he was a fan of as a kid.

While it’s not all sunshine and roses, there’s at least something to build on here. Thomas will welcome the chance to get out of Cleveland and play a bigger, more central role on a different team. He has plenty of incentive to do well, too, as he’s in a contract year.

Agent says Isaiah Thomas refuses to come off bench for Lakers

The agent for Los Angeles Lakers point guard Isaiah Thomas has shed some light on why things didn’t work out in Cleveland — and hinted at some coming tension with his new organization.

Amid indications that Thomas may not start for his new team, ESPN’s Rachel Nichols relayed a text message sent to her by Thomas’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, during The Jump’s NBA trade deadline special. It was written in capital letters: “HE’S NOT COMING OFF THE BENCH.”

Goodwin also indicated that being deprived of the basketball by LeBron James in Cleveland was a big reason for his failure there, and that things would be better in that regard in Los Angeles.

Thomas’s new coach has strongly hinted that he may have to come off the bench, and common sense dictates that the Lakers aren’t going to bench Lonzo Ball just to accommodate him. This could very much set off a messy situation, but Thomas doesn’t have much of the power here.

Cavs trade Isaiah Thomas to Lakers for Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance

Isaiah Thomas Cavs

Isaiah Thomas has gotten off to a slow start since he returned from injury this season, and the Cleveland Cavaliers are already giving up on him.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Cavs have traded a package involving Isaiah Thomas to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for point guard Jordan Clarkson and forward Larry Nance Jr.

Thomas and the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick were the two main pieces the Boston Celtics gave up when they traded for Kyrie Irving, and it was clear all along that the pick was the important part of the deal. The Cavs obviously hoped to get more out of Thomas, but he has not meshed with the team on or off the court. Most recently, it appeared that LeBron James may have snubbed Thomas while celebrating a game-winning shot on Wednesday night.

Thomas has averaged 14.7 points and 4.5 assists per game in just 14 games this season. Clarkson has had similar numbers with the Lakers, averaging 14.5 points and 3.3 assists.

Lakers fined $50K for Magic Johnson tampering with Giannis Antetokounmpo

Magic Johnson

For the second time in five months, the Los Angeles Lakers have been fined by the NBA for violating the league’s tampering rules. Once again, some comments made by president of basketball operations Magic Johnson contributed to the penalty.

According to the NBA, the fine is a result of some comments Johnson made about Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo in a recent interview.

Johnson was speaking with ESPN’s Nick Friedell recently when he said Antetokounmpo is going to lead the Bucks to a championship one day.

“With his ball-handling skills and his passing ability. He plays above the rim I never could do that,” Johnson said. “But in his understanding of the game, his basketball IQ, his creativity of shots for his teammates. That’s where we [have the] same thing. Can bring it down, make a pass, make a play. I’m just happy he’s starting in the All-Star game because he deserves that. And he’s going to be like an MVP, a champion, this dude he’s going to put Milwaukee on the map. And I think he’s going to bring them a championship one day.”

The NBA has some insane rules when it comes to tampering that prevent executives from speaking about players who are under contract with other teams, and it appears the league was trying to make an example out of Johnson and the Lakers. The Lakers were fined $500,000 back in September for tampering with Paul George, but the violation that time was more egregious. The team was warned after Johnson went on a talk show and joked about Paul George coming to Los Angeles, and the fine came after general manager Rob Pelinka contacted George’s agent and expressed interest in the star swingman coming to L.A.

While the tampering fine seems a little silly this time around, Johnson will probably react the same way he did last time.

Report: Lakers may give up on LeBron James, focus on 2019 free agent class

LeBron James

It was not all that long ago that it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the Lakers would sign Paul George in the summer of 2018 and use that as a way to entice LeBron James to also take his talents to Los Angeles. But suddenly, it sounds as though the Lakers may not even try to execute that plan.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne are reporting that the Lakers’ front office is starting to turn its attention toward the 2019 free agent class. With Paul George hinting that he might re-sign with the Thunder and LeBron not wanting to be part of a rebuilding project, the Lakers may prefer to better position themselves to make a big splash in a free agent class that could include Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler and Klay Thompson in 2019.

If the Lakers are planning to make a run at two superstars this summer, they will have to unload some contracts before the trade deadline this week. As Wojnarowski and Shelburne note, refocusing their attention on 2019 could allow them to take on some contracts by making trades with teams in need of salary cap space who would be willing to send draft picks along with players. Two players that L.A. has considered trading are Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, and both have played well during a stretch that has seen the Lakers win 10 of 14 games.

The Lakers have a talented young core that is led by Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, and those players are still very raw. Waiting would allow them time to develop while also stockpiling draft picks rather than freeing up space for George and/or LeBron and getting turned down. L.A. was also reportedly considering making a trade offer for DeMarcus Cousins, but the big man is out for the season with a torn Achilles.

While James is still playing at a high level, he turned 33 in December. Some reports we have heard make it seem like the Lakers are the exact type of situation he wants to avoid if he leaves the Cavaliers again.

Luke Walton reportedly not in danger of losing his job

Luke Walton

LaVar Ball may think the Los Angeles Lakers need to fire head coach Luke Walton, but Ball’s opinion means virtually nothing to the people who are in charge of making those decisions.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported on Sunday that Walton is in no danger of losing his job despite how poorly the Lakers have played over the past few weeks.

The Lakers snapped a nine-game losing streak on Sunday night with a 132-113 win over the Atlanta Hawks. The victory came on the heels of LaVar Ball saying he believes players are tuning Walton out and do not want to play for him.

After the game, Walton was asked about giving Lonzo Ball some time with the second unit. He joked that he was punishing the rookie for the remarks his father made.

“Um, yeah, his dad was talking s— so I took him out early,” Walton said.

Walton then said he was “just kidding” and explained that Lonzo was tired a few times and asked for breaks and that the plan going into the game was to play him more with the second unit.

The Lakers have failed to live up to expectations this season, but team owner Jeanie Buss recently tweeted her support for Walton.

Lonzo and his teammates insist LaVar’s comments are not a distraction, but the way some NBA coaches are reportedly trying to take a stand against LaVar has to create at least some awkwardness for his 20-year-old son.

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