About Phil Jackson not coming back to the Lakers…

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Isn’t speculation about the Lakers fun? Let’s play that game a little. Here’s the rumor: Jerry Buss never liked the slow triangle offense, he wants Showtime. He doesn’t like paying Phil Jackson $12 million a year. He doesn’t like the fact the coach is schtupping his daughter…

Ergo, if Phil Jackson doesn’t win a title this season, Jerry Buss is going to lowball Jackson on a contract renewal for ext season, if he offers him one at all. They are going to drive Jackson away.

Lakers General manager Mitch Kupchak was on ESPN 710 Radio in LA yesterday and as the Land O’ Lakers blog reports, Kupchak says a title has nothing to do with it, and that Phil will be invited back.

“…I’m not sure that has anything to do with it. A coach doesn’t forget how to coach in one season. … His body of work speaks for itself… If we don’t perform well this year, my guess it’s likely due to [having] a team that’s been injured or [one that] maybe runs into a team that’s really, really hot, so I’m not really concerned that will be an issue.””My understanding is that if Phil wanted to come back and coach next year … then he would be embraced to come back and coach for another season…”

That’s not much fun, is it? It seems so logical. Let’s start speculating again.

Oddly, a lot of the “Jackson will get screwed” rumors come from the Jeanie/Phil camp. Think of it as a preemptive strike, get the Lakers fans riled up about Jackson possibly leaving, get the public behind him and public pressure saves Jackson like he was a television show about to be canceled then saved by a letter writing campaign. Then there is the whole Jim Buss/Jeanie Buss dynamic and power play people love to speculate about.

None of that makes it true. Jerry Buss is about winning first, and Phil Jackson wins. He’s always paid for winners. Secondly, Buss brought back Jackson after the Rudy Tomjanovich disaster year, and paid handsomely to do it, because he knew that would settle down an angry fan base. With everything set up for the championship window to be open a few more years, messing with that would anger the fan base again — and Buss knows it. Driving out Jackson would get the same reaction as trading Gasol.

Plus, the Lakers still turn a profit each year. In the end, money and winning speak. Expect Jackson to return.

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.

Kings hire former WNBA Seattle coach Jenny Boucek as assistant

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The NBA now has a third female assistant coach.

The first was Becky Hammon, who has been part of Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for several years (and has coached their Summer League team). The second was Nancy Leiberman, who has been on the staff in Sacramento for a couple of seasons now.

Now the Kings have hired former Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach on Dave Joerger’s staff. She will work as an assistant player development coach.

A former WNBA player in the league’s inaugural season, the past three years she has coached the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (she was fired midway through the last season), and prior to that had been the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09.

 

 

Video of Kawhi Leonard struggling to board team plane concerning

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The San Antonio Spurs have been very tight lipped about how serious Kawhi Leonard‘s ongoing quadriceps issue is. He hasn’t played in the preseason or now the start of the regular season, with no timetable for his return. Part of that is the nature of the Spurs organization, but it leads to the feeling there is something more there.

Now surfaces this video of Leonard gingerly, slowly making his way up some stairs to the team plane, and it’s concerning.

To be fair, there is a real lack of context here, but according to the San Antonio Express-News, he had just come out of a rehab session. That means he might have been especially sore (and could have been iced up for the flight).

Still, this video makes one think it could be a while longer before we see Leonard back on the floor for San Antonio. (By the way over the past three seasons, including this one, the Spurs are 15-4 when Leonard sits. They will be fine short term.)

Nike “very concerned” after LeBron James’ jersey rips on opening night

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In the team’s first preseason game, the jersey of the Lakers’ Tyler Ennis was torn in the back with a tug from an opponent. Everyone made tearaway jersey jokes and moved on, thinking it was a one-off situation.

Then LeBron James‘ jersey ripped down the back on opening night, on national television.

Now Nike is looking into the issue, reports Darren Rovell of ESPN.

Nearly three days after one of its jerseys tore in the first regular-season game of its new deal with the NBA, Nike released a statement Friday expressing worry about the issue, without offering insight as to what happened or what will be done.

“The quality and performance of all our products are of utmost importance,” the company said in a statement. “We are obviously very concerned to see any game day jersey tear and are working with the NBA and teams to avoid this happening in the future.”

This is the first year Nike has the NBA apparel contract, having just taken it over from Adidas. They made the jerseys similar to what had been done for the 2016 Rio Olympics, where there were no issues, but these jerseys are lighter than the former Adidas ones. It’s unclear what, if any, changes could be coming.

Like many of the jerseys from opening night, LeBron’s ripped one is being auctioned by the NBA to raise money for hurricane relief.