Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson answers questions at a post-game news conference following Game 4 of their NBA Western Conference semi-final basketball playoff against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas

Phil Jackson says Lakers coaching decision a “midnight coup,” but fair


Phil Jackson was in Santa Barbara because… I don’t know but it is one of the great vacation getaways in the United States so he can choose pretty much any reason he wants.

TMZ cameras were in Santa Barbara because, well, they are TMZ. They are everywhere.

So the result is you have got TMZ asking Jackson about how the Lakers coaching search went down (hat tip to Sports City).

Phil Jackson says he’s NOT bitter at the Lakers for passing him over for the head coaching job earlier this month … claiming Lakers brass decided to go with Mike D’Antoni in a “midnight coup.”

The Zen Master was out in Santa Barbara this weekend … when he was asked if he felt the Lakers treated him unfairly during the negotiations. Jackson explained, “We never discussed any terms … so there was never anything unfair about it.”

Phil — now 67-years-old — also made it clear … the chances of him ever coaching in the NBA again are “slim and none.”

Outside the use of the word “coup” here there is nothing really new, nothing he hasn’t said already.

Jackson got interviewed for the job not because Jim Buss — son of owner Jerry and the guy running the show — really wanted him but because they thought he would say no the asked him for PR reasons. Except he didn’t say no, then they were in a PR bind. But in the end Buss went with the guy he wanted.

As I’ve said, my issue with how it went down was simply that this was not well thought out and planned out. If you fire a coach once the season has started you put out feelers and have your replacement plan rolling already and in place when the axe falls. Be like an attorney in the courtroom — do you work in advance so you only ask questions you already know the answers to. That didn’t happen, the Lakers were reactionary. They were playing checkers, not chess.

But in the end, they ended up with a better coach than the one they had. Now we’ll see how that plays out.

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.

Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.

But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.

LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.

However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.

For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.

Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.


Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.