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Report: Jeanie Buss heads to court, blocks first effort by Jim Buss to push her out as Lakers controlling owner

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The Shakespearian drama that is the Buss family and their Game of Thrones fight over control of the Lakers seems to be just getting started.

Round one goes to Jeanie Buss.

Just a couple of weeks after she used her power as the team president and person with the hammer to move Jim Buss out as head of Lakers basketball operations and install Magic Johnson in the role, Jim and his brother Johnny took steps to try to push Jeanie out of power, so she went to court to block the move, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. Jeanie was able to block the move, according to her attorney.

Jeanie Buss has thwarted an effort by her brothers, Jim and Johnny, to oust her as the Lakers president and controlling owner as the behind the scenes battle for control of the franchise moved into the courtroom.

Attorneys for Jeanie Buss sought a temporary restraining order in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday to prevent the brothers from holding an emergency meeting next week to elect a new board of directors for the team that didn’t include her. In order to be the controlling owner, she has to be a director.

The brothers withdrew the request for a new election of a team board of governors after Jeanie went to court, according to the report.

There are six Buss children each with an equal share of ownership of the Lakers (each has 11 percent), however, a complex trust put in place by late owner Jerry Buss guides the operation. Jeanie was installed the controlling owner, the one recognized by the NBA as the face of the franchise and the one with the vote for Board of Governors’ meetings. Jim Buss was put in charge of basketball operations by the trust, but Jeanie had the power to change that. She was admittedly hesitant to make a change, but as the Lakers continued to flounder for years through the worst stretch in franchise history she felt she had to make a move. Not only was Jim cleared out, so was GM Mitch Kupchak and long-time head of media relations John Black.

It shouldn’t be surprising Jim made a power play, and he has his brother Johnny Buss helping him make his move, according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

In papers filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Jeanie Buss maintains that her brother Johnny “with the active participation of (brother) Jim breached the express terms of the trust that require them to take all actions reasonably available to them to ensure that (Jeanie) remains the controlling owner of the Lakers.”

According to her court papers, Johnny Buss, also a part owner of the Lakers, recently sent notice to his sister that a proposed slate of four people for the Lakers board included himself and his brother, but not Jeanie.

Right now Jim, Johnny, and Jeanie are the three voted as trustees. According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Jim and Johnny argued they had the votes (2-1 among the trustees) to elect new directors. Jeanie went to court to block that saying that the controlling owner always has to be a director and the trust says she is the controlling owner. Johnny withdrew the request and canceled the proposed meeting to vote on new directors.

While this is the first salvo, Jeanie’s attorney told the Los Angeles Times it likely is not the last.

There are six Buss children in the trust. Johnny is the eldest (and has been long rumored to want more power), and he seems to have allied himself with Jim. Jeanie remains the controlling owner and for most Lakers’ fans the face of ownership. Joey and Jesse are respected parts of the Lakers basketball operations side, working their way up the ladder — they reportedly were in the room with Magic and helping make decisions during the trade deadline. Then there is Janie, who used to run the team’s youth foundation but reportedly has been more active in recent years.

The rest of the team is owned by a variety of minority owners, the largest of which is AEG (which also owns Staples Center).

If four of the six Buss children lined up against Jeanie, it could be tough for her to maintain power.

The drama here is far, far from over. Shakespeare better have his quill ready.

 

Report: Pacers bring back Lance Stephenson in time for playoffs; deal for three-years, $12 million

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The Indiana Pacers need healthy bodies for their playoff run, and they had three rotation guys injured between Al Jefferson, Glenn Robinson III, and Rodney Stuckey. Wednesday, the Pacers waived Stuckey to create an open roster spot to bring in some help (they were not going to pick up his option for next season anyway).

Who are they bringing in? The prodigal son Lance Stephenson returns, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The surprising part of the deal was the security Stephenson got, as first reported by Adam Zagoria at his blog — three years, $12 million, with a player option for the final year. (This has since been confirmed by other sources.) Other teams were looking at giving Stephenson a 10-day contract, the length of the Pacers’ offer is a surprise.

Stephenson played in six games for Minnesota recently, averaging 3.5 points per game off the bench, but an ankle sprain kept the Timberwolves from really having to decide whether to keep him for the season. Stephenson knows how to create shots for himself and can be a good defender when focused, something we saw with the Pelicans at the start of this season — he became a key part of their rotation averaging 9.7 points and 4.8 assists per game until he tore his groin.

It’s a little strange to see him back in Pacers colors. It will be particularly strange if the Pacers stay in the seven seed and the Cavaliers remain the two-seed setting up a first-round playoff series. Because I don’t think any of us need to see this again.

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Tuesday’s win gives Wizards first division crown since 1979

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Divisions are almost forgotten in the NBA. They exist still as quaint reminders of days gone by, but they don’t matter other than as a potential tie breaker with a non-division-winning team. Winning your division doesn’t even guarantee a team a playoff spot anymore.

Yet, the last time Washington had won a division title they were in the Atlantic division and when you turned on the radio you were likely to hear that new hit Heart Of Glass by Blondie. It was 1979.

That was until Tuesday when John Wall led a 13-point comeback in the fourth quarter against the Lakers to get the Wizards the win and the SouthEast division title.

According to CBSSports.com, that 38-year division title drought was longer than any team in any major U.S. professional sports — NHL, NFL, and MLB.

Congrats to the Wizards. They also have locked up home court in the first round, and they are currently the No. 3 seed in the playoffs (who they face in the first round is up in the air still as only three games separate seeds five through nine).

With Scott Brooks at the helm this feels like a far more dangerous — and healthy — team heading into the postseason. Wizards fans have waited a lot time for a team like this.

Report: Pacers waive Rodney Stuckey, will likely add player before playoffs

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Rodney Stuckey was having a down year for the Pacers when he was healthy, averaging 7.2 points and 2.2 assists per game, with a well below average 48.3 true shooting percentage. Stuckey also was not healthy often, playing in just 39 games.

The Pacers are banged up — Glenn Robinson III and Al Jefferson are hurt — and need a healthy body on the roster for the playoffs, plus they weren’t going to pick up Stuckey’s $7 million option for next season anyway, so they chose to wave him Wednesday, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports.

The question now is who the Pacers bring in to fill that spot. With Jefferson down, do they lean on someone they know in Tyler Hansbrough? Is there someone out of the D-League or free agent pool that intrigues them?

The Pacers need to do something to start winning some games and making Paul George happy.

Paul George on Pacers after loss: “No sense of urgency, no winning pride”

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Indiana still has a 75 percent chance of making the playoffs (according to fivethirtyeight.com), they are two games clear of the nine seed with seven games to play.

But they fell to that seventh seed with a loss to Minnesota on Tuesday night, an evening that Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Miami all won. Chicago is the nine seed right now, lurking with its soft schedule, and looking for another team to slip up, and in a key game Indiana did.

The Pacers lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday night despite being at home and having a nine-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Indy had no answer for Karl-Anthony Towns, who dropped 37. Paul George had 37 points as well, and afterwards pissed and frustrated would be good words to describe his mood. Here’s his quote, via Nate Taylor at the Indy Star.

“We should have a professional approach, man, and defend our home court, especially to a team that’s not even in the playoffs,” George said of losing to the Timberwolves (29-44). “That’s what it comes down to. As a team, we’ve got to have a grit and we’ve got to own up, man up….

“There’s no urgency, no sense of urgency, no winning pride,” he said. “This locker room is just not pissed off enough.”

If you don’t have urgency playing for your playoff lives with seven games left in the season, when will you have it?

Yes, this was a frustrated George venting after a loss. However, it also points again to the challenges Larry Bird and the Pacer front office have this summer — George wants to win, wants to play for a contender. Or if not that, maybe in his hometown. If George doesn’t make an All-NBA team (he likely just misses out, forward is a stacked position in the league right now) and the Pacers can’t offer him a “designated player” max, Indiana needs to put a contender around him, or consider trading him so they don’t lose him for nothing in a year. Both of those options present challenges come July.

In the short term, the Pacers need to make the playoffs. Even if they do, play like this against the Cavaliers (their current first-round matchup) or any of the other top-four teams in the East and Indy’s stay in the postseason will be short and uneventful.