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Lakers legal fight is head-on collision of Busses

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jeanie Buss went to court Friday to stop what her attorneys call an attempt by brothers Jim and Johnny Buss to oust her as controlling owner and president of the Los Angeles Lakers, an allegation the brothers’ attorneys say has no basis in reality.

The matter came to a quick end when Jeanie Buss withdrew her request for a temporary restraining in Los Angeles County Superior Court after the brothers dropped their request for a board meeting she felt was a move against her, but it may just be the opening skirmish in a bigger family fight over one of the most-storied franchises in sports. A larger lawsuit in probate court is pending.

“It is good news for fans that Jim and Johnny backed down in court today, but I’m afraid it’s just the beginning,” Adam Streisand, attorney for Jeanie Buss, said in an email to The Associated Press.

The public spat comes just over a week after Jeanie Buss ousted Jim Buss as the Lakers’ executive vice president of basketball operations and replaced him with Magic Johnson. She also fired longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak, who Johnson replaced with player agent Rob Pelinka.

Under the team structure set up by the siblings’ late father Jerry Buss, Jeanie Buss is controlling owner with final say, but the brothers, and others, have ownership stakes in the team.

Robert Sacks, attorney for the brothers, told the AP by phone that the brothers have no interest in wresting control from their sister and the entire court fight is unnecessary.

“Both Jim Buss and Johnny Buss hoped that any issues would be handled within the family,” Sacks said. He added that the brothers have said both verbally and in corporate documents that they support keeping her as controlling owner.

Jeanie Buss’ filing said that the brothers had requested a board of directors meeting be held next week and included a list of four proposed directors who could be elected there.

That list did not include Jeanie Buss, who is required to be a director in order to be a controlling owner. Buss and her attorneys took that as a sign that they intended to oust their sister, and went to court to stop it.

Robert Sacks, attorney for the brothers, said they did indeed want a board of directors meeting because the organization was overdue for one, but that it had nothing to do with wresting control from Jeanie Buss.

The brothers withdrew their request for the meeting, and Jeanie Buss withdrew the court request to stop it.

Asked about the family turmoil, first-year coach Luke Walton said, “Stuff that’s not in my control, I don’t spend much time thinking about.”

An initial hearing in a potential probate trial between the siblings is scheduled for May.

“I’m confident we will continue to uphold Dr. Buss’s wishes and Jeanie will remain in control,” Streisand said.

The fight is just the latest round of negative news and upheaval for the Lakers, who for decades had an ownership and management structure that was the envy of the league.

The possible probate battle and ongoing family feud that looms is more reminiscent of the traditionally dysfunctional Los Angeles Clippers, whose then-owner Donald Sterling and estranged wife Shelly Sterling got into an ugly probate-court fight over the ownership and sale of the team.

The Lakers have already had a woeful run on the court, steadily declining since their last back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010. They’ve had among the worst records in the league in recent years and haven’t made the playoffs since 2013.

Heat re-sign Udonis Haslem

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In 2002, not a single team drafted Udonis Haslem.

For the last 15 years, the Heat haven’t been able to quit him.

Heat:

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Haslem isn’t receiving another $4 million windfall like he got last year. He’ll earn $2,328,652 – $1,471,382 paid by the Heat and $857,270 covered by the league (as is done on one-year minimum deals for veterans). An NBA contract, even for the minimum, might be enough of a reward at this point.

To whatever extent Haslem still has a position – he has played just 390 minutes in the last two years – he’s probably a center. The Heat have Hassan Whiteside, Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo and maybe A.J. Hammons ahead of him. But this isn’t about getting the 37-year-old Haslem on the court, at least not beyond rare spot minutes, where can still be useful as a defender and rebounder.

The Heat want Haslem’s toughness and veteran leadership. He reinforces their culture, and that might be worth a roster spot.

Report: Bulls, agent discussed Derrick Rose returning to Chicago

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Derrick Rose meeting with the Clippers barely registered. He has to meet with the Bucks twice before most noticed.

But it seems Rose and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, have finally figured out how to drum up attention – leak interest from more prominent teams like the LeBron James-led, championship-contending Cavaliers and big-market, widely followed Lakers.

What team could generate even more buzz?

The Bulls!

Sam Amick of USA Today:

If the talks went beyond Armstrong asking the Bulls whether they would sign Rose and the Bulls declining, I’d be surprised.

There’s probably a part of Rose that wants to return to his native Chicago, but it seems his former team has long moved on.

Report: Derrick Rose meeting with Lakers

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Derrick Rose is suddenly in demand – once the market was set at a minimum salary or so.

Not only are the Cavaliers pursuing the former MVP/overhyped role player, so are the Lakers.

ESPN:

Rose is also meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, sources told ESPN’s Chris Haynes and Ramona Shelburne. The Lakers are trying to entice Rose to sign with them, suggesting they can offer more playing time and money in a better environment after Rose’s tumultuous season in New York, sources said.

Rose’s tumultuous season was due in part to Rose. No matter where he signs, he can’t escape himself. And Los Angeles is even further from his native Chicago.

But the Lakers can offer more money. They still have the $4,328,000 room exception. Rose would earn just $2,116,955 on a minimum salary from Cleveland, and the Cavs can bump that offer to only about $2.5 million. (That’d come with exponential additional costs, so they probably wouldn’t do that, anyway.)

The Lakers can also offer a larger role. Lonzo Ball can’t play every minute at point guard, and Rose would fill in the rest. They’ll likely add a point guard, Rose or not. The Cavaliers might be set with Kyrie Irving, Jose Calderon and Kay Felder if they don’t get Rose.

I’m not sure how Rose would work as a veteran mentor, especially on a one-year contract as he eyes a bigger payday next summer. But – say whatever else you want about him, and there’s plenty to say – Rose has remained impressively focused on basketball amid untold chaos. Ball – with outsized attention given LaVar and his media market – can probably relate.

Rockets re-signing Bobby Brown, Troy Williams

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James Harden spearheaded the Rockets’ recruitment of Chris Paul, but the MVP runner-up didn’t work alone.

Paul’s former New Orleans teammates Trevor Ariza and Bobby Brown added appeal.

So, unsurprisingly, with Paul in a contract year, Houston is re-signing Brown. The Rockets are also re-signing Troy Williams.

Alykhan Bijani‏ of ESPN Houston:

Williams’ agency:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Brown is an undersized gunner who’s not nearly efficient enough to compensate for his defensive deficiencies, and he turns 33 before the season. But if he helps convince Paul to re-sign, it would be well worth keeping Brown on the roster all year.

The 22-year-old Williams, who went undrafted last year, is the far more intriguing player. A 6-foot-7 forward, he has the athleticism to stick in the NBA. His 3-point shot needs major development – though not quite as much if he becomes more adept at being a small-ball four, an easier task in Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system.