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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.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).

Sixers enter camp with Joel Embiid not cleared for 5-on-5, Jahlil Okafor on trade block

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This is the season the 76ers make the leap from team with potential to playoff team fast on the rise.

Maybe.

That’s the plan in Philly, but there are a lot of questions for this team to answer. While a couple of these issues are answered already — Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are cleared to play and practice with teammates — a couple big ones still hang around. At the top of the list is “how healthy is Joel Embiid?” Coach Brett Brown doesn’t even have that answer yet, reports Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

It’s this simple: The Sixers outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions when Embiid was on the court last season, he was a dominant force defensively who scored 20.2 points a game. When he was off the court the Sixers were 11.5 points per 100 possessions worse. They need him to play and play consistently if the Sixers have playoff dreams. It’s unclear when Embiid will return, but know that the Sixers will be cautious with his minutes again when he does get cleared (he has played just 31 games in three seasons).

Does that mean more Jahlil Okafor? Maybe not, the Sixers are still willing to trade him.

The Sixers have shopped Okafor for most of a year and found no deal they like. Okafor battled knee issues last season and, after a summer working to get healthy, other teams will want to see him play a little before talking trade. If he comes to camp slimmed down and his knee looks right, it could revive trade talks. Using a back-to-the-basket game, he averaged 11.8 points a night shooting 51 percent last season, he’s efficient, and some teams could use what he does (off the bench).

It’s going to be an interesting season in Philly. Are they playoff bound?

Report: Warriors “perplexed” by Kevin Durant’s offseason fighting old battles

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Kevin Durant made his move to Golden State last summer — it was an emotional, wrenching decision for him — and it went as well as he could have dreamed. He felt at home. He’s got a ring (or will have one on opening night), he was Finals MVP, and he not only strengthened his legacy with a title, but also helped it out by taking a paycut that made it easier for the Warriors to keep their core together this summer.

So why is he living in the past? Why release a shoe line taking shots at his detractorsWhy did he blast his former organization on Twitter? Sure, he apologized, but why slide back down that rabbit hole? For that matter, why take a shot at Stephen Curry’s shoe line?

Chris Mannix at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports said some with the Warriors are wondering the same thing.

But make no mistake: Many in Golden State, team officials and players alike, have taken note of Durant’s oddball offseason and are perplexed by it. They see a bright future for Durant in Oakland, league and team sources told The Vertical, and are bewildered as to why he is still addressing his past.

Oklahoma City will always be in Durant’s DNA, but it’s time for him to move on. Slapping around a team that was loyal to him, even in rejection, is a bad look. He’s a Warrior, and the possibilities for this Golden State team are endless. He can win championships, can win awards, can build one of the great dynasties in NBA history. The Thunder are doing their thing. Durant should forget about them, and do his.

This will all blow over. Soon the season will start, Durant and the Warriors will look dominant, and this will all seem like a minor distraction in the deadest part of the offseason. The focus will be on the rings.

But if you want an answer as to why, Durant’s response to a YouTube comment to someone who told him “who cares what other people think, just do you.” (Hat tip For the Win.)

…of my stature, I play basketball, I got acne, I grew up with nothing, in still figuring myself out in my late 20, I slide in DMs, I make fun of my friends, I drink beers and play Xbox. I’m closer to you than u think

Durant still can be a little immature, still wants to be a regular guy, and just like a regular guy he wants to be liked. And like a lot of people, he snaps at people when he knows he should just let it go and rise above. Maybe that will come with the lessons of this offseason.