Report: LaVar Ball’s comments spark executive and agent discussion of David Fizdale coaching LeBron James on Lakers


LaVar Ball saying he believes Luke Walton has lost control of the Lakers has generated plenty of fallout.

The Lakers put out word, anonymously, that Walton’s job is safe. Lonzo Ball drew scrutiny for not exactly endorsing his coach. Other Lakers were more full-throated in their support. Coaches outside Los Angeles took aim at ESPN.

One thing that didn’t happen: Lakers management publicly defending Walton.

That has people connecting dots to Lakers free agent target LeBron James then to fired Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, who was a Miami assistant while LeBron was there and who remains in LeBron’s good graces.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN, via The Rich Eisen Show:

Whatever you want to say about LaVar Ball, he has smoked the fact that the Lakers do not support Luke Walton. And that is now crystal clear. And there are now guys out there wondering openly to me – executives, coaching agents – “I wonder who the Lakers are going to hire as their next coach.” Because that has been revealed here, that they do not have unconditional support for Luke.

You want to know what people are saying behind the scenes? You want to know what they’re saying? What coach has LeBron tweeted about most recently?

Los Angeles native David Fizdale.

Now, again, this might not be true. The Lakers may intend to keep him. But the way the events have gone down, I’ve got executives in my ear. I’ve got agents in my ear saying, “Oh, yeah, they’re probably going to hire David Fizdale.” And, again, it may not be true. They may intend to keep Luke.

The usual question: Do these agents and executives know something we don’t, or are they just speculating based on publicly available information?

Discussing LeBron signing is Los Angeles is scintillating, no matter how unlikely it actually is. Coaching agents might be trying to create a wedge to get their clients into the Lakers job. Likewise, executives could be trying to cause disarray in a rival organization.

The Lakers are already having problems handling this awkward transition season, as they transparently set up to chase star free agents at the expense of their current players. Rumors about their coach’s job security won’t increase stability.

Which makes it all the more strange Lakers president Magic Johnson hasn’t publicly backed Walton since LaVar’s criticism. Could the agents and executives actually be right? Johnson inherited Walton (though Walton fits the profile of a coach Johnson would seemingly like – i.e., a former Lakers player). Even if the Lakers win out, Walton would have the worst record of any Lakers coach to get a third season.

The Lakers have been here before, trying to lure LeBron in 2014 by letting him pick his coach. It didn’t work then, and I doubt it’d work now.

But the question that will linger as long as Johnson remains silent publicly on Walton: Will the Lakers try again to sign LeBron by letting him pick his coach?

Kevin Durant: Liking anti-Russell Westbrook Instagram comment was ‘total accident’

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Kevin Durant liked an Instagram comment critical of Russell Westbrook.

Here we go again?

Royce Young of ESPN:

I’m not inside Durant’s mind. He could be lying to cover another burner Instagram snafu.

But I tend to believe him. It’s easy enough to accidentally click like, and the greater context is on his side.

Durant has always tried to downplay a feud with Westbrook. Even at the personal rivalry’s peak, Durant just seemed as if he wanted Westbrook to like him. So, it’s nearly impossible to believe Durant – even for a button-pushing moment – wanted to publicly slight Westbrook.

But maybe Durant wanted quiresultan or some other alter-ego to do so? Maybe, as beaten down as he looked by the controversy over those deleted tweets last summer, Durant didn’t learn his lesson and still uses burner accounts. I certainly wouldn’t rule that out.

Again, though, this would be a weird message. Last summer’s deleted tweets praised Westbrook while slamming the rest of the Thunder. Durant was going to have a burner account take the opposite stance now? That doesn’t really add up.

NBA apparently reviewing whether Russell Westbrook should be suspended for Thunder-Jazz Game 5


The NBA has a hard rule during altercations: Any players who leave the bench area receives a one-game suspension. Intent doesn’t matter. It’s not negotiable. The league simply doesn’t want more players entering a fracas.

Russell Westbrook found a gray area last night.

The Thunder star was waiting to check into Oklahoma City’s Game 4 loss to the Jazz when Raymond Felton fouled Rudy Gobert, um, unpleasantly. Gobert and Felton got into it, though not immediately. Once they did, Westbrook walked onto the court, and he and Gobert swiped at each other.

Gobert and Felton eventually received technical fouls. But could harsher punishment be in store, especially for Westbrook?

Andy Larsen of

A pool reporter request to the game officials to ask them about the play was initiated, but the NBA indicated that the officials wouldn’t comment on the matter because it would be reviewed by the league’s disciplinary committee.

The key question should be: Did a referee already beckon Westbrook into the game? If one did, Westbrook shouldn’t be suspended. If none did, Westbrook should be suspended.

The league will talk to the refs and get a better understanding of what happened. Their account matters most.

But one indicator working against Westbrook: Steven Adamswhose toughness is beyond reproach – was also waiting to check in and stayed on the sideline. If Adams had already entered the game, wouldn’t he have gotten involved? Maybe not, but his hanging back is circumstantial evidence pointing toward a Westbrook suspension.

Again, though, the referees’ accounts matter far more.

Russell Westbrook on matchup with Ricky Rubio: ‘Let’s get past that. We’re done with that’

Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

After Ricky Rubio‘s 26-point triple-double in Game 3, Russell Westbrook said, “I’ma shut that s— off next game though. Guarantee that.”

Westbrook definitely tried. The Thunder star defended Rubio far more aggressively in Game 4 last night. But Westbrook also fouled Rubio four times in the first half and played too out of control, committing five turnovers. Rubio (13 points, eight rebounds, six assists) wasn’t nearly as individually excellent, but his passing keyed the Jazz’s offense.

Most importantly, Utah outscored Oklahoma City by 12 in the 30 minutes the point guards shared the court and won 113-96 to take a 3-1 series lead.

How did the matchup with Rubio go, Russ?


It’s not about me and him. Let’s get past that. We’re done with that.

How convenient.

Westbrook is the one who brought attention to the individual matchup. He took stopping Rubio upon himself. Now, when it didn’t go well, Westbrook suddenly doesn’t want to talk about it?

Maybe Westbrook realized he got carried away, to the detriment of his team. It’s not too late to fix that, and this could be his attempt to do so before Game 5 Wednesday.

But he also must own the egg on his face for putting the spotlight on Westbrook-Rubio and then dodging the attention once the matchup went south.

Rockets 50, Timberwolves 20: Most dominant playoff quarter in shot-clock era (video)

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James Harden missed a floater and clapped in frustration. The Rockets’ third quarter in Game 4 against the Timberwolves didn’t get off to a great start. Harden’s shooting had underwhelmed since Game 2.

Then, Harden and Houston broke out of the funk – in a big way.

The Rockets outscored Minnesota 50-20 in the third quarter of their 119-100 victory last night, giving Houston a 3-1 lead in the first-round series. The 30-point margin in the third quarter was tied for the most lopsided playoff quarter in the shot-clock era:


Harden singlehandedly outscored the Timberwolves himself, 23-20. Paul added 15.

The Rockets shot 5-of-10 on 2-pointers, 9-of-13 on 3-pointers and 13-of-13 on free throws. Houston committed no turnovers and offensively rebounded a third of its misses.

It was incredible output, even for the NBA’s best offense.

The Rockets’ 50 points were second-most in a playoff quarter – and the most in a victory – in the shot-clock era. The leaderboard: