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

9 Comments

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?

Enes Kanter’s teammate told him “You’re about to get 50 dropped on you” after LeBron troll

Getty
3 Comments

Enes Kanter likes to inject himself in situations he doesn’t belong in.

The New York Knicks forward likes to take aim at the biggest star in the game, LeBron James, and has said in the past that he would fight LeBron if he had to.

Some previous comments from LeBron riled up members of the Knicks organization, and there’s been animosity between the two sides ever since.

So it wasn’t too much of a surprise when Kanter had something to say on Twitter about his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, dropping 148 points during a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday. Heck, even former Cavaliers coach David Blatt jumped in on that one, albeit immediately before his own team got 151 scored on them.

Kanter took to Twitter, using LeBron’s own catchphrase against him:

Of course, that’s probably not the best idea. Kanter is a role player and LeBron is one of the best who ever played. Even if the Cavaliers are stinking it up lately, you can’t go after the King like that. You just might miss.

Via ESPN:

“One texted [teammate] me just to say — I’m not going to say who — but he texted me ‘You’re about to get 50 dropped on you, boy.'” Kanter said before Sunday’s matinee against the Los Angeles Lakers. “I responded something back, but I’m not going to say what it is.”

Kanter added that he’s just “having fun” and wanting to put “a smile on people’s face” with his constant prodding.

We’ll see if he ends up smiling the next time Cleveland and New York meet on April 9 at MSG.

David Blatt’s troll on the Cavaliers backfires when opponent scores 151 (VIDEO)

Getty
8 Comments

David Blatt, perhaps sensing his time to pounce as rumors swirl around Tyronn Lue’s departure, decided to troll the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. It did not go so well.

Blatt, who was fired from the head coaching spot in Cleveland in 2015, now heads Darüşşafaka S.K. in the Turkish Super League. Coaching Team Europe vs. Team Asia in the Turkish BSL All-Star Game, Blatt joked during a TV interview that he was just hoping his team didn’t give up as many points as the Cavaliers did to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday. That game ended with a score of 148-124.

Via Twitter:

So what happened to Blatt’s Team Europe in the All-Star Game?

According to Erik Gundersen over at LeBron Wire, Team Europe promptly got rolled on with a tally of … 151 points.

The final total in the Turkish All-Star matchup was 151-142 in favor of Team Asia.

Oops.

Salah Mejri threatened to come to Blazers locker room after Jusuf Nurkic tussle

Twitter
4 Comments

The Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks had a game of many emotions on Saturday night at Moda Center. Of course, the game wasn’t that close — Portland led by 17 at the half and finished the game by beating Dallas, 117-108.

But as we’ve seen in the NBA recently, the propensity for NBA players to get into physical spats is high. So it was no surprise that we saw yet another scrum between NBA players on the east side of the Willamette on Saturday as Dallas’ Salah Mejri got tangled up with Jusuf Nurkic and Evan Turner.

The play began with Nurkic getting a clean block on Mejri. Because of the position of the two players, Nurkic’s arm was angled as such that after the block it came clean through to rest on Mejri’s shoulder. Mejri turned, and the whole thing became a tangle of arms and elbows.

Neither Mejri or Nurkic took kindly to that, so the two squared off. Nurkic gave Mejri an ineffectual little push, while Portland’s Evan Turner jumped in to hold Mejri back. The Mavericks center promptly flopped all the way to the ground, inexplicably grabbing his face. It was Premier League-level flopping from Mejri, just top notch stuff.

Via NBC Sports Northwest:

After the game, Turner told media that Mejri threatened to come get the Blazers.

“He’s like ‘I’ll come to the locker room!'” said Turner. “Out of a 225 lb. dude [Turner] a 275 lb. dude [Nurkic] and a 7-footer [Mejri] who hit the ground?”

Portland’s CJ McCollum didn’t seem too impressed with the threat.

“If they really want to fight, they know where to find people,” said McCollum.

Much like any arena, the visiting locker room is just down the hall from the home squad at Moda Center, so it would have been easy for Mejri to get to. Nothing happened, so it turned out as an empty threat.

Meanwhile, Turner was assessed a technical foul for the tussle — presumably for “pushing” Mejri. There was notable tension the rest of the game between Mejri, Nurkic, and the crowd at Moda Center, but nothing else of consequence happened.

LeBron James: “We could easily get bounced early in the playoffs”

Getty Images
6 Comments

Cleveland’s defense was pathetic Saturday and the Thunder routed them because of it. The Cavaliers gave up 148 points, allowed the Thunder to shoot 58 percent, and basically were little more than traffic cones for Russell Westbrook, Paul George and the rest of the Thunder to dribble and pass around. The Cavaliers have lost 8-of-11 and coach Tyronn Lue’s seat is getting warm.

Can the Cavaliers even get out of the East? LeBron James wasn’t even asking that question after the Saturday loss, he wants his team to get to the conference finals first. Via Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“Playoffs? We can’t even start thinking about that, not the way we’re playing right now,” James said. “We could easily get bounced early in the playoffs if they started next weekend. Haven’t even began thinking about the postseason.”

It’s January, it’s far too early to write LeBron and the Cavaliers off — his teams have won the East for seven straight seasons in a row for a reason. Cleveland’s mid-season malaise is a thing and they snap out of it, Isaiah Thomas will find his legs and play better, but this season has shown some troubling structural flaws in the Cavaliers. Ones that could bite them in the playoffs. Ones they are active in the trade market trying to address, or at least shore up a little.

Nobody around the league is comfortable picking against a LeBron team in the East — he has been to seven straight Finals for a reason (and how impressive an achievement that is gets overlooked). But this seems to be the weakest LeBron team since he bolted Cleveland (the first time?), and a second-round matchup vs. Toronto is no gimme anymore. LeBron is right to be concerned.