Author: Brett Pollakoff

2014 Concordia Summit - Day 1

Would Jeanie Buss fire Jim Buss if Lakers don’t improve? ‘I think my brother would step down.’


Jeanie Buss is the person in charge of the Lakers franchise, but from a day-to-day perspective, she runs the business side of the operation.

Jim Buss, Jeanie’s brother, is the one charged with making the basketball-related decisions. And as we’ve seen the past few seasons, none of them have worked out anywhere close to the way they were planned.

Injuries aside, the Lakers are in as dire a state as they’ve ever been in. The team is likely to lose the most games in franchise history for the second straight season, and though Jim has said in the past that he’d step down if things don’t quickly turn around, it’s unclear if Jeanie would be willing to force his hand if the rebuild goes on longer than is deemed acceptable.

From Thomas Golianopoulos of

Jim Buss complicated things when he recently announced that he will step down from basketball operations “if this doesn’t work in three to four years, if we’re not back on the top — and the definition of top means contending for the Western Conference, contending for a championship — then I will step down because that means I have failed.” I ask Jeanie Buss — the boss — if she would fire her brother if he doesn’t keep his word and resign. “I think my brother would step down. I don’t think he’d ever want to be … ” she trails off. “He is very sincere in his efforts. I don’t think he has doubts that he’ll be able to get everything to where we need it to be, and there will be no reason to make any changes.”

For now, she is bound to her father’s plan. “Jeanie is doing what her dad wanted done. She wants to do it the way he saw it,” says Linda Rambis. “But I don’t think she is going to be afraid to move in another direction if we’re not successful.”

This is the inherent problem with the family nature of the Lakers business.

Jim said in 2014 that he’d bolt if he couldn’t fix things in three-four years, but it’s worth wondering if Jeanie — who’s looking at things from a business standpoint — shares that same timeline.

Jeanie was asked point blank if she’d be willing to fire Jim, and she hesitated to answer, assuming that her brother would leave on his own if that time should come. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out, of course, but the internal family drama will continue to increase exponentially the longer the Lakers continue to dwell at the bottom of the league-wide standings.

Heat’s Goran Dragic admits to feeling ‘slow’ for past month

Goran Dragic

The Heat were believed to be somewhat assured of a playoff spot for the bulk of the season, in what has been a watered-down Eastern Conference.

With just seven games left on the schedule, however, the team finds itself barely clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot.

Miami has dropped three of four, and may now see Dwyane Wade miss some time. This should be when Goran Dragic, whom the team traded for at the deadline, steps up and carries his club to a successful regular season finish.

But Dragic is wearing down at this late point in the season, and it’s unclear whether or not he’ll be able to find the gear he needs to help drag the Heat over the finish line and into the postseason.

From Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post:

Dragic has been feeling “slow” for a month now, though he was not visibly off until recently. This is not even about the numbers he has been putting up, which are not good, but how he looks and feels.

“It’s like I cannot develop my speed and get going,” he said. …

Since putting up a big game in Boston last week, Dragic has averaged nine points, 4.5 assists and three turnovers in 33.5 minutes over the last four games. He is shooting 35.6 percent, including 4 of 13 on 3-pointers.

An interesting subplot to all of this is what might happen between Dragic and the Heat this summer, should he bring the season to an underwhelming finish.

Miami traded for Dragic with the intent of re-signing him when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. But if the team is less than thrilled with the way he’s seemingly breaking down at this critical time, the offer may not be as robust, which could enable Dragic to sign somewhere else.

Stephen Curry ‘surprised’ Mark Jackson picked James Harden to win MVP

Stephen Curry, Mark Jackson

Mark Jackson went with James Harden over Stephen Curry as his choice for MVP, which is (a) hypothetical, because he doesn’t get an actual vote, and (b) only newsworthy because of the fact that Jackson coached Curry and the Warriors last season.

Andrew Bogut was one of the few Warriors players who didn’t get along with Jackson, and he never misses a chance to jab him publicly, so this was a nice opportunity for that.

Curry himself took the high road, though he did admit that Jackson’s remarks caught him by surprise.

From Ethan Sherwood Strauss of

“If you twisted my arm today, I would probably vote for James Harden,” Jackson said. “The reason why is because he single-handedly has put that Houston Rockets team in the position that they’re in today.”

The comments come as a stark contrast to the way Jackson had previously championed his former charge as a superstar in the league, while he was coach of the Warriors. …

“It’s his opinion obviously,” Curry said. “He’s probably been watching the league. People are going to ask what he thinks, especially his ties to the Warriors organization and myself specifically. Surprised me he said that. But, it is what it is.”

I don’t think the comments are all that surprising.

In Jackson’s previous role, it was his job to publicly praise his players, and ride with his guys over anyone else. Now in an analyst role, Jackson theoretically has a more critical eye when watching the league at large, and the reasons for Harden winning it are honestly more compelling than Curry’s case as simply the best player on the league’s best team.

Curry may very well win the MVP, and I wouldn’t have any problem with that; he’s put together a ridiculous season, and he’s been the most entertaining player in the league to watch. But Harden’s case is extremely strong, and Jackson saying so shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise.

LeBron James moves into 20th place on NBA’s all-time scoring list (VIDEO)

Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers

With his first bucket of the night — a hook shot of sorts in the lane over Luol Deng after backing him down in the post — LeBron James passed Patrick Ewing to move into 20th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

The play occurred in Thursday’s nationally televised contest between the Cavaliers and the Heat.

Next up on the list is Jerry West, who was leading LeBron by 376 points as of these two that James scored early in this contest. James is unlikely to pass him before the regular season is finished with just six games left, but barring anything unexpected, he’ll get there early next season.

Phil Jackson now says ‘forget about the triangle’ offense

Phil Jackson

When Phil Jackson was hired as president of basketball operations by the Knicks last summer, he seemed intent on making sure that the foundation for the team’s future would include the installation of the Triangle Offense.

That system isn’t point-guard dependent, and uses a series of motion and cuts that theoretically provides an equal opportunity for all players on the floor to score under various circumstances. And of course, it’s the one Jackson used for every one of his 11 championship seasons he went through when coaching the Bulls and the Lakers.

The initial push to hire Steve Kerr was based on this, as was the decision to give Derek Fisher a shot as a first-year head coach. Jackson also hired Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons to assist Fisher, who had both been assistants under Jackson in the past.

Jackson has also said that he would use this season as an audition of sorts, to see which players might be best-suited to fit the triangle offense and be a part of the team’s future.

But speaking at a town hall chat with season ticket holders on Thursday, Jackson seemed ready (or at least willing) to move past it.

From Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

Phil now says “Forget about the triangle.” Well, you brought it up Ad nauseam when u were hired & Jim Dolan had Spike make a movie about it.

So the spin of last season “triangle or bust” is wisely being thrown away. A 14-61 record will do that.

Last year, they sold us on the system. Now, they’re selling us that it’s about the players. Duh. This is actually a sign of progress.

There’s nothing wrong with sticking to an offensive system, and Jackson has obviously had unprecedented success with the one he’s chosen.

But the Knicks are at such a low point from a talent perspective that they can’t afford to choose players, either through the draft or free agency, simply based on whether or not they’d be a fit in the triangle offense.

New York will likely still run portions of it; that’s what the coaching staff has been assembled to do. But the fact that Jackson may be softening his stance, at least publicly, should indeed be seen as a positive sign.