Two years ago, Magic Johnson suggested Kobe Bryant tell the Lakers he’d retire if they didn’t sign another star the following summer. They struck out in free agency, but Kobe still returned for one more season.
Will Johnson — who’s angling to run the Lakers’ front office — get more support in his latest plan for Kobe and the Lakers?
Johnson, via ESPN
First call I’ll make if I’m in charge: Kobe Bryant. Because Kobe understands winning. He understands, also, these players, you know? And so I would call. “What role you want, bro?” If you got a day, just give me that day, I’ll take that. Whatever time he has, I want him to come and be a part of it.
Johnson and Kobe were great players. Will that translate to being great basketball-operations employees? The track record of playing legends making that transition is spotty.
Kobe’s passion in retirement has become the arts, though he sounded open to advising in a limited capacity.
But Johnson has to believe in Kobe for a role with the Lakers, because the logic for hiring Kobe is the same logic for promoting Johnson.
The Knicks violently ejected Charles Oakley from a game, called him a liar and suggested he’s an alcoholic with anger issues.
Knicks owner James Dolan apologizing and lifting Oakley’s ban from Madison Square Garden doesn’t undo all that.
Oakley, who was asked on The Dan Le Batard Show whether he’d attend a Knicks game if invited by Dolan:
Right now, no. I told them yesterday. I don’t know why they think — if a swimming pool is full of water, it takes a while for when you drain it. It doesn’t going away because you count to 20.
That hurt my character more than the 10 guys who jumped on me. I can take the hit. But, sometimes, when you see stuff keep coming on TV — “You’ve got a problem, You’ve got issues” and this and that — I ain’t that person if you look at my résumé, my history. And then saying I’m a bully. I’m not that guy.
Apologizing — some things hurt. Some things just don’t walk away. If a dog got a broken leg, he’s ain’t just going to walk away. He’s going to try to get himself together or whatever. But some things hurt.
We had a meeting. We tried to think things out. We came to some kind of conclusion, understanding. But this is going to hurt for a while.
Oakley, unlike Dolan (on numerous issues), has appeared to be very reasonable at every step in the aftermath of Wednesday. The former player isn’t asking the Knicks for anything else, though he welcomed Dolan apologizing publicly to him and Knicks fans. Oakley even said he would have been fine if they kept the ban permanent.
Time heals all wounds. In this case, that might be the only missing ingredient — but it’s a necessary one.
Remember when, upon being traded to the Magic last summer, Serge Ibaka said he wanted to stay in Orlando forever?
A 21-36 record and an overcrowded frontcourt comes at you fast.
The Magic traded Ibaka to the Raptors today, in part, because his feelings about Orlando appeared to change.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
The Magic were right to fear Ibaka walking in unrestricted free agency this summer. But their bigger concern should have been re-signing him.
Ibaka has shown major signs of decline this season. Whether that’s due to aging or being stuck on a bad team, the conditions were likely to remain in place in Orlando during what would have been expensive long-term contract to keep him.
The Magic were never going to recoup what they dealt for Ibaka (Victor Oladipo, the No. 11 pick and Ersan Ilyasova), but at this point, that package was a sunk cost. Orlando did well to get what it did for Ibaka now (Terrence Ross and a first-round pick).
Essentially, the trade with the Thunder was backfiring for the Magic, one way or another. Orlando is fortunate it went south as quickly as it did (and credit the Magic for recognizing that).
Adam Silver and Michael Jordan got Charles Oakley and Jim Dolan to be “apologetic.” (Does that mean they actually apologized or just danced around the feelings associated with apology?) According to Silver, Dolan even expressed hope Oakley would attend a game as his guest.
But the NBA commissioner’s statement said nothing directly about a roadblock to that happening: The Knicks banning Oakley from Madison Square Garden.
It appears that obstacle, a consequence of last week’s incident, has been cleared.
The New York Knicks lifted their ban on former player Charles Oakley on Tuesday, sources told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and The Undefeated’s Mike Wise.
A source within the Madison Square Garden organization told Smith of the move, while Wise was informed by a source close to Oakley.
The Raptors have started at power forward this season:
You know the old saying: When you have six starting power forwards, you have none.
So, Toronto is trading for Serge Ibaka, who’s on an expiring contract.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Ibaka will upgrade the Raptors, who might need a shakeup. They’ve lost 10 of 14 to fall to fourth in the Eastern Conference.
Toronto will rely on him to shore up its biggest area of concern: defense. At his best, Ibaka will protect the rim next to Jonas Valanciunas. But Ibaka has slipped considerably on that end. Is that due to playing on a team going nowhere or aging? That’s the big question with this trade.
At least Ibaka should fit well offensively as a jump-shooter next to the interior-focused Valanciunas.
The Magic mitigate their damages after giving up Victor Oladipo, the No. 11 pick and Ersan Ilyasova in a lousy trade for Ibaka last summer. Orlando clears some of its big-man logjam, and Ross adds needed help on the wing. The 26-year-old Ross is in the midst of a career year, and though his level is far more stellar than spectacular, he’s owed owed a reasonable $30.2 million over the next two years. Recouping a first-round pick always helps.
The only thing worse than their trade for Ibaka might have been the Magic signing the declining big man to a big contract this summer. That’s less of a concern for the Raptors, who are trying to win now.
Both on the court right now and with the teams’ long-term visions, Ibaka makes far more sense in Toronto than Orlando.