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It’s official: Former agent Rob Pelinka hired as Lakers’ General Manager

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Rob Pelinka, who got to know the Lakers’ organization well as the agent for Kobe Bryant, is now officially their new general manager.

The move had been expected, and Tuesday the Lakers made it official.

“Rob’s knowledge of the NBA landscape and the CBA, as well as his relationships with GMs around the league, are invaluable,” said President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson. “After running a successful sports agency and as someone who truly understands the inner workings of salary caps and player negotiations, he will bring the additional skills and experience needed in the Lakers executive office. Rob is a winner and the Lakers are fortunate to have him.”

“I am beyond grateful to join the Lakers front office,” said Pelinka in a statement. “The Lakers are a gold standard for sports franchises in the world, so we all share a responsibility to pursue excellence in everything we do. Excellence is what the Lakers stands for, what Jeanie Buss and Earvin Johnson embody, and what Coach (Luke) Walton demands from our players. That obsession for greatness is what will bring Lakers basketball back to a championship level. With Jeanie and Magic guiding the vision, I am thrilled to help architect the future. I am really excited to get to work.”

Pelinka will work with Magic at the top of the Lakers basketball operations, although exactly how that power sharing arrangement will work is not yet clear. He will oversee a staff that includes Ryan West (son of former Laker GM Jerry West), plus Joey and Jessee Buss, who both have ownership shares in the team and are respected for the work they have put in learning the basketball side of the operation.

What Pelinka brings is an impressive contacts list — he already knows virtually everyone around the league — and an eye for talent, as well as recruiting that talent to his agency. Recruiting of talent has been a weak spot for the Lakers in free agency in recent years. Whether his skills can translate into being a successful GM remains to be seen, but his former players think it can.

Pelinka and Magic take over for Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak, who were forced out of their positions at the head of basketball operations by team governor Jeanie Buss following the Lakers being in the worst four-year stretch in franchise history. The Game of Thrones power struggle for control of the Lakers is not over, as evidenced by Jim and Johnny Buss making a power play last week that Jeanie thwarted.

Lakers fans may not be sold on the Magic/Pelinka combo, but they would rather give almost anyone a shot other than Jim, who made plenty of mistakes but also became a scapegoat for much more.

Report: Warrant requested for Ty Lawson for alleged violation of his parole in Colorado

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After Ty Lawson had a drunken driving arrest and conviction in the Denver area (separate from the one in California), he was sentenced to a year of supervised probation in Colorado. The former Nugget and current Kings’ player was ordered not to drink or use marijuana during his probation, plus do community service hours. That probation is set to end March 22.

However, Lawson may have violated that probation and officials in Colorado have requested a bench warrant so they can bring him in and talk about it, according to a story on TMZ.

Lawson is currently on probation stemming from his 2015 drunk driving case in Denver — but the Denver Probation Dept. has filed a complaint seeking to revoke his probation citing a potential violation.

Officials would not say what the alleged violation is … but confirmed to TMZ Sports that a bench warrant has been requested so they can bring Lawson to court for a hearing on the matter.

Lawson and his agent have yet to comment.

Remember this is all alleged right now and very vague. We don’t know what Lawson may or may not have done, and if that violated his parole. Don’t jump to conclusions.

Kyle Lowry to critics of him playing All-Star weekend: “Come say it to my face”

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Kyle Lowry took part in the All-Star Saturday Three-Point Contest. Then he participated in the All-Star Game on Sunday. He admitted to getting in a round of golf on that Monday.

Lowry has not played in a Raptors game since then, needing wrist surgery to remove “loose bodies” from the wrist that had been bothering him and getting worse. He hopes to be back for the playoffs. That sent the Raptors from thinking — with the additions of Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker — they might be able to climb back up to the two seed, to wondering if they can hold off Atlanta and keep home court in the first round.

It’s not hard to draw a line for fans on Twitter, or for talk radio hosts, Lowry shouldn’t have played All-Star weekend. Even though the “loose bodies” in his wrist are a repetitive use injury — meaning it didn’t happen with one moment or blow, rather it built up over a long time, meaning years — people tend to make simplistic assumptions that confirm what they want to hear. And frustrated Raptors fans are letting Lowry hear it on social media.

Well, he’d hear it if he was listening. Here is what he said pregame Monday, via Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun.

“I didn’t pay no attention to it to be honest,” Lowry said. “I enjoyed my all-star weekend. If anybody had any problem with it, come say it to my face. That’s how I feel.”

Lowry also confirmed the injury was years in the making.

“From what I’ve been told, it’s a 10-year process,” Lowry said.

“It’s a long process of wear and tear, and bumping and grinding, and hitting guys. It’s a little bit of wear and tear. It was just at the point where it got a little bit worse to the point where I couldn’t play. If it’s that serious for me, I knew it was something that needed to be checked on.”

I don’t think you can knock a guy for wanting to be on the court, and wanting to rep his team on a big stage.

The Raptors are in the best stretch of basketball in franchise history, including winning 56 games last season and making the conference finals for the first time ever. This year they are on pace for 48 wins and, assuming they stay the four seed, would likely face the Cavaliers in the second round.

That’s not the step forward some were hoping for. That said, management clearly knows its window is right now and made a smart, aggressive move by trading for Ibaka (with the intention of re-signing him this summer). That’s a move designed to help them match up with Cleveland. Of course, the real problem is Cleveland still has one LeBron James, and there is no counter to that. But the Raptors have tried to position themselves if the Cavaliers are not fully themselves come the playoffs.

Lowry will be there for that — and everyone complaining knows they need him to have a chance in that series. Those same fans will be back on board soon enough.

 

 

 

 

PBT Podcast: Talking coaching, “Basketball is Jazz” with David Thorpe

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Basketball is Jazz.

It’s a new book, subtitled the “Stories and lessons from a basketball lifer” and written by the trainer to the pros and ESPN writer David Thorpe, who joins Kurt Helin for this podcast to talk about the book, and some coaching.

Basketball is jazz is also an excellent description of the game and the life skills that come from it. Both are about people with different skills and styles working to find common ground and be better as a whole. It’s about solos and compromise. It’s about putting aside personal glory for the betterment of the whole. It’s democracy. It’s compromise.

It’s life.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (check there to see all the NBC Sports podcasts), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.

Three Things We Learned Monday: Kawhi Leonard outduels James Harden, makes MVP case in Spurs win

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Busy Monday around the NBA, but I want to talk about Luke Cage, the Marvel comics series put on Netflix. I loved the first couple episodes, I was hooked, and then this show went for a walk in the wilderness. The clever writing and banter from the barbershop gave way to cliché or story lines that had the subtlety of an Adam Sandler film. It still was pretty good, I was just disappointed it didn’t fulfill its own promise.

1) Kawhi Leonard outduels James Harden, makes MVP case in Spurs win.
James Harden, one of the co-frontrunners for MVP (along with Russell Westbrook), had 39 points on 20 shots, plus dished out 12 assists. The Spurs defended him well, but he was 7-of-13 on contested shots. He was more than impressive in his leading of the Rocket offense, as he has been all season.

And he was the second best player on the court. Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs to their eighth straight win with 39 points on 18 shots, he was 7-of-10 on contested looks, but he mostly strengthened his MVP case with his clutch play in the final minute when he hit the game winner on one end and blocked Harden on the other.

That is the core of Leonard’s case for the award — he is scoring 26.3 points a game and is the focal point of the fifth best offense in the NBA (the Spurs ranking), but he is also a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, something the two people considered ahead of him on the list are not near. Leonard is making his MVP case, and it’s a strong one.

2) Andrew Bogut fractures tibia in first couple minutes on court with Cavaliers, likely done for season.
This just sucks. Andrew Bogut was a great pickup for the Cavaliers, someone who could come in and essentially play a better version of the Timofey Mozgov “big off the bench” role for the Cavs in certain matchups, giving them depth and versatility up front. It was a good fit.

Then in the first couple minutes on the court with his new team, this happened.

It was a fluke play. Bogut closed out on Miami’s Okaro White at the arc, and White made the right play putting the ball on the floor and trying to drive past him. However, White’s knee hit Bogut clean in the shin and fractured his leg. Bogut went to the ground clearly in pain.

The Cavaliers are still the team to beat in the East, but this is the kind of little thing that could matter in the Finals.

3) Clippers seem back, pick up win over Celtics at home. If the Clippers can stay healthy and find their form from the first month of the season, they can make the West playoffs interesting. I’m far from sold they can do it, but they looked closer to that Monday night beating the Celtics than anything we have seen in a while.

Chris Paul‘s brilliance kept the game close in the first half, then midway through the third the Clippers took off and outscored the Celtics 63-35 to close the game and get the win. It was an offensive tour d’ force, with a combination of finding open men rolling hard to the rim, or getting the ball to open shooters who were knocking down shots. Chief among them was Jamal Crawford, who had 19 points in the game but almost all of those during the Clippers run, when he was draining threes.