Lakers Buss family as a Shakespearian Drama

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Oh what a tangled web we weave…

Sometimes the Buss family — owners of the Lakers — come off as crazy as a family in a Shakespearian drama. Well, maybe not Macbeth crazy, but crazy. There is the eccentric patriarch ceding his power and the greedy children trying to push each other out of the way to get the reins. There are lovers as allies, behind the back stabbings, and huge amounts of power and money.

That or everything is just fine. Nothing to see here, move along.

Depends on who you want to believe.

In an article talking about LeBron James making an overture to the Los Angeles Lakers, Roland Lazenby wrote a detailed explanation of the Lakers front office power play going on:

Soon Jackson was winning championships and charging Buss $12 million a season to do it. Buss has hated paying that much for a mere coach, especially one that was tupping his daughter. His counter move on Jackson was to vest power and control in the hands of son Jim, already a competitor with Jeanie Buss for daddy’s love and control of the franchise. The whole scenario has Jeanie quite upset and telling her friends, “They’re going to do this again. They don’t even care if he wins the championship this year.” Jeanie, of course, is making reference to the 2004 firing of Jackson by Jim and Jerry Buss.

She was particularly angered that Jerry Buss entertained former Laker (and rumored Jackson replacement) Byron Scott into the owner’s suite on the night Jackson became the winningest coach in Lakers history. “Jeanie was really upset by it,” the confidant said. “But Phil took the high road… He said (an agent) put Scott in the owner’s suite so he could get the Clippers job. They wanted to make it look like the Lakers were interested to get the Clippers to bite.”

Lakers VP Jeanie Buss — also Phil Jackson’s girlfriend — calls BS on that in an interview with the Kamenetzky brothers of ESPNLosAngeles:

“It’s like a rehash of 2005. What happened was, Phil got to come back and it’s on completely different terms than when he left in 2004. But (the family dynamic) was an interesting part of the drama, so I can see where it’s convenient to bring it all up again. Roland Lazenby wrote a book about Phil when Phil was still coaching the Bulls called ‘Mind Games.’ It’s like he took stuff from that book from over ten years ago and he’s trying to rehash that part. Like Phil has this thing that he’s got to destroy the team that he’s leaving. That any issues that the Bulls have had in the last ten years in because of Phil, which is just crazy.”

Lazenby answered back in his blog:

Is there conflict in the Los Angeles Lakers’ inner sanctum? Of course.

Is it wise for Jeanie Buss to play down such conflict? Yes. In fact, it’s important that they resolve it, which is the point of the two columns I’ve written about it. It was Phil Jackson, not I, who first articulated his displeasure to the New York media earlier in the season over suggestions that he take a pay cut from his $12 million per year salary.

Yea, this is Shakespearian level crazy. All we need to do is put this in iambic pentameter and we are good to go.

Jeanie Buss can deny this all she wants, but it is her people who fuel a lot of this, it is her people who feel she deserves to be running the team and is getting shafted in the deal. She is the one who would have to put an end to this, Lazenby is a journalist and one trying to sell a book right now, he is not looking to lower his profile.

But ending this would rob us of a good drama.

Report: Kings trying to get involved in Jimmy Butler trade by taking bad contracts

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The Timberwolves are reportedly seeking, among other things, “salary-cap relief” in a Jimmy Butler trade. But Butler is on a de facto expiring contract, and Minnesota is already below the luxury-tax line this season. There isn’t significant relief to be gained by dealing just him.

So, that likely means unloading Gorgui Dieng, who’s due $48,687,640 over the next three years, including $15,170,787 this season.

That’s a toxic contract that will be difficult to move. Some potential Butler trade partners don’t have viable expiring contracts to trade for Dieng, and some potential Butler trade partners will flat refuse.

Enter the Kings.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

In recent days, Sacramento has been aggressive in courting Minnesota and several of Butler’s trade suitors — offering to use its space as a landing spot for bloated contracts.

The Kings have about $11 million in cap space (not counting Jamel Artis‘ unguaranteed deal). They also have a few ill-fitting veterans on expiring contracts that could facilitate a trade: Zach Randolph ($11,692,308), Iman Shumpert ($11,011,234) and Kosta Koufos ($8,739,500).

In return for taking bad contracts, Sacramento will seek draft picks and young players. This is the exact type of trade the rebuilding Kings should make. They just must hope Minnesota’s best offer involves them.

PBT Podcast: How do Victor Oladipo, Pacers take next step forward?

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Last season Victor Oladipo burst on the scene, making the leap from solid rotation player to All-NBA level star who could score and defend — and he dragged the Pacers up to being a solid playoff team with him.

The Pacers were the surprise of the NBA, which leads to the question: Can they do it again? More than that, how can they take a step forward? Kurt Helin of NBC Sports talks with J. Michael of the Indy Star about the Pacers and their key role players — Myles Turner, Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott, Thaddeus Young and more — and what has to happen to move this team into the top three or four of the East.

The pair also discusses the East a little, including whether Toronto is for real, and how big a threat will Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks be.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

Report: Timberwolves president Tom Thibodeau, owner Glen Taylor unaligned on Jimmy Butler trade

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Timberwolves president Tom Thibodeau reportedly initially expressed no interest in granting Jimmy Butler‘s trade request. Then, owner Glen Taylor reportedly ordered Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden to deal the star. Yet, Thibodeau was still reportedly trying to convince Butler to stay in Minnesota as of yesterday.

Does that mean Thibodeau was defying his boss? Not necessarily. Thibodeau could be trying to persuade Butler on one front while Thibodeau and Layden also explore trades on another front. There’s room for simultaneous strategies.

But it doesn’t sound as if the Timberwolves are all on the same page.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden, who is the point man for trade conversations, continue to leave rival executives and owners unclear about both the specific players and broader kinds of assets that the Wolves value in a deal, sources said. Even more doubt exists about whether there’s even yet alignment between Taylor and Thibodeau on a structure and a timetable for a deal, league sources told ESPN.

From starting the week insisting to other teams that Minnesota wouldn’t trade Butler to slow-playing return phone calls and failing to share guidelines for the kind of deal that Minnesota wants to execute, Layden has graduated to the next phase of negotiations with teams: Asking for stars, starters, draft picks and salary-cap relief for the chance to acquire Butler, league sources said.

there’s a belief among interested teams that Thibodeau is reluctant to bring strong offers to his owner for examination because he’s still holding out hope to get Butler on the floor for Minnesota this season.

As the trade process grinds along, some interested teams are working to bypass Layden and go directly to Wolves ownership with trade offers. Teams dealing with Minnesota describe an unusual level of confusion. Some have heard separately from Taylor and the Layden/Thibodeau management team, with little apparent coordination between the two levels of Minnesota’s organization.

This all sounds believable. Thibodeau can be stubborn. He feuded with Bulls management until he got fired, and there’s a rumor he’d rather leave the Timberwolves than trade Butler for lesser young players and picks. There’d be a selfish logic to that approach, as missing the playoffs next season – more likely without Butler – could get Thibodeau fired, anyway.

But a dose of skepticism about this report: If you were a team trying to trade for Butler, would you rather deal with Thibodeau – a basketball expert who is adamant about getting a good return – or Taylor, a businessman who built his fortune outside basketball then bought an NBA team? The answer is probably Taylor, and a way to do that is sow discord in Minnesota with leaks like this. This report could cause Taylor to take over Butler-trade negotiations completely.

Kings, Bulls, Lakers, Clippers, Bucks team up to “Rally the Vote,” push voter registration

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Voter participation numbers in the United States can be depressing. In 2016, during the last presidential election, an estimated 61.4 percent of eligible voters went to the polls, and in non-presidential election cycles that number can fall way, way off. Voter apathy in the USA is a real issue, one that hurts our democracy.

To help counter that a number of NBA teams — Kings, Bulls, Lakers, Clippers, Bucks — as well as teams from other sports are teaming up to “Rally the Vote,” a new drive to push voter registration among sports fans. The goal is to get the message out before the deadline to register for the upcoming November elections (in most states that is in October).

It is an effort from teams that falls in line with what NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has encouraged players to do — speak out on social issues, be involved, try to make the world a better place. The idea is a simple one: to make sure everyone’s voice is heard through the ballot box, where it can make a real impact on our country.

“If we can make buying a ticket to a sporting event accessible in a few clicks, there is no reason why registering to vote shouldn’t be the same,” said Vivek Ranadivé, Owner and Chairman of the Sacramento Kings, who spearheaded this project. “Voting is one of the most important things we do as Americans and is central to our democracy, yet tens of millions of people are not registered to vote. Sports teams have a responsibility to enact positive change in their communities, and I’m proud to see so many of us coming together to help fans register to vote so that they can have a voice in elections.”

The teams are partnering with Democracy Works, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that uses technology to make voting easier. Teams involved in Rally the Vote — which also includes the MLB’s White Sox, Giants, and A’s, plus the NFL’s 49ers — will encourage fans to register to vote this election season. Through team mobile apps, websites and social media platforms, fans will be directed to TurboVote, a Democracy Works tool that allows voters to register, file for an absentee ballot and receive election reminders. 

Kings’ rookie Marvin Bagley III recorded a PSA for the project. Fans attending games for these teams in the coming weeks will see that PSA and hear about it though arena announcements, plus the teams will make pushes on other platforms to get people involved.

It’s an important cause, and good on Ranadivé and the Kings for spearheading this push. More people voting, more people taking advantage of their rights and expressing their voice, the better. Like at a sporting event, it’s just more fun with more people involved.