Report: Kobe will push to bring Fisher, Odom back to Lakers

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There is a reason players — even elite players — should not get to play general manager, too.

With that thought in mind we bring you this news on the eve of Derek Fisher making his return to Los Angeles as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder — Kobe Bryant wants him back. And Lamar Odom too, according to Scott Howard-Cooper at NBA.com.

Kobe Bryant is planning a hard push to recruit Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom back to the Lakers as free agents in the summer, a source familiar with Bryant’s thinking told NBA.com as Fisher prepares to return to Staples Center as a member of the Thunder.

Whether either would be receptive is unclear – Fisher and Odom loved their seasons in Los Angeles, but were hurt to be traded within the last 3 ½ months. It is known, however, that Bryant plans to use his close friendship with both to convince them that a reunion is in everyone’s best interest, bruised egos and all.

Does he want to bring the triangle offense back, too? Wait, don’t ask him that.

Kobe is being loyal to guys he knows helped get him rings, guys he trusted. But these are bad ideas. And besides, we don’t know if either of these guys wants to come back or if Lakers management would welcome them back.

In the case of Derek Fisher… there’s nothing left in the tank. There is a reason the Lakers had to get Ramon Sessions. Fisher’s legacy as a Laker is intact, but there should be no future. He is a bad fit for this system at the PG spot (he had a PER under 10 for three seasons), and is shooting 32.8 percent since being traded to the Thunder. He will be 38 next season and is a defensive liability. It’s just time to move on.

Odom may have some good basketball left in him, but he is a sensitive player who asked to be moved from the Lakers when they tried to trade him in the Chris Paul deal before the season. Now he’s going to come back? Then there is the money — we can expect Dallas will buy out the last year of Odom’s $8.2 million deal (a $2.4 million buyout) and he will be a free agent. However, the Lakers already have more than $80 million on the books for next season (I’ll assume they will pick up Andrew Bynum’s option). They can’t offer him much, and since every dollar they offer him gets doubled due to the luxury tax they don’t want to. Basically, the Lakers can only lowball him, which he would find insulting from a team that tried to trade him.

The Lakers front office is smart — look for them to go through the motions on guys like this to keep Kobe happy. But neither deal makes any sense for the team going forward (unless Odom is willing to play for peanuts).

Michael Avenatti charged with stealing money Hassan Whiteside intended to pay ex-girlfriend

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Heat center Hassan Whiteside became the first player in NBA history to go from a minimum salary one season to a max salary the next.

Some of that money allegedly got embezzled by Michael Avenatti.

Avenatti – the infamous lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels, who claimed she was paid to keep quiet about having an affair with Donald Trump – has been charged with attempted extortion of Nike and stealing from other clients. One of those other clients: Whiteside’s former girlfriend, Alexis Gardner.

Michael Finnegan of the Los Angeles Times:

An actress and barista, she’d hired him just a few weeks before to negotiate a settlement of a potential lawsuit against Whiteside. It’s unclear what she would have alleged. Avenatti quickly struck a $3-million deal, and the $2.75 million was Whiteside’s first payment.

Avenatti, prosecutors say, was entitled to take just over $1 million in legal fees, leaving the rest for Gardner.

Instead, they allege, Avenatti hid Whiteside’s payment from her and immediately took $2.5 million to buy a share of a private jet.

Report: Lakers have no plans to replace Magic Johnson, who’ll still help team recruit FAs

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Magic Johnson’s stunning resignation as Lakers president caused a commotion.

It didn’t create a power vacuum.

Rob Pelinka is clearly in charge. He’s the highest-ranking member of the front office. His title – general manager – is the one many teams give to the leader of their basketball operations. He’s running the Lakers’ coaching search.

Though they’ve been linked to big-name candidates for president, the Lakers could easily keep the status quo with Pelinka running the show. And it sounds as if that’s what Lakers owner Jeanie Buss will do.

Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:

Buss has no plans to hire someone to replace Johnson, who is still expected to be part of the Lakers’ free-agent recruiting this summer.

Allowing Pelinka to hire a head coach – which, again, he’s in the process of doing – then supplanting him would be absurd. At least it seems the Lakers aren’t doing that.

But Pelinka was part of the organization while it made a comedy of errors. The former agent also had front-office experience until getting hired with Johnson a couple years ago. It’s hard to believe he’s the right choice to lead the team as it enters this critical stage.

LeBron James is 34. The Lakers will have max cap space this summer. Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart are progressing toward establishing clearer value – one way or the other.

To entrust Pelinka in this situation, Buss ought to have a clear explanation for why Pelinka doesn’t deserve a fair share of blame for all the mistakes that occurred the last couple years. There are plenty of people, inside and outside the Lakers, who question him.

The wildest part about this report: Johnson still helping the Lakers recruit this summer. He’s an all-time great player and charismatic. But he also just said while resigning:

What I didn’t like is the backstabbing, the whispering. I don’t like that. I don’t like a lot of things that went on that didn’t have to go on.

How will he sell that to free agents – especially if Pelinka, suspected to be whom Johnson is referring to, remains in charge?

Russell Westbrook goes from ‘Next question’ to ‘That’s a good question. Not sure’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook can be a pain.

Pain to his opponents. Pain to his teammates. Pain to the media.

Sometimes, it seems Westbrook even takes pride in being a jerk. Which is fine. His cutthroat attitude is part of who he is, and it has gotten him a long way.

Lately, Westbrook has clashed with Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. For months, Westbrook has answered all Tramel’s questions with, “Next question.” Yet, Tramel keeps asking them – as he should. Westbrook has earned control over a lot of things. Tramel shouldn’t cede control of his job to Westbrook.

The back-and-forth has gotten increased prominence during the playoffs, when postgame press conferences are nationally televised. Both sides have found plenty of support. Westbrook’s fans love that his intensity never relents. Many also respect Tramel’s professionalism.

Four years ago, Westbrook infamously told Tramel, “I just don’t like you.” Westbrook got into it with Tramel again two years ago. But Tramel continues to cover the Thunder the best he can.

Likewise, Westbrook is trying to lead Oklahoma City the best he can. That means picking battles, even small ones like this, and pushing himself to win them all.

But after the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Trail Blazers last night, Westbrook finally gave an inch. But just an inch.

Tramel asked how the Thunder’s defense of Damian Lillard changed from the first half to the second half.

“That’s a good question,” Westbrook said. “Not sure.”

Tramel asked about the lessons learned about overcoming a 3-1 deficit to the Grizzlies in the 2014 playoffs. (Oklahoma City trailed 2-1 and 3-2 in that series, but never 3-1).

“Really don’t know,” Westbrook said.

For Westbrook, those answers were a huge breakthrough. They surprised everyone, even Tramel. Just a few days ago, the columnist predicted Westbrook wouldn’t change his two-word answers anytime soon: “He’s not going to give in this playoff series.”

Maybe this means the series is over.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse leaves mouth agape a loooong time after odd call (video)

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The Raptors got called for an extremely quick three-second violation during their Game 4 win over the Magic yesterday.

Toronto coach Nick Nurse couldn’t believe it.

Really couldn’t believe it.

Just couldn’t believe it one bit.