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Lakers legal fight is head-on collision of Busses

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jeanie Buss went to court Friday to stop what her attorneys call an attempt by brothers Jim and Johnny Buss to oust her as controlling owner and president of the Los Angeles Lakers, an allegation the brothers’ attorneys say has no basis in reality.

The matter came to a quick end when Jeanie Buss withdrew her request for a temporary restraining in Los Angeles County Superior Court after the brothers dropped their request for a board meeting she felt was a move against her, but it may just be the opening skirmish in a bigger family fight over one of the most-storied franchises in sports. A larger lawsuit in probate court is pending.

“It is good news for fans that Jim and Johnny backed down in court today, but I’m afraid it’s just the beginning,” Adam Streisand, attorney for Jeanie Buss, said in an email to The Associated Press.

The public spat comes just over a week after Jeanie Buss ousted Jim Buss as the Lakers’ executive vice president of basketball operations and replaced him with Magic Johnson. She also fired longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak, who Johnson replaced with player agent Rob Pelinka.

Under the team structure set up by the siblings’ late father Jerry Buss, Jeanie Buss is controlling owner with final say, but the brothers, and others, have ownership stakes in the team.

Robert Sacks, attorney for the brothers, told the AP by phone that the brothers have no interest in wresting control from their sister and the entire court fight is unnecessary.

“Both Jim Buss and Johnny Buss hoped that any issues would be handled within the family,” Sacks said. He added that the brothers have said both verbally and in corporate documents that they support keeping her as controlling owner.

Jeanie Buss’ filing said that the brothers had requested a board of directors meeting be held next week and included a list of four proposed directors who could be elected there.

That list did not include Jeanie Buss, who is required to be a director in order to be a controlling owner. Buss and her attorneys took that as a sign that they intended to oust their sister, and went to court to stop it.

Robert Sacks, attorney for the brothers, said they did indeed want a board of directors meeting because the organization was overdue for one, but that it had nothing to do with wresting control from Jeanie Buss.

The brothers withdrew their request for the meeting, and Jeanie Buss withdrew the court request to stop it.

Asked about the family turmoil, first-year coach Luke Walton said, “Stuff that’s not in my control, I don’t spend much time thinking about.”

An initial hearing in a potential probate trial between the siblings is scheduled for May.

“I’m confident we will continue to uphold Dr. Buss’s wishes and Jeanie will remain in control,” Streisand said.

The fight is just the latest round of negative news and upheaval for the Lakers, who for decades had an ownership and management structure that was the envy of the league.

The possible probate battle and ongoing family feud that looms is more reminiscent of the traditionally dysfunctional Los Angeles Clippers, whose then-owner Donald Sterling and estranged wife Shelly Sterling got into an ugly probate-court fight over the ownership and sale of the team.

The Lakers have already had a woeful run on the court, steadily declining since their last back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010. They’ve had among the worst records in the league in recent years and haven’t made the playoffs since 2013.

Report: Doc Rivers accepts deal to become Philadelphia 76ers head coach

Doc Rivers philadelphia
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Doc Rivers was not out of a job long.

Considered an elite coach and leader of men, a guy pushed out the door in Los Angeles by a frustrated owner in Steve Ballmer, Doc Rivers has accepted a deal to become the new head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This was expected, and it came together fast. Rivers was let go by the Clippers on Monday and by Thursday had agreed to the deal with Philly.

Philadelphia had been looking for not only a coach but other voices in the front office to work with GM Elton Brand. Rivers, who had been team president in Los Angeles at one point, had that kind of voice with the Clippers in a collaborative front office. He likely will assume a similar role with the Sixers, having input on player and personnel decisions, not just Xs and Os.

Rivers also jumps from one roster expected to contend for a title but having fit and chemistry issues to another.

Doc Rivers needs to find an offensive system in Philadelphia where both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons can thrive next to each other, along with Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, and Al Horford. There’s not much spacing or shooting there, which is why Shake Milton was getting a lot of run from former coach Brett Brown.

Roster tweaks would be coming, but with Rivers the idea will be making better use of the existing roster — and the style of play it forces.

The buzz around the league is that Tyronn Lue will take the Clippers job, which leaves Mike D’Antoni looking at places such as Indiana and New Orleans.

Vince Carter wins NBA Sportsmanship Award

Hawks forward Vince Carter
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Vince Carter’s 22-year NBA career ended amid the chaos of coronavirus, preventing him from getting the deserved fanfare.

But fellow players will send Carter into retirement with the NBA Sportsmanship Award.

NBA release:

NBA players have selected Vince Carter as the recipient of the 2019-20 NBA Sportsmanship Award, the NBA announced today.

Carter, who spent the 2019-20 season with the Atlanta Hawks, announced his retirement from the NBA in June after playing a league-record 22 seasons.  He receives the Joe Dumars Trophy as the winner of the NBA Sportsmanship Award.  Dumars, a two-time NBA champion and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, played 14 NBA seasons and won the inaugural Sportsmanship Award in the 1995-96 season.

Each NBA team nominated one of its players for the NBA Sportsmanship Award, which is designed to honor a player who best represents the ideals of sportsmanship on the court.  From the list of 30 team nominees, a panel of league executives selected one finalist from each of the NBA’s six divisions.  Current NBA players selected the winner from the list of six finalists, with more than 250 players submitting their votes through confidential balloting conducted by the league office.

Full voting (with first-, second-, third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place votes and voting points):

1. Vince Carter (Hawks): 143-70-34-13-4-2-2,520

2. Garrett Temple (Nets): 22-78-63-52-25-26-1,746

3. Steven Adams (Thunder): 34-57-41-52-58-24-1,632

4. Harrison Barnes (Kings): 24-25-75-48-35-59-1,418

5. Langston Galloway (Pistons): 23-22-29-60-79-53-1,244

7. Tyus Jones (Grizzlies): 20-14-24-41-65-102-1,016

What a nice honor for Carter, who gracefully aged from high-profile star to veteran mentor.

Heat: Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic doubtful for Game 2 of NBA Finals

Heat players Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic
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Bam Adebayo‘s and Goran Dragic‘s injuries… not looking great for the Heat approaching Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Heat:

This is a disaster for Miami. The Lakers dominated Game 1, and now the Heat have two starters hobbled at best. At worst and more likely, Adebayo and Dragic are out.

Adebayo would be the bigger loss. Miami was completely overmatched when facing Anthony Davis without a center. Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard can try to keep up, but they’re far from great solutions.

At least the Heat have more options at point guard. Kendrick Nunn can get an elevated role (especially after excelling in garbage time of Game 1). Jimmy Butler can become the de facto point guard. Tyler Herro can also play the position. But Dragic was playing so well during Miami’s run through the Eastern Conference. This is also a major setback.

 

Report: Tyronn Lue ‘early favorite’ to become Clippers head coach

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Doc Rivers is gaining momentum in the 76ers’ coaching search.

As for the job Rivers left behind with the Clippers… Clippers assistant and former Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, unsurprisingly, has the inside track.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Clippers are planning to interview other candidates, starting soon, sources said.

The New Orleans Pelicans are planning to interview Lue in the near future too, sources said.

Lue would be a sensible hire. He has championship experience, which would help the Clippers hit the ground running in a make-or-break season before Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can become unrestricted free agents. Lue managed stars in LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. The Clippers must improve their chemistry around their stars. And the last time Lue got promoted from assistant to head coach, his team won a title.

New Orleans also has an appealing job. But the Clippers are far closer to championship contention. And if both teams want Lue, I bet Clippers owner Steve Ballmer would outspend Pelicans owner Gayle Benson.

Still, the Clippers are conducting a coaching search. Other candidates could emerge. This isn’t necessarily Lue’s job for the taking.

How long would he wait on L.A. if the Pelicans make an offer? Lue has shown he values being entrusted.