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Magic Johnson on Luke Walton: “Yeah, we’re not going to fire him”

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Sunday, Magic Johnson was in Staples Center doing spin control.

Last Tuesday, Johnson reportedly dressed down Laker coach Luke Walton about the team’s slow start (2-5 at the time, 4-6 now after getting thrashed by the Raptors Sunday). As word of the meeting leaked out, speculation about the fate of Luke Walton grew on social media. Fair or not. Magic and GM Rob Pelinka didn’t hire Walton, and did LeBron James back him?

So there was Magic on Sunday, in Staples Center, trying to drop water on the flames he helped create. Magic spoke to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

“Yeah, we’re not going to fire him,” Johnson told ESPN… “[The meeting last week with Walton] wasn’t even a meeting about that. We just have to be better, and that was it.”

And to Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:

“I said it, Luke took it and we’re all good,” Johnson told The Times. “It’s no big deal…

“He’s going to finish the season,” Johnson said. “Unless something drastic happens, which it won’t.”

Team presidents getting frustrated with coaches during a rough patch is about as common as a Stephen Curry three around the NBA. Magic can be right in saying that this was nothing out of the ordinary and got blown out of proportion.

However, Magic has been with the Lakers long enough to know that everything gets blown out of proportion with this team. He has to know that news of these kinds of meetings will leak and he has to know what the optics are like. Magic is not with the team daily — that’s GM Rob Pelinka — so when he parachutes in and chews people out he has to understand how that is going to play out in the world.

Magic also has to know that the Lakers’ struggles are more about him than Walton. While the Lakers landed LeBron in the offseason, they surrounded him with young players still trying to figure out their games and where they fit in the league, and a group of mismatched veterans they could get on one-year contracts. This was not a team built to contend, and it was always going to be a rough start as the team started to figure out how to fit. Walton is trying to guide that, but it’s a process.

A process Walton gets to continue. At least until the end of the season.

 

Why does Kevin Durant respond on social media? “I’m qualified to talk about basketball”

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Every NBA player gets ripped on social media, even the guys who are not on social media. Most of the time players just ignore it, the way they ignore fans yelling stuff courtside or distant family asking them for money.

Kevin Durant, however, gets into it sometimes, even with national media members (and even had a burner account). Which always becomes a thing.

Why? Why not just ignore it? From Durant himself at practice Friday, via NBC Sports Bay Area.

“Because I have social media,” Durant said Friday… “I mean, I’m a human being with a social media account. I could see if I ventured off into like politics, culinary arts or music and gave my input, but I’m sticking to something that I know. You know what I’m saying? This is all I know. I’m actually talking about stuff that I know. I’m qualified to talk about basketball.

“So when I respond to something, especially if it’s about me personally, of course I’m going to tell you if you wrong about it. When I’m on the training table getting treatment on my calf and I see a tweet that come by and I disagree — I don’t talk to people because I’m worried about what they say, it’s just that I’m interested. So if you talking about in-game or the NBA Finals, they’re the same to me, you know what I’m saying?”

Durant seems to have more time on hands to get into these spats while he is out injured. Which likely will last into the start of the NBA Finals.

Does this mean the Drake/Durant beef is inevitable?

LeBron likes Instagram of Kyrie Irving in Lakers jersey, Internet goes berserk

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The Lakers landing Kyrie Irving in free agency this summer might be their best realistic option. It’s far, far from a lock — the Knicks, and yes Celtics, will make their pitch, too — but reuniting the pair that won a title in Cleveland is on the Lakers’ radar. (Insert your own, “you know who should coach this team” Tyronn Lue joke here.)

Fueling the speculation, LeBron James and Irving were seen hanging out together at a club in Los Angeles recently. Then Friday, this happened: Cuffthelegend posted this on Instagram and LeBron liked it.

View this post on Instagram

I like how this feels

A post shared by Savage Season 365 (@cuffsthelegend) on

(For the record, Cuffthelegend gets some stuff right, he’s not a guy who posts stuff out of nowhere.)

Of course, NBA Twitter and the web responded to this in its usual measured, thoughtful way. Some Lakers fans think the deal is done, others mock the idea altogether.

Two thoughts on Irving and the Lakers:

• Multiple reports say Irving is open to it. Irving also has a strong relationship with Kevin Durant, and Boston still plans to trade for Anthony Davis and then try to re-sign Irving (even if Boston fans are done with Kyrie). The only person who knows which way Irving is leaning right now is Irving, and there’s a good chance he changes his mind in the next five weeks anyway.

• If the Lakers are going to land a star free agent this summer, it will be because LeBron was an active recruiter. These elite players have options, and the Laker front office is not inspiring confidence of late, it will be on LeBron to win guys over.

 

Jeremy Lin: Milwaukee security guard asked for my pass to Raptors team bus

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Jeremy Lin has discussed people not believing he plays in the NBA.

It apparently still happens.

Lin, whose Raptors are playing the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals, via Bill Michaels Sports Talk Network:

After Game 2 in Milwaukee, I was trying to get to the team bus and one of the dudes in the Milwaukee arena just screams at me. He’s like, “Where do you think you’re going?!” And I’m like, “Uh, I’m trying to get to the team bus.” He’s like, “What?! Where’s your pass?” I was like, “I don’t have a pass. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have a pass.”

This happens in a lot of arenas, so I just kind of go with the flow.

It’s a fine line. Lin shouldn’t be profiled as a non-athlete because he’s Asian-American. Arena staffers should keep everyone safe by stopping unauthorized people.

PBT Podcast: What’s next for Boston, Philadelphia, Denver? (And some playoff talk)

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Will Kyrie Irving stay in Boston? If not, what is Plan B?

Is Jimmy Butler back in Philadelphia next season? If he is will Tobias Harris be back?

What are the next steps to turn Denver into a contender?

I get into all of those things with the wise Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (and Celtics Blog, and Real GM), we break down those three teams recently turned out of the playoffs. We also start off talking about teams actually in the playoffs, particularly Toronto’s comeback in the Eastern Conference Finals, and how those teams can take advantage against the Warriors with Kevin Durant out.

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.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.