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Rumor: Lakers to target Warriors’ Bob Myers to replace Magic

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Magic Johnson’s abrupt retirement leaves a big hole in the Lakers’ front office — both in terms of his job and in terms of his larger-than-life personality that helped make him an icon in Los Angeles.

Magic, the unofficial Lakers ambassador, can still fill the personality part. The job part — which Magic was not particularly good at — will take some work to find the right replacement.

Jeanie Buss, the Lakers’ lead owner, needs to be bold and find an elite, experienced GM/team president to take over Magic’s actual job with the franchise. She cannot miss on this hire. The Lakers have a 34-year-old LeBron James and a closing window, they need to be good now, not later. The franchise also needs a GM that understands how to set a true organizational culture and be forward thinking, things the Lakers have lacked in recent years.

Bob Myers fits the bill. The agent turned front office executive has turned the Warriors into a two-time (soon to be three-time) defending NBA champion and powerhouse. The rumors going around the NBA is he is at the top of the Lakers’ target list.

This is exactly the guy Buss should call. She may not be able to pry him out of Golden State, but you make the call.

Myers is under contract to the Warriors. If they let him speak to the Lakers (they likely would if he wanted to) the Lakers would have to give up a lot in compensation for the rights to sign him.

Myers is the kind of GM the Lakers need. He is a guy who collaborative, who puts together his team and then with them hashes out every possible scenario so nothing catches him off guard (although DeMarcus Cousins calling him last July did). He’s detail-oriented and prepared. He drafts well and makes smart trades, he understands roster building. Maybe most importantly for the Laker job, Myers is very good at managing drama around a team and helping keep it from impacting a locker room. Think the Lakers could have used that this past season?

Myers played college basketball at UCLA and still is tight with the program (he helped on its recent search for a new coach). He got his law degree at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and lived there while an NBA player agent for more than a decade. He’s got ties to Southern California.

What the Lakers can lure him with is starts with money. It always starts with money. Magic reportedly made in the ballpark of $10 million a season (according to Sam Amick of The Athletic on his new “Tampering” podcast), Myers makes less than that, maybe considerably (the figures are not public).

The Lakers also offer opportunity — they do have LeBron and a lot of cap space, plus an interesting young core. As big as the Warriors are now, there is no GM job as powerful and on as big a stage a the Laker job. That brand has a lot of pull.

Maybe all that is not enough to get Myers out of the Bay Area. It’s probably not. Does Myers want to be in the bright spotlight of LeBron’s Lakers, where there are no shadows for anyone? He’s also built something special with the Warriors and he may not want to walk away.

But Buss should at least make the call.

Coach of the Year predictions: Quin Snyder, Brad Stevens, or maybe Doc Rivers?

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With the start of the NBA season just more than a week away — it’s predictions time. We’ll be covering most of the postseason awards between now and the opening tip of the NBA season.

As a disclaimer, we get it: making NBA preseason awards predictions is like nailing Jell-O to a tree. We’ll be wrong. But it’s fun, so the NBA staff here at NBC is making our picks. Today…

COACH OF THE YEAR

Kurt Helin Quin Snyder (Utah Jazz). This race, like the NBA itself this season, is wide open. And also like the NBA this year, don’t sleep on Utah’s coach picking up some hardware. Outside of that guy in San Antonio, no coach has built a better system and culture than Snyder has in Utah. He has constructed an elite defense around Rudy Gobert owning the paint. On offense, the Jazz can’t just throw the ball to a Stephen Curry or James Harden, so Snyder has implemented a ball and player movement system that keeps defenses off balance. Utah won 50 games last season and this season adds quality veterans in Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic — guys who will fit in with that culture. The Jazz are a high profile, potential contending team this season because of what Snyder has built, and the improved status will have voters wanting to recognize Snyder.

Dan Feldman: Brad Stevens (Boston Celtics).  Stevens is a good coach. He has flaws, most notably recently his inability to connect with a star like Kyrie Irving. Irving can be particularly difficult to coach, but some of his issues follow most top talents. Stevens will have to show growth in his ability to guide a championship contender. But with these Celtics, Stevens can coach to his strengths — communicating clear roles to his players in a sound scheme. There’s a clear path for Boston to have a good record in the East, and credit for Stevens would likely follow.

Dane Delgado: Alvin Gentry (New Orleans Pelicans). The New Orleans Pelicans have a tough road ahead, with several new players and an outstanding rookie that still needs to get accustomed to life in the NBA. But there’s a lot of hope in The Big Easy that Zion Williamson and the Pelicans will be a postseason team this year, and you can count me in the camp of folks who believe New Orleans will make that leap in it 2019-20. If that’s the case, head coach Alvin Gentry will be tops on the list out west to take home the award for best coach in the NBA. Gentry has a bit of a head start — he’s a proven coach, and last year his team battled admirably through the Anthony Davis trade fiasco. If Gentry can go from 33 wins to the playoffs, one season removed from losing a franchise cornerstone player, I’m not sure who else would even challenge him for Coach of the Year.

Harrison and Brittany Barnes to pay for funeral of Atataina Jefferson

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Harrison Barnes now plays for the Sacramento Kings, but he and wife Brittany still have ties back in Texas. Barnes played for two-and-a-half seasons with the Dallas Mavericks, and now the couple is stepping in to help the community back in Dallas in a big way.

According to multiple reports, the Barneses have offered to pay for the funeral of Atatiana Jefferson, a Texas woman shot and killed by a Forth Worth Police Department officer last week.

That officer, Aaron Dean, has since resigned and been charged with Jefferson’s murder.

Via Twitter:

Jefferson was reportedly watching her 8-year-old nephew when a neighbor called in a welfare check to the non-emergency police line. The neighbor noticed her door was open, and police responded at 2:25 a.m.

From NBC News:

Body camera footage shows the perspective of the officer outside the home, peering inside a window using a flashlight, spotting someone inside standing near a window and telling her, “Put your hands up — show me your hands,” before shooting seconds later. At no point does he identify himself as an officer.

This is extremely generous on the part of the Barnes family and another example of how players can come to grow close to the places they play in.

Lakers exercise 4th-year contract option on Kyle Kuzma

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) The Los Angeles Lakers have exercised their contract option on forward Kyle Kuzma for the 2020-21 season.

The Lakers made the move Thursday on Kuzma, who is currently out with a foot injury suffered while playing for USA Basketball during the summer.

Kuzma was the 27th overall pick in the 2017 draft out of Utah. He has become a solid NBA scorer, putting up 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds last season while starting 68 games for the Lakers.

Kuzma will make over $3.56 million next season in the fourth-year option of his rookie contract. He is making $1.97 million this season.

The Lakers expect Kuzma to return to action soon. He has been cleared for noncontact basketball activities.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-NBA

John Wall will be an assistant coach for the Wizards this season

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John Wall won’t be playing for the Washington Wizards of this season, but he will have a chance to do something for the team that’s helpful. With Bradley Beal back on board after signing a 2-year, max-level extension, Wall will be helping coach Scott Brooks from the sidelines.

According to a new story from NBC Sports Washington, Wall will be helping Brooks this season in an assistant coaching role. For his part, Wall has said that he is excited about the opportunity, and that it’s a chance to see what his life after basketball might hold when it comes to potentially getting into coaching.

Via NBC Sports Washington:

“I think this year will tell me whether I can be a coach or not,” Wall told NBC Sports Washington on the Wizards Talk podcast.

“I think you have to have a lot of patience and you’ve gotta know how to interact with every player. Every player’s attitudes and character and mood swings are totally different. I learned from when a coach tried to coach me when I was young and I wasn’t the guy to coach.”

This is a good idea to keep Wall around the team and engaged. It would be sort of weird if Wall just wasn’t around while he did rehab, then expected to come back as the top dog next season.

He may never be the player he was before his injury, but if Wall remains with Brooks on the sideline for the remainder of the season it would mean he’s at least committed to taking the culture seriously in D.C. That, or he doesn’t want Beal to usurp his throne.