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Rumor: Lakers owner Jeanie Buss pushed Magic Johnson to draft Lonzo Ball

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The Lakers haven’t made a satisfactory trade offer for Anthony Davis. It seems the Pelicans just don’t care much for Los Angeles’ young players.

Rather, New Orleans would probably rather wait for Celtics forward Jayson Tatum. Tatum went No. 3 in the 2017 NBA draft – one spot after the Lakers took Lonzo Ball.

How did the Lakers make that decision?
Stephen A. Smith of ESPN:

What I’m about to say, Magic Johnson would categorically probably deny. That’s my friend, my brother. I love him. If Magic Johnson was sitting next to me on national television and he said opposite or contrary to what I’m about to tell you, I’d tell him, “That’s a d— lie, and you know it.”

Magic Johnson would not have drafted Lonzo Ball if were not for Jeanie Buss.

Jeanie Buss needed a box-office draw. LaVar Ball, the marketing wizard that he is, put his son in our minds’ eye, had us thinking this brother out of Chino Hills starring for UCLA is going to be special in the pros.

Nate Jones:

Buss has repeatedly said how much she trusts Johnson, team president, to run the front office. But Buss also spoke of the importance of Los Angeles landing a star.

Ball, thanks to his father and strong play at UCLA, was the biggest name in the 2017 draft.

But this also seems like pro-Johnson spin.

If he were reluctant to draft Ball, Johnson went out of his way to disguise it. Johnson traded D'Angelo Russell to clear room for Ball at point guard then touted Ball’s leadership at the expense of Russell.

Besides, even if Johnson preferred to pass on Ball, would we hear about it now if Ball were playing better? These types of hindsight decisions tend to leak only when it paints someone in a more-favorable light. Otherwise, they get buried.

Still, the Lakers would be far better off with Tatum or De'Aaron Fox (who went No. 5 to the Kings). But we can’t be certain whom Johnson would have drafted if not Ball. At the time, the Lakers were reportedly also linked to Fox and Josh Jackson, who has played worse than Ball so far.

Josh Jackson steals inbound pass, yams all over Markieff Morris

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Phoenix Suns wing Josh Jackson has struggled during his second year in the NBA. The University of Kansas product has not lived up to expectations as the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, and his selection was a crucial one for a Suns team needing to build with young talent.

But that doesn’t mean that Jackson can’t impress from time to time

On Saturday against the Washington Wizards, Jackson showed off his basketball awareness with a heady play off an inbound pass that allowed him to yam all over Markief Morris.

Via Twitter:

Jackson has caught some heat early this season thanks to the solid play of guys who were drafted after him including De'Aaron Fox, Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo, and Lauri Markkanen, among others.

Still, Jackson appears to care about the on-court play of his team. The play above is a flash Suns fans would like to see more of in the future.

Suns executive James Jones: Focus has shifted to NBA players, not draft

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The Suns are 7-24.

At least they’ll get a prime draft pick to add young talent to grow with Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. That’s Phoenix best path toward meaningful success.

Or…

Suns front-office chief James Jones, via Arizona Sports 98.7:

“Yeah, we have to worry about what happens in the draft but our primary focus is on this team currently and what we can do,” he told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo on Wednesday. “We have a bunch of young players in this draft. We’ve been deep in the draft, we’ve drafted a lot of players over the years and our focus has shifted more to development of these players and looking at NBA players that we possibly can add to this team.”

“We shifted focus,” Jones said. “I think in the past our primary focus — a great amount of our time was spent turning over every stone as it relates to players and college players, but college players don’t win NBA games. NBA players do, so that’s where our focus is now.”

I get why the Suns want to be done with the draft. This will be Phoenix’s ninth straight season outside the playoffs. That should have provided enough lottery picks to stock the roster.

But since 2011, the Suns have gotten Markieff Morris, Kendall Marshall, Alex Len, T.J. Warren, Devin Booker, Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss, Josh Jackson, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges from the lottery. That’s not good enough.

Phoenix is still multiple steps from winning. Trying to shortcut the process will only push the goal further away. That type of thinking is what led to misguided signings like Trevor Ariza, Tyson Chandler and Jared Dudley. The Suns should be realistic about where they are in team-building.

And maybe they are. Perhaps, Jones is just saying what he thinks should be said. The Suns are trying to sell tickets and secure taxpayer funding for arena upgrades, after all.

But this also might be Phoenix’s actual approach. Suns owner Robert Sarver is notoriously impatient. After Jones’ comments, the Suns traded Ariza to the Wizards without getting a draft pick (netting only Kelly Oubre).

The best thing the Suns can do is nail their upcoming high first-round pick. That should be their primary focus.

Jones saying otherwise ought to terrify Phoenix fans.

Suns’ Devin Booker: ‘I’d like to build a super team. I’d like the super team to come to me.’

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After last season, Suns guard Devin Booker said, “I’m done with not making the playoffs. I’m serious. This is probably my last year ever not making the playoffs.”

Phoenix is 4-15 and the only bad team in the Western Conference.

But Booker hasn’t become less openly ambitious.

Booker, via Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports:

“I’d like to build a superteam. I’d like the superteam to come to me.”

I don’t know the latest definition of a “super team,” but having three stars seems somewhat generally accepted.

The Suns have zero stars.

Though hailed and paid as one, Booker isn’t quite there yet (no great sin for a 22-year-old on the right track). No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton has all the tools and has looked good so far. But after that? I wouldn’t bet on Mikal Bridges, Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren or anyone else in Phoenix developing into a star.

Until the Suns seriously contend for the playoffs, this talk by Booker mostly just rings hollow. It’s skipping steps, and stars are unlikely to join a team so bad.

At least Phoenix will have a high first round pick. That’ll be the best opportunity to add a star.

Josh Jackson yells at teammate ‘You want to f—king play or what?’

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The Phoenix Suns are a bad team. They aren’t the worst team in the NBA — the Cleveland Cavaliers have them edged out there — but it’s clear there’s some serious work to do with this young squad moving forward.

It’s early in the season, but even with many young players in a development year, most would like to put a few more wins up on the board. As such, when poor or low effort play is involved, it’s possible for tensions to boil over.

That’s what happened on Saturday night as the Suns took on the Oklahoma City Thunder. During an inbounds play with a few seconds left to go in the third quarter, sloppy play by his Phoenix teammates led Josh Jackson to yell at TJ Warren.

Via Twitter:

I mean, someone has to come to the ball there, right? That’s some 5th grade basketball nonsense right there.

Perhaps Warren and the rest of the Suns thought that Jackson would try to launch the ball into their own half of the court to get a closer shot? In any case more communication was necessary.

The Suns lost to the Thunder, 110-100, and dropped to 3-12 on the season.