Shootaround (Feb. 10) -- Magic Johnson wants to 'call the shots' for Lakers
Plus, Phil Jackson attempts to mend fences with Carmelo Anthony, Nerlens Noel on trade rumors and much more
Magic knows what he wants to do for Lakers | Jackson says prior tweet ‘misunderstood’ | Westbrook: ‘It’s up to them’ to boo or cheer Durant | Noel tunes out trade chatter
No. 1: Magic Johnson wants to ‘call the shots’ with Lakers — Few players in NBA history are as iconic and revered by both the franchise and fan base as Magic Johnson is with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was one of the greatest winners in not just Lakers lore, but NBA history, and is back with the team as of last week in an advising role. However, Johnson was never one to sit idly by as a player and let others lead and has designs on being at the forefront of things for the Lakers in his current role, writes Josh Peter of USA Today:
Magic Johnson said he wants to “call the shots’’ for the Los Angeles Lakers, a week after it was announced he has rejoined the team as an adviser to owner Jeanie Buss.
“Working to call the shots, because it only works that way,’’ Johnson told USA TODAY Sports when asked what he hopes his role with the franchise will be. “Right now I’m advising. I get that. But at the end of the day, then we all got to come together and somebody’s got to say, ‘I’m making the final call,’ all right? And who’s that going to be?
“So, we’ll see what happens.’’
Johnson, the former Lakers great, said the decision about his role rests with Jeanie Buss, whose brother Jim has been in charge of the franchise since their father, Jerry, died in 2013. During the 2013-14 season, Jim Buss said he would step down after three to four years if the franchise was not yet competing for NBA titles again.
“Look, Jim knows where we are, Jeanie knows where we are, as a franchise, and so some decisions have to be made,’’ Johnson said, adding that he thinks his role will be determined by the end of the season. “I may only be in this role for a short term, I may be here for a long time. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. I can’t tell you that right now.’’
“It’s going to take time and we know that,’’ said Johnson, the Hall-of-Famer who played for the Lakers from 1979-91 and played 32 games during the 1995-96 season. “I’m not going to fool nobody and I don’t want the fan base to think, ‘Oh, I’m back, so it’s going to turn around tomorrow.’ It doesn’t work like that.
“You have to make some good decisions, you have to make sure we use the money wisely when we have it for free agents and then we’re going to draft well.’’
“The main part for me is really learning the other part that I didn’t know, and that is to understand the CBA, the salary cap, where we are in terms of the salary cap and who’s a free-agent-to-be. You’ve got a lot of young players so you’ve got to learn when are their contracts coming up, if you can give them the max deal, give them an extension, all those types of things you’ve got to learn. It’s a lot of things, but I’m excited. I’ve been working on all of those things, and then meeting with the staff.’’
Johnson said he has spoken by phone with Luke Walton, the Lakers’ first-year head coach, and he’s looking forward to meeting with Walton when the Lakers return from their current road trip. They will work collaboratively, Johnson said.
“If I was trying to make decisions on the team and not consult with him, it would never work,’’ Johnson said. “The key is Luke because, OK, what does he have in terms of who’s making him happy? What does he need in terms of coming up on the draft? And even if we have money in free agency, what do we look for to help you as the coach? What do you need? What do you want to look for?
“It’s all coming together and working together, all of us. What do you like about the team you have now and what’s missing from the team? What would you like to see? And then he’ll tell you, ‘Well, I want this.’ OK, we’ll bring in those type of guys. Which one do you feel really fits your system? He’ll say blah-blah-blah, I’ll say blah-blah-blah, OK, let’s go with so-and-so.
“It only works that way.’’
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No. 2: Jackson says previous tweet was ‘misunderstood’ — Perhaps some damage control from New York Knicks president Phil Jackson would go a long way in soothing the rift he and star forward Carmelo Anthony are in the midst of. Perhaps that was what Jackson was trying to do last night when he attempted to rectify a tweet he made in reference to a recent Bleacher Report column that drew a parallel between Anthony and a former Jackson player, Michael Graham. Ian Begley of ESPN.com has more on Jackson’s most recent social media riff:
New York Knicks president Phil Jackson on Thursday wrote that his tweet earlier this week that referenced a Bleacher Report column critical of Carmelo Anthony was “misunderstood.”
So after starting a 🔥storm with a misunderstood tweet, I offer this✌🏻our society is torn with discord. I'm against it. Let It Be
— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) February 9, 2017
Jackson’s tweet on Tuesday about the Bleacher Report column was widely interpreted as another criticism of Anthony, whom the Knicks have shopped in trade talks in recent weeks.
Jackson might have intended to dispel that theory with his tweet on Thursday, but he didn’t provide any clarification about the meaning behind his decision to reference the column critical of Anthony.
Reached by ESPN on Thursday, the Knicks said Jackson was unavailable for comment.
Jackson also included ambiguously that he was “against discord.”
Of course, Jackson noting that he is against discord also might have been in reference to his previous criticisms of Anthony this season and Anthony’s frustration with them. Or, Jackson could have been referring to discord at large in society.
Either way, Jackson’s vague tweet on Thursday was the latest update to a strange week for a Knicks franchise that has a habit of making headlines for off-court issues.
There is a chance the roster will undergo drastic changes before the trade deadline. At Jackson’s behest, the Knicks have discussed potential trade scenarios involving Anthony in recent weeks with at least three teams — the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and LA Clippers.
Anthony, a 13-year veteran, has a no-trade clause. He said on Wednesday that management hadn’t discussed any potential trade scenarios with him.
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No. 3: Westbrook leaving it up to fans how to treat Durant in return — The Kevin Durant return game in Oklahoma City is just one day away (8:30 p.m. ET, ABC). All season long, however, current Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook has maintained a mostly-mum status when it comes to talking about his former teammate. After last night’s win against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Westbrook didn’t have any pointers or thoughts on how OKC fans should act come Saturday, writes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman:
Russell Westbrook hasn’t said much about Kevin Durant all season. Hasn’t been asked about him much, either.
But after the Thunder’s 118-109 win over Cleveland on Thursday, Westbrook said more than he’s said in weeks about his former teammate.
When asked if he cares whether he cares if Chesapeake Energy Arena cheers or boos Durant on Saturday night, Westbrook said “it’s up to them what they want to do.
“Obviously, Kevin’s done a lot for Oklahoma City and our team when he was here, so it’s kinda up to them,” Westbrook said. “It doesn’t really matter to me one way or another.
“It’s a basketball game, and we’ve gotta go out and compete.”
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No. 4: Noel not sweating trade deadline — It wasn’t long after Philadelphia 76ers big man Nerlens Noel got back on the court from injury this season that he was not happy with his role there. But since that outburst, Noel has made the most of his on-again, off-again role in coach Brett Brown’s rotation even as trade rumors about the Sixers’ frontcourt swirl about. With the trade deadline looming, Noel told the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey he is not worrying about whether or not he gets dealt:
The 76ers center is back to being his jovial self. He displayed that carefree attitude 75 minutes before Thursday’s game against the Orlando Magic.
The reserve center was asked how he’s dealing with the uncertainty leading up to the Feb. 23 trade deadline. It’s no secret that the Sixers have been shopping Noel and Jahlil Okafor since last summer. And there’s a great chance that one of them will be on another team by 3:01 p.m. on deadline day.
“I don’t even approach it,” Noel said inside the visitors’ locker room at Amway Center. “I just play my game. If that’s what they decide, that’s what they decide.”
Noel, the sixth overall pick of the 2013 draft, said he was not worried about being traded and doesn’t even keep up with trade rumors. But it was differen when things weren’t going in his favor earlier in the season.
Noel missed the first 23 games after knee surgery. Then he had to deal with a sprained left ankle, limited minutes, and being taken out of the rotation. But he got quality minutes in the 19 games heading into Thursday.
“I haven’t heard anything,” Noel said. “So I don’t really look for anything.”
It appears that Okafor is more of a priority to trade than Noel. But Noel’s positive attitude and the way he interacts with teammates – specifically Okafor – have not gone unnoticed.
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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: A look at the tough road ahead for the Milwaukee Bucks and their young star forward Jabari Parker … Meet the man who makes life easier for Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle … The NBA is reportedly asking its teams to take it easy with mocking each other on social media … Michael Graham, the subject of so much of the recent Carmelo Anthony-Phil Jackson talk, had some things to say about Jackson’s recent comments about him … Former San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks big man DeJuan Blair wants to get back in the NBA … How new Cleveland Cavs addition Derrick Williams could help the team going forward … Yogi-Mania is real for Dallas Mavericks fans … Add the Miami Heat to the list of teams who might be trying to trade for Serge Ibaka …