Dwight Howard Clears Waivers, Signs with the Lakers

(Image/9News)

On August 23, after a week or so of speculation, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Dwight Howard and the Memphis Grizzlies were finalising a buyout, with Howard planning a return to the Los Angeles Lakers.

On August 26, it was suggested that the 33-year-old center, who stands at 6-foot-11, had cleared waivers and would begin his second tenure with the purple and gold.

The first tenure being in the infamous 2012-13 campaign. Long story short, the Lakers traded for Howard, who was an All-Star at the time, the season went terribly, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant suffered serious injuries, and a first round blowout occurred in the playoffs at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs.

Injuries weren’t all to blame during Dwight Howard’s unsuccessful first spell however, which is often referred to as the “Dwightmare” season. The team didn’t appear to mesh and Howard’s attitude lacked, severely. It was clear that he wanted to take lead of the team that was in Bryant’s hands at the time.

After getting ejecting in his final game, Howard snubbed the Lakers’ maximum contract offer and joined the Houston Rockets. This left a sour taste in the mouths of fans of the purple and gold, and rightly so.

Well, against the odds, the man once nicknamed “Superman” has returned to Los Angeles. In addition, it appears that Rob Pelinka and Co. have protected themselves in case this all goes south.

Howard’s contract will be a non-guaranteed deal. ESPN’s front office insider, Bobby Marks, has stated that the contract is often termed a “summer contract” due to its $0 salary protection. Marks goes onto reveal that Howard will earn $14,490 for every day that he is on the roster, starting from October 21.

Image
Image/@Stadium/Twitter)

If Howard’s attitude isn’t up to expectation, or if he suffers an injury, he will get cut from the roster, it’s as simple as that. This is a solid move by the Lakers’ front office, who are due some credit to the way they’ve conducted their off-season business so far.

On the attitude front, Howard has reportedly impressed the Lakers’ hierarchy and star players, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. By the sounds of it, he may have turned over a new leaf and will accept a lesser role to be part of a team that is expected to push for championship honours.

He wanted redemption in L.A., too, after how his lone season alongside Kobe Bryant went. He wanted to be part of a championship team, and he was willing to do whatever was asked of him, no matter the role, and be held accountable at all times, Howard told them.


The Lakers had gathered momentum in their own research into Howard over the past week, but needed the roster to be fully on board. Howard won over the players in the locker room, including James and Davis, for his approach and mindset in the visit, sources said.

Shams Charania, 23/08/19

Howard’s career at this point can go in one direction or another. He can redeem himself in Los Angeles and be part of a successful team, or his career could rapidly deteriorate where he would surely have to consider retirement.

Luckily for the Lakers, they have done their due diligence and signed him to a deal that protects the franchise for the upcoming campaign, if things go pear shaped.

But there is no doubt that Laker fans want this to work, the past is all water under the bridge, especially if a championship is at stake. Howard has reportedly lost 25 pounds and is ready to maintain his health to buy into what the Lakers are building.

Fingers crossed that all works out and Dwight Howard can be a success in his second tenure with the purple and gold. If so, it would make a brilliant documentary one day!

By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)

Even with James and Davis, Do the Lakers Still Have a Systemic Problem?

(Image/Inverse)

Even though the Los Angeles Lakers finally finalised a deal to land Anthony Davis this off-season, there are still issues that persist.

While the Lakers were unsuccessful in landing Kawhi Leonard in free agency, it showed on a larger stage that the Lakers are still a franchise with significant flaws. This is not an overreaction, the Lakers, the team I love, who have given me so much joy, happiness. and memories over the years, do have a systemic problem.

Under one of the greatest owners in professional sports, Dr. Jerry Buss, the Lakers were considered the cutting edge. Dr. Buss knew that you had to build an image, a persona that would not only be seen league-wide, but world-wide.

Image result for dr jerry buss lakers championships
(Image/Clutch Points)

Jeanie Buss in most aspects is a good owner, she cares about the team in which her father bestowed onto her. He left the team in her capable hands because she fought for her position. Dr. Buss wanted to give the team purely to his sons but he saw Jeanie’s work ethic, her ability to rise up in male dominated industries, and become a success. With his sons being interested in different pursuits and none showing the passion to be considered for the job, he handed the responsibility to his daughter in hope that she would continue where he left off.

Jeanie has allowed her employees to feel empowered by giving them free reign of the basketball aspects of the franchise while she focuses on the business side, which has flourished immensely. However, the Lakers have been ran very much like a family business, which in a way can be good, but in many ways can be dangerous. Especially with the hiring and exit of Magic Johnson, who Jeanie brought in as being a very trust-worthy friend, but at the same time overlooking his lack of front office experience.

Bringing in Rob Pelinka, a renowned sports agent, was considered a good decision. The model for such move succeeding had been seen in the Bay Area with Bob Myers leading the Golden State Warriors to dominance in recent years. But yet again, the Lakers lacked significant front office experience with the hire.

Jeanie Buss and the Lakers were offered a lifeline by Hall of Fame player and executive, Jerry West, who was willing to leave his consulting position with the Warriors to be closer to home and to also assist a team close to his heart get back on track. West’s offer was met with a firm, yet respectful, no.

Image result for jeanie buss lakers
(Image/Sports Illustrated)

The sign of a good leader is surrounding yourself with people smarter than yourself. People that will disagree with you, and ultimately help you find the best outcome. With Magic and Pelinka, you have two individuals who have reached the pinnacle of their professions and from an outsiders view, appear very hesitant to accept any advice even from within the organisation.

It became clearer with every move that the front office made that they were in need of help. An individual was needed who could add credible experience and allow them to become more nuanced in every aspect of front office life. They had that chance when Jerry West offered his services, however that was passed on. Many Laker fans wondered how long the Magic and Pelinka partnership would last, and the answer was not very long.

With the two previously having conducted business with arrogance and with little regard for their players, this showed how inexperienced and out of their element they truly were. This is not how you conduct business. Building an environment where your employees can flourish without fearing for their job security is universal. Saying to your players that trade talks are part of the game and they should act like professionals, is basically saying I’m going to fire you at some point in the near future but carry on as normal.

No player is going to perform at their peak under such speculation and stress, and rightly so. No player is going to be able to develop chemistry if more than half of the team is changed every single season. Consistency is key. Putting teammates together who will play together for longer than one season might actually help this season. The Los Angeles Clippers are a prime example of continuity being a good thing, especially last season.

Image result for clippers lakers jerry west
(Image/Clipperholics)

While the Lakers have now landed both LeBron James and Anthony Davis in back to back off-seasons, this gives the illusion that the Lakers front office is succeeding. But, simply put, the way the Lakers are doing business cannot go on much longer. With Magic Johnson and former Head Coach, Luke Walton, out of the equation, this significantly changes how the franchise will operate moving forward.

General Manager Rob Pelinka has a huge job ahead of him to prove that he is not worthy of being removed from his position. With the Davis trade, Pelinka bought himself some time. He has a small window to change the Lakers’ fortunes, to finally succeed. In addition, the moves made after missing out on Kawhi Leonard, he has shown an ability to fall on a plan B, and add talent around James and Davis. The franchise is moving in the right direction, for now. Let’s hope that it is sustainable.

By Jonathan Kiernan (@KiernanJonathan)

Top 5 Laker Dysfunctions Magic Revealed

(Image/ESPN)

Magic Johnson’s appearance on ESPN’s First Take was a truly shocking one indeed. For all of the lip service Johnson has paid to loving the Lakers, his actions lately have not supported this assertion.

It started with his unexpected resignation as Lakers President of Basketball Operations (PBO) just prior to the last regular season game. What followed were weeks of rumors and speculation regarding the reasons for his stepping down as well as murmurs of dysfunctional decision-making practices. However, rumors and speculation of the front office dysfunction were given instant credibility once Johnson appeared on First Take and single-handedly upstaged Frank Vogel’s introductory press conference just a few hours later.

Here are the top 5 Laker dysfunctions confirmed by Magic Johnson on First Take:

(Image/Los Angeles Times)

5. Rob Pelinka Betrayed Magic

Ever since Johnson’s resignation, reports began surfacing that Rob Pelinka would openly comment about Magic not being present at the Lakers’ facility. Thus calling into question Johnson’s work ethic. During his appearance on First Take, Johnson stated:

“Then I started hearing, ‘Magic, you’re not working hard enough. Magic’s not in the office.’ So people around the Lakers office was telling me Rob (Pelinka) was saying things, and I didn’t like those things being said behind my back that I wasn’t in the office enough.”

“if you’re going to talk betrayal, that’s only with Rob (Pelinka).”

Magic Johnson (20/05/19, First Take)

4. Pelinka Is Not Trusted

Shortly after Johnson stepped down as PBO, there was talk of the Lakers possibly opening up a search to fill the vacancy. Reports came in suggesting that Rob Pelinka was not a person people around the league trusted or wanted to work with. Such reports were merely unconfirmed rumors until Johnson confirmed having been warned of Pelinka. Specifically, Johnson stated on First Take that “(There were) guys calling me saying ‘you better watch out for him”.

(Image/Newsday)

3. Phil Jackson, Linda Rambis and Kurt Rambis Are Indeed an Important Part of Laker Decision-Making

As the Lakers coaching search continued to proceed, stories started circulating regarding the rising power of Kurt Rambis and Jeannie’s confidante, Linda Rambis, in Laker decision-making. There were also reports of Phil Jackson having a sway with Jeanie in the process. Such reports were confirmed at least according to Johnson, for when he was asked who the “main voice” in Laker decision-making was, he stated:

“Jeanie will always make the final decision, but she huddles up with Linda Rambis, and probably now, …I think Phil Jackson advises her a little bit, and now Kurt Rambis is (a part of the process).”

Magic Johnson (20/05/19, First Take)

2. There Are Too Many Influential Voices in the Front Office

During the Lakers coaching search, a smattering of names began being mentioned as those being a part of the process and even the coaching interviews. Such names ranged from Tim Harris (Lakers Chief Operating Officer), Kurt and Linda Rambis, Joey and Jesse Buss, and Phil Jackson. This left many to wonder just who was actually calling the shots in Lakerland. On First Take, Johnson revealed that this chaotic mix of voices was a problem even before he stepped down as Lakers PBO:

“I didn’t like that Tim Harris was too involved in the Basketball. He’s supposed to run the Lakers business, but he was trying to come over to our side. Jeanie’s (has got to} stop that, right? You (have got to) stop people from having those voices… (There are) too many people at the table.”

Magic Johnson (20/05/19, First Take)

Johnson then revealed that Tim Harris was involved in meetings he was having with Jeanie regarding whether to fire Luke Walton, and that Harris’ friendship with Walton was an impediment in the process.

Regarding Joey and Jesse Buss, Johnson said:

“Then I had to monitor the brothers, because Joey and Jesse (Buss) wanted more power…. Because they felt they should have been put in powerful positions, whether that’s General Manager or the President.”

Magic Johnson (20/05/19, First Take)

Regarding overall Laker decision-making, Johnson summed up the problems and what should be done about them, as follows:

“Everybody gets to share their opinion, and it’s so much information coming at (Jeanie), then when I say ‘we have to do this,’ she can’t make a decision because they said, ‘no, don’t go the way Magic goes. You should go left instead of going right…’ So her love for those people and respect for those people often caused us to not make the right choice or there’s no decision….”

“Jeanie’s (has to) empower somebody whoever that is, is that Rob? Is that Kurt (Rambis)…? And you (have to) let them make decisions… She can’t be emotionally tied to the guys.”

Magic Johnson (20/05/19, First Take)
(Image/ESPN)

1. Jeanie Buss Has Not yet Learned How to Be an Effective Owner

Johnson stated that the final decision maker for the Lakers is Jeanie Buss. From all of the things Magic stated on First Take, it seems clear that she has not followed good process and has not effectively been able to delegate responsibility within the Lakers organization. For starters, Johnson stated that Jeanie knew he wouldn’t often be present at Laker facilities due to his many business interests. Yet she still decided to hire him for the Lakers’ most important front office position:

“I make more money (with my businesses) than becoming President of the Lakers, so you know that I’m going to be in and out. Is that OK with you? (Jeanie) said ‘yes.’”

Magic Johnson (20/05/19, First Take)

Additionally, according to Johnson, Jeanie has not empowered any particular person to make basketball decisions, Jeanie is apparently “emotionally tied” to too many people, and she is allowing non-basketball people (e.g. Tim Harris and Linda Rambis) to have a significant sway with basketball decisions. As owner, Jeanie has the final say on all of these matters, so fault for the present condition of the Lakers can only fall at her feet.

The story has not yet been written on whether Jeanie will ever be able to effectively lead the Lakers back to the promised land. Magic’s explosive First Take interview, however, did not do much to give fans hope in the franchise’s direction going forward as it gave voice and credibility to reports of dysfunction that go all the way to the top.

By Frank Gaulden (@FrankGaulden)

Who’s in Charge of the Lakers?

(Image/Getty Images)

After Magic Johnson decided to step down as President of Basketball Operations, the Lakers have refused to make or release any official statement regarding the direction of the front office. Since then, rumours have been swirling regarding just who is in charge of the decision-making process for the franchise. Such rumours seriously put in doubt that any particular person or persons currently in the Lakers front office are calling the shots.

The first reports were that Rob Pelinka had sucked up the power void left by Magic Johnson’s departure. Reports then surfaced about the possibility that a “shadow executive” that was currently running a team in the NBA playoffs was in the mix, secretly approving of moves made by Rob Pelinka. As the days continued, names like former showtime Laker fan favorite, Kurt Rambis, and his wife, Linda Rambis, a close confidant of Jeannie Buss, began being mentioned as having a place in the decision making of the front office.

Along with the Rambis contingent, Bill Oram tweeted that when the Lakers were conducting coaching interviews, the brass interviewing included Jeannie Buss, Kurt and Linda Rambis, Joey and Jessee Buss, and Lakers Chief Operating Officer, Tim Harris. But the names of potential decision makers didn’t end there.

Magic Johnson, despite having stepped down as President of Basketball Operations just prior to the Lakers final regular season game, stated he was still involved in influencing Laker decisions, in a TMZ interview. During said interview, he proclaimed the fact he was still actively trying to help bring the Lakers back to prominence to the point it was like he “never left” the organization. Then came Magic Johnson’s recent tweet that he and Jeannie Buss had dinner together.

After coaching candidate Monty Williams agreed to become the Phoenix Suns’ new head coach, reports began surfacing that Magic Johnson helped sway Jeanie Buss away from coaching candidate Monty Williams and towards Tyronn Lue. As if there were not already too many cooks in the kitchen, Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of The L.A. Times reported that Phil Jackson had expressed to Jeannie Buss that he supported the hiring of Tyronn Lue as the Lakers’ next head coach.

If you’re keeping count, that adds up to a group of nine different decision makers (if you don’t count the “shadow executive”) with multiple persons not even officially working with the Lakers in any official capacity, and most having major questions as to their competency to be making such decisions.

(Image/Inverse.com)

Now more than ever before the Lakers are in need of a clear, defined, stable voice to lead the way as they head into a crucial offseason where landing a top tier free agent is of paramount importance. Instead, there appears to be no more than a hodge-podge of names with no clear person or persons in charge. All of these reports seem to suggest that nobody knows who is in charge. The list of names of those influencing Lakers’ decision-making continues to grow seemingly by the day. And until the Lakers decide – if they ever will – to make a statement regarding who is in charge in the front office, we may truly never know.

By Frank Gaulden (@FrankGaulden)

Lakers’ Silence to Blame for Unprecedented Rumours

(Image/NBC Los Angeles)

It’s certainly nothing new for a Lakers off-season to be chalk full of rumours and drama galore. After all, fans and press covering the team have had six plus off-seasons with no postseason participation in which to speculate about matters ranging from potential free agents to coaching candidates.

This year, however, has been a very different animal due to the rumours that have emerged since Magic Johnson’s bizarre firing of himself as President of Basketball Operations before the Lakers’ final regular season game. With the Lakers yet to announce in any official capacity who is to fill Magic Johnson’s shoes in the front office in what has been billed as the most important off-season in Laker history (since last season), the speculation regarding the future of the Lakers franchise has hit an all-time high for one reason: an inexplicable silence emanating from Lakers top brass, namely, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss.

(Image/Yahoo! Sports)

After Magic Johnson’s abrupt retirement from the Lakers earlier this month, the prevailing viewpoint was that since Jeanie’s “hire-a-true-Laker-in-my-inner-circle” plan had failed in spectacular fashion, it was time for the Lakers to broaden their horizons and find the best talent regardless of their ties or lack thereof to the Lakers.

The Lakers’ response? After Magic Johnson stepped down, there was a vague excerpt in the Lakers’ official statement stating they would “work in a measured and methodical fashion to make the right moves for the future of our organisation”. Ever since, however, no “official” moves have been announced by the front office. This begged the question as to why the silence from the organisation that for the past few years has been as leaky as a submarine with a screen door?

Then, before hearing any new names to replace Magic Johnson, reports begun surfacing that the Lakers were engaging in the process of hiring a new head coach to replace the recently-fired Luke Walton, which included names like Monty Williams, Tyronn Lue, and Juwan Howard as the early favorites. But… what? Interviewing coaching candidates before naming a new Lakers President of Basketball Operations? What in the name of out-of-order was going on? Who was picking the coaching candidates? The sound heard from the Lakers offices was the sound of silence.

Why search for a coach in the absence of the Lakers announcing a new President of Basketball Operations? One theory was that of a “shadow executive.” Specifically, Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports reported that there was a secret President of Basketball Operations either calling the shots or approving front office moves behind the scenes, but since this secret individual’s team was still in the playoffs, an official announcement would come later.

Of course this theory makes no sense. Not only would it be textbook tampering, which would surely result in severe punishment for the Lakers if true, but teams can ask for permission to talk with executives of other teams even if those teams are still in the playoffs. One need look no further than Minnesota’s talks with the Clippers’ GM, Michael Winger, about him becoming their new President of Basketball Operations while the Clippers were still battling the Warriors in the first round of the playoffs. But, in the face of absolute silence from the Lakers, such rumours can’t help but find a home.

Then came the seemingly more substantiated reports by more connected members of the media such as ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne who began reporting that Rob Pelinka, the GM of the Lakers for the past two seasons and who formerly worked under Magic Johnson, had begun to take on more power in the Lakers front office. This reporting was much to the dismay of many Lakers fans and media who believed Magic’s departure would also signal the end of Pelinka’s stay in Los Angeles.

The reports of Pelinka gaining more power within the front office seemed even more perplexing amidst reports that he was seen around the league as a person who is categorically disliked, unreliable, and untrustworthy. But despite several trusted reports of Pelinka’s fall upward within the front office, there was still no official announcement or statement from anyone in the Lakers organisation to corroborate them.

(Image/Andrew D. Bernstein)

There are continued reports that Rob Pelinka may not be the sole decision-maker in the Lakers’ front office. Bill Oram of The Athletic reported that former showtime Laker fan favorite Kurt Rambis along with his wife, Linda Rambis (trusted confidant of Jeanie Buss), and others comprised a contingent of a new Lakers brass that were now becoming involved in the coaching interview process. The unsuccessful past of Kurt Rambis and unproven basketball knowledge of Linda Rambis aside, was there any official word from the Lakers organisation about the Rambis’ roles? Still nothing.

As a result of the silence in the face of multiple rumours and reports, Laker fans, starving for news are turning to previously unheard of and, shall we say, less-than-reliable twitter profiles who claim to “got sources” to find answers. Despite the fact that such “reports” of shadow executives and head coaching offers have lacked the credibility of even one corroborating report by more seasoned reporters, such twitter account “news breakers” continue to exist and gain a following for one reason: continued silence by the Laker front office.

Whether Laker fans want it or not, and it appears mostly not, Rob Pelinka along with Kurt and Linda Rambis appear to have prominent places in the Lakers front office. But this begs the question: if this is the Lakers’ direction of choice, why not send out a statement and officially end all of the speculation? Why not have done this weeks ago when reports began surfacing that Pelinka was taking over as the de facto President of Basketball Operations? Such silence continues to fuel hopes that the Lakers have some kind of secret plan they are waiting to announce.

(Image/USA Today Sports)

This then continues to fuel the wild speculative rumours from sources ranging from the reliable to the not-so-reliable. Worse yet, the lack of official voice from the Lakers organisation makes the team look dysfunctional, disorganized, and unsure of itself. Which is not a good look for a franchise desperately seeking to land a top flight free agent this summer.

However, unpopular a decision it may be to name the Pelinka-Rambis contingent as heads of the new Laker front office, the Lakers could show some modicum of purpose, direction, and fortitude in leading the narrative instead of allowing others to write it for them by releasing some kind of official word on the topic to end the uncertainty and speculation in this very important off-season. Although, it should be noted that what most think the Lakers should do and what the Lakers actually do are often as wide apart as, well, a lake.

By Frank Gaulden (@FrankGaulden)