NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Should Lakers look to Fisher next? — ICYMI last night, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni resigned from his position … and the speculation about who will have one of the NBA’s most glamorous jobs began almost immediately. Our Sekou Smith thinks Duke legend Mike Krzyzewski would be a good fit in Lakerland, and there’s buzz out there that ex-Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins might be interested in the gig, too. But what about a former Laker (and Kobe Bryant running mate) coming back in the fold to lead L.A.? Adrian Wojnarowski broaches the idea of current Thunder reserve guard Derek Fisher taking the reins some time soon:
As little as Mike D’Antoni wanted to coach Kobe Bryant in the end, Bryant wanted to play for D’Antoni even less. They had barely communicated for months, steering clear until a permanent parting on Wednesday night. They would’ve been miserable together, would’ve inevitably imploded the Los Angeles Lakers locker room.
D’Antoni is a great offensive mind, but his difficulties with Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Bryant have played a part in the unraveling of his coaching career. Lakers management had a willingness to bring him back next year, but refused to make a commitment beyond 2015.
The Lakers have lost talent, lost stability, lost what separates winning and losing franchises. Bryant won’t pick the next coach, the way he had no input into Mike Brown and little into D’Antoni. Bryant will wish for Tom Thibodeau to free himself from Chicago. He loves Jeff Van Gundy, and shares management’s affinity for Euro legend Ettore Messina, who spent a season on Mike Brown’s staff.
Bryant has long admired Byron Scott, but there’s a different ex-Lakers guard who could go much further to regenerate the franchise’s culture and hold the insight into getting the most out of Bryant’s final two seasons: Derek Fisher.
The Lakers need to make themselves a destination again. Free agency has major importance in 2015 and ’16 for the Lakers, and they’ll need to be positioned to make a run at Kevin Durant.
Superstars want desperately to consider the Lakers in free agency, but they won’t go anywhere based only on geography and banners. They’ll need to see an infrastructure of talent, management structure and coaching. Durant will want a culture, and Fisher could’ve grown into the job by ’16 to sell him on the Lakers’ brand.
It is risky to hire a coach with no experience, but the right minds and right coaching staffs can make it work. Fisher will command respect and he’ll be synonymous with a championship heritage that Lakers fans crave as a face of the franchise. Fisher is close to the end with the Thunder, and he’ll be the rare non-star to choose his next direction: management, coaching or television.
Derek Fisher is nearing the end, and willing to listen. This is a call the Buss family and Mitch Kupchak must make, a conversation with Fisher they owe it to the franchise to have sooner than later.
No. 2: Report: Johnson expresses interest in owning Clippers — On Tuesday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver issued a lifetime NBA ban to Clippers owner Donald Sterling as the league is going through the process of removing him as the team’s owner. Seemingly hours after that announcement, potential purchasers of the team were bandied about, with famous folks like Sean “Diddy” Combs, Rick Ross, Floyd Mayweather, Oprah Winfrey and others making the unofficial list. Former Lakers star (and Lakers part-owner) Magic Johnson was also thought to be on that short list, too, but on Monday Johnson tweeted that he wasn’t interested in buying the team. That stance seems to have changed after Johnson addressed business leaders at a conference in Beverly Hills. Ben Bergman of 89.3 KPCC has more:
The Donald Sterling saga could be coming full circle: What began as the owner’s racist rant about not wanting Earvin (Magic) Johnson attending Clippers games could end with Johnson owning part of the team.
“I will be owning an NBA team sometime,” Johnson told a gathering of business leaders Wednesday at the Milken Global Conference in Beverly Hills. “Is the Clippers the right situation? Of course. It’s one of the premiere franchises.”
Johnson said that — whatever you may think of Sterling — he ran a good business, one Johnson and his partners at the Guggenheim Investment Group would like to buy if the price is right.
“I think the fans have already spoken,” Johnson said. “They would like us to own the team. But we have to wait and see.”
Johnson cautioned that any possible purchase “is a long way off,” and he told KPCC he that expects Sterling to fight to block the sale of the Clippers.
Johnson praised NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s lifetime ban on Sterling and said without it, the Clippers and the Warriors wouldn’t have taken the court and the entire NBA playoffs would have shut down.
“If the decision would have come down differently than it was, you wouldn’t have seen that game last night, or any other games from here on in the playoffs,” said Johnson. “The players were ready to boycott. This was much bigger than a basketball game or the NBA.”
No. 3: Hawks unveil revamped secondary logo – From 1972-95, the Atlanta Hawks sported a logo that many fans called the Pac-Man because, well, it looked like the iconic 1980s video game character. Since then, the team has gone through a couple of different logo and color scheme changes before settling on its current look. But tonight, before a potential series-clinching win against the top-seeded Indiana Pacers, the Hawks are showing off a new look that nods to its past. Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has more:
It’s Pac-Man – Version 2.0.
The Hawks will unveil a new secondary logo tonight at Game 6 of their Eastern Conference playoff series with the Pacers. The team is giving away red T-shirts to everyone in attendance that features an updated version of the franchise’s iconic image.
The Pac-Man logo, used from 1972-95 and associated with some of the best seasons in franchise history, has been redesigned. It features a more pronounced hook of the beak and a new eye. The Hawks have had two secondary logos since the Pac-Man version, including the current one that has been used since 2007.
Fans can sign up to purchase merchandise with the new logo at the Hawks website.
No. 4: Report: Bulls looking to deal Boozer: — The conventional wisdom concerning Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer — who has one year and $16.8 million left on his contract — as that Chicago would use the amnesty provision on him to make some salary cap room. But according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, the Bulls may be looking to find some way to trade him this summer rather than amnesty him and get nothing in return:
There are only 10 amnesty-eligible players left in the entire NBA. And eight of them realistically face zero threat of being released by their teams via the amnesty provision this summer: Atlanta’s Al Horford, Boston’s Rajon Rondo, Chicago’s Joakim Noah, Memphis’ Mike Conley and Zach Randolph, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and Nick Collison and San Antonio’s Tony Parker.
Which leaves only two players on the entire NBA map who still have to worry about the A word.
The Thunder’s Kendrick Perkins. And Boozer.
But here’s the thing: You continue to hear rumbles that Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is adamantly against the idea of setting Boozer free via amnesty, even though the 32-year-old is finally poised to enter the final year of his contract, valued in 2014-15 at $16.8 million.
Sources briefed on Chicago’s thinking say the Bulls are going to do everything they can to try to find a trading partner for Boozer before seriously considering the amnesty option.
Bear in mind that Chicago essentially has until July 15 to craft a deal that finds a new home for Boozer after a season in which he lost much of his fourth-quarter run to Taj Gibson. The NBA’s amnesty window this summer runs through July 10-16.
No. 5: Nets’ Twitter account rips own fans — The Toronto Raptors have a 3-2 series advantage over the Brooklyn Nets after a wilder-than-it-should-have-been Game 5 win at Air Canada Centre last night. The crowd there for every game has been perhaps the best in the playoffs, with the arena sold out and a large throng of fans packing Maple Leaf Square to watch a broadcast of the games. That kind of devotion is hard for any fan base to match and as much as Nets stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce want a similar atmosphere in Brooklyn, they haven’t experience it there. Last night, the team’s Twitter account took a shot of sorts at the Nets’ own fan base, writes Ian Powers of the New York Daily News:
Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have been critical of the energy of Brooklyn Nets fans early in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series compared the to Toronto Raptors fans. Now the Brooklyn Nets’ Twitter account is joining the fray.
“#Nets fans take note- this is what a playoff crowd sounds like..set your DVD and take notes #RAPTORSvNETS – LR,” tweeted Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center senior reporter Lenn Robbins, who took over the club’s official Twitter account during the second and third quarters of Game 5 of the series in Toronto Wednesday night.
Just before tipoff, Robbins tweeted from his personal Twitter account: “Welcome to Air Canada Centre for pivotal Game 5..got to give it to fans here..they’ve been louder, prouder, better #RAPTORSvNETS”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Over at Grantland, writer (and Clippers season ticket holder) Bill Simmons offers up his view on the Donald Sterling era in L.A. … Ex-Lakers reserve Andrew Goudelock took home Eurocup MVP honors … Is Orlando Magic owner Rich DeVos in danger of losing his team as Sterling did? … The venerable Bill Plaschke offers up his view on the Lakers’ recent coaching hires … Ex-Raptors exec Bryan Colangelo is a leading candidate to get the Detroit Pistons GM job …
ICYMI OF THE NIGHT: Simply put, Kyle Lowry put in serious work in Game 5 last night to lead the Raptors to a win and a 3-2 series advantage …