Posts Tagged ‘Broderick Turner’

Reports: Celtics-Clippers Deal ‘Dead’


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Well, that was fun while it lasted.

But the proposed trade between the Los Angeles Clippers and Boston Celtics, the one that would have sent Kevin Garnett, DeAndre Jordan and a couple of Draft picks, along with Doc Rivers in a separate scenario, across country in different directions is now “dead,” according to Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times:

Turner has more in his story for the Times, where he details what may have caused a breakdown in the potential blockbuster:

The final sticking point that stopped the deal was Boston president of basketball operations Danny Ainge insisting that Clippers vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks give the Celtics two No. 1 draft picks along with DeAndre Jordan, said league officials who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Sacks was prepared to trade Jordan and one No. 1 pick for the rights to negotiate with Rivers and to acquire Garnett, but refused to add another first-round pick, the executives said.

The Clippers and Celtics started talks again early Tuesday morning, knowing that Eric Bledsoe wasn’t going to be in the deal, but were still unable to make a connection.

The Clippers now move on to having more conversations with Byron Scott and Brian Shaw, the executives said.

Further proof that the current deal is no longer in play comes from the Boston Globe, where Ainge confirmed to Baxter Holmes that the deal is indeed dead:

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed to the Globe that the proposed Celtics-Clippers blockbuster deal that would have sent both Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett to the Clippers is, in fact, “dead.”

The Clippers began leaking word Tuesday that the Celtics’ asking price of DeAndre Jordan and two first-round draft picks in exchange for Rivers and Garnett was too steep, and they were set to move on and hire either Lionel Hollins or Brian Shaw as a new coach.

A league source confirmed to the Globe that the main hangup in the deal was that the Clippers did not want to give up a second first-round draft pick.

Now, Rivers is certainly in an interesting position.

Because of a non-compete clause in the five-year extension he signed in 2011, Rivers can’t coach anywhere else for the next three years unless the Celtics grant permission.

But Rivers, according to league sources, is not at all enamored with the idea of coaching a rebuilding team.

Did the Clippers get cold feet?

Did the Celtics?

Maybe Doc had second thoughts about being involved in this sort of bizarre trade scenario?

Whatever the breakdown, the deal appears to be dead … for now.

Let the finger pointing and speculation begin!

The Celtics-Clippers Saga Continues …

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Admit it, you’re going to miss DeAndre Jordan in a Los Angeles Clippers uniform. You’re going to miss the dunks and the off-court comic pairing with Clippers All-Star Blake Griffin.

But if we are reading this Boston Celtics-Los Angeles Clippers-Doc Rivers trade situation right, Jordan is headed to Boston in one part of a complex potential trade scenario that also will include Rivers departing Boston for the Clippers and the chance to chase championships with a few familiar faces (Kevin Garnett and perhaps Paul Pierce) as well as a few new ones (Griffin and potentially Chris Paul).

Monday’s hot name, Eric Bledsoe, the player both sides refused to budge on, is apparently out of the deal now.

It’s complicated, I know. But aren’t these blockbuster scenarios always a bit more complicated than the average trade?

The latest from around the basketball world on this saga …

Celtics ready to deal for Jordan and two first-round Draft picks …

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports: After pushing for the Clippers to take back long-term contracts, the Celtics relented and have shown willingness to complete the deal for DeAndre Jordan and two first-round draft picks, sources said. The Clippers are willing to give the Celtics Jordan and one draft pick, but were resisting a second future pick, sources said.

The two teams are planning to talk again on Tuesday morning, and the fragile negotiations could climax over the draft pick compensation, sources said.

If the Clippers become the championship contenders that they expected this trade will make them, the additional draft pick would likely be near the end of the first round.

 The financial investment in this deal for Los Angeles is unprecedented for the franchise, and it could be giving it 11th-hour pause. The Clippers must pay a $3.5 million trade kicker on Jordan’s contract and finalize an agreement with Rivers on a five-year deal worth approximately $35 million, league sources said.

Serious talks but still no deal …

Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of Sources close to the process told that the Celtics and Clippers held “substantive discussions” Monday on the proposed multilayered transactions that would send Rivers and Celtics star Kevin Garnett to Los Angeles. But the teams, sources say, remain unable to agree on a final trade framework to go through with the two deals, even after Boston relented on its insistence that the Clippers include prized young guard Eric Bledsoe as part of the package for Rivers and Garnett.

Another element of the talks, sources said, is the negotiations between Rivers and the Clippers on a coaching contract. Rivers has three years left on his original five-year, $35 million deal with the Celtics and will be looking to stay in the same salary range if Boston ultimately receives what it deems sufficient compensation to let the 51-year-old out of that deal.

So the Clippers, in what NBA coaching sources are terming a “separate process,” have moved ahead with their coaching search just in case, for one reason or another, they’ll be unable to pry Rivers out of Boston. They’ve arranged sitdowns this week for Byron Scott (Tuesday) and Brian Shaw (Wednesday) with Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Lionel Hollins, the other finalist for the Clippers’ job before the pursuit of Rivers got serious, already met with Sterling.

Numerous sources connected to talks continued to express optimism Monday that the Celtics and Clippers will eventually agree to terms this week, with some interpreting the Clippers’ plans to resume talks with the likes of Shaw and Scott as their latest thinly veiled message to the Celtics that they aren’t afraid to walk away from the table.

“It’s a dance right now,” said one source close to the process. “I think it’ll eventually happen. They’re just staring at each other.”

Is Ainge satisfied with this haul?

Sam Amick of USA Today: The only question that matters at the moment is whether Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge eventually will decide that acquiring fifth-year center DeAndre Jordan and two future first-round picks is fair compensation for losing his coach and his 37-year-old big man.

If he does, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, this deal will likely get done. If he doesn’t, and instead insists that third-year Clippers point guard Eric Bledsoe must also be in the trade, then Rivers and Garnett would stay put and the Clippers would simply hire one of the coaching candidates who have interviewed for their vacant job (former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins and Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw lead that group).

While Celtics small forward Paul Pierce is not part of the trade talks, he could be bought out of the final year of his contract this July ($5 million of his $15.3 million) and join Rivers and Garnett with the Clippers as a free agent if this deal went down. The people spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the talks.

While Rivers would not technically be part of the trade, the Celtics would allow the Clippers to sign him as part of the agreement. Rivers has a non-compete clause in his contract that would be nullified, and he would forgo the three years and $21 million remaining on his Celtics contract.The Clippers are prepared to pay him just less than $7 million annually, but only if they can bring him in without mortgaging their future by losing Bledsoe.

Yet if Rivers were willing consider giving back some of his earnings as a way to ease Ainge’s pain, that could be a way to nudge these negotiations along. The Celtics could move forward with a new coach whose salary would be, in essence, paid for by the old coach.

Rivers still grappling with his decision?

Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: If the Celtics plan to part with Rivers, they want a young piece, draft picks and salary cap relief. Realizing that signing [Jason] Terry and [Courtney] Lee to multiyear deals at the mid-level exception (5-plus million) was a mistake, the Celtics would prefer the Clippers accept those deals to facilitate clearance to negotiate a contract with Rivers.

Meanwhile, a source close to Rivers told the Globe that Rivers is still grappling with the decision, especially as the trade gets more complicated and negotiations more contentious. The talk of the Clippers acquiring Paul Pierce in the trade are remote, especially since the Celtics would have to honor his deal and send him to the Clippers with a $15 million salary.

And don’t expect the Celtics to waive Pierce just to see him sign with the Clippers during free agency. If they decide to trade Pierce, and NBA sources said the team is open to the possibility, they want a return for his services unless waiving him will allow him enough salary cap space to sign a solid free agent.

The consensus around the league is that a decision on this has to be made this week and Rivers is looking worse by the day because of his indecisiveness.

Key decision makers, Ainge and Sacks, stuck in neutral … 

Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times: The main characters are Boston Coach Doc Rivers and All-Star forward Kevin Garnett, trying to get to the Clippers as a duo. The men calling the shots — Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and Clippers vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks — can’t seem to reach agreement on a mutually satisfactory deal.

So both organizations were stuck in neutral by Monday evening after player names were tossed back and forth, the talks at a standstill but not completely over, according to NBA executives who did not want to be identified by name because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the situation.

The two sides intend to keep the talks alive Tuesday. But the Clippers also plan to have coaching candidates Byron Scott and Brian Shaw meet with owner Donald Sterling this week in case the team can’t make a deal to get Rivers, executives said.

Shaw, associate head coach of the Indiana Pacers, on Tuesday is scheduled to meet for the second time with the Denver Nuggets about their head-coach vacancy. Then Shaw is to meet with Sterling on Wednesday. Shaw interviewed face to face with the Clippers last week, but this will be his first sit-down with Sterling, executives said.

Scott, former coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, New Orleans Hornets and New Jersey Nets, is scheduled to meet with Sterling on Tuesday afternoon, the executives said. Scott also met with the Clippers last Tuesday but didn’t talk with Sterling.

Marquee Coaches, Players Continue To Rule NBA’s Bizarro World


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Good luck deciphering what’s real and what’s patently absurd in regards to the on-again, off-again saga that is the Los Angeles Clippers’ pursuit of Doc Rivers as their next coach.

Franchises making trades to appease coaches, who in turn will walk away from one team to coach another … it’s news from basketball’s bizarro world. And free agency is still two weeks away.

As of this morning, Rivers remains the Boston Celtics’ coach, with three years and $21 million on a contract that the Celtics would love for him to see through. The Clippers have two other prime choices, Indiana Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw and former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, ready and willing to take over the reins of a franchise coming off its finest season in history.

But how long Rivers remains the Celtics’ coach could be up in the air, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The sides have reportedly rekindled talks that stalled over the weekend and trying to put the finishing touches on a deal that would send Kevin Garnett and Rivers to the Clippers in a deal that would include Eric Bledsoe and perhaps DeAndre Jordan, along with other assets:

Discussions over a blockbuster deal reached an impasse on Saturday when Boston general manager Danny Ainge held firm that Bledsoe had to be a part of package that included DeAndre Jordan and a first-round pick, but sources say that Boston has shown a willingness to find another asset to supplant Bledsoe and complete the complicated deal, sources said.

 The Clippers are prepared to give Rivers a five-year deal to coach and believe acquiring Rivers and Garnett – who will waive his no-trade clause – will lock up the re-signing of free-agent superstar Chris Paul, sources said.

The prospects of bringing Rivers back to the Celtics have become less appealing for Boston, who understand, as one league executive said, “There’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. You can’t pretend this didn’t happen and just go back to work.”

Even if we are to believe that a Clippers-Celtics trade is contingent upon the Celtics getting their hands on Bledsoe, we all have to swallow the reality that this is still a system where marquee coaches and players continue to rule the world. Because no fringe player should ever hold up a slam-dunk deal that involves a franchise starving for direction and leadership missing out on a leader like Rivers.

The complications arise when you try to figure out what Rivers has in mind without hearing him explain it. He hasn’t uttered a public word about his intentions, leaving others to speculate about what it is he plans to do regarding his future — with the Celtics and in coaching altogether.

With a report surfacing that Rivers could opt for a return to the broadcast booth either way, the Clippers and Celtics could be going through all of this for nothing (according to A. Sherrod Blakely of the

The potential trade with the Los Angeles Clippers that would have freed up Doc Rivers to coach them is still considered a no-go.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean Rivers will be back on the sidelines as the Celtics head coach this season.

A league source tells that Rivers has not entirely ruled out taking some time off to resume his broadcasting career and return afterwards to coach.

“You guys (media) have been around Doc long enough to know that’s always been something he’s talked about,” the source said. “So it shouldn’t come as a surprise. And frankly, now is probably as good a time as any for him to go that route.”

If Rivers needs an escape route for the rebuilding process that seems inevitable in Boston, rekindling his broadcast roots might be the best route. The ill will a potential move to the Clippers’ bench will foster in Boston will be severe.

But if the Clippers are serious not only about acquiring Rivers, Garnett and Paul Pierce to pair with Paul, but also pursuing and eventually adding Dwight Howard, who is central to Phase II of this fantasy basketball plot, consider me impressed by the audacity of the Clippers to dream this big.

Never mind that the Lakers still believe that Howard will stick around. Building a future around the game’s best big man is much easier to do than building around an All-Star like Blake Griffin, who would have to be a part of any theoretical sign-and-trade deal.

(The Lakers doing this sort of business with the Clippers is yet another patently absurd idea that, in this environment, is every bit as plausible as anything else we’ve heard.)

If all of this hinged on the return of an injured stars like, say, Kobe Bryant or Rajon Rondo, all of the hand-wringing over the minutiae would make a little more sense. Any time there is a potential blockbuster deal to be made, you have to be willing to listen. Ainge has always been willing to do so and the Lakers and Clippers have not been strangers to the blockbuster in recent seasons (both Paul and Howard were acquired via blockbuster deals).

But for all of this to rest on the shoulders of Paul’s backup, albeit a talented young player in his own right, just doesn’t seem right.

Bledsoe Holds The Line In Paul’s Absence

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — With point guard superstars (Chris Paul) and luminaries (Chauncey Billups) on the roster, it must be tough for a youngster like Eric Bledsoe to find time to shine.

He’s also operating on a team that features the one-man, crossover freakshow that is Jamal Crawford, whose exploits on a nightly basis inspire these sorts of tweets:

But with Paul (knee) joining Billups on the Los Angeles Clippers’ bench the past two games, their young apprentice has been at the controls and the Clippers didn’t slow down one bit.

They followed up a 26-point rout of the Memphis Grizzlies Monday night with another solid thumping of the Houston Rockets last night. Bledsoe was fantastic in both, dropping 14 points, four assists and three rebounds on Mike Conley and the Grizzlies and then a season-high 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists on Jeremy Lin and the Rockets.

Bledsoe knows he has to bide his time behind his more heralded teammates, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have plenty of ambition to fuel his fire in the meantime. He couldn’t have two better tutors. And he’s already formulated his plan, according to my main man Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times:

“I’m just preparing for that moment,” Bledsoe said in his typically quiet voice. “I’m still learning behind Chris and Chauncey. Hopefully, we win a championship and if I do get that chance, I can lead a team.”

Bledsoe started for the second consecutive game because Paul was out because of a bruised right kneecap. Bledsoe finished with a season-high 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the Clippers’ 117-109 victory over Houston.

But Bledsoe knows that Paul is an All-Star point guard who is just 27 years old.

If Paul re-signs with the Clippers over the summer as most people expect, it will mean Bledsoe may have to leave the Clippers to become a starter.

“I’m just focused on winning,” Bledsoe said. “I’m just focused on winning and learning how to win right now. For the most part, I’m just continuing working and building, learning how to run a team. The other stuff will take care of itself.”

The Clippers are deep enough at every position that they should be able to resist any urge to dangle Bledsoe in the trade market this season, preserving their right to groom him for a bigger role in the event that Paul’s decides to go elsewhere (which seems implausible, considering the way the Clippers are playing this season).

Bledsoe is a luxury that not every team in the league has, a youngster with superstar potential that they can take their time grooming for bigger and better things.

In a league filled with young, talented point guard prospects, Bledsoe might very well be the most underrated due to his current circumstance. He also has one of the highest ceilings.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 92) Championship Or Buss …

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Mike Brown out. Mike D’Antoni in. Phil Jackson still on the sidelines. And (Jim and) the Buss family in the crosshairs until further notice. Those are the main plotlines for this week’s episode of  “As The Los Angeles Lakers Turn.”

We’ve gathered our own panel of experts, insiders and observers of the situation to try to help you make sense of it all on Episode 92 of The Hang Time Podcast, featuring super agent Warren LeGarie (who represents both Brown and D’Antoni) and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times (who had an afro when the first Shaquille O’Neal/Kobe Bryant/Phil Jackson era began, and currently sports a skin-tight dome these days after 17 years of drama).

We broke down the situation from every angle and ended up in the same place as everyone else — totally confused at how this all went down and convinced, as our resident Lakers expert put it, that this season is “Championship or Buss” for these Lakers.

Check out all that and more on Episode 92 of the Hang Time Podcast, with your hosts Sekou Smith, Lang Whitaker and Rick Fox.


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine, Sekou Smith of and Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business, Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

Clippers At The Crossroads Now

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — It’s about time someone closed the door, stopped focusing on all of this “Lob City” stuff and lit into the Los Angeles Clippers.

Someone had to do it.

You lose 11 of 18 games since Chauncey Billups went down for the season with that Achilles injury and it’s obvious to us that someone has to step up and say something.

Enter Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro, the man who will no doubt shoulder the largest amount of blame if things go awry down the stretch of this season, and his postgame tirade (of sorts) after last night’s humbling at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder. You could hear him through the walls, according to Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times:

The Clippers coach used words like “approach,” “compete” and “defense” in his emphatic message after the Clippers dropped a 114-91 game to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“I’m big into how you approach games and how you compete,” Del Negro said. “We have to get the mentality of we have to play a certain way to win right now.

“And it has to be through our defense because we lack certain things. In order for us to score enough points to take pressure off of us, we have to be able to guard better.

“But our overall approach and everything to the game has to be better. That’s what is disappointing to me. We have to do a better job of being in the moment from the get-go and not waiting to get into the game.”

Del Negro got his first technical foul of the season.

The Clippers gave up more than 100 points for the second straight game in their three-games-in-three-nights trip that finishes in New Orleans on Thursday.

Del Negro probably had a receptive crowd in that locker room.

Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the crew know that they are at a crossroads. They realize they can finish one way … or the other. And they have to know that the city they hoped to take by storm is currently being reclaimed by that “other” team that calls the Staples Center home.

You either get this fixed — and now — or risk becoming another footnote in an abbreviated season filled with teams that had the look of a contender (just ask the folks in Portland if you’re unclear on what we mean) before reality ruined the party.


Free Agency Craziness Kicks Off

– For the latest updates check out:’s Free Agent Tracker


UPDATE 12:55 a.m.: Well, it took about 45 minutes into the official start of the season for the Dwight Howard shoe to drop, so to speak.

Chris Broussard of ESPN The Magazine dropped the bombshell via Twitter:

Nets have emerged as No. 1 choice for Dwight Howard, multiple sources say. D12 is expected to ask Magic to trade him to NJ.

Nets still pursuing Nene in case deal for Howard falls through. NJ offering Brook Lopez & 2 1st rnd picks, as @ESPNSteinLine wrote last wk

You knew it was going to come up at some point. But in the first hour of free agency? This is going to be a long day!

*** *** ***


UPDATE 12:40 a.m.: What is it with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and his letters during free agency?

He struck again, this time with a letter to the Commissioner expressing his concerns about the proposed monster deal. Yahoo! Sports has the text of the email:


It would be a travesty to allow the Lakers to acquire Chris Paul in the apparent trade being discussed.

This trade should go to a vote of the 29 owners of the Hornets.

Over the next three seasons this deal would save the Lakers approximately $20 million in salaries and approximately $21 million in luxury taxes. That $21 million goes to non-taxpaying teams and to fund revenue sharing.

I cannot remember ever seeing a trade where a team got by far the best player in the trade and saved over $40 million in the process. And it doesn’t appear that they would give up any draft picks, which might allow to later make a trade for Dwight Howard. (They would also get a large trade exception that would help them improve their team and/or eventually trade for Howard.) When the Lakers got Pau Gasol (at the time considered an extremely lopsided trade) they took on tens of millions in additional salary and luxury tax and they gave up a number of prospects (one in Marc Gasol who may become a max-salary player).

I just don’t see how we can allow this trade to happen.

I know the vast majority of owners feel the same way that I do.

When will we just change the name of 25 of the 30 teams to the Washington Generals?

Please advise….

Dan G.

*** *** ***

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS: We expected fireworks right around midnight.

They came a few hours early, though, and not in the form of some blockbuster deal or some superstars being swapped in a mega-trade or even some high-profile free agent being the first one to put his signature on the dotted line.

Instead of a jaw-dropping deal taking center stage, the deal that died will be the one remembered from this night. The league squashed a three-team blockbuster that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers.

That makes what should officially be the first day of the 2011-12 NBA season seem almost anti-climactic. The start of training camps all around the league is just hours away. And there will be plenty of free agent signings announced between now and then. There will be a few trades, too.

But nothing on the level of the blockbuster that almost was. And the confusion and craziness that the scuttling of the Paul deal has wrought will no doubt linger. Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and Kevin Martin will join their Rockets teammates at training camp in Houston. Instead of heading to training camp in a new city, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom will join their Lakers teammates in Los Angeles and figure out a way to make it through what will have to be an awkward day.

“When a team trades u and it doesn’t go down? Now what?

That’s what Odom tweeted after the deal disintegrated.

Great question.

Odom said even more to Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times, and as you might have guessed, it’s raw:

Lamar Odom is still a Laker, but he doesn’t sound completely thrilled about it.

Odom admitted that he was “shocked” and “surprised” when told Thursday afternoon that the Lakers agreed to trade him to the New Orleans Hornets as part of a deal for point guard Chris Paul. But this evening when he heard that the NBA had killed the trade, Odom said he was in “total disbelief” over these new developments.


Lakers Preparing For The Brown Era?

DALLAS — So it begins, the Mike Brown era in Los Angeles.

Well, almost. The deal hasn’t been finalized just yet. But from all indications, the former Cavaliers coach is set to replace Phil Jackson as coach of the Lakers.

Of all the names tossed out for that job, Brown’s came seemingly from out of nowhere. Rick Adelman was rumored to be the front-runner early on and there was always the Brian Shaw option.

But it appears, as Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports, that Brown is the choice:

The Lakers have put together a deal to hire former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown as their new coach, an NBA official who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter said late Tuesday.

If Brown agrees to the deal, he’ll sign a contract worth between $4 million and $4.5 million per season, the official said. Brown would sign for three years, with a team option on the fourth season that would give him partial pay if he was not retained.

Brown, 41, became the front-runner because Jim Buss, the team’s executive vice president of player personnel, was impressed with his defense-minded style.

Brown doesn’t seem like the Hollywood hire that the Lakers would have needed to fill the void left by Jackson. But who would have been?

As far as his credentials, Brown is as strong a candidate as anyone on the list. In five seasons with the Cavaliers, Brown compiled a 272-138 record,  leading LeBron James and crew to the top of the Eastern Conference heap. Twice during Brown’s tenure the Cavaliers piled up the best record in the league. Brown was NBA Coach of the Year in 2009 and led the Cavs to the NBA Finals in 2007, when they were swept by the Spurs.

But the real test for Brown — and to a larger extent for the man behind the move, Buss — is how Brown resonates with Lakers Nation.

Only time will tell.

Kobe Captains The “Weird”

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Kobe Bryant has been on quite a roll the past few days, making headlines for all sort of things good and not so good.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson garnered his fair share of the spotlight the past couple of days as well.

But today’s winner in the Lakers’-In-The-Headlines competition is Bryant, who admitted to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times that, “this team is so weird.”

That’s one way of describing the two-time defending NBA champs on the eve of what could be their third straight march to the title. But with the Hornets up first, Bryant is no doubt wondering what his “weird” team will show us next:


About Last Night: PG Issues in LA?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Miami isn’t the only high-profile team struggling to slow down opposing team’s point guards.

The two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers are going through some trials and tribulations of their own in that regard. In fact, the Lakers’ three-game losing streak has been highlighted by opposing point guards attacking them, including last night’s monster effort from Hang Time Grizzlies flash Mike Conley.

He was the tip of the Grizzlies’ spear, abusing older and slower point guards Derek Fisher and Steve Blake to the tune of a team-high 28 points, which including a 4-for-5 shooting display from long distance.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson insists the problem with opposing point guards is a deeper issue for his team than what’s gone on in the last three games, per our main man Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

“We’ve had trouble with them from the last two or three years,” Jackson said. “So that’s nothing new. There are quick guards in this league.”

The Lakers never could quite figure out how to slow down the left-handed, fleet-footed Conley.

He burned them for 10 points in the fourth, missing just one of his five shots, making his only three-pointer.

That came with 1:41 left and it gave the Grizzlies a seven-point lead they held on to.

“Defensively, we had trouble keeping in front of him,” Jackson said. “And a lot of that is help from the big guys. A lot of it is his talents.”

Sunday night, Indiana point guards Darren Collison and T.J. Ford combined for 19 points and eight assists. Last Friday night, Utah point guard Deron Williams hit the Lakers for 29 points on 10-for-14 shooting, and 12 assists.

Sound familiar?