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Gary Vitti Absent Since Lakers' Regime Change

Mar 22, 2017 10:55 PM

Gary Vitti retired at the end of last season after 32 years with the Los Angeles Lakers. While Vitti retired from his full time position, he signed on as a consultant for two more seasons.

Vitti kept a small office down a hallway at the team's practice facility in El Segundo, California, where he could be found on most weekdays, calling software engineers and analytics firms, meeting with vendors about wearable sensors and sneaker microchips, examining SportVU data and the latest trends in sports medicine and nutrition.

Since the Lakers' front office overhaul on Feb. 21st, Vitti has been noticeably absent.

Vitti had been seen at every home game save for one and at the facility about four days a week when the team wasn't on the road but hasn't been seen at all since the regime change.

"We love Gary and look forward to honoring his contract," the spokesperson said.

Vitti issued the following comment to ESPN regarding his status with the Lakers:

"I worked more than half of my life for the Lakers, and I can honestly look at myself in the mirror and say I gave every ounce that I had every day. I will forever be grateful to [the late Lakers owner and patriarch] Dr. [Jerry] Buss, a man I believe exemplified what I believe to be the trifecta of the most important human values: honesty, kindness and loyalty. Going forward, it's not my team so Jeanie can do what she thinks is best."

Baxter Holmes/ESPN

Tags: Los Angeles Lakers, NBA

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Lakers Finalizing Two-Year Deal With David Nwaba

Mar 21, 2017 5:04 PM

The Los Angeles Lakers are finalizing a two-year deal with David Nwaba.

Nwaba has been with the Lakers on a 10-day contract.

The Lakers will have a team option on Nwaba for the 17-18 season.

Shams Charania/The Vertical

Tags: David Nwaba, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, NBA Signing Rumor, NBA Misc Rumor

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Lakers Want D'Angelo Russell To Be More Aggressive

Mar 18, 2017 11:25 AM

D'Angelo Russell was the last player Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson spoke to after practice on Thursday.

The trio talked about Russell's recent struggles and his demotion to the bench.

"It was just more of clearing up a little bit of things," Russell said at shootaround ahead of Friday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks, "as far as what they want to see from these last few games and stuff like that."

Russell was asked what Johnson and Pelinka are looking for.

"Be aggressive," Russell said. "No matter what my role is, just be aggressive."

Luke Walton recently moved Russell to the bench, starting Jordan Clarkson at point guard instead of him.

"Of course I want him to respond better," Walton said at shootaround. "I want him to be aggressive. I want him to be really aggressive, even more so right now while he's coming off the bench. That doesn't mean he's coming in to shoot every time. But aggressive as far as pushing the ball, getting in the lane, and every time he's coming off of picks and playmaking as a way to get himself more into the game quicker.

"It's completely different when you start and naturally fall into the rhythm of the game. So we're looking for him to come out and be ultra-aggressive in that role while he's in it."

Russell disagrees with the notion that he hasn't been aggressive enough lately, but he's open to feedback.

"I think I was, I guess my mentality wasn't in the right place," Russell said. "I wasn't really making shots. I didn't create for others, either.

"It's just new, being in the position I was in, finding the openings. [They] are all in foreign positions for me."

Jova Buha/ESPN

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Jeanie Buss Asks Brothers To Vote Her As Lakers' Controlling Owner For Life

Mar 18, 2017 11:16 AM

Jeanie Buss is seeking assurances from Johnny Buss and Jim Buss that they will vote for her to remain both the controlling owner and a member of the Los Angeles Lakers' board of directors for the rest of her life.

The documents were in response to a filing by Jim and Johnny's attorneys that affirmed they'd vote her into the team's board of directors for at least the next year.

In a letter sent to Jeanie Buss and other members of the Lakers' board on Feb. 24, Jim and Johnny proposed a slate of four directors that did not include Jeanie Buss or Joey Buss, who had previously served on the board.

Jeanie Buss' lawyers argued in court March 2 that Jim and Johnny are breaching their fiduciary responsibilities as trustees by not including her in the slate of proposed directors.

Ramona Shelburne/ESPN

Tags: Los Angeles Lakers, NBA

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Luke Walton Staying Optimistic Despite Lakers' Struggles

Mar 17, 2017 11:27 AM

Luke Walton is attempting to keep the challenges of coaching a rebuilding team in perspective during the grind of his first season as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

"The core of the job is awesome," Walton said. "I get to get in my car every day and I love coming to work -- and not many people get to do that. Coming into the building is exciting, every day, no matter how many we've lost or won. Again, the outliers make life frustrating at times and you can't sleep at night and you don't have an appetite, but that's short lived. Everything else in life is awesome still."

Walton recalls Dec. 14, when the Lakers lost to the Nets in Brooklyn, falling for the eighth game in a row. "And I had all the tricks I had in the bag as far as different ways to get the team out of a funk," Walton says. "I had tried all of them. And we just kept losing and losing." He stared at the ceiling of his New York hotel room, telling himself, "This is crazy, you know what we've got to do. Let's keep [at it]. And still, it took a while to even be aware of it to get myself out of that low." He adds, "I know this is what I signed up for, but I was dark."

 

The Lakers started the season strong but have fallen to the bottom of the NBA.

"It's way more intense as far as these day-to-day decisions that need to be made, as far as what's best for this moment and what's best for us in the future as far as where we're trying to go," he says. "That's kind of a learning-on-the-go type of thing. If one assistant has an opinion this way, another assistant has another opinion another way with it, it's trial-and-error with it."

 

Walton has sought counsel from Steve Kerr and he also has reached out to Phil Jackson.

"The job itself is still the same," he says. "It's rewarding. It's exciting. Now we're competing for different things there and here, but the competition level is right there from the daily practices to the games. We only lost nine games last year, and I remember being sick after every one of them. It's crazy. The feeling, that's always there. What I'm trying to say is the core of this year and last year are the same, at least for me.

"I absolutely loved the job and the opportunity of coming in and trying to figure things out as a group and motivate and this and that. Now all the little outliers are completely different. It's feeling pretty incredible every night driving home as opposed to the thousand different things that are going off in my head in terms of what we need to do, this and that."

Walton is in Year 1 of a five-year deal making between $5 million and $6 million per season.

"I'm going to be just fine," Walton says, "and we're going to be just fine as a team. It's just part of the way it works, right? It's part of the grind."

Baxter Holmes/ESPN

Tags: Los Angeles Lakers, NBA

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Daryl Morey: Magic, Pelinka Have 'Big Advantages' With Superstars

Mar 15, 2017 1:15 AM

Daryl Morey believes the duo of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka running the Los Angeles Lakers could be successful due to how their skills complement each other.

“Rob has so much experience and Magic obviously has been connected through the league. It’s not like they’re walking in cold,” Morey said. “I understand they haven’t had these exact roles before. But given their knowledge of basketball and working continuously in the game, they’re well prepared to take over.”

Morey called Pelinka “one of the top agents, if not the top agent” in the sport and said he “loved working with him” as he represented the Rockets’ James Harden, Trevor Ariza and Eric Gordon.

Morey completed a deadline week trade with Johnson.

“With how the team is set up,” Morey said, “I think Magic will get them on the right track pretty shortly.”

The Lakers intend to be players in free agency and the combination of Johnson and Pelinka should improve their odds.

“They have relationships with superstars,” Morey said of Johnson and Pelinka. “The league is very superstar driven, obviously. In negotiations, you get to be on both sides, it gives you an advantage in seeing it from both sides. Those two would be two big advantages.”

Mark Media/Orange County Register

Tags: Los Angeles Lakers, NBA

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Lakers Shut Down Timofey Mozgov To Give Playing Time To Younger Bigs

Mar 14, 2017 11:51 AM

The Los Angeles Lakers have shut down Timofey Mozgov despite being healthy in order to give more playing time to their younger players.

The Lakers also have Tarik Black and Ivica Zubac on their depth chart at center.

Mozgov signed a four-year, $64 million contract with the Lakers in the offseason.

The Lakers keep their first round pick this season if it's in the top-3.

Marc J. Spears/The Undefeated

Tags: Timofey Mozgov, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA

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Rob Pelinka Plans On Meeting Individually With All Lakers

Mar 14, 2017 12:50 AM

Rob Pelinka addressed the Los Angeles Lakers as a team before they played the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.

It was his first time meeting with the team since being named general manager.

“For Earvin [Magic Johnson], Luke and I, we see our fundamental purpose, not just one that’s all about leadership in terms of the front office, but that’s also one about service,” Pelinka said. “When I say that, we want to make sure that we establish a platform of excellence for the players in that locker room. That’s the heartbeat of the team. I think the message to the guys is we want to serve your needs to help you be great.”

Pelinka and Johnson plan on meeting with them individually in the near future.

Tania Ganguli/Los Angeles Times

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Kobe Bryant '100 Percent Behind Everything Laker'

Mar 11, 2017 6:40 PM

The influence of Kobe Bryant within the Los Angeles Lakers will continue to be felt now that his agent is general manager.

“Kobe,” Pelinka said, “what Michelangelo is to art, what Beethoven is to music, what Shakespeare is to words, you are to me as a friend, and the Lakers. So thank you.”

Pelinka called Bryant “a North star” for the Lakers leadership.

“There’s no way to separate Kobe’s impact from the Lakers from everything we do,” Pelinka said. “It’s like the sugar that dissolves in your coffee in the morning. He’s 100 percent behind everything Laker and will continue to be.”

Jeanie Buss met with Bryant shortly before she decided to enact the Lakers' regime change and he recommended Pelinka.

Bill Oram/Orange County Register

Tags: Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, NBA Misc Rumor

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Rob Pelinka: Lakers Still Have Intrinsic Advantage In NBA

Mar 11, 2017 6:00 PM

Rob Pelinka was introduced as general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

Pelinka was hired by Jeanie Buss and Magic Johnson to take over for Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss after several seasons of rebuilding.

“We are going to deliver on Jeanie’s challenge to us all to make the Lakers the greatest sports franchise in the world,” Pelinka said. “That will happen.”

Despite working in a CBA that makes team-building more difficult for big market teams due to a punitive luxury tax, Pelinka believes the Lakers still have many advantages over their peers.

“We still have an intrinsic advantage,” Pelinka said. “When Earvin put on the 32 and Kobe put on the 8 and the 24, that can’t be replicated anywhere on the globe with any other team. We are going to make sure that’s how players that come here feel and want to be a part of this. We’re getting back to that place. This L.A. platform and this Lakers brand, the Buss family and legacy of winning cannot be replicated.”

The Lakers have struggled in their free agency endeavors over the past few offseasons, losing Dwight Howard in 2013, not signing Carmelo Anthony in 2014, a rough meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge in 2015 and no meeting at all in 2016 with Kevin Durant.

“Every single agent in the NBA knows that this platform is the best platform for their client in terms of marketing and in terms of the relationships in L.A.,” Pelinka said. “We’re in a city that has a powder keg of relationships.”

Johnson wanted to make an unconventional hire, so he picked a man without any front office experience.

“You have to have a guy who’s already formed a lot of relationships whether that’s with players, with agents, general managers, teams,” Johnson said. “Rob has all of that. He’s a great negotiator. Boy, that session we had yesterday … was amazing.”

Tania Ganguli/Los Angeles Times

Tags: Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, NBA Misc Rumor, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Lakers Sign David Nwaba To 2nd 10-Day Contract
David Nwaba averaged 2.6 points, 1.6 rebounds and 11.2 minutes through five games after earning an NBA Call-Up with the Lakers on February 28.

RealGM Staff Report

Kobe Bryant Met With Jeanie Buss In February, Advocated For Rob Pelinka
Jeanie Buss identified Magic Johnson, Phil Jackson, Jerry West and Kobe Bryant as candidates to run the Lakers.

Ramona Shelburne/ESPN

Lakers Were Scrambling To Communicate Internally When Kings Traded Cousins
Kings' ownership had given approval for a DeMarcus Cousins' trade involving Buddy Hield and Brandon Ingram.

Ramona Shelburne/ESPN

Jeanie Buss Restructured Front Office After Kupchak, Jim Buss Kept Magic Out Of Loop
Jeanie Buss began formulating her plan to fire Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak shortly before All-Star Game weekend.

Ramona Shelburne/ESPN

Lakers Officially Hire Rob Pelinka As General Manager
Rob Pelinka will report to Jeanie Buss and Magic Johnson.

RealGM Staff Report

Larry Bird: I Wasn't Motivated To Trade Paul George At Deadline
Magic Johnson's call to Larry Bird lasted less than five minutes and consisted mostly of small talk.

Tania Ganguli/Los Angeles Times

Jeanie Buss Calls Jim Buss 'Completely Unfit' To Run Lakers' Basketball Ops
Jeanie Buss expressed concern that if the brothers chose a new controlling owner, the person would fire Magic Johnson and “cause irreversible damage to the Lakers team and to the brand.”

Nathan Fenno/Los Angeles Times

Attorney For Buss Brothers Denies Trying To Have Jeanie Buss Removed
Lakers' bylaws stipulate that the controlling owner must also be on the board of directors.

Ramona Shelburne/ESPN

Jeanie Buss Prevents Lakers' Takeover Effort Of Jim Buss, Johnny Buss
Attorneys for Jeanie Buss sought a temporary restraining order to prevent the brothers from holding a meeting next week to elect a new board of directors for the team that did not include her.

Nathan Fenno, Bill Plaschke/Los Angeles Times

Mike D'Antoni: Mitch Kupchak, Jim Buss 'Weren't The Problem'
The Lakers were widely expected to be title favorites in 2012 when they acquired Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.

Sam Amick/USA Today

Lakers To Sign David Nwaba To 10-Day Contract
David Nwaba went undrafted in 2016 out of Cal Poly.

Shams Charania/The Vertical

Jose Calderon Released By Lakers, Will Sign With Warriors
The Warriors will stick to their plan to sign Jose Calderon despite internal interest in Brandon Jennings.

Shams Charania/The Vertical

Lakers' Players Starting Over To Impress New Front Office
Magic Johnson was on the road with the Lakers in Oklahoma City over the past two days.

Baxter Holmes/ESPN

Lakers Advised Not To 'Gut' Team To Trade For Paul George
If Paul George doesn't qualify for the supermax contract, the Pacers can sign him to a five-year, $180 million deal while a rival team can sign him to a four-year, $132 million deal.

Adrian Wojnarowski/The Vertical

Lakers Trade Marcelo Huertas To Rockets For Tyler Ennis
The Rockets will waive Marcelo Huertas to clear more cap room for the buyout market.

Adrian Wojnarowski/The Vertical

Paul George Won't Commit Long-Term To Team Other Than Pacers, Lakers
Paul George has been clear his preference is to remain with the Pacers if they can become title contenders but signing with the Lakers in 2018 is his Plan B.

Chris Haynes/ESPN

Lakers, Kings Could Be Trade Partner For 76ers On Jahlil Okafor
The 76ers have had discussions with 10 or 11 teams on a trade for Jahlil Okafor.

Keith Pompey/Philadelphia Daily News

Lakers Seeking 2nd Round Pick For Nick Young
Nick Young was a buyout candidate last offseason but he's recouped his value this season under Luke Walton.

Marc Stein/ESPN

Magic Reaches Out To Bird With Lakers' Interest In Paul George
Magic Johnson and Larry Bird spoke to each other on the call about the Lakers' interest in Paul George.

Ramona Shelburne/ESPN

Black Execs Disappointed Magic Johnson Didn't Open Up GM Job For Interviews
The Undefeated interviewed eight high-ranking African-American executives who expressed a desire to at least interview for the Lakers' GM job.

Marc J. Spears/The Undefeated