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I really hesitate to step forward. I’m not the meddler many say. I simply lobby for what’s best for my team. I complimented Luke Walton for good coaching late this season. I tried to protect him. Ignore those who say I’d already ordered my lieutenants to undercut him. Magic Johnson wanted him out anyway. Luke didn’t want to stay, either. Turns out Magic also decided to leave. This housecleaning should’ve led to an intelligent and quite simple change of sideline leadership. You know who the Lakers needed. I announced I was staying out of the hiring process. How could the team bungle signing my guy, Tyronn Lue, who coached our Cavaliers to three straight finals including a stunning one game to three comeback against the brilliant but odious Warriors?

You know what Rob Pelinka and, presumably, Kurt Rambis and, possibly, Phil Jackson did. They told boss Jeanie Buss: “Don’t give Lue the now standard five-year contact and don’t let this title winner hire his own assistants. Make him take three years and your assistants.” Ty walked, and I was apoplectic, almost crushing my cell phone as I scanned for Jeanie’s number which I punched and got a generic voice. I left a message unreturned and several times repeated this insulting process until, this moment, stepping before the media I summoned an hour ago.

“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,” I say, tall and sleek in a new golden tuxedo. “I’m not here for either accusations or acrimony. I simply say that if it weren’t for serious injuries to myself and Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball our team would’ve won about fifty-five games and we’d still be playing, in the Western Conference semifinals, and Jeanie and Magic and Pelinka and Luke and other members of the Lakers brain trust would rightly be praised for drafting well and signing me in free agency, and we would thus be viewed as imminent contenders. I today assert that the underlying fundamentals have not changed. We simply need to stay healthy, and we must add more firepower.

“We all want Kevin Durant to join us, and I’ve tried to recruit him. I’ve also tried to charm the reticent Kawhi Leonard. I don’t know where these virtuosos will play next season but, like you, I fear neither will be playing by my side. Kyrie Irving may be willing to rejoin me. He’s a dynamic point guard but has learned he’s more comfortable and effective when I bear the ultimate responsibilities of command. If Kyrie falters, then we may acquire Kemba Walker, who’s almost as formidable. Don’t worry, there would still be sufficient minutes for Lonzo Ball.

“Naturally, we’d love to bring Klay Thompson back to his hometown but I doubt the sharpshooter would abandon the stability and success that surround the Warriors. Loud and aggressive wing Jimmy Butler would certainly help us but is he worth a maximum contract? I ask the same about burly but deft center Nikola Vucevic? In a mathematical irony, I would offer Butler and Vucevic three-year contracts but not five. Ty Lue will still have all his skills in a few years; I fear Butler and Vucevic may not. There are other solid, though not seminal, players we could sign, but only those listed above might help us challenge the Golden beast.

“What we can do today, and we really must, is explain to Ty Lue that our chain of command was temporarily broken and our strong new chief of basketball operations urges him to accept five years and tactical control of the bench. I’m sure Jeanie Buss, having had time for painful reconsideration, agrees with me. She just needs to learn, as you are now, that I’m now the man in charge.”

Basketball and Football by George Thomas Clark

This entry was posted in Brandon Ingram, Cleveland, Jeanie Buss, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Lebron James, Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers, Luke Walton.