The Los Angeles Lakers enter play against the L.A. Clippers a disappointing 27-31 and in ninth place of the Western Conference. Friday’s matchup is the Lakers’ first game out of the All-Star break, which was dominated by speculation involving LeBron James.
After voicing his admiration for Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead parting with draft picks in pursuit of winning in the present, James raved about Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti.
Those instances were interpreted by many as veiled criticism of the Lakers’ front office, particularly after vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka elected to stand pat at the trade deadline.
James further fueled speculation of a rift when acknowledging he would be open to another return to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. With the Lakers now set to begin a final push toward the playoffs, Rich Paul reportedly met with team owner Jeanie Buss and Pelinka to deny the notion James and Klutch Sports are looking for changes in the front office, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
In the aftermath of LeBron James’ public comments on a possible return to Cleveland and media reports describing his agency’s displeasure with the organization, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul met with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka on Tuesday, insisting that there’s no movement underway to seek management changes and that he believes there’s a shared accountability for the franchise’s disappointing season, sources told ESPN.
Paul previously addressed he matter publicly — albeit indirectly — by going on the record with Shams Charania to refute reports of a rift between the Lakers and James. Klutch Sports also represents Anthony Davis and Talen Horton-Tucker.
James has one more season remaining on his contract, but will be eligible this offseason to sign a contract extension for up to two years.
Vogel not worried about LeBron’s comments
James’ remarks last weekend could certainly be disconcerting for a team still attempting to get their season on track, but Lakers head coach Frank Vogel downplayed any concern.
“I learned to let the noise be noise and focus on what’s in front of me, which is winning the next game,” Vogel said when asked if James’ comments affected his All-Star break. “It’s one thing if it’s focusing on my family at the break, I enjoyed the break with my family, so that’s just noise.”
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