Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 26 No. 25

Franchises

Jeanie Buss is drawing much of the blame in the media for the Lakers' issues
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

An ESPN.com story yesterday highlighted several issues inside the Lakers, but what is "most troubling" is that Lakers Controlling Owner & CEO Jeanie Buss has "known about all of it and still sees" the Rob Pelinka-led front office as the "best group to lead L.A. out of the basketball wilderness," according to Chris Mannix of SI.com. Buss has "seen the in-fighting, the backroom dealings" and the "chilly relationship the front office shared with a coach she pledged to believe in." Perhaps the Lakers "will have a strong offseason." But the team right now is a "sinking ship, and the crew inside is blasting holes in it." Buss "knows there is a problem" and she is the "only one who can fix it" (SI.com, 5/28). 

BUSS' NEXT MOVE: ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said he is "not going to say definitively" that Buss has set the franchise back "because it's not a finished product." But he added it is "certainly on the radar." Smith: "It's going toward that way and you better hope that this latest move works." ESPN's Domonique Foxworth: "They are in bad shape, but they are still in a position to get what they want. Once they don't get it, I would say they are ruined, but I wouldn't put it all on Jeanie Buss" ("First Take," ESPN, 5/28). NBA TV's Tas Melas said the Lakers used to be a "very strictly-run family business ... and now it's a not-so-strictly-run family business, and that's the problem." Melas: "It's a top-down problem." He added Buss is "either clueless or has too many people whispering in her ear, or she's mentally checked out from running it" ("The Starters," NBA TV, 5/28). Former NBAer Matt Barnes said of Buss, "It's really showing where she lacks. ... Her inexperience is showing" ("Speak for Yourself," FS1, 5/28). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser: "Ultimately this lands on Jeanie Buss because she has made bad hires and has not been able to get anything to run smoothly" ("PTI," ESPN, 5/28). Meanwhile, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league has "tremendous confidence" in Buss. Silver: "I know Jeanie knows how to manage a team. Sure, when things start to go wrong, a lot of fingers get pointed and people like to pile on, but they'll figure it out" ("Get Up," ESPN, 5/29).

WHAT HAPPENED? In L.A., Bill Plaschke writes for "most of the last two years, the question facing the NBA's most glamorous franchise" has been "which superstar is going to sign with the Lakers?" But in recent months, the question has "dramatically changed" to "why would any superstar want to sign with the Lakers?" Would anyone "want to forge a lengthy business partnership in the prime of their career with a franchise owned by a confused Jeanie Buss, abandoned by a frustrated Magic Johnson, run by a domineering LeBron James, and operated under the heavy hand of a distrusted Rob Pelinka?" Superstars "want a championship culture" and a "stable front office." The Lakers are "not even close" (L.A. TIMES, 5/29). YAHOO SPORTS' Ben Rohrbach wrote under the header, "The Lakers Are Somehow Far More Dysfunctional Than We Even Imagined" (5/28).

PIVOTAL OFFSEASON: In California, Kyle Goon writes if the team "strikes out this summer" in trying to sign a big-name free agent and "has to reset with more one-year deals to preserve cap space, the stakes will become even higher with the clock ticking on the James era, and with a new power structure, the blame will fall on just a few shoulders" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 5/29). In N.Y., Kyle Wagner writes the Lakers' "immediate future rests largely on the team's ability to attract star players." Aligning those players' agents against the team "seems like bad business" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/29). CBSSN's Adam Schein said no free agents "worth their salt will sign with the Lakers" ("Time to Schein," CBSSN, 5/28). The Washington Post's Kevin Blackistone said, "Even though you're in L.A., what free agent is really going to want to come there into this mess?" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 5/28).

Tuesday's record-low crowd at Tropicana Field came despite the Rays being second in the AL East
Photo: RAYS

The Rays' attendance woes continued last night, as the team's 3-1 win over the Blue Jays drew a crowd of just 5,786, the "smallest ever for a Rays game in 22 seasons at Tropicana Field" and the "lowest in the majors this season," according to Marc Topkin of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. The Rays have had "issues drawing fans this year like many others, but they never had a crowd this small." The team's previous low mark was 6,509 fans who came to a September '17 game as Hurricane Irma was approaching the region. Rays P Ryne Stanek said of the small crowd, "I definitely noticed it. ... It's tough, especially when we're playing well and we're playing a fun brand of baseball and it's fun to watch. We don't play boring games" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 5/29).

HITTING ROCK BOTTOM: In Toronto, Rob Longley writes it is "downright embarrassing" for the Rays, who at 33-19 are just a game out of the AL East lead, to draw such a small crowd (TORONTO SUN, 5/29). The TIMES' Topkin writes fans have given "all kinds of reasons and excuses, some valid, ... about why they don't come or why they think others don't come to Rays games," but there is "no excuse for the embarrassment" that was on display last night (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 5/29).

In Seattle, Alex Iniguez reported NHL Seattle Senior Advisor Dave Tippett is leaving the team to become Oilers coach. Tippett "helped inform the NHL Seattle ownership group" on decisions such as "where to put the team's training facility, the layout of a renovated KeyArena and the team's ongoing search" for its first GM. Tippett had been "considered an option to coach Seattle's team when it begins play" in '21 (SEATTLETIMES.com, 5/28).

REWATCH VALUE: After the Triple-A PCL Fresno Grizzlies played a video seeming to call U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) an enemy of freedom, team President Derek Franks said that the "simple answer" for how the incident happened was that "no one completely watched the video before it was shown." He said that the person "responsible for selecting the video got it online from someone not affiliated" with the team. Franks said that the employee was "familiar with a version that doesn't have an overtly political message." Franks added that the issue is "being handled internally" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/29).

GOING ALL-IN: In L.A., Arash Markazi wrote MGM Resorts has done a "good job" of promoting the WNBA and the Las Vegas Aces after buying the San Antonio Stars and moving the team to Las Vegas in '17. Team merchandise is "sold at MGM gift shops and the games are shown on monitors around the casinos" (L.A. TIMES, 5/28).