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The Lakers universe always turns a little faster than most, as the glitter and glamor and championship banners hover over all basketball matters in the Staples Center. Now it has reached a new speed.
The LeBron James effect has reached full throttle.
It's really nothing new. But if the exam that comes with its presence is connected to the famous Hollywood basketball franchise, it has more weight. It's not even Thanksgiving, and the Lakers have already survived a season's fireworks: losses in five of their first seven games, the clashes with the Houston Rockets and the ensuing blockades, and now the full force of Team President Magic Johnson Impatient against coach Luke Walton in the third year.
Walton should not be comforted that he has already left behind the last three Lakers after Phil Jackson. Mike Brown, Mike D & # 39; Antoni and Byron Scott did not have to drive a Lakers ship that was as powerful and sensitive as James.
As in Cleveland (twice) and to a lesser extent in Miami, we are all witnesses of the most influential basketball player in the world at the height of his powers.
Nobody in basketball has more clout – or makes people act more irrationally – than LeBron.
"As he should," said a general manager of the Western Conference Bleacher Report of James' willingness to exercise power. "Cleveland has the same squad with the same coach [until Tyronn Lue was fired] and went from the best to the worst in the East. The Lakers have not smelled the playoffs yet [five] Years and will make it this year in the west with a very faulty squad. "
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How Johnson claimed to be a trio of people from the United States Los Angeles Times In the days after his temporary private attack on Walton last week, a coaching change in L.A. during the season is unlikely. League sources confirmed this attitude towards B / R on Thursday, The occurrence of a Johnson over-reaction to the LeBron factor was "too obvious," one of the people said. Agreed. It would be a bad look for both.
Walton is in a much safer place than David Blatt, who made his second appearance in Cleveland for the second time. ("LeBron did not like sheet," one of the guys said, "so that's different.") Even Leaf held one and a half seasons with LeBron. How could Walton, who was involved in two championship teams with the Lakers as a player, have a shorter leash?
James in his 16th year The season is far too calculating and too aware these days to have blood on your hands when you change coaches. However, everyone recognizes that the expectations of a franchise in which he is involved – even the Lakers – change the moment he walks through the door. So also the behavior of everyone.
As the Lakers improved to 3-1 from the Magic Walton summit last Tuesday, James's influence extended beyond his immediate environment. It is far reaching, to say the least.
Yes, that was Tyson Chandler, who hit two crucial offensive rebounds off the rim of the Lakers 114-101 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night. (Incidentally, these were the same Timberwolves, whose 124:12 victory over the Lakers on October 29th triggered the whole Magic Walton thing in the first place.)
That Chandler had landed at the Lakers was no surprise. How fast and how it happened was remarkable.
Normally, the NBA buyout market does not heat up before the close in February. In Chandler's case with the Phoenix Suns, that would have been the expected timeline. The ship had long since taken the idea that Chandler would take part in any kind of championship in Phoenix, but at least he could serve as role model and mentor for number 1 overall Deandre Ayton.
And that was the plan … until LeBron demanded a favor.
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It's no coincidence that the presenter was Sun's vice president of basketball James Jones, a close friend and longtime teammate of James.
"They could have bought it out within the trading period and received excellent leadership and mentorship for two-thirds of the season," said a rival manager to B / R. "But LeBron wanted him now."
Normally, LeBron gets what LeBron wants. It is a privilege he has earned. It's also something everyone in Lakeland needs to understand.
Loud L.A. TimesAfter the meeting last Tuesday, Johnson was "angry" and "Walton verbally abused and insulted". His insistence on the season that he and GM Rob Pelinka would be patient, hurried out the window.
Did Magic forget that the Lakers won 35 games last season and missed the fifth consecutive playoffs? Following the exchange of Julius Randle, Brook Lopez and Isaiah Thomas for Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, Michael Beasley and, oh yes, LeBron, L.A.
From Walton's point of view, it's also noteworthy that the story was not good for head coaches who had tried to switch from rebuilding to instant mode with the press of a finger. Just ask Jeff Hornacek about how it was in Phoenix when he took over the Suns who were supposed to refuel in 2013/14 and instead won 48 games. The gears changed and the expectations were increased prematurely. The Suns hunted big free agents, donated $ 52 million for the injury-prone Chandler, and fell back to 39 wins next season. Hornacek had no work in mid-2015-16.
The opposite is true too. Lue went from three straight finals trips with LeBron to a 0-6 start and a pink slip without him. Is any of this fair? Barely. It comes with the job in the NBA. And if the task is to train a team led by LeBron, the one-man dynasty of the NBA, things are going from unfair to unsustainable.
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This brings us back to Johnson's role in all that he may not fully grasp at these early stages. The team LeBron does not just want strength. it will everything the power.
What would happen if the Lakers dismissed Walton and hired a coach represented by the same agency, Klutch Sports, led by James' agent Rich Paul?
"If Rich gets the coach," a league source said, "it's over."
This scenario had almost had an impact when the Cavs ignited in January 2016. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, then Yahoo Sports, James and his camp wanted the team to hire Mark Jackson, who represented Klutch. Jackson currently has no representation, according to a person close to the ABC / ESPN spokesman.
"Remember, this is the very reason why there is a rule that prevents agents from representing both coaches and players," said the source of the league, referring to the regulations of the National Basketball Players Association over the course the years were rarely enforced. "An agent could be in control of an organization."
Or in this case a player. It's something that Magic should look for the next time he decides to play his muscles. As powerful and popular as it is, there are limits to its influence. There is a new sheriff in Tinseltown, and he wears No. 23, not 32.
Ken Berger covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @KBergNBA,