Kwame surgery

Things could get crazier for the Lakers, but only if Staples Center collapses. What a mess. On top of the Kobe debacle — we’ll have more on that in tomorrow’s Daily News — and Jerry Buss’ police trouble, Kwame Brown had his expected ankle surgery today. I’ll attach the release from the Lakers, but the important news is that the Lakers believe Brown will be ready to play in four months. That means he would be ready to start the season, despite recent speculation that he might not be ready for the season opener.
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Kobe interview

Here’s a link to Kobe’s interview with Petros Papadakis and Matt Money Smith this afternoon in which he calls the Lakers’ front office situation “a mess” and says he’s got “serious trust issues” that may or may not be reparable with the club now that a “Lakers insider” has come out in the LA Times saying that Kobe was the driving force behind the Shaq trade, when Kobe contends that Dr. Buss told him during the 2004 season that the club had already decided to trade Shaq because of his contract demands.

Kobe was so livid after reading that, he sent a text message to coach Phil Jackson Tuesday morning, asking him to call him immediately and tell him exactly what the club said when he left the team in 2004. Jackson told Kobe that the club had said it was letting him go because it had a long-term cost-cutting plan to get under the salary cap and didn’t need such a high-priced coach for that. Kobe got even madder after hearing that because the club had never said anything of the sort to him about cost-cutting, in fact, just the opposite was conveyed to him by owner Jerry Buss, when he was deciding whether to re-up witht he Lakers or go to the Clippers or Bulls. Kobe says that Buss promised the team would do whatever it took to get back to a championship level ASAP. So, when potential free agents or tradeable players would call him, asking whether they should come to LA, Kobe would call Mitch Kupchak all excited, like “OK Mitch, let’s get this done.” Little did he know, Kobe says, that those moves were never going to happen because they didn’t fit in with the team’s long-term cost-cutting plan.

Other highlights:

Listen carefully to find the part where he talks about wanting to play for the Bulls or the Clippers when he was a free agent, only to be talked out of it by Jerry Buss and Jerry West.

He also talks about how disappointed at the trades his club did (Caron Butler) and did not (Baron Davis, Carlos Boozer, Ron Artest) make.

“They called me in to talk about it,” Bryant said of the Caron Bulter trade. “But when I went in there, they’d alread traded him.”

Kobe’s 570-AM interview

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More Truth from Kobe

Who needs Ric Bucher when you’ve got your own website? Following in the trail blazed by the athlete-bloggers like Curt Schilling and Gilbert Arenas, for the second day in a row, Kobe Bryant has posted a juicy update on his personal website, www.kb24.com. Yesterday’s entry tried to clear the air about whether he’d actually demanded a trade if the Lakers didn’t bring back Jerry West.

This time, he gives his account of the events surrounding Shaquille O’Neal’s trade from L.A. back in 2004. Bryant says that he had nothing to do with it, that Jerry Buss told him eariler in the season that Shaq would be gone because of concerns about his age, weight and contract demands.

Bryant also intimated that he was disappointed in the Lakers for “letting him take the bullet” on the Shaq trade, but never said anything until now because all those voices pinning that trade on him were coming from the outside. When he read an article today saying that a “Lakers insider” had noted “his wanting to get away from Shaq,” he could no longer hold his tongue.

I’d go on, but Kobe tells it pretty well himself.

“Was up again, y’all.

I saw an article this AM in the LA Times which said a Lakers’ “insider” noted that my wanting to “get away from Shaq” is what created this whole “mess” the Laker’s currently find themselves in. Man, hearing something like that, which is not true, and which comes from the “inside” is totally frustrating. The fact of the matter is that many people don’t know what really went down when I was approaching free agency because I have stayed quiet about it this whole time. The real facts are that Dr. Buss requested a meeting with me during the 04 season long before I opted out of my contract, and he told me he had already decided to not extend Shaq, as he was concerned about Shaq’s age, fitness and contract demands. Dr. Buss thought it was best for the Lakers to make a trade to get value for Shaq while they could.

Dr. Buss made it clear that his decision was final, his mind was made up and no matter what I decided to do with free agency he was still going to move Shaq.

I’ve heard many people say “the Lakers are letting Kobe take the bullet for the Shaq trade” but I always just let that go. But now when I hear “Lakers insider” it makes me feel so unsupported that a Lakers “insider” is tryin to spin Dr Buss’ decision about Shaq on me. Laker fans should know that when I was a free agent Dr. Buss called me from his Vacation in Italy on the eve of my decision and promised me that the Lakers would do everything to build a contender NOW. I told him at that time that my fear was the Lakers waiting to save Cap Room to sign a top notch free agent in 3 or 4 years, so that was why I was leaning towards other teams like the Clips and Bulls, both of who had a cast of good young players. But Dr. Buss promised me he would rebuild right away, and I believed him. That is why I put my trust in the Lakers. As I said yesterday, I am a die hard Laker fan, so I will keep my trust in them to remain here and play for the team I love. But, when stuff like this is coming from the “inside” all I can do is hope that someone from the “inside” comes forward to support me and set straight the facts of what really happened.

This is the TRUTH.

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Jerry Buss arrested on DUI charge

CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss was arrested early Tuesday for investigation of driving under the influence of alcohol.
The 74-year-old Buss was taken into custody shortly before 1 a.m. after he drove his gold Mercedes-Benz station wagon the wrong way on a street in an unincorporated section of Carlsbad that has double yellow lines, California Highway Patrol Officer Tom Kerns said.

“Although I was driving only a short distance, it was a bad decision and I was wrong to do it,” Buss said in a statement issued by the Lakers. “It was a mistake I will not make again.”

A 23-year-old woman in the vehicle with Buss wasn’t arrested, Kerns said.

He said Buss was “relatively cooperative” when placed under arrest, and was booked into the Vista jail for investigation of drunken driving and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or above.

Buss was released around 10:30 a.m., according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department website. Kerns said the final results of Buss’ blood alcohol test won’t be available for about three weeks.

Highway Patrol officers Sal Gutierrez and Julie Cahill administered field sobriety tests using an alcohol screening device, Kerns said.

Lakers spokesman John Black said Buss was in the Carlsbad vicinity because he has a home in north San Diego County. Buss’ primary residence is in the Los Angeles suburb of Playa del Rey.

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Kobe clears the air

Straight from his keyboard to your screen:

From www.kb24.com

The Truth: I haven’t asked for a trade
What’s up you all.
Haven’t checked in in a while,
I’m sure you guys have been hearing all this and that and are not sure what to think or believe.
The Truth section was created for times such as these.
So here’s tha deal:
I have NOT asked to be traded, I don’t want to be traded and I have given no ultimatums or demands of being traded.
I love it here in LA, my family loves it here.
I’ve been a laker fan my whole life. A REAL Laker fan! I’m talkin Silk Wilks days, and know the history of the Lakers going back to George Mikan era. I WANT to retire a Laker and contend for titles.
It is my opinion that Mr Clutch, one of the greatest GMs the game has ever seen would b able to get us to back to that level sooner rather than later.
If he is available, then it makes sense to give him the reigns and let him do what he does BEST. I KNOW I can trust him to build us an elite team.
I’m tired of losing and I’m sure you guys are tired of it as well.
Now is the time to step up and make some things happen. We have all have waited patiently for three years…Let’s GO!
- Strength and Honor

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Kobe bombshell

According to ESPN.com, Kobe Bryant will demand that the Lakers rehire Jerry West and give him full control of basketball operations, or else Bryant will ask to be traded. The story is oddly placed — less important than Serena Williams’ first-round victory at the French Open — and doesn’t include any fresh quotes from Kobe, although the source on the story is ESPN’s Ric Bucher, who has known to be tight with Kobe over the years. Stay tuned for more details.

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Rambis rebuke

Add Kurt Rambis to the list of those none too pleased with Jim Buss’ comments about Phil Jackson in a radio interview a few weeks ago. Rambis fit a radio appearance into his interview schedule (he’s up for just about every coaching vacancy in the NBA right now) and called out the Lakers’ kid boss’ critique of Phil Jackson.

Buss had questioned Jackson’s ability to develop young players in his radio interview and criticized the Zen master’s penchant for calling out players through the media. First Jackson’s girlfriend and Lakers’ business whiz Jeanie Buss came to his defense, then last week, Rambis jumped in front of the mic.

“Jim Buss was puffing up his chest a little bit and trying to take charge and make his voice heard and make his voice known,” Rambis said. “Some of the comments he said were on the same page with everybody else and some of them just flat out weren’t right . . . like when he said that Phil doesn’t know how to work with young players or coach young players. We’re working with our young guys constantly on a daily basis to improve them but Jim doesn’t know that. He doesn’t come to practice, so he doesn’t see the amount of time that we spend working with the young ball players.

“When you look at players in general, when they come out of a four year college we figure it usually takes them on the average of three to four years to really get a hold of what the NBA game is about and how to play under it.

“Now youre talking about kids out of high school who havent gone through that four year process in college and then youve got to tack on another three or four years of playing in the NBA. So that process is drug out a lot longer.

“It just takes time. We wish everybody would just mature rapidly and get to the peak of their game whenever they are 19 years old but thats just not the way that it happens. Its a process and it takes time and sometimes it takes years for players to develop.

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Lottery Fallout

All of a sudden, the Portland Trailblazers are holding a lot of cards going into what figures to be a busy offseason in the NBA. The biggest card of all, of course, is the No. 1 pick in the draft, which figures to materialize as either Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. The Blazers aren’t saying which way they’re leaning, but most people seem to think Oden will be the guy. If they go in that direction, it creates a potential dream team along the front line with Oden and last year’s No. 2 overall pick, LaMarcus Aldridge. It also opens the door for the team to dump power forward Zach Randolph and the rest of his $60 million contract.

Randolph isn’t exactly a character guy, but he’s a legit 20-10 power forward and a lot of teams would surely be interested.

There’s also talk that the Blazers might want to acquire another lottery pick to take Oden’s best friend, point guard Mike Conley, to help him feel more comfortable. If that happens, point guard Jarrett Jack’s name pops into the trade rumor mill. Jack is a very competent point guard. He averaged 12 points and 5 assists last season in about 33 minutes a game.

Hmmm, a strong lowpost presence and a point guard… Isn’t that what the Lakers said their top priorities were this offseason? It’s all speculation at this point, but don’t be surprised to see the Lakers name start popping up.

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The Unemployment Derby

An online wagering service, BetUS.com, is offering odds on which NBA coach will be next to resign or be fired, the list limited to those who reached the playoffs this season. The 2/1 favorite is Golden State’s Don Nelson, which is probably a reflection on Nelson’s propensity to job-hop, since it’s unlikely Nelson would be fired after the Warriors pulled the first-round upset of Dallas.

The Lakers’ Phil Jackson is 20/1, with the fourth-longest odds.

There’s no truth to the rumor that Robby Albarado will be riding Jerry Sloan in the Western Conference Finals.

Don Nelson (GS) – 2/1
George Karl (Den) – 4/1
Brian Hill (Orl) – 5/1
Scott Skiles (Bulls) – 8/1
Avery Johnson (Dal) – 8/1
Mike D’Antoni (Pho) – 8/1
Lawrence Frank (NJ) – 8/1
Pat Riley (Miami) – 10/1
Eddie Jordan (Washington) – 10/1
Phil Jackson (LA) – 20/1
Jerry Sloan (Uta) – 20/1
Mike Brown (Clev) – 30/1
Flip Saunders (Det) – 50/1
Gregg Popovich (SA) – 50/1
Sam Mitchell (Tor) – 75/1

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Lottery Odds

OK, T-minus one day before the day Jim Buss said that you can stop holding your breath and start looking for the Lakers to start making some offseason moves. Buss intimated last week in a radio interview that things would heat up after the NBA Lottery is held on May 22nd. That’s Tuesday.

Memphis has the best chance to win the lottery with 250 chances out of 1,000. Boston has 199, Milwaukee has 156, Atlanta has 119 and Seattle has 88.

One team you’ve really got to watch is Atlanta. The Hawks keep their pick if it’s between 1-3, but lose it to Phoenix as part of the Joe Johnson trade if its 4 or above.

For some real fun, check out the Real GM.com draft simulator:

http://www.realgm.com/src_lottosim.php

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