Phil Jackson is often fearless, standing up for what he believes, even though it has cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars in NBA-imposed fines in his coaching career.
So it wasn’t surprising to see the Lakers’ coach sound off on one of the least-tracked trades before Thursday’s deadline: New Orleans received forward Carl Landry from Sacramento for guard Marcus Thornton.
Jackson didn’t have a problem with personnel. It was about money.
The Hornets were temporarily purchased by the NBA in December because their owner was tired of losing money, though the Hornets added about $2 million to their books in Thursday’s deal.
“I want to know who is making that trade and how they can take on that salary when everybody else in the league — I mean this is the owners — [has] to take on this extra salary,” said Jackson, and he wasn’t done. “Those are things that seem to be manipulations that I’m not quite comfortable with. Where’s the consensus? If New Orleans happens to win the championship, does everybody get a trophy in the NBA?”
Jackson’s opinion found an unlikely ally — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who has fenced with the Lakers’ coach over a litany of issues for the better part of a decade. Not this time.
“If New Orleans is taking back $2 million and the team is losing money and I own 1/29th of it, I’m going to go against the grain and say that’s just wrong,” Cuban told reporters in Dallas. “There’s no way, with their payroll, having to dump salary before they were sold to us [owners], now they can take on more salary while they’re losing money. That’s just wrong every which way.”
Jackson also didn’t like what was going on with Detroit.
Several Pistons players skipped the team shoot-around Friday to protest that Coach John Kuester had not been fired.
“I feel badly for John Kuester,” Jackson said. “I think it’s a black eye for the league. I feel like Detroit’s in disarray right now on some level. You always worry about a coach and his psyche after something like that happens.”
Lakers sideline reporter John Ireland is letting his talking do the walking.
Before the Lakers played Cleveland last week, Ireland said on his talk-radio show he would walk back to Los Angeles if the woeful Cavaliers won. The unthinkable happened and he soon faced a bevy of listeners and fellow media members reminding him of his claim.
Instead of braving the 2,344-mile trek on foot, Ireland donated $1,000 to the “Autism Speaks” walk at the Rose Bowl and created a donor page with hopes of raising the noteworthy number of $2,344 for the cause.
With the event still two months away, Ireland has already almost tripled his target.
“Don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t pay to be an idiot,” Ireland said, smiling. “This was an idiotic mistake that I felt bad about and it’s turned into this.”