The Sports Report: Is Luke Walton the next Bill Belichick?

EL SEGUNDO, CALIFORNIA JULY 11, 2018-Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka reads a quote from the book
Rob Pelinka
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Howdy everyone, and welcome to the Saturday edition of the Los Angeles Times daily sports newsletter. My name is Houston Mitchell and I’m your host for the festivities. Subscribe to this newsletter by clicking here.

Let’s get to it.


Lakers GM Rob Pelinka had an interesting response to all the trade deadline drama, saying: “My hope is our story is a little bit, maybe, like [the New England Patriots] where we’re on the outside but we find a way to get in the playoffs with the skillsets we’ve added. And then much like [Tom] Brady did, we let one of the all-time greats — LeBron — take the helm for this team and make some noise.”


He could at least wish for world peace while he is at it.

Pelinka continued with his Patriots analogy when discussing newcomers Reggie Bullock and Mike Muscala.

“I almost look at Bullock and Muscala, my hope is, much like [Julian] Edelman was, it’s just one player, but that can have such a big impact on overall chemistry and I hope those two guys can come in and have that impact.”

Now if only the Lakers can add a great kicker and a couple of special teams players, then they would be ready for the playoffs.


By the way, Magic Johnson plans on meeting with Lakers players this weekend in Philadelphia to help assuage all the hurt feelings of players who were basically told they don’t matter that much in the scheme of things.


At the league’s scouting combine, weeks before the NBA draft, the Clippers asked guard Landry Shamet if he had any question for them.

“If you’re sitting in a room with Jerry West and Doc Rivers, you’ve got to ask questions,” Shamet said Thursday. “Those guys have seen it all, they know more than I know and I wanted to pick their mind.

“That’s kind of always been my thing, just try to learn as much as possible.”

That helped convince the Clippers to get him in a trade Tuesday with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Read more in this story by Andrew Greif.



Mike Trout needs some help to make the Angels title contenders again. And it appears help is on the way.

Jo Adell is 19 — and only 19 months removed from becoming the Angels’ top pick and the 10th overall selection of the 2017 draft out of Ballard High. Most pros his age are still playing at the rookie level. Adell has blown past them: He will report to the Angels’ clubhouse in Tempe, Ariz., late next week for his first major league spring training.

Adell’s ascent through the minors has been meteoric. By the end of his first full professional season last year, Adell had breezed through two Class A teams, represented the Angels in the All-Star Futures Game and earned a promotion to double A, where most players were at least three years older.

No one he’s close to is surprised by how quickly he’s climbed. This manic progress is what Adell has always worked to achieve.

Read more in this story by Maria Torres.


In three spots in California this weekend, as many as 20,000 fans will see the latest examples of how the state has emerged as the hotbed of boxing.

At the newly named Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson on Saturday, unbeaten World Boxing Assn. primary super-featherweight champion Gervonta Davis of Baltimore defends his belt against Mexico’s Hugo Ruiz on a loaded card. The event will be televised on Showtime.


At Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Puerto Rico’s unbeaten Alberto Machado will defend the secondary WBA 130-pound belt against challenger Andrew Cancio, of Blythe, Calif. The match will be live streamed Saturday on DAZN.

The biggest crowd of all — at least 10,000 — is expected Sunday afternoon in Fresno, where unbeaten hometown world champion Jose Ramirez will defend his World Boxing Council junior-welterweight title against La Puente’s Jose Zepeda in a match to be shown on ESPN.

Read more about these three bouts in this story by Lance Pugmire.

Horse racing

Steve Specht, 69, has been around for a long time, starting his training career in Illinois in 1977. His horses have run almost 8,500 races and he is closing in on 1,400 wins. His horses have earned more than $25 million in purses.

Yet he relishes the small barn atmosphere, with about 20 horses at Golden Gate. There is nothing he won’t do, including mucking, taping and even driving.

“Most of the commercial vans want to leave in the middle of the day,” Specht said. “But if I leave at 3:30 or 4 a.m., I get in about 10:30-11. This way the horses get settled and get right back on their regular feed. If I were to do it commercial, they may not get in until 8 p.m. or so and they are off schedule. You always try and do the right thing for the horse.”

Read more about Specht in this story by John Cherwa.

Figure skating

It was a full day of figure skating at the Four Continents Championships in Anaheim on Friday. Did Bradie Tennell of the U.S. remain in front after leading after the short program Thursday? You’ll have to click here to find out, because that result was very late and I have to go to bed at some point.

Earlier, Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue looked assertive and powerful during their tango in the rhythm dance segment of the ice dance event and earned the top score, a season-best 81.95, heading into Sunday’s finale.

Hubbell and Donohue have a .78 lead over Redondo Beach native Madison Chock and Evan Bates. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Canada are third, with 80.56 points. The third American entry, Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, are fifth with 74.42 points.

In pairs’ skating, Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro lead with 74.66 points. China’s Wenjing Sui and Cong Han are second at 74.19 and Cheng Peng and Yang Jin of China are third with 69.48 points. U.S. champions Ashley Cain and Timothy Leduc are fourth with 67.49 points. The free skate finale is Saturday.

Best sports movies

As we continue our runup to the Oscars by having Times readers pick the best sports movie of all time, we move on to baseball. You have chosen the best football and basketball movies, and we have received over 30,000 ballots, so make sure your vote counts by clicking here or emailing me here. This time, we will have you pick your top seven baseball movies of all time.

This date in sports history

1895: W.G. Morgan invents the sport of volleyball.

1951: The St Louis Browns sign 45-year-old pitcher Satchel Paige.

1971: Satchel Paige becomes the first Negro Leagues player to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

1972: Oscar Charleston is elected to to the Baseball Hall of Fame

Notable births on this date

1914: Baseball team owner and promoter Bill Veeck.

1952: NFL star Danny White

1952: Baseball star Mookie Wilson

1975: Baseball Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero

Notable deaths on this date

1994: College football coach Bud Wilkinson

And finally

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me here. If you want to subscribe, click here.