Jeanie Buss believes the Los Angeles Lakers are heading in the right direction as she gave general manager Rob Pelinka a vote of confidence.

The Lakers endured a turbulent 2018-19 NBA season as they missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year with a 37-45 record, despite the arrival of superstar LeBron James.

Magic Johnson surprisingly stepped down from his position as the president of basketball operations before the last game of the season, which expanded Pelinka's role in the organisation, while the Lakers also parted with head coach Luke Walton.

But with Frank Vogel at the helm and the Lakers poised to secure Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans in a blockbuster trade, Los Angeles owner Buss is satisfied.

"I have 100 per cent confidence in Rob Pelinka running our basketball operations," Buss told the Los Angeles Times at the NBA Awards show on Monday.

"I've always had confidence in Rob. Whatever the speculation is out there, we don't need the outside media to validate what we do. I'm very happy. I think we're on the right path but there’s still more work to do."

Magic Johnson believes Anthony Davis will have "one of his greatest seasons" alongside LeBron James at the Los Angeles Lakers.

Davis is poised to join the Lakers after a reported trade with the New Orleans Pelicans, which will see Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks in exchange for the NBA All-Star.

James swapped the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Lakers in 2018-19 but his blockbuster arrival did not bring playoff basketball back to Staples Center amid fitness and form issues.

But with James set to be supported by another genuine star, former president of basketball operations Johnson predicts the Lakers to improve in 2019-20.

"LeBron is still, you know, the best in basketball," Johnson said at the BET Experience Genius Talks on Saturday.

"And I think that when you put another superstar with him, an Anthony Davis, both of them will allow each other now to really play their game and dominate, because what happens, the floor will open up.

"And LeBron is such an incredible passer and driver, and he always makes his teammate better. So look for Anthony really to have probably one of his greatest seasons."

Hall of Famer and Lakers great Johnson notably called an impromptu meeting in April to announce he was stepping down from his role as president of basketball operations.

Johnson cited maintaining a strong relationship with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss as a major factor in his decision.

In fact, even after he left the Lakers franchise he still had a hand in bringing Davis to Los Angeles.

In a separate interview with the Los Angeles Times, Johnson said he urged Buss and other top executives to finish the deal which sent multiple first-round draft picks and youngsters Ball, Ingram, and Hart away.

"I'm still going to be right there and I'm still going to be calling and giving them notes," Johnson said earlier in the month. "I told them that this trade could be great for the next 10 years for the Lakers. That's what I sent in the note."

The Los Angeles Lakers are gearing up for a championship run in the NBA.

The Lakers have already reportedly traded Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Anthony Davis, but there is still work to be done.

Los Angeles are trying to free up enough cap space for a third max player. However, there are other problems that need to be addressed.

Here are three things the Lakers need in 2019:

 

A quality starting point guard

The NBA is a point guard's league.

The last six NBA Finals have been won by teams with All-Star point guards, and the Western Conference is stacked with talent at the position. Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard come to mind, but the Lakers did not have a floor general close to their calibre in 2018-19.

After Los Angeles had a spat with Houston last season, Rajon Rondo served a suspension and was demoted to a reserve role behind Ball. But neither Ball nor Rondo were really given the opportunity to be a true point guard because of the Lakers' brand of position-less basketball. Ball-handling responsibilities were split between them, Kyle Kuzma, Ingram and LeBron James, who led the team in assists per game (8.3).

But now Ingram and Ball have been dealt to New Orleans. If the Lakers are able to acquire an established point guard who can be ball dominant, score, and initiate the offense in the second unit — as we all know everything will likely run through James when it comes to the starters — they could take a huge step forward.

Los Angeles have been linked to Paul, D'Angelo Russell and Kyrie Irving this offseason and have not had an All-Star Point guard since Nick Van Exel in 1997-98.

Outside shooting

The Lakers flat out were not good at shooting the basketball last season.

Los Angeles ranked 29th in three-point shooting percentage in 2018-19 at 33.3 per cent and not one starter converted more than 35 per cent of their chances from beyond the arc.

James already draws a ridiculous amount of attention on drives, and the addition of Davis will only increase the frequency of double teams in the painted area. If neither of these Lakers stars can kick the ball out to reliable snipers, their gravity will be wasted.

There are quite a few three-and-D players hitting the market who could help Los Angeles with this deficiency.

Some essence of a bench

There are a lot of question marks on the Lakers' roster for 2019-20 and they need to sort things out.

Los Angeles signed Rondo, Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee to one-year deals last offseason and none of them appear to be locks to return. Then there's Tyson Chandler, who is also entering unrestricted free agency.

When the Lakers traded away a large chunk of the young core, they thinned out their already questionable depth. Los Angeles' bench for next season would likely consist of Isaac Bonga, Alex Caruso, Moritz Wagner, Johnathan Williams and Jemerrio Jones were it to be finalised today. To call that personnel shaky would be an understatement, but the Lakers are also reportedly trying to move their contracts in a salary dumping effort.

James, Davis and Kuzma are a solid front line, but this Lakers team would probably fall apart if either of their All-Stars misses extended time in 2019-20 like they did last year. Los Angeles might be the betting favourites to win the NBA Finals in 2020, but their roster's construction will definitely need some adjustments to make that goal a reality.

Zion Williamson plans to take up LeBron James' offer of advice after being picked first overall in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Former Duke sensation Williamson was selected by the New Orleans Pelicans with the number one pick on Thursday, following in the footsteps of NBA great James, who entered the league in 2003 with the Cleveland Cavaliers but is now with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Williamson, 18, had long been considered the top prospect of the 2019 class and James was asked in March if he would be available to help the upcoming star. 

"I've got a lot of advice," James said. "It's not hard to find me if you want to get it."

And Williamson intends to follow up on those comments, telling a post-draft news conference: "I actually did see that interview.

"Yeah, I probably will hit him up. Hopefully he responds to me.

"My questions would probably be, 'What do I have to do to maintain? What do I have to do to just try to make my way to the top?'"

Williamson also emulated James at his own 2003 draft night by wearing an all-white suit on Thursday.

"I just trusted Adrien [Sauvage, fashion designer] with this suit," he added. "He said, 'Your skin will pop in this colour'. I don't know about that.

"But he's been in the fashion business for a long time and he trusts my game, 'So alright, I guess we'll do the cream white suit'.

"And when I saw it in person, I was like, 'You know what, I actually might look good'."

Zion Williamson is unconcerned by the pressure of potentially following the likes of LeBron James as the number one pick in the NBA Draft.

Former Duke sensation Williamson is expected to go to the New Orleans Pelicans as the first overall selection on Thursday.

The 18-year-old would join a roll call that includes Los Angeles Lakers star James and former greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Tim Duncan.

But Williamson is keen to make his mark without worrying about those who have gone before.

"Those are big shoes to fill, but I'm not looking to fill those," he told Good Morning America. "I'm just looking to be the best Zion I could be."

Williamson claims he did not expect to emerge as the clear candidate for the top pick and is just eager to get started.

"I just want to hoop," he said.

"It's crazy, honestly, you know, I never saw myself as being a top-three, top-four pick, and for people to think that I could go [at number] one, it means a lot to me.

"It's showing that my hard work is paying off, but I just want to get drafted period.

"I don't play basketball for the money; it was the last thing I thought of when I was a little kid.

"When I was a little kid, I looked at my mom, stepdad, said, 'I want to be an NBA player', just because I love to play the game of basketball like 24/7."

It has been reported the Pelicans could look to take the Memphis Grizzlies' second pick in order to pair Williamson with former Duke team-mate RJ Barrett on Thursday.

New Orleans are understood to have received the fourth pick from the Lakers in a blockbuster trade that sent Anthony Davis the other way.

LeBron James welcomed Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers, warning NBA rivals it is "just the beginning" after reports broke of a blockbuster trade with the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Lakers acquired All-Star center Davis from the Pelicans for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks – including this year's fourth selection, according to ESPN.

While the trade is yet to be officially announced, Lakers superstar could not hide his excitement via social media.

"AD on da way!! @antdavis23 [Rolling on the floor laughing emoji]," James wrote on Instagram with a picture of the pair in Lakers jerseys together.

"Let's get it bro! Just the beginning..."

Davis' agent Rich Paul told ESPN in January his client did not want to re-sign with the Pelicans and would prefer to be traded.

The Lakers were among his preferred destinations, however, Los Angeles were unable to strike a deal prior to the deadline.

James now has a second star to play alongside in Los Angeles, but that does not mean the Lakers are content with adding just one piece.

The Lakers now plan to pursue free agent point guard and Charlotte Hornets star Kemba Walker, according to reports.

They could also still pursue any and all of the other big-name free agents on the market like Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler.

James has reportedly already been in contact with Toronto Raptors star Leonard and Butler of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Rajon Rondo said the Los Angeles Lakers' pursuit of New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis reportedly at the request of LeBron James had a serious effect on some players.

The Lakers were desperate to bring Davis to Los Angeles via a trade in 2018-19, however, the storied NBA franchise were unsuccessful as they missed the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season.

Among the names mentioned in the potential Davis trade were Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Kyle Kuzma — all of whom were drafted by the Lakers in the last three years.

Rondo – who signed a one-year, $9million deal with the Lakers last offseason – was right in the middle of the trade rumours, indicating the team intended to scrap the roster in pursuit Davis.

"Every guy on our team, LeBron was their favourite player growing up," Rondo told Bleacher Report. "Everyone had the shoes, his jersey. You're the biggest fan in the world. It's like you're playing with MJ [Michael Jordna], and then you get there, and it's like your mom and dad, or the person that you looked up to and idolized, doesn't want you.

"And then to have that sitting in your gut, not knowing. Guys aren't at the age where they can have a man-to-man conversation versus texting you. Everybody wants to text you: 'How you doing? We cool?' People don't understand how to have a real conversation and talk out problems."

Rondo added: "Even some of the old guys were affected. I can't say a name, but I remember me and the guy were on the bench for the Atlanta game right before the [All-Star] break. The guy was cussing and talking bad about the situation during the game. I was like: 'Snap out of it. That s*** is over with. We'll get through it.

"As vets, we have to move forward and not focus on what the young guys are focusing on. Set an example.' It was a little crazy to see a vet distraught over that."

Rondo though, said he was "numb" to the speculation, as he had been involved in trade rumours since his early days with the Boston Celtics.

The four-time All-Star joined the likes of other seasoned veterans on one-year rentals last year. Among them were JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson. While the team were firmly in the playoff hunt on Christmas Day, James suffered a groin injury in a win against the Golden State Warriors that derailed the course of the season.

The drama in Los Angeles intensified when president of basketball operations Magic Johnson unexpectedly resigned from his front office position as the regular season wound down. But Rondo believes the Lakers handled adversity as well as they could.

"Biggest market, biggest media, you know what you're coming into with LeBron James on the team," Rondo said. "To me it wasn't as crazy. The way things ended, the way Magic exited, maybe. Things happen. You learn. ... I think we held it together as best as possible."

It is unclear who the Lakers will bring back after finishing with a 37-45 record in 2018-19. However, they are reportedly willing to pursue Davis again with members of their young core and the number four pick as bargaining chips.

LeBron James called for "swift action" against the Golden State Warriors part-owner who shoved the Raptors' Kyle Lowry in the fourth quarter of Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

James took to social media to express his disbelief that Mark Stevens blatantly shoved Toronto's Lowry after he landed in the seats chasing a loose ball.

Stevens was ejected from the game and later the Warriors announced he would not be attending any other NBA Finals games this year, but James said it wasn't enough.

"Ok cool but still ain't enough! They did exactly what they had to do. Get in front of it before anyone else and plus there's only 4 games left (2 max in GS)," the Los Angeles Lakers star wrote on Twitter.

James followed up his tweet with a lengthy post on Instagram, in which he called out Stevens for knowing "exactly what he was doing" and to ask the league to do a better job of protecting players from similar situations.

"There's absolutely no place in our BEAUTIFUL game for that AT ALL," James wrote. "There's so many issues here.

"When you sit courtside you absolutely know what comes with being on the floor and if you don't know it's on the back of the ticket itself that states the guidelines.

"But he himself being a fan but more importantly PART-OWNER of the Warriors knew exactly what he was doing which was so uncalled for.

"He knew the rules more than just the average person sitting watching the game courtside so for that something needs to be done ASAP! A swift action for his actions."

James also said that if the roles were reversed, the narrative would be very different.

"Just think to yourself, what if Kyle Lowry would have reacted and put his hands back on him," James wrote. "You guys would be going CRAZY!! Calling for him to damn near be put in jail let alone being suspended for the rest of the Finals all because he was protect[ing] himself."

National Basketball Players' Association president Michelle Roberts released a statement on Thursday expressing her concern over the incident, while NBA spokesman Mike Bass stated Stevens will not be permitted to attend games as the league reviews the incident. 

MVP candidates Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden were both unanimous selections for the All-NBA First Team for 2018-19.

The All-NBA teams were announced by the league on Thursday and the two standout stars of the season, Antetokounmpo and Harden, each received the full 500 points after being named on all 100 First Team ballots.

Giannis, twice on the Second Team, made the cut for the top side for the first time.

Stephen Curry, whose Golden State Warriors have reached the NBA Finals where they could face Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks, was next on 482 points.

Paul George (433 points) and center Nikola Jokic (411) completed the First Team.

On the Second Team, Joel Embiid, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving all made the cut.

Meanwhile, LeBron James, who missed the playoffs after moving to the Los Angeles Lakers, fell to the Third Team, alongside Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Rudy Gobert and Kemba Walker.

With the pick, James ties the record for the most All-NBA selections with 15, although he was left out of the First Team for only the fourth time in his 16-year career.

Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka believes the team can win a NBA championship as soon as next season.

The Lakers missed the playoffs for the sixth successive season after finishing 2018-19 with a 37-45 record, despite the arrival of superstar LeBron James.

Los Angeles parted with head coach Luke Walton, while Magic Johnson stood down as president of the Lakers.

However, Pelinka is confident about the Lakers' future, especially after the franchise received the fourth pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

"I think if people take a look at where this franchise is right now," Pelinka told reporters on Monday. "We have a high draft pick. We have a great young core, maybe one of the best in the league.

"We have a superstar on our team, and an open slot. So, I think people can look at this as an opportunity to win a championship possibly next year."

The Lakers entered the season with high expectations after James left the Cavaliers and signed a four-year, $153.3million contract.

Los Angeles opened with a 20-14 record before James strained his groin on Christmas Day. He missed the next 17 games and the team never recovered.

Los Angeles also dealt with injuries to key role players — including Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma — throughout 2018-19.

"We know the characteristics and qualities we stand for," Pelinka said. "And we know as a staff and feel very strongly that if people judge and evaluate us for who we are as an organisation and the vision and path we have going forward, we feel there will be a very, very strong appeal for the great players to come here."

Magic Johnson, who shockingly stepped down from his position as the Lakers president of basketball operations before the team's final game of the season, blasted Pelinka and accused him of "backstabbing" during an interview with ESPN earlier on Monday.

Pelinka denied Johnson's accusations at the news conference — which was held to introduce new Lakers coach Frank Vogel.

Magic Johnson revealed how an erosion of his power, plus the breakdown of his relationship with general manager Rob Pelinka, led to him leaving his role with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Johnson, a franchise legend having helped them win five NBA titles during his playing career, abruptly resigned as the team's president of basketball operations in April.

He said during an impromptu media conference at the time he was tired of the "backstabbing", something he explained in greater detail during an appearance on ESPN's First Take show on Monday.

Johnson identified Pelinka as the individual he was referring to, divulging how agents had called him to warn him about the Lakers' general manager, though he decided to give him a "fair shot".

"I started hearing, 'Magic's not working hard enough', 'Magic’s not in the office'. People around the Laker office were telling me Rob was saying things and I didn't like those things being said behind my back," he explained.

"I started getting calls from my friends outside of basketball saying those things were said to them outside of basketball, now not just in the Laker office. Now it's in the media and so on."

Despite the presence of LeBron James, the Lakers posted a 37-45 record as they finished 10th in the Western Conference.

With turmoil – and losses – mounting this season, Johnson said he reached a point where he felt the team needed to go in a different direction, leading to a situation with then-coach Luke Walton that he described as "the straw that broke the camel's back".

"I wanted to fire Luke Walton," he said. "We had three meetings. I showed [controlling owner Jeanie Buss] the things he did well and then the things he didn't do well. I said, 'Listen we got to get a better coach'. I like him, he's great, former Laker, the whole thing.

"So, the first day: 'Well, let's think about it'. The second day: 'Okay, you can fire him'. Then, the next day: 'No, we should try to work it out'.

"So when we went back and forth like that and then she brought [Lakers chief operating officer] Tim Harris to the meeting ...and Tim wanted to keep him because he's friends with Luke. Luke's a great guy, great guy. So when I looked up I said, 'Wait a minute'. I only really answer to Jeanie Buss and now I've got Tim involved. I said, 'It's time for me to go'.

"I've got things happening, that's being said behind my back, and I don't have the power that I thought I had to make the decisions. And I [had] told them when it's not fun for me and when I think I don't have the decision-making power I thought I had, then I've got to step aside."

After Johnson's sudden departure, the Lakers announced they would not fill the team president role. Walton, meanwhile, was fired after the team missed out on the playoffs.

The Los Angeles Lakers announced Frank Vogel as their head coach on Monday.

Former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic coach Vogel signed a multi-year contract, though terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The 45-year-old replaces Luke Walton, who left the Lakers in April after the NBA franchise missed the playoffs despite the arrival of LeBron James.

"I am very excited for this opportunity to join the Lakers, a prestigious organisation that I have long admired," Vogel said. "I look forward to coaching such phenomenal talent and bringing my strategic vision to the team."

Vogel led the Pacers to five playoff series in six years after being named Indiana's interim coach in 2011, including back-to-back Eastern Conference finals appearances in 2013 and 2014.

He was hired by Orlando in 2016 but was fired at the end of the 2017-18 season. He posted a 304-291 (.511) career mark in 595 games

"We are excited to add Frank Vogel as the next head coach of the Lakers," Lakers general Rob Pelinka announced in a statement.

"Coach Vogel has a proven track record of success in the NBA Playoffs, and he reflects the core qualities we were looking for in a head coach – including, detailed game preparation, extreme hard work, and holding players accountable to the highest basketball standards."

According to an ESPN report on Saturday, former Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd is expected to join him as a lead assistant.

The Lakers reportedly favoured former Cleveland Cavaliers coach and long-time friend of superstar forward James for the job, but negotiations fell apart over a contract dispute.

Stephen Curry expressed his gratitude for the support of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade after he led the Golden State Warriors past the Houston Rockets and into the Western Conference Finals.

Warriors star Curry was held scoreless in the opening two quarters of Game 6 against the Rockets at Toyota Center on Friday but produced a sensational second half, racking up 33 points to inspire the defending NBA champions - who were without the injured Kevin Durant - to a 118-113 victory and a 4-2 series success.

That haul represented Curry's best since the opening game of the playoffs, and comprehensively silenced any doubters.

And Los Angeles Lakers star James, who faced Curry in each of the past four NBA Finals during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, voiced his backing of his fellow three-time champion, as did retired Miami Heat legend Wade.

James posted on Twitter: "NEVER underestimate the heart of a Champion!!!!"

Wade added on his account: "Y'all better stop disrespecting @StephenCurry30 just because he's a team first guy and is willing to sacrifice in moments doesn't mean he's not still a beast."

Asked if he felt he had been disrespected or underestimated ahead of Game 6, Curry took a long pause before responding.

"I've heard a lot of noise this series, for sure, I'll just leave it at that," he said.

"Whether it's positive, negative, whatever the case is, I know what I'm capable of and it's bigger than me, so I don't get caught up in that.

"I don't need any extra motivation, I don't need to hear who I am as a player, I know that. My confidence never wavers in those situations so I appreciate those words.

"Champions recognise champions and what it takes to win games like tonight and do what we've been able to do over these last five years so hopefully [there is] more of that to come."

A group of Los Angeles Lakers fans protested outside of Staples Center amid the NBA team's struggles.

A small but extremely vocal group of fans gathered outside the arena on Friday, voicing their displeasure with the Lakers' executives.

Rather than holding torches and pitchforks, the fans hoisted signs that made their demands clear, calling for the ouster of team owner Jeanie Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka.

The Lakers suffered through an underachieving season after the acquisition of free agent LeBron James had some fans talking championship.

Beyond the poor 37-45 record, the Lakers suffered from issues in the front office and in player chemistry. The team infamously and unsuccessfully offered a handful of its young stars in a bid to trade for disgruntled New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis. There were reports that James and his younger teammates were not on the same page.

The mess has continued this offseason, as head coach Luke Walton was fired, and Magic Johnson unexpectedly resigned as team president. Tyronn Lue also reportedly turned down the team's offer as coach when the Lakers offered him a three-year rather than a five-year deal. 

"My uncle had Magic. My older brother had Kobe [Bryant], one fan told ESPN. "I've got LeBron. He's brought me nothing. A change needs to happen right now. Get Buss out of here. They're too incompetent for this city, and we don't want it anymore."

Another supporter, Charlie Rivers, said: "I think I already got it -- media coverage, have the talking heads speak about it, analysts talk about the inept decision-making by the front office, basketball operations needing a change up there.

"I don't mean it to be a personal attack on [owner] Jeanie Buss or anything like that. I just don't agree with their decision-making on a front-office level. Nepotism shouldn't be involved when it comes to decision-making."

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James enjoyed watching Zion Williamson play at Duke.

The forward was a star during his freshman season with the Blue Devils and is widely expected to be the top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

James discussed Williamson during the latest episode of HBO's 'The Shop'.

"I've watched him a lot over the last year," James said. "The one thing I noticed with his one year at Duke was, his energy was infectious, man. Every possession, it seemed like he could make a difference on the outcome of the game … He's the most talked about guy in a long time."

Williamson was the story of college basketball in 2018-19. He averaged 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds while shooting 68 per cent from the field.

He was also a force defensively as he tallied 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game.

James left the Cleveland Cavaliers and signed a four-year, $153.3million contract with the Lakers in July. He averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists in his first season in Los Angeles. But, the team finished with a 37-45 record and missed the playoffs.

The 2019 NBA Draft lottery will be held later this month. The New York Knicks, Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns all have a 14 per cent chance of landing the top pick.

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