Warriors

Magic Johnson claims he was backstabbed by Lakers GM Rob Pelinka

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AP

Magic Johnson claims he was backstabbed by Lakers GM Rob Pelinka

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Monday afternoon at 4:30, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

On April 9, Magic Johnson shocked the basketball world when he abruptly resigned as the Lakers president of basketball operations.

On Monday morning, he was a guest on ESPN's "First Take" and explained why he stepped down.

"First year in was tremendous, so things got going in the right direction," Magic said. "And then I start hearing, 'Magic, you're not working hard enough, Magic's not in the office.' So people around the Lakers' office were telling me Rob (general manager Rob Pelinka) was saying things. And I didn't like those things being said behind my back.

"So I start getting calls from my friends outside of basketball saying those things now were said to them outside of basketball ... now it's in the media and so on. People gotta remember something -- I got allies, I got friends everywhere."

Soon thereafter, Magic pivoted.

"The straw that broke the camel's back was I wanted to fire Luke Walton," he declared. "We had three meetings. I showed her (owner Jeanie Buss) the things he did well and the things he didn't do well.

"I said, 'Listen, we gotta get a better coach.' The first day, 'Well let's think about it,' the second day, 'OK, 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 ... it's time for me to go.

"I got things happening behind my back, I don't have the power that I thought I had to make the decision ... I gotta step aside."

Two days after the regular season ended, the Lakers and Walton agreed to mutually part ways. Walton was hired as head coach of the Kings a couple days later.

Magic made it clear that Pelinka was the only one doing any backstabbing.

"I wasn't having fun coming to work anymore, especially when I got to work beside you (Rob) -- knowing that you want my position," Magic said. "And I'm OK with that. I told him in Year 2, 'I'm only gonna be here three years. So my job, Rob, is to get you ready for this position.'

"I was gonna help elevate him to the president's position. And so when all of this was coming back to me and guys were calling me (saying), 'You better watch out for him.' What's crazy was, when I took the job, you know how many agents called me and said, 'You gotta watch out for him.'

"If you're gonna talk betrayal, it's only with Rob."

The turmoil and chaos in Laker Land is very real.

The Warriors, meanwhile, have won three of the last four NBA championships and are one win away from advancing to the NBA Finals for the fifth straight season.

After the Lakers won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010, everybody predicted this is where we would be less than 10 years later, right?

Lastly, Magic said this:

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Loss to Knicks shows Warriors have earned NBA's worst record on merit

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USATSI

Loss to Knicks shows Warriors have earned NBA's worst record on merit

The bottom, thought to have hit rock last week in Charlotte, dropped even lower for the Warriors on Wednesday when they came into Chase Center relatively healthy and were handed an “L” by the most dysfunctional franchise in the NBA and perhaps all of America sports.

Cue the rising volume of the tanking crowd.

Losing at home, in overtime, to the Knicks, who were on the second night of a back-to-back set – they were thrashed by 28 on Tuesday in Portland – on the surface makes a persuasive argument in court of public perception to convict on the charge of tanking.

Except there is considerable evidence of a generally respectable effort. Draymond Green posted a triple-double over 39 laborious minutes. D’Angelo Russell scored 32 points, including a game-tying triple that forced OT. Centers Willie Cauley-Stein and Marquese Chriss combined for 19 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks.

On the surface, such numbers appear gaudy enough to send the atrocious Knicks to their 11th consecutive defeat. But the Warriors sabotaged their effort in the same areas as they did last week in losing successive games to the Hawks, who had dropped 10 in a row, and the Hornets, who had lost seven of nine.

The lapses of execution were startling, the inattention to detail indefensible.

The most incriminating moments were those with New York’s Marcus Morris repeatedly finding open shots beyond the arc. He entered the game shooting 48.4 percent from deep, placing him third in the NBA – put undoubtedly first on the scouting report of any team facing the Knicks.

If coach Steve Kerr and his staff had instructed players to let Morris fire, daring him to make them, there’s your proof of tanking.

That did not happen. Indeed, I’d venture to say the troops were reminded several times to stay with Morris, who scored 36 points on 10-of-18 shooting, including 5-of-9 from deep.

“We watch film,” Glenn Robinson III said after the game. “We tried to correct some things. We’ve got to be connected on the same page. Having Draymond out there, he does a great job talking, so we try to feed off him.

“We can try to know our personnel a little bit more. Sometimes we don’t have to fly at guys who can’t it shoot as well.”

When Robinson says “know our personnel,” he’s referring not to the Warriors but to their opponents. Knowing New York’s personnel means not leaving Morris. Knowing Charlotte’s personnel means not leaving Devonte Graham, who was ignored at an alarming rate despite having more 3-point makes than anybody in the league except Houston’s James Harden. Graham scored 30 of his 33 points off 10 triples.

Winning in the NBA is hard, but even bad teams manage to do so 25 percent of the time. It’s inevitable, because there always are seven or eight teams going nowhere and well aware of it.

The Warriors over the past 10 days have played a schedule as soft as nurse’s cotton, seeing five teams among the league’s bottom eight. They are 1-4, beating the Bulls but losing to the Hawks, the Hornets, the Grizzlies and the Knicks, who are widely considered the absolute worst.

“We’re not as talented as most teams,” Green conceded late Wednesday night. “We’re so young.”

As usual, Green was speaking truth. The Warriors, as currently constituted, are destined to lose more often than they win. They will be in the lottery because their roster isn’t good enough to avoid that fate, which obviously comes with long-term benefit.

Losing to this version of the Knicks, barely a shell of a grand vision that included, or so they thought, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, ought to serve as an insult to every player and coach on the Warriors’ payroll.

[RELATED: Run TMC's return reminds Warriors of what could have been]

After trailing by 22 in the second quarter, the Warriors wiped out the deficit in the second half, taking a lead and sending the game into overtime, where they had a decided edge. Overtime on the second night of a back-to-back should have been a direct route to New York’s demise, and also given the Warriors a mild and temporary rebuttal to the incessant tanking noise.

They couldn’t pull it off. And now, seven weeks into the season, the Warriors are seven games behind the Kings and 17.5 games behind the Lakers.

The Warriors do not have the worst personnel in the NBA. They do not have the worst coaching staff. They have the worst record, though, and the last 10 days testify they’re earning it on merit.

Warriors guard Ky Bowman won't play vs. Jazz, will make G League debut

Warriors guard Ky Bowman won't play vs. Jazz, will make G League debut

The Warriors will fly to Utah on Thursday for a matchup against the Jazz on Friday.

But two-way guard Ky Bowman will not board the flight.

Instead, he will head down to Santa Cruz to make his G League debut Friday night, the team announced Thursday morning.

When D'Angelo Russell missed nine games from Nov. 17 to Dec. 2, Bowman averaged 12.6 points, 4.1 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 31.7 minutes.

But with D-Lo back in the lineup during the last four games, Bowman's numbers have dipped to 6.5 points, 2.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 19.2 minutes.

Throw in the fact that guard Jacob Evans is back after missing 21 games, and it makes perfect sense to send Bowman -- who has used 31 of the maximum 45 days he can be up with Golden State -- to the Sea Dubs.

[RELATEDWarriors' Kerr hopes to ease Poole's transition to G League]

It's unclear at this point if Alen Smailagic will travel to Utah or join Bowman in Surf City.

Santa Cruz hosts the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, and tipoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area Plus.

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