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The Crossover: Lakers-Pistons Fallout And Luke Walton's Dismissal

Lakers-Pistons suspensions, Kings coaching change, and more.

Mannix and Beck discuss the fallout and suspensions from Sunday's near brawl between the Lakers and Pistons, and why the Christmas deadline to start worrying about L.A. might need to be moved up. We also discuss why Luke Walton's dismissal as the Kings' head coach is just the start of major moves needed to be made by Sacramento before they can think about contending. Also, we make of Boston's recent turnaround following their dismal and contentious start to the season.

The following transcript is an excerpt from The Crossover NBA podcast. Listen to the full episode on podcast players everywhere or on SI.com.

Howard Beck: When you have LeBron James on your roster, you are obligated to be all in at all times. And it's a mistake not to be, and the Lakers made several mistakes.

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Chris Mannix: Yeah but Howard is it a mistake to listen to LeBron on personnel decisions? Like, I don't know this to be true, but Rob Pelinka is a pretty smart basketball guy, Frank Vogel is a very smart basketball guy. Rob Pelinka constructed a championship team in the bubble season. If not for an injury to Anthony Davis in the first round of the playoffs last postseason, very good chance the Lakers are at a minimum in the finals. I can't bring myself to believe that Rob Pelinka thought it was a good idea to trade all the pieces he did for Russell Westbrook.

Howard Beck: Anybody you ask around the league believes that it was LeBron and not Rob Pelinka who ultimately pulled the trigger essentially. Obviously, LeBron can't literally do it, but it was the, oh, why did it pivot suddenly from Buddy Hield to Russell Westbrook? Somebody told me last week—I do not have this as confirmed, this is one person telling me this, I had somebody recently tell me, Buddy Hield was already picking out his Jersey number. That's how far along it was. 

Chris Mannix: I can tell you Sacramento, like the front office there, you know, I don't think they said it was done-done, but they were packing Buddy Hield up. They believed that this deal was going to get completed. 

Howard Beck: So yeah it was awfully close. Now to your point, cause I agree. Um, whether it was LeBron calling for this, demanding this or not. Yeah, the front office and ownership have to be the ones to decide this. And that's what you're there for. And yes, LeBron is incredibly influential. And when you have a player of his caliber you should listen to him. LeBron's pretty smart, incredibly smart. And I think more often than not, he probably has great input to offer, but you are the final stop. And if you're looking what's going out versus what's coming back in Russell Westbrook, at that stage at the risk of maybe pissing LeBron off in the moment, you got to say, listen, I hear where you're coming from and you know, I want to do everything possible to put you in the best possible position. I don't think this is the right answer, I can't do this. Rob Pelinka has a responsibility to say no, ownership, Jeanie Buss and her advisors have an obligation to say no in that moment. So people can joke all they want about, LeBron being the GM, people can say that LeBron is the one who pushed for it. And that may actually be true. It certainly seems to be what the belief of the whole league is. It doesn't mean that it absolves Rob Pelinka and the front office of responsibility. It doesn't at all. You made that deal and you're living with the results.

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