Around The World (Wide Web): Shaq, Betrayal, Kobe’s Future, Nash

Ryan Cole —  September 23, 2013

From Phillip Barnett, Lakers Nation: During the Lakers 2002 championship campaign, they had to go through the Sacramento Kings in the Western Conference Finals before they were able to finish off their three-peat with a sweep over the New Jersey Nets. That WCF against the Kings would prove to be the Lakers toughest test as the Kings would take the Lakers to an epic seven game series that saw Robert Horry’s most famous shot and Shaquille O’Neal calling the team the “Queens.” Lots has changed since then, the Lakers would go on to win two more titles while the Kings have been a lottery team for seven of the 11 years. The vitriol between the two teams has cooled down tremendously since the series, and even the the players in the series don’t seem to hate the other team quite as much as they did over a decade ago. This hasn’t been anymore evident than in the recent news that O’Neal has become a minority owner of the team,according to USA Today’s Sam Amick.

From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Mike D’Antoni leaned heavily on Steve Nash last season, when he could. A broken leg and an assortment of other injuries kept Nash down to 50 games last season, but when he did play he averaged 32.5 minutes a game. Up from the season before. With the Lakers moving this season toward a more pure version of what coach Mike D’Antoni wants to run (after having to modify it heavily due to Dwight Howard and the rest of an ill-fitting roster last season) we could see more Nash. But with Nash at age 39, turning 40 during the season, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti suggested maybe a reduction in minutes, as he told Mark Medina of the Daily News.

From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Forget all that stuff about Kobe Bryant returning from an Achilles’ tendon injury this season. It’ll happen at some point. The real question involves next season. He might not return at all to the Lakers. Bryant is entering the last nine months of his contract, a season worth $30.45 million before he can become a free agent in July. He has known only one team in his 17-year career and often says he’ll be a Laker for life, but will that be the case? The Lakers haven’t opened contract negotiations with Bryant, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, taking a wait-and-see approach as he recovers from his injury. Bryant, 35, has done incredible things for the franchise, pushing it to five championships and two other NBA Finals appearances in his 17 seasons. His jersey is continually among the league’s top sellers, his first name easily recognizable even with non-sports fans.

From ESPN News Services: Jeanie Buss, the chief of the Los Angeles Lakers’ business operations and fiancee of Hall of Famer Phil Jackson, wrote in an upcoming update to her “Laker Girl” memoir that she felt the hiring of Mike D’Antoni as head coach last year instead of Jackson was “a betrayal.” Buss, in an excerpt published Sunday in the Los Angeles Times, wrote she felt she “got played,” referring to the decision ultimately made by her brother Jim, which she has said took her and Jackson by surprise and had been an unsettling experience. “Why did they have to do that?” Jeanie Buss wrote in the November edition of the book first published in 2010. “Why did Jim pull Phil back into the mix if he wasn’t sincere about it? …”Phil wasn’t looking for the job, and then he wasted 36 hours of his life preparing for it when they were never in a million years going to hire him anyway.”How do you do that to your sister? How do you do that to Phil Jackson?”

Ryan Cole

Posts

42 responses to Around The World (Wide Web): Shaq, Betrayal, Kobe’s Future, Nash

  1. Betrayal? That’s the word Jeanie used. She also used the word “they” a lot…not “us” in the piece from her updated book. Buss Civil War looks like it’s far from over :-(.

    History shows us a team can have on court success with players who don’t respect/or truly dislike each other…does that example exist when it’s ownership that is at odds with each other?

    The Lakers have faced a lot in their history…but nothing like this: http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/9711874/jeanie-buss-book-mike-dantoni-hire-los-angeles-lakers-betrayal

  2. I know I am going to get skewered here but…

    It is a terrible idea to air a private feud with your sibling via a book or via an interview. Not the best way to communicate a united front. That shows a lack of judgment I am not accustomed to seeing from Jeannie. This is very, very, very bad form on her part- particularly because in the excerpt she confirms that her Dad did not include her in basketball decisions in the past (“In the past, that subject was limited to Jim and my dad. They didn’t really need me.”). I hope Jim and the rest of the siblings stay quiet on the subject. This is going to be a difficult season as-is and the last thing we need is for this to continue to be fed by the other siblings.

  3. MannyP,
    I support your point. None of us is immune from either mistakes or taking things too personally. This is as true of Jeannie and/or Phil Jackson as it is of anybody else. It may very well have been a mistake of either commission or omission, but it is also clearly in the rear view mirror.

  4. Mike Bresnahan’s article states facts, but it is as if he expects us to believe each side should be letting us in on their expectations and strategy in this negotiation. My expectation is that we will essentially know nothing until Kobe either resigns with the Lakers or somewhere else. After that we may hear something from Kobe, but I expect to hear much less from the Lakers. I believe everything else discussed this coming year will fall into the category of gossip.

  5. MannyP: i 2nd Craig W’s support of your point concerning Jeannie Buss.

    Seems father knows best when it came to choosing roles for his respective offspring. sadly, none seem to have his touch nor his life experience; otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation, would we?

    Go Lakers

  6. david h: “none seem to have his touch nor his life experience; otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation, would we?” Exactly. He did not have to choose either one of them to run the team. This is a business – not a monarchy.
    craig w: “clearly in the rear view mirror.” Well – the LA times is writing about it today, so evidently not. I am sure the Laker FO wishes it was : )
    MannyP: ” last thing we need is for this to continue to be fed by the other siblings” Yes this could only get worse if we get a few more Buss family members to weigh in on this. As per the last thread – best not to mix family and business
    Family Feud: This is two kids fighting. Parents handle this in different ways. Sometimes you just punish both kids. Other times you may try to investigate the situation and take one side or the other. What is rarely done is for the kids to be put in charge of the entire house without appropriate adult supervision. This term applies in Silicon Valley when the firm needs a real manager instead of a founder. I think the concept applies even more when dealing with founder’s offspring. Bill Gates’ kid does not run Microsoft.

  7. Robert: I have no idea why you still do not understand that the Lakers are a family owned enterprise, with different set of rules than other businesses. The old owner left the kids in charge. Period. Sure, it does not happen in Microsoft, a publicly traded company where the founder does not control the majority of shares and the Board of Directors actually controls the company, but I assure you that many family owned, privately held businesses operate in this manner.

    The big issue here for the Lakers, which has now been made public via a book and an interview, is the fact that Jeanie also felt personally insulted and “betrayed” when Phil was not hired, which only adds to the resentment felt as a result of the fact that Dr. Buss purposefully arranged the business in a manner that excluded Jeanie from the basketball side of things.

    If anything, it should be abundantly clear that there is a huge conflict of interest with having Phil involved with the Lakers on the basketball operational side. Sadly, this airing of dirty laundry only serves to ensure the distance between the Lakers and Phil will only grow. This is why I’m dumbfounded. If the goal is to have Phil involved for the benefit of the team, why in the world would you make you go about it this way?

  8. MannyP,

    You ask an excellent question. I wonder if part of the issue here is context — we don’t have the entire book to read, so we don’t know what is said before and after the section published in the Times.

    I am concerned, though, that this is a shot back at Jim Buss for some of what he said in the recent Ramona Shelbourne interview. Part of that read to me as Jim dancing around the edges of responsibility; Jeannie is clearly putting it right on his shoulders.

    Reaffirms what a difficult transition this will be for the franchise, on the court and upstairs.

  9. Rusty Shackleford September 23, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    I’m going to try to make it to the games when the Lakers visit Sacramento and Golden State this year just so I can boo Steve Nash. #trashfire

  10. eh, so what.

    it’s bad form for Jeanie to air dirty laundry, but ultimately the dirt isn’t what’s important. it’s something to talk about though. this is just another form of reality TV. it’s just another way to make money, selling something. she has learned well from her lover. Phil LOVES writing tell-all books that make him money. the funny thing is, no one is mad at him for it, not even those that he paints in a bad light(like Kobe after The Last Season).

    that’s how she felt about things. how someone feels is not necessarily the same as reality. maybe this is why she wasn’t given the reins of the team by Daddy. it does not indicate just how severe the rift is. most siblings have some issues. as long as they don’t take their issues out on the team, it doesn’t matter. even if they do take it out on the team, the most any of us can do is cackle like hens in the henhouse. regardless of the amount of cackling, the fox that gets in still eats, the farmer still collects the eggs and when the farmer wants chicken for dinner, he still eats chicken. worry all you like.

  11. Robert,
    The LA Times writing about it today does not make it current news. News organs are owned by corporations and corporations are organized to make money first and everything else far in second place. Internet organizations are organized to maximize hits. This explains why gossip and dirty laundry are so prevalent in the “news” today – that is what we want to hear about. This emphasis on money and hits is why a family business may run somewhat – and only somewhat – differently. A family business may have other goals that are almost as important as being financially stable.

    All this news is about an event that happened almost a year ago. The organization has moved on, many fans and Jeannie may not have moved on. Now we are discussing last week’s garbage. What is really germane to the Lakers is what path they are on now and how are they addressing the problems in front of them. Jeannie will have to join the train, but she has made her job as business and PR representative much harder by ‘venting’ her feelings in public. It is not that she shouldn’t feel this way, but just that making it public creates a harder job for the entire organization – including her. This is the price you pay for being a public figure, unlike the people adding to this blog.

  12. All Jeanie’s book provides is further evidence that Jerry made the right decision. Also, Phil Jackson has himself to blame for his bad relationship with Jim. Go ask the Chicago ownership group what they felt about Phil. At the end of the day, the Lakers are a family owned business and they have every right to run it as they please. Back to the Coaching Hire: Mike D’Antoni was the right coach for the personnel because the Lakers were counting on Dwight playing to his strengths (PnR) and finding a taker for Pau if/when Howard was healthy. Jerry and Jim didn’t have the luxury of hindsight and I still think considering the information they had at the time they made a good decision. As for Kobe, not only is it is too early to be talking about how much he should take, I think it is inappropriate. Last time I checked the Lakers singed a $3 Billion TV deal, thanks in large part to the excellence of Kobe. Considering what he has done for the franchise and the new CBA I don’t think Mitch and Jim are in an enviable position when it comes to negotiating Kobe’s next deal.

  13. on another note: Bryant, 35 and coming off a major injury, is under contract for one more year and the Lakers have yet to open negotiations on a new deal.

    english translation: thanks for the memories??

    the line forms here…..and there…and over there.

    Go Lakers

  14. I agree with those (Manny P., Craig, others) who have expressed dismay over Jeanie’s re-visiting the issue of the hiring of MDA and the so-called passing over of Phil. I’m truly disappointed in her. There are several reasons for this.

    1) The timing is abominable. We are at the very start of a new season. Everyone should be optimistic, postive, and as forward-looking as possible. This bit of sour-grapes is anything but. The players will probably forget about it in a week or so. But the timing is still horrendous.

    2) I, too, have a sibling. When I have issues with him, I go to him directly. He does the same with me. Neither one of us writes a book. This is Communications 101. She’s simply doing everything wrong.

    3) She’s widening rifts that were already chasms. Obviously, this does not help. The wounds may never heal. And she will not be blameless.

    4) Her admission that she was at work and began crying hysterically is not good. This is hardly the profile of an executive of a corporation (even if it is a family-owned business). She has simply got to toughen up.

    Hopefully, this will all be just a temporary bump in the road. As Laker fans (especially at this crucial point) we should have more important things to worry about. I hope that Jeanie Buss will realize that, too.

  15. Gotta agree with mud on this one…this is motivated by money….how many people will buy the book or even talk about the book if there isn’t any controversy? PJ did this all the time with the Bryant/MJ comparisons and the Bryant/Shaq dynamic. Drama sells (I’m sure thats not how the saying goes but whatever).

    On Nash’s reduced minutes: I’d like for the staff to be creative with his minutes:
    1. Make sure they don’t play him on back to backs until March/April if at all.
    2. Structure his sub time around TV timeouts and end of quarters.

    And as far as him playing I would like to see him stagger his play with Kobe. Nash is too passive to wave Kobe off when he calls for the ball. I also think Farmar or Blake should be the point guard when they have a “traditional or power line up”. I’d like to see Nash play with the smaller lineups that can space the floor to take advantage of his abilities in the open floor.

    I’m not necessarily saying it needs to happen but I wouldn’t make a big deal if they decided to bring him off the bench.

    In regards to Mike Breshnan’s LA Times article: With respect, this article is premature. It doesn’t matter whether Bryant is 100% or will never be the same it is irrelevant. They are clearing space like most teams in 2010 with Nash being the only significant contract and he may not even be safe, and it isn’t a sound strategy to allocate the money prematurely to a person who says he will always be a laker. I think the Lakers will court the free agents and then see what would be left hypothetically and then Kobe will say if he is willing to accept a hometown discount or not.

  16. Oh, almost forgot the Shaq ownership situation: I don’t mind that he is with the Kings organization (Lakers couldn’t offer him anything?)…

    Interested to see his work with Cousins. I’ve always been intrigued with his talent and if he focuses on his low post game he can dominate in the league.

  17. LakerFanatic: “Interested to see his work with Cousins.” So you are expecting him to work with Cousins? He never worked with our guy. Oh yea. That was all DH’s fault and had nothing to do with the fact that we are so tight with Shaq : ) So now he owns part of the Kings and will work with their bigs – go figure.
    MannyP: It is not a question of understanding. It is a question of what is best. Yes – the history of this nation is filled with successful men who have built businesses and left them to offspring who frittered them away. It doesn’t mean it is correct. You are arguing that the screaming/kicking brother is correct and others are saying the screaming/kicking sister is correct. I am saying they both should be kept in the back seat. Yes – I know Jerry threw the keys of the car to the brother, and we are just passengers.
    MannyP again: “If the goal is to have Phil involved for the benefit of the team,” Whose goal is that? Phil is the greatest coach of all time. He is not coming back as a “consultant” or a janitor. He is coming back as coach, gm, or President. Jim is too proud to offer him any of that so therefore he is not going to be back. As you have said – get over it – Phil is not coming back : )
    david h: “thanks for the memories??” I don’t think so yet, but I am concerned that there is no communication started. In other words: Kobe – let’s see how the injury heels first – then we will talk.
    Craig H: “current news” You are correct – this is the re-hashing of an old story – albeit a juicy one. I did find it interesting that the three main links to the LA Times were: the Family Feud, Kobe, and MD. Those are the same three redundant topics that we always speak about on this board. If someone can up with a fourth topic that is more important than any of those three, I would be very interested : )

  18. Starting to wonder about Phil. After being fired the last time he writes a tell-sort of all book that has negative comments on Kobe.

    This time when a certain job May or may not have gone his way, A tell-sort of book from his girlfriend bashes those involved in the non- hiring .

    Brings back a statement from his ex- wife after Phil left her for Jennie. Went something to the extent of “if people knew the real Phil they would be shocked”. Just saying this seems out of character for Jen but not so much for Phil.

  19. When we – the public – put someone on a pedestal we seem incapable of seeing their warts (kind of like falling in love, both of which have a lot in common). When we can no longer ignore their warts we tend to totally tear down the pedestal and see nothing good in them. Hopefully that doesn’t happen to Phil and Jeannie. They both have always had warts, but we didn’t want to acknowledge them. Ex-wives have seen the warts, but often have forgotten the reason they fell in love with the man (obviously men do this too).

    When talking Phil Jackson, I always bring up the Jerry West episode to provide a counterbalance to the deep genuflecting done in his presence. He is a man of tremendous ego and that always has a dark side. It may be true it is a key to why he succeeded, but there are a lot of bodies along the way.

  20. Its always bad PR when you wash dirty linens in public. Jeannie knows better. I still love her the same, but this was a pretty wrong move to make.

    Optimism is high, atleast for hopeless romantics like me. The team has parts that COULD possibly make for the biggest surprise of all – bigger than last year. At any rate, the team as is can make several deals to improve our position for the coming years. One of them is taking salary for 2014 but making sure 2015 is a clean slate to go all-in.

    I see 2014 as a probe, 2015 as the land.

  21. So PJ wasted “36 hours of his life” preparing to be rehired … jeez, cry me a river.

    How many hours has he wasted since then, being a big cry baby about the situation?

    I wonder if he and his intended can possibly get over it …

    By the way, I’m pretty sure PJ isn’t the first person ever to be messed with while looking for a job. Nor will he be the last. It comes with the territory; maybe not for those who reside on Olympus.

  22. Thanks for the link Double R. A good read and the 1 sentence that stood out to me was the final one –

    “The future of the Los Angeles Lakers will now be determined by the successes and failures of Jim and Jeanie Buss, and I, for one, would feel a whole hell of a lot better about that future if the two of them would just shut up and get to work.” .. Amen.

    On a different note, sad to see league MVP Candice Parker and the Sparks go out like that, on their own homecourt none the less, in the 1st round. Hope that she, and the rest of the team, can bounce back next year.

  23. The lack of perspective in these comments is amazing.

  24. Let me get this straight. Jim completely disrespects his sister, a Laker lifer, and a Laker legend who brought us five championships, while making the wrong basketball decision in hiring MDA……. and most of these comments are attacking Jeannie and Phil? Bringing up comments from Phils divorced wife? really? What has Jimbo done to earn such unwavering allegiance? Not only did Jim disrespect Phil and his sister, but he ignored the wishes of Kobe, soon to be free agent Dwight Howard, Magic, and majority of fans, as well as common sense, in choosing MDA over Phil, but sure, go ahead and spin this around and blame Jeannie and Phil.

  25. The Jim/Jeanie thing only really matters in terms of how it affects free agent recruitment, since whether the Lakers get off the deck relatively quickly or go through a protracted downturn depends largely on that, and on maximizing their 2014 draft pick.

    The arguments for Jeanie/Phil having power rather than Jim having it are basically that:

    a) Jeanie would stay out of day-to-day basketball ops. and that would be a good thing.
    b) Phil’s gravitas and Jeanie’s outgoing personality would be better for free agent recruitment than Jim’s more reserved style and D’Antoni’s twitchiness have been/will be.

    One may or may not agree with these positions, but the group here that defends the FO daily should keep them in mind, and they should keep in mind that however one wants to analyze the situation and apportion blame, Howard is gone, and that simple fact has left the organization in a very rough spot.

  26. What has Jimbo done to earn such unwavering allegiance?

    Not much.

    The Paul thing was not his fault, and that changed everything. If Paul and Howard were signed to max deals with the Lakers, people would be calling Jim Buss a chip off the old block. Also, Buss has not tied the team to any long,bad contracts.

    OTOH, he has made two coaching hires that went against the grain (Brown over Shaw, and D’Antoni over Jackson) that have not worked out very well, last year’s bench acquisitions didn’t work that well, and Dwight Howard is gone.

    The jury is still out on Jim, but there is as much reason to criticize him as there is to defend him.

  27. Craig,

    We’re not debating whether to put Phil up for a Good Citizen Award; the issue is what is best for the Lakers. You have said many, many times, that you believe that the Triangle is a dated system and that D’Antoni’s fast-paced system is better suited to today’s game. In turn, I provided several specific reasons why I think that is a questionable argument.

    But, while coaching certainly matters, everything starts with talent, and Jim Buss will be judged on how he does in acquiring, assembling, and attracting talent. So far, his results in that regard are mixed.

  28. and now Jim and Jeanie have both clarified that these statements reflected her feelings at the time, and that they have both discussed it since.. also, both claim to be having regular mettings now. is it even possible that this is another overly hyped nothing?

    yes, it’s possible.

  29. Let the games begin.

  30. The list of 2014 Free Agent to-be is shrinking. Atleast for the elite youngsters that the Lakers wish to sign as its next franchise-level talent. John Wall already signed his. Paul George is about to sign a 5-yr $90M deal and the Sacramento Kings ownership Vivek Ranadive and its new minority owner Shaquille O’Neal is set to keep DeMarcus Cousins to an extension as well. This leaves the list with very few names, all of which are secondary only to the aforementioned three. Heck even Larry Sanders is off the market.

    The watchlist is now limited to: Avery Bradley, Derrick Favors, Eric Bledsoe, Gordon Hayward and Greg Monroe. Something tells me its not 2014 we’ll be making the big splash but 2015.

  31. Well, I do like those 5 players and even if we don’t get a max-contract type free agent I’d be happy to see any of those in Lakers uniform…

  32. Bad timing by Jeanie. Even with PJ in board the team was doomed, thats the past Jeannie move on and stop this whinning that dont help anyone

  33. People act like hiring Phil would had magically saved the season, am i the only one that thinks that Phil’s clout and influence is better served off court? Would he coach this team w/o Howard? I dont think so. I hope he dont coach again we need to move on.

  34. How long were the Lakers supposed to wait on PJ? They needed a coach at the time. What I don’t get is why didn’t Lakers use a source (Jeanie) to see if Phil was interested while Brown was still coaching. Another rookie mistake by Jim. I believe what Jeanie says and believe Jim will continue to take the Lakers through growing pains as he integrates himself in with the league. It is what it is.

  35. So, has the season started yet?

  36. A couple points. Not to bag on old points but the Chris Paul trade was the start of a downward trend, not because of the fact that we don’t get the best point guard in the league who can also play defense but be because of the repercussions. The lakers attempted to trade two of the most mentally fragile players only to have it fail. It’s like breaking up with your girlfriend/wife to be with someone better to only find out its not gonna happen and then you gotta go back with your tail between you legs. Fault Stern and his merry bunch of “co-owners” for that.

    We may need to move on from Phil Jackson, he can’t coach forever. And with the way this roster is assembled, this team works for MDA. However, last year, with the talent assembled theres not another coach I would want to have. Some coaches are great at development, others thrive and overachieve with limited resources but can never take the next step, and then there are others who can put teams over the top.

    @warren…if thats the watchlist for the laker fans I can tell you which bar I’ll be drinking myself into a stupor at.

  37. “The Jim/Jeanie/Phil thing only really matters in terms of how it affects free agent recruitment…”
    —-
    I did a small edit (adding Phil), but this is the money quote. Yes, the Lakers have to worry about fan PR. However, before that they have to worry about potential free agent PR. Because it seems free agency is the primary path they want to take to rebuild. We fans have opinions all over the place. Some of us have warmed up to Jim Buss. Others are loyal to Mr. Triangle. But what do potential free agents think? We got a little insight into this with Howard and his choice to leave $30 million in guaranteed money on the table. That is significant for a player fresh off back surgery who still hadn’t regained his old form.

    As Machiavellian as he is players still hold Phil Jackson in very high regard. Leadership matters, even if its just perception. That is not a knock on Jim Buss. But in the eyes of potential free agents what has he done to inspire confidence going forward? Potential free agents all know what we fans know. It was Jerry Buss that was the man behind the last three decades, not his son. And with the team having to chart a new course going forward there has to be someone in the Lakers organization they can recognize and believe in.

    Otherwise, just tank and worry about the draft.

  38. “We got a little insight into this with Howard and his choice to leave $30 million in guaranteed money on the table.”

    — I disagree that Howard’s decision should be considered an indictment of Jim Buss, or any one person or aspect of the Laker organization. One man’s choice does not make a trend, and Howard is nothing if not fickle. He had issues with Kobe, issues with D’Antoni, went back and forth about his plans (Brooklyn? L.A.? Stay here?) while on the trading block in Orlando, and had changed his mind a few hundred times before that when he was still Magic property.

    But to suggest that go-to-Houston decision was largely based on the Lakers’ part owner? We just don’t know what level his dislike of Jim Buss played in that move.

    Bottom line, Howard has been indecisive for some time, and never seemed comfortable or attached to L.A. The latter could stem from a preference for Whataburger over In-n-Out, Texas’s lack of taxes, a desire to not be under Kobe’s shadow, his already impregnating most of the single women in L.A.,or a thousand other things only Howard could confirm. We only know he left. Bye bye, and here’s to a sucky career in Houston.

    Also, we keep talking about free agency is the path back. Well the way the new CBA has teams locking up their own talent, maybe we need to question that thought as well? More and more it seems the players have incentive to stay put, even if that means re-upping in an NBA wasteland like Wall did in D.C., or opting for historic mediocrity in Milwaukee, a la Sanders. If the good FA’s keep falling back to their old teams without hitting the open market, Jim Buss could be his father and Phil all rolled into one and it wouldn’t necessarily matter.

  39. But to suggest that go-to-Houston decision was largely based on the Lakers’ part owner? We just don’t know what level his dislike of Jim Buss played in that move.

    Howard obviously left for a lot of reasons, but basically, it appears to have been a basketball decision. He thought he would have a better chance to win a title in Houston over the next 2-3 years than he would have had here. Houston has a young wing elite wing guy, some other decent players, and a well-regarded management team. McHale also has a specific knowledge base–playing the blocks–that matters to Howard. Howard also apparently dislikes Kobe and MDA personally, but I have always thought that winning leads to chemistry more than the reverse. If the Lakers had simply had a better team last year, Howard might have stayed. Or he might not have. But I think if the Lakers had gone 55-27 and made the WCF. Howard would have had a tougher decision.

    Not all of that is on Jim Buss. It is not Buss’ fault that Kobe is 35 and Nash is 39 and Pau is 33 and Paul is a Clipper. But, at the end of the day, Buss is sitting in the big office now, and a star free agent bailed on his watch. Buss’ s decision to keep Mike D’Antoni may have contributed to Howard’s decision to walk. We will see how that move works out.

  40. Also, we keep talking about free agency is the path back.

    Not sure who we is, but as I have said–it is Kupchak who has constantly used the term financial flexibility, and it was Buss who presumably conceived and executed the strategy of giving out several one-year deals. That is not just fans talking.

    I have seen several pieces suggestiing that the FO thinks they have a legit shot at LeBron James, and also suggesting that many people in the NBA think that idea is delusional. We will find out in 10 months.

    Also, if FA is not the path back, then losing Howard is probably an unmitigated disaster. The Lakers basically have 2 draft picks and cap space going forward,. as of now.

  41. “Not sure who we is” — in this case, “we” was meant to cover many fans who comment on this site, the front office and whomever else has advocated for that approach. (This site doesn’t revolve around anyone, no matter how frequently they weigh in.)

    And my remark wasn’t meant to dismiss that the Lakers should attempt to reload via free agency, nor to imply that that is not indeed their goal.

    My point was that a free agency-driven strategy is becoming increasingly difficult as more and more players take the money their current teams can offer, either as a free agent or even before reaching that point. Wall, George, etc. — the “open market” just isn’t as open as it was under the old CBA, which sucks for a large market team like the Lakers.

    The draft has not been the Lakers’ go-to place for new blood, at least not for a very long time. But building through the draft will seemingly take on a new importance under this CBA, and that too doesn’t bode well for the Lakers as they seem destined to avoid a total rebuild — and thus are poised for more middle-of-the-pack picks.