With Phil Jackson Gone, Now is Jim Buss’ Time

Darius Soriano —  March 17, 2014

Unless you live in a cave, you know that Phil Jackson has signed on to be the Knicks’ new Director of Basketball Everything (or something to that effect). The full details of the deal have yet to come out, but initial reports say that Phil will be paid around $12 million annually to be, among other things, the new face of the franchise and shepherd them into the future by, well, being Phil Jackson: owner of championship pedigree. How this plays out for Phil and Knicks isn’t yet known and popular opinion seems to be that he’ll either succeed because he’s Phil Jackson or fail because of James Dolan which, if you are asking me, sounds like a pretty good deal. I wish Phil nothing but the best in this endeavor — and it will be an endeavor, but that’s another discussion.

Of course, Phil’s trek back to his NY roots has brought to the forefront the major question of why is he taking this job with the Knicks and not the Lakers. This isn’t just a fan question either. Kobe Bryant is seemingly asking it. As is Magic Johnson. Phil should be a Laker, only he isn’t. For many, this is a development that induces anger.

I don’t really blame people for being mad. Phil is a charismatic guy who has had a lot of success with the Lakers. The fact that he left three years ago after his team played terribly against the Mavs doesn’t resonate as much with fans as the 5 championships he won with the franchise. This is understandable. Again, I like Phil Jackson and would have welcomed him back into the fold without the bat of an eye. He’s Phil Jackson.

But he is not coming back and that brings forth a reality that many aren’t seemingly ready to face. This is Jim Buss’ team; this is Jim Buss’ time to lead.

Tell the truth, you just got a lump in your throat didn’t you? You heard some ominous music playing in your head, right? Did you get the sudden urge to change the channel even if your TV isn’t on?

I get it. Jim Buss doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in fans these days. A wretched team this season and the sour taste of last season combined with the departure of Dwight and now Phil will do that to you, I know. The Lakers are down in the dumps and it’s All. Jim. Buss’. Fault.

Except, you know, it isn’t.

I am not here to defend Jim Buss. But I am also not here to rip him to shreds. Jim Buss has proven, as an executive, to be…actually I don’t know what he’s proven. His record is mixed. He has held his current title of Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations for the past 9 years. Before that his title was Assistant GM to Mitch Kupchak, a title he held for 7 years. Doing the math, that is 16 years in the Lakers’ front office “handling basketball related decisions that range from the scouting of players and the NBA Draft to trades and the signing of free agents” according to the Lakers’ media guide.

No one person deserves all the credit or blame for the team’s successes or failures over those years. As has been reported multiple times, the Lakers made most major decisions with input from Dr. Buss, Jim, and Mitch Kupchack with the good Doctor having the final say. Pinning any one decision on anyone besides Dr. Buss — while he was alive — is likely just spin, be it to praise or condemn someone. The fact is, the Lakers experienced a lot of success over the years and have fallen on hard times recently. Credit and blame can be doled out however one wants, but doing so without remembering that every major decision was made by all three of the aforementioned people with Jerry having the final say should probably be put out there first.

Now that Dr. Buss has passed, however, the Lakers are mostly in Jim’s hands. Even though he is not technically the owner — the Lakers were left to all the Buss children in a trust and they cannot sell without every child approving — he is the highest ranking executive on the basketball operations side. The buck, then, stops with him when it comes to player and coach matters.

As mentioned above, this likely gives you pause, but I prefer to see it as an opportunity for Buss to attack the perception that he is some sort of incompetent. For reasons that have nothing to do with ability, this will not be easy. The Lakers are a team of free-agents-to-be paired with players who have great name recognition but are injured and have question marks heading into next season. They have cap space to spend, but with the aforementioned roster issues aren’t necessarily the most desirable landing spot for free agents. They look as though they will have a high draft pick in a talented draft, but it is rare for a single draft pick to turn around the fortunes of a franchise right away.

And then, of course, there is that pesky perception of how good Jim is at his job. Whether it is true or not, the idea that Jim doesn’t have the ability to build a winner damages his, and by association the Lakers’, chances to turn things around quickly. And the only way to change that perception is to do the thing that is made even harder by how he is viewed. If this sounds like an inescapable spiral, it sort of is. The Lakers are in a position where they need several things to go right over the next summer or two — nailing their draft pick, Kobe returning to form, having some smaller FA signings work out very well, etc. These things aren’t impossible, but that’s a lot of things going right in a short amount of time.

The flip side of this, however, is that none of those things happen overnight. It takes time for a draft pick — especially an 18 to 19 year old kid (whose name isn’t LeBron, Shaq, Duncan, Alcindor, Wilt, etc) to prove he’s ready to play at a high level night in and night out and shift a team’s trajectory upward almost instanteously. We won’t know about Kobe’s progress and how he’ll hold up over the course of a rigorous NBA campaign until several months into next season. Free agent signings can always be spun positively on July 1st, but the act of them living up to (or surpassing) the value of their contract comes over the long haul.

This is how winners are built. I understand fans have little patience for stuff like this, but in many ways there’s no choice this time. This isn’t like when Phil Jackson took over the team that Del Harris couldn’t get over the hump. And it definitely isn’t like the team Pat Riley took over that won a championship just a couple of years earlier. There is no ready made roster here that is one piece away. The Lakers are rebuilding and need the time it takes to forge a foundation that a contending team can rest on for years to come.

Doing this any other way would be disservice to everyone involved. And while I have no way of knowing this, I have a feeling the people who know this best just so happen to be Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak. Whether people are willing to give them this time is another story entirely, however.

Darius Soriano

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to With Phil Jackson Gone, Now is Jim Buss’ Time

  1. I’m looking forward to the next few seasons. I want to get my last few views of Kobe in the P&G armour. I want to see what he can do to deepen a legacy zeroing in on the Earth core. I want to see who we get this coming draft. I have a few player I would be really excited about. Embiid if his back passes tests, Wiggins as is, Exum, and Vonleh are all guys I really like in the NBA. I want to see if Nash can have one more successful season. Does the team keep Blazemore, Young, Henry, etc… and the big question regarding the Big Conquistador is also compelling. If all goes well, we will also get a a fine superstar from the FA class of ’15. These are interesting times. Lets find out if Jim Buss is up for it. I am.


  2. Fans and media alike love to blame the mess that we are calling the Lakers these days on Jim Buss. I must preface my comment by saying that I am a Laker fan. I love the Lakers. I love Phil Jackson. With that said, I am a believer in Jim Buss and the Buss family in leading this organization. The moves that he has made in the past few years (had the circumstances been different) would of worked out. He traded for CP3 and ended up with basketball reasons. He traded for Steve Nash and he ended up injured. He traded for Dwight Howard and ended up with a player who did not want to be here in the first place. Then we get to the hiring of Mike D over Phil. The same Phil Jackson who was swept out of the playoffs the last time we saw him. From my understanding, Phil wanted more input on player personnel decisions and did not want to coach some of the road games, not to mention his very hefty price tag, which he deserves. In my opinion to call Jim Buss incompetent is an opinion that is ignorant and unfair.


  3. Well, with Phil in NYC, Phil Jackson is no longer considered “Plan B”. We have Jim and Mitch (and Jeanie), so we all need to collectively hope the good Dr knew what he was doing when he peppered the team with his kids.

    I hope this temporarily puts an end to the “step aside” argument, or at the every least puts it on the backburner for the next couple of seasons. The same goes for the “we want Phil” coaching faction. – Note: I[‘m not saying MikeD should remain head coach at all costs. On the contrary, there’s ample reason to seek a change. While I do not agree 100% with that argument, I do think a change of pace at the coaching level may be the right thing to get us moving forward in the court of public opinion.

    So, back to my question from the start of the season: who do we realistically go after if/when we part ways with MikeD? Do we really think other teams will allow us to talk to their incumbent head coaches?


  4. Good post. A couple of points:

    1. Buss will of course have more time no matter what; he is not going anywhere. But, I see the point and have made it myself: things will be very ugly in the next 24 months in the media and with the fanbase–much more so than now–unless some of the Buss FO’s big moves actually start working. Buss isn’t under pressure because he wears a baseball hat or because Lakers fans are nuts or spoiled; he is under pressure because the team is bad and his big moves haven’t worked.

    2. As to the timeline dipsute, and Dr. Buss’ influence, a lot of FO Defenders (not Darius per se) have leaned on that pretty heavily lately. Here is Ramona Shelburne, in May 2011, right after the lakers lost to Dallas:

    “His whims, his voice, will be the single most important force in the way the Lakers move out of this failed season. It will be Jim Buss who decides whether the team should be restored or reinvented. Whether it needs a fresh start or a new blueprint. Whether the Jackson era should be scrubbed clean off the walls or reupholstered by longtime assistant coach Brian Shaw.”


    In addition, Shaw said that Old Man Buss told him that Jim made the final call on the Brown hire. So, people can believe what they like, obviously, but for many reasons, I think Jim is where the buck stops summer 2011 on.

    And Darius’ point about things going right is correct. Basically, the Lakers will need to be both smart and lucky on several moves over the next two years to get back to relevance. Lately, they have seldom been either (conceding that this year’s bench guys were pretty good pickups for the money).

    All that noted, any team that loses Chris Paul to a league ruling and Dwight Howard uncompensated in FA in two years is a good bet to be down a long time. Since IMO those two things are connected the Lakers’ FO does deserve some patience, ISTM.

    On another note, Farmar is hurt again–groin.


  5. MannyP,

    Robert is the main “step aside” guy here, and he will presumably continue to hold that position even with Phil in New York. Robert thinks that Mitch should run daily basktball ops as GM, a more traditional basketball man should be Pres. or “Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations” and Jim should be owner with involvement in big stuff only. I seriously doubt that Phil’s going to NY will change that opinion.

    Also, FWIW, since 2011, the Kamenetzky Brothers have said that Jim should step back. They believe, in the philosophical sense of that term, that the guy signing the check should not be the main guy deciding who gets them. They have also said that Jim should ditch the hats, get a haircut, and that he has an image problem with some people around the league. One can obviously choose to believe/agree with them or not.


  6. there’s the perception we have a team who’s coach can’t teach defense……how can we expect a free agent to come to the team? that’s the start, to give hope


  7. Jim Buss start Date: Jerry Buss (RIP) died last Spring. I personally feel Jim was our “main” owner prior to that. I use the 2012 season as my line of demarcation. Yours might be different, but certainly, the 2013 and 2014 seasons are on Jim’s watch. I do not think Phil Jackson leaving prompts a restart for Jim. The buck has stopped with Jim Buss for some time. Not just after Phil signed with the Knicks.

    Prior to 2012: Jim was involved and deserves “some” credit for “some” things. However, he was not our GM, and he was not our top owner. He was an assistant in both categories. He does not have a “ring” as a GM or as an “Owner”. Supporters are hedging by giving him credit for stuff that went on years ago. Again this is no different than saying Shaw and Rambis have coaching rings. They do not. They have assistant coaching rings and there is a Huge difference. Same for Jim – his “major” ring count is zero.

    Phil: He has not been Plan B since 11/2012. We made a mistake then, but there was no recovering from it. He was not coming here as a coach with our roster. Mitch is fine (I have to put this in every post for some reason), so we were not on the market for a GM or President.

    Jim: Everyone knows what I think the change should be. Jim should step back – not down – but back, he should remain the top owner and let others do their jobs.

    MannyP: Coaches: Byron Scott is my guy (Fern agrees – rr does not). Lionel Hollins is a great choice. They are available. If you want to steal someone it would be Thibs. The VG’s are often mentioned. Or my other fantasy is to offer Coach K $25 million a year and 5% of the team. The pickings are slim (now). They were not when we did this the last 2 times.

    PS: rr – well done- you beat me to it and perfectly summarized things to MannyP. And you are correct – I am not changing – what does Phil have to do with Jim stepping back (as you state).


  8. the chris paul issue sounds like whining to most non-laker folks….the problem has been with the culture of success in LA…. look at the effect the failed trade had on the players involved. odom and pau have never been the same…the defections?? ariza, farmer, sasha, shannon…shaq, ..bynum…these were all young(sans shaquille) contributors to titles who left for more money and opportunity. Only shaq won anything. The rest of the guys chased fame and chose playing for scrub teams and never were a success on a contending team. Some like farmer have returned…only ariza is somewhat a success, although he won’t win a title. Everybody wants laker coaches, players, etc. We need to replace lost talent like the spurs seem to do. Had shaq not been so greedy, we could have done that, so to blame Kobe or mitch is messed up.


  9. Well Jim isn’t stepping back, so you can all blow a gasket now and save us the whining later. However, his personality has been to avoid the limelight and I doubt he will meet with the press more than his father – once a year, before the games start. Since he is not an ‘in your face’ owner like Jerry Jones, he is also more likely to leave the GM duties to Mitch Kupchak. Sure he has a final say, but so does every other owner – they sign the checks, after all. This does not mean he will be the one setting up the guidelines or scouting choices. To presume Mitch is an errand boy for Jim Buss certainly does Mitch a great disservice and he has a lot of respect around the league. He wouldn’t have this respect if everything went through Jim Buss.

    As for picking coaches, almost all owners have input into this and I expect the Lakers to be no different.


  10. One consideration: how thick of a skin does Jim Buss have, and if he starts to feel public pressure, will it affect the decision making of the FO? Will he be swayed to win sooner rather than later and prove his mettle, and end up trading a high draft pick this year for a proven top-notch player? I don’t mind a rebuild, and I kind of like the idea of seeing a young guy like Exum develop over years. But if Buss starts feeling immense pressure (not that he should, there’s no one sitting above him) there’s a chance he may push for more immediate help.

    I’ve been scouring all I can find of Exum. My take on him is that he’s more of an NBA 2-guard than a PG. From the footage I’ve seen, his dribble is a little too high – it’ll be shaky against NBA defenders, and he’ll have a problem being TO-prone. His quick first step is underrated, and he has some craftiness with the ball finishing at the rim. His shot is very flat, and he doesn’t have the functional strength to finish through contact (at 18 though, that means nothing). He doesn’t remind me of any clear NBA player. Almost like Penny Hardaway without the same vision or passing skills, or like a skinny high school Kobe without the well-polished footwork.

    My top 3 remain Wiggins, Embiid, Parker (although Embiid is no longer my #1 due to his back, which is very concerning). I may drop Embiid lower depending on what further information comes out about his back. Exum to me is in the next tier, battling with Smart/Randle/Vonleh. The main decision points seem to be Exum vs Smart and Randle vs Vonleh. I’m much higher on Smart than most scouts/fans at this point, but I’m starting to lean towards Exum. I’m just nervous about a guy where we have such limited footage of him playing against U.S.-level basketball players, but I can see the enormous potential.


  11. It was noted on the John Ireland/Ramona Shelbourne radio show earlier today that Jeannie has decided to step up her visibility at Laker games and will be there for Wed with the Spurs. Since Phil has gone east she doesn’t have any conflicting loyalties and I expect to see less ‘jockeying’ within the Buss family members – all the children will fulfill their duties within the Laker organization.

    This should reduce the apparent discord that has been fomented by angry fans and all media members looking to increase their own particular image/website hits. If things appear smoother perhaps we can all concentrate on what the Lakers can do going forward, because Laker health is not something that can be repaired in a year or less – baring a miracle, it is going to be a longer haul.


  12. well whoever picked the last 2 coaches should be in a straight jacket and liv in a padded cell….The last choices were absolutely abysmal!! Mitch or jim screwed up!!


  13. Craig W: I will concede that I would rather have Jim than Jerry Jones. Also, Mitch is not an errand boy which is why he does not need a co-GM. He needs exactly what Jerry Buss was. Major decisions yes, day to day – no. If you think that is what it is currently the case, then fine. I do not and I want it to be that way. I guess we agree on how it should be – just not as to what is actually happening.
    Doc: ” how can we expect a free agent to come to the team? that’s the start, to give hope” Indeed. I have said many times. We have the Pacific Ocean, the history, and the celebrities. What are we adding to that? Also, no it is not Kobe’s or Mitch’s fault. I will leave it there.
    Track Record: Everyone should know I was a big Shaw supporter and wanted him instead of Mike Brown. That said – let’s move over into a universe where he was hired. Let’s further presume that our record for 2012-2014 was identical to that which it is now – but with Shaw at the helm. I am pretty sure with my impatience that at this point I would be ready to fire Shaw. Further, I can fully guarantee you that I would not defend Shaw in 2014 (after 3 years of coaching the Lakers), by citing things that happened during his days with Phil. I think everyone can see how this applies to Jim. Your experience at a lesser position gets you the job (theoretically). Once you are in the job – you have a new track record. For Jim as rr points out that includes the last 3 seasons. The MB hire, the MD hire, the DH saga, the Nash deal, and the Kobe extension are all on his watch. If you want to take out 2012, then fine, but that makes it worse. While it does remove MB, it also removes the DH acquisition, while leaving the DH loss, and 2012 was by far our most successful on the court of the three. And if you do not think it is a big deal if Jim was “fully” in charge – then I disagree. CEO’s make a lot more money than do their 2nd in command lieutenants, and with good reason. The heat is quite a bit hotter when the buck stops at your desk.


  14. Rob….I agree Jim needs to take a hit…a big one. Mitch, I can’t give enough credit for cp3, pau, dwight, artest, ariza…..even jordan hill, and kendall marshall who are lesser pieces as are bazemore, johnson and brooks who are cheap fillers but good under the circumstances. To me the issue is the coaching which seemed to me to be anybody but phil jackson, which is a problem if you don’t get a solid option. Getting a coach who has never, and will never teach defense, is idiotic. There’s no reason to get blown out and not even be competitive. Craig….Injuries would be less of an issue maybe if we gave bench guys a chance to play or maybe settled on a rotation…guys like hill and kayman stayed on the bench rotting while minutes piled up on older players in a fast paced offense. Jeanie can’t do much now that phil is gone.


  15. rr: Completely understand. But I think Dr Buss intended Jim to be more hands on than what Robert and others suggest, so it will be hard for Jim to abandon his father’s wishes and vision for him at merely 18 months after his death. While it may be true that Jim some day comes to a conclusion that this type of approach is better for the Lakers, I have to think that he will try his hardest to live up to his father’s expectations and it will take many more failures and tries for this to happen. Of course, this is pure speculation on my part based on the assumption that Jim truly wants to make his Dad proud from beyond the grave.

    As far as haircuts and dress style, that’s all b.s. Dr Buss was never known for his fashion sense. I mean, dude wore old dingy member only jackets almost daily. And, if we are being honest with ourselves, there’s nothing more sleazy and unappealing than an unattractive, out of shape older man using his money to date women a few days past their 18th birthday. Yet, with his winning record, none of this seemed to matter for the Dr while he was around. Mark Cuban is also another guy that dresses well below his billionaire status, but people dont seem to mind. If Jim signs Lebron, Durant or Love, no one will care how he dresses.

    Robert: I would love Thibbs. However, I have no idea how realistic that idea is, or whether he would be a good fit here based on the personnel we have on our payroll (kobe and nash) and whatever scraps we pick up this offseason. Byron Scott intrigues me, but I am afraid of how his “tough love” attitude would fit in with today’s crop of NBA stars that seem to dislike that old school “tough as nails” approach. One thing to consider is that the “plan” may be to lay low until the next offseason, meaning that any coach we hire this off season may do so knowing that they will not have a playoff ready team for one or two more years. That may very well mean that our options may exclude guys on playoff or border-line playoff teams (i.e. Thibbs) but may be more palatable to guys trying to make a name for themselves (B Scott; Hillins). On the other hand, a crappy team is precisely the low risk-high reward situation that may also appeal to the likes of the Van Gundy’s and Coach K. Again, just dreaming here. The smart move may actually be to put Rambis in charge of the team (with an “interim” label) until a better replacement can be found. What do you think?

    Finally, I still do not think the analogy to a corporation/company works for the Lakers. This is privately held company, with a few key decision making roles and few places to delegate authority. I can see any owner not caring who they sign to 10 day contracts, but I still believe that anything above $1 million likely requires ownership approval, as would hiring a new coach or laying out a long term plan for the franchise. In short, this idea of a completely hands off owner, to me, is a fantasy. Maybe other teams do a better job of hiding the fact that the owner ultimately pulls the strings. I really dont know.

    Anyway, lots of good points on your posts guys.


  16. Not a fan of Byron Scott. The claims against him are that he’s too dependent on a super-elite PG for success, and without one his offensive schemes are too simplistic. I see a potential Mike Brown redux with Scott, to a lesser extent. I think you have to go hard trying to convince SVG or JVG out of retirement. Hollins wouldn’t be a bad choice, although he’s only shown his coaching mettle with 1 unique type of roster.

    My personal opinion on firing MDA: do it when you have a clear successor in mind. If SVG wants to come out of retirement this summer, clear shop for him. But if there’s no great choice waiting in the wings, there’s no point in cycling through another re-tread coach just to get rid of MDA. Long-term you just end up with dissatisfaction and turmoil. Next year will probably be a throwaway anyway. The next coach we hire needs to be a long-term solution.

    I love the thought of somehow trading for Noah (not that it will ever happen, he’s more beloved right now than Rose) and Thibodeau following his favorite player here. That remains my unattainable pipe dream.


  17. Robert,
    I agree with you that Mitch should be handling the day-to-day issues. I also believe that is the way it is today, and has been for many years. It is the angry fans and media – IMO – that have made this such an issue. It is better news if there is dysfunction in the premier kingdom of the NBA – besides, the king died.

    Also – IMO – Mitch Kupchak could have easily gotten another GM job if he was being interfered with. He is too good and too respected to be unemployed long if he decided the Laker organization wasn’t what he wanted and was hampering him in his job.


  18. I second Snoopy2006’s comments about coaches and not terminating MDA until you have a good feel about where and to whom you want to go. I think this is what happened when the organization determined that Mike Brown had ‘lost the players’ at the beginning of the year in 2012. I really don’t want a repeat of that fiasco.

    Byron Scott has worn out his welcome in two different organizations and there is a possibility that his ‘dictator-like’ ways have quickly worn thin with the players – perhaps someone close to Chris Paul should check this out.

    I’m not going to try to pick out who I would like, but I do have confidence that both Mitch and Jim will be better informed than I – and I also think the choices and recommendations will be passed around the other Buss owners, even if they won’t determine the decision. Throughout all this down period the key element among the owners would seem to be communication – and I trust this will be a lesson learned.


  19. Speaking of alternate universes – say nash/Kobe managed to return and stay healthy this season and compete in the mix for the 8th playoff spot – which all things considered is probably a decent likely hood. Irregardless if this team gets in or not (they’d get bounced in the first round anyways – no unrealistic cinderalla story) but competes till the end – with that in mind….

    2 questions –

    A. does jim Buss/FO still get savaged by fans for not doing enough – keeping in mind the salary realities and expirings w eye on 2015 free agents.

    B. Say the fans are more accepting of FO due to at least challenging for a playoff spot but finishing in no mans land, what outcry if any would there be that pursuing a fruitless playoff run and finishing just out or in and getting 1 and doned – was actually more harmful to the franchise vs having a very high draft pick in a strong draft? Extreme short term pain for long term gain vs a mediocre year.


    the trivia question at the end of the page has a very interesting answer lol.

    When the Lakers are looking for another coach this spring, keep this in mind: Mike D’Antoni is 258-110 when Steve Nash is his point guard and 192-304 when someone else is running the show.


  20. Craig: You are much too sensible–appreciate it. What’s the over and under on Jeanie and Phil splitting by year’s end? She needs to move on more than the fans do.


  21. Bryan-One problem I see is that if the Lakers do any trade with the Knicks as one of the trade partners, you can bet some sour puss owners will cry foul. Cuban would be one guy I could see doing it for the sake of making Phil angry and sticking it to the Lakers.


  22. One more time: Jim Buss’ title is Executive Vice President of Player Personnel. Jerry Buss’ title was Owner. It seems intuitively unlikely that they are doing exactly the same thing day-to-day.

    And, of course, one of the central defenses of Jim is….that he has always been heavily involved in player personnel decisions.

    Bottom line: Jim Buss has the power. If he uses it to create success, people will give him credit. Since success has yet to happen on his watch, he is taking the heat. Part of the job, fair or not, as I am sure, his dad and Mitch both told him.


  23. Variety wrote up the specifics for time warners ratings – ratings are down to 199,000 per game vs near 399k last year but the funny thing is that the lakers ratings still double the clippers who are only drawing in 96,000 viewers – down 20% from last year

    No doubt who rules LA


  24. And people wonder why Kobe is worth $48 million. Ratings tanking from the company that gave the Lakers a few billion.


  25. Well Jim isn’t stepping back, so you can all blow a gasket now and save us the whining later

    I have said many times that I know Buss isn’t going anywhere.

    Try bringing some specifics that improve the conversation; we have heard the narrative already.


  26. Ko,

    Well, yeah, but a couple of points:

    1. Kobe would almost certainly not have gotten near that nearly that much in the open market.
    2. Yes, he will bring in a lot of eyeballs, but if the team is under .500 again next year and he misses a lot of time, then the Lakers will be one more step along the road to being just another losing team and there will be people in the fanbase wanting him to retire.

    As to the Clippers, how much they gain in those numbers will probably depend to a great extent on what they do in post-season. This will be a season in which they will be the only LA team in the playoffs, and they could very well make the NBA Finals. The Lakers brand is still very strong, but it looks likely to be further eroded over the next few months, while the Clippers brand improves.


  27. The ship was sinking when Jim took real control. His biggest error was throwing away draft choices for a old , clearly breaking down PG. This is the difference in living in that past and not seeing the future.

    Jerry West was a genius in the latter while Jim did not have the foresight or the trust to bring someone in with that talent. You can’t rebuild a team playing NBA on PS4 or Xbox.

    If so my. 9 year old would be a great owner.


  28. There is no doubt the Laker brand will suffer some erosion, but I don’t expect it to be on the order of the Dodgers % – and they still remained well ahead of the Angles before the current ownership took over.

    Ko’s point was that Kobe is a unique personality – like Lebron – and his presence alone brings in a lot of eyeballs. He wasn’t present this year and the eyeballs went down. Hence the reasonable extrapolation that he deserves his money – if only because of the business side of this sport. You keep harping on the basketball side of his salary – which I also disagree with you as to its limiting the Lakers ability to sign ??? – however, the decision to sign Kobe for the $ and years was made with a number of different factors in play. Not the least of this was the availability of any really big star this year, along with the marketing issues.


  29. So Kobe told Nick Young that ” he dont talk to players on teams 20 games under 500″ LOL. Wow he is really ticked off, Mitch talked and he said that there have to be patient basically that they dont expect a savior in the Draft and that they wont give mid level FAs long term contracts that make the team a mid tier team, (looking at you Deng) the plan is what i been saying all along get the best player possible in the draft go at it with the same formula from this season i year players ( hey Mike so your back) and then go and try to break the bank in 2015 and 2016. The new CBA just dont let teams outbid others like before thats the cold reality of it. About Jim Buss i said too that despite the fact that he made mistakes, he has done bold decisive moves that just didnt work out. Now with Phil giant shadow gone he can either step up or crash and burn, its not like he got the team in 2011 he is been one of the decision makers for the last 15 years the Good Doctor had the last word but he was part of the decision making process. So as much as people here despise him for the set backs of the last 3 years we have to give him a measure of credit for the successes of the 12 years before that. After this season he will be judged by his ability along with Mitch of rebuilding this team.


  30. Like I have explained, I think the main problem with Kobe’s deal is the second year. Given the situation, one year was much more practical in terms of the team’s interests for any number of obvious reasons. There is no question that having Kobe on the books for 25M will affect the Lakers in the 2015 FA market–when the FO is supposedly going to make their big push. We don’t know how, yet, exactly–but it will have an effect.

    As to my “harping on the basketball side of his salary”–yes. Kobe is a basketball player, the Lakers are a basketball team, and the Lakers brand is based almost entirely on winning basketball games and basketball championships. There will be enormous interest in the Lakers out of the gate if Kobe can go, because everyone will want to see him and whoever the draft pick is. But if Kobe starts missing time again, and the team starts losing consistently again, interest will wane, and his contract will be seen as a millstone. Everything comes from success on the court.


  31. lil pau here:

    I think any discussion of Kobe’s salary needs to work from the overwhelming probability that Kobe and Pelinka hardballed their way into those numbers, not that Jim and Mitch called them up and said, ‘hey, we’re nice guys, how about you take more than you otherwise might request, it’s okay with us even though it handicaps us for the next few years…’ While it’s true that there’s no way Kobe was getting those kinds of numbers on the open market, I find that a moot argument as one has to consider ancillary factors if the Lakers said ‘no’ such as the PR & TWC & Season Ticket Holder hits if Kobe walked and said he wanted to stay but the team wouldn’t pay him despite his willingness to take a small paycut.

    It’s as if everyone here sees Kobe’s deal as something other than a product of negotiation. Don’t forget: Mitch said it took about a week and a half to get the deal done; what do you think was happening during that time, that Kobe was asking for less and less?

    Kobe easily could have said (or his agent could have implied) that either the Lakers give Kobe these kinds of numbers or he will take less to chase a ring elsewhere next season. It doesn’t mean it actually would have happened, but it would have been an effective threat to insure Kobe ultimately got the deal he wanted.


  32. The Lakers brand is about more than simply championships. Yes, championships are part of it, but the Lakers were big even before Jerry Buss bought them. The Lakers took off under Jerry Buss because of how they were marketed – as well as their success. This is a key part of understanding the Lakers.

    Kobe – because of his personality, dedication, skill, and determination is a worthy Laker and he has value – both marketing and basketball – simply by being on the team. Yes – even in the 2nd year of his contract. He will be putting people in the seats in that 2nd year also. Simply being with the club for 20 years has marketing value and you are foolish to ignore this. The Laker ownership know this, but newer fans don’t understand the complexity and depth of what the Laker organization stands for.

    We stand for something and we stand by our idols. We are a place to come and we have it all to offer free-agents. We are the Lakers. While we may bend over time, we don’t break. You are asking us to make decisions because you are afraid we may break. No, we will come back. It just may not be by next year. We will also be patient while we mend, but we will come back.


  33. @ko clearly breaking down pg? The guy was averaging 12 and 10 and took it easy in a down season for his team because they didn’t want to wear him out for nothing and was still one of the best shooters in the game. Take away the knee fracture and he’s obviously a much better player. He’s managed his back issues just fine – they don’t help his current condition but they weren’t limiting him.

    If you don’t like the player or the initial trade just say so or even just say that they paid too much – but don’t act like buss was an idiot and shouldve foreseen all this.


  34. Jerke

    If you feel he was the best option for $9 a year that’s fine. I just felt it was a huge risk due to age and the risk. Building an older team with the oldest player in the NBA did not make sense to me. Seems it was more a reaction to the Paul veto then a sound 3 year solution.


  35. “This was easy,” Kobe told Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. “This wasn’t a negotiation. The Lakers made their offer with cap and building a great team in mind while still taking care of me as a player.”

    That quote was pretty widely disseminated. You can choose not to believe it.

    I agree with the implication that Kobe means something to the fan base that the analysts who have mocked the deal may not truly grasp, and that connection has both tangible and intangible benefits. But if the FO gave him the deal for the reasons you suggest, then I don’t see that as an argument in its favor.

    I have made the point the last couple of days, both here and at another site, that a lot of the defenses of the Buss FO seem to directly or indirectly disempower them. The Buss FO always seems to be backed into a corner and playing defense, against the CBA, Phil, the media, Time Warner, Dwight Howard, Kobe, the fan base. Ultimately, Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak (and Buss was presumably the final word) chose to give Kobe the deal, and the defenses that I have seen of that choice have seldom revolved around the game on the floor.


  36. Some executives are fine in the no. 2 spot. When they get promoted to head honcho, they are unable to make the adjustments, trust their guts, or handle the fall out when things go wrong. (Sounds like Jim)

    I would tolerate the Lakers current lack of direction: IF, the team down the hall that covers the Lakers banners when they play, were not on the cusp of dominance. If you haven’t been looking lately, Blake Griffin is the new star in town, not Chris Paul!


  37. Simply being with the club for 20 years has marketing value and you are foolish to ignore this. The Laker ownership know this, but newer fans don’t understand the complexity and depth of what the Laker organization stands for.


    I have been a fan since the Showtime years, and IMO you are foolish to defend a basketball contract entirely on non-basketball grounds, but you have always been much more into narratives than analysis, and that is why I disagree with you so often. The post above, while articulate and heartfelt, revolves entirely around narrative and sort of summarizes your whole Laker worldview.

    If Kobe produces and the team gets better, the deal may work out. And I am not afraid of anything Lakers-related. Mostly, I just want the team to be good. But I will root for them either way.


  38. If you haven’t been looking lately, Blake Griffin is the new star in town, not Chris Paul!

    Griffin may be the star, but Paul is IMO the best player.


  39. but the Lakers were big even before Jerry Buss bought them

    Sure, because they won a lot, even though there was only the one title. I said winning basketball games and championships, not just championships. Marketing matters. Image matters. Chick Hearn never made a shot or coached a game, but he mattered–a LOT.

    But it all starts from winning.


  40. lil pau again:


    Kupchak said otherwise, and Kobe’s contract is so obviously to the detriment of the short-term rebuild, and management would always prefer to pay less, esp under the CBA…

    so yes, I choose not to believe it.

    (that said, I also agree with the decision the lakers made, ultimately, to yield to the pressure.)


  41. lil pau,

    Fine, but Kupchak wouldn’t want to say, “No, we didn’t really negotiate.” Maybe Pelinka started off asking for the maximum CBA-allowed raise, I suppose.

    In any case, the deal has been widely mocked and seems to me to be unlikely to work out well in any way except as it relates to Kobe’s finances. But I hope that I am here in July of 2015 celebrating the beginning of the Love/Wiggins era and saying that I was wrong.


  42. An aside — I loved how Time Warner tonight chose to air a Top 10 Lakers-Celtics memories special.

    After a day of seeing so many people wearing ugly green clothes with shamrocks, it was great to see Magic’s Junior Skyhook, Kareem’s two-fisted celebration looking at the sidelines in ’85, and Artest’s “Kobe passed me the ball” three-pointer from 2010.

    The only way I like seeing folks in green is walking off the court with their heads down in June.


  43. Manny,

    I am not that into sweating the baseball hat thing either, but Jerry Buss was a stylish man in a Hugh Hefner kind of way in his day, and he was not born at age 70. I agree that he has been sanctified to some extent by much of the Lakers fanbase and media.

    As to Cuban, he is more or less a self-made billionaire. Jim Buss inherited his money, so it’s not the same thing.


  44. Many of the people criticizing the Kobe contract are either ‘talking heads’ – paid to stir the pot – or fans looking for things to criticize. Those not criticizing the contract rarely have to spout off in blogs or articles – they are looking at what to do going forward.

    Also, while the Lakers won for the 1st time in L.A. in 1972, the rest of the decade was somewhat sorry and they were just a middlin’ team, even with Kareem. Then there was the Kermit Washington thing and it wasn’t all roses. Sure the Lakers need to win, but winning certainly isn’t everything and, even with winning a lot, championships are NOT a given. Don’t get me wrong, championships count, but the Lakers are about so much more than just championships. If you are just a ‘bean counter’ you may not understand, but Jerry Buss did understand that the Lakers had to be good entertainment, as well as good on the court. While we are down it is even more important that Kobe be there to add to the entertainment.


  45. Craig W,

    I appreciate the point you are making regarding the broader, more nuanced impact of the Laker brand. But, here’s the issue in my mind: Kobe does not make that point. For him, at least in the persona he has constructed, it is all about winning championships. And if so, he has to understand that his contract at least limits the FO’s flexibility to pursue major free agents. I’m not saying that it prevents that pursuit, but limits I think is a fair statement. I also would argue that Kobe would at least publicly disagree with the notion that he is here for two years of entertainment to keep the brand strong, regardless of the record.

    It’s a tough spot for the franchise and the goals of the FO and Kobe may not completely align.


  46. Look at what James Dolan did to the New York Knicks as the owner. He destroyed the franchise. He lost hundreds of millions of dollars in stupid contracts with players AND coaches. He created a highly dysfunctional and toxic environment for the players to implode and leave. James Dolan is finally bringing in an adult – a successful adult – to run the show, taking over for him while he simply goes into the background.

    Look at what Jimmy Buss did similarly to James Dolan. He destroyed the franchise. He lost hundreds of millions of dollars in stupid contracts with players AND coaches. He created a highly dysfunctional and toxic environment for the players to implode and leave.

    It is the dysfunctional and toxic environment of the Lakers that causes them to lose, that causes them to turn away attractive stars and superstars. This is what ultimately drove Dwight Howard away. This is what caused millions to be spent on useless coaches. This is what caused the Lakers to spend exorbitant amounts of money for little gain.

    Sure, the trade for Chris Paul was a smart move. And it wasn’t their fault that the trade was stopped by the NBA Commissioner. But it is what happened afterwards that destroyed the Lakers and showed how they handled adversity.

    Instead of regrouping and supporting the players under adversity, Jimmy Buss let Lamar Odom – the sixth man of the year – implode and gave him away for practically nothing. The Lakers could have kept Lamar, gave him emotional support from the top, and would still have a much more formidable team than the mess we have today.

    Instead of regrouping and supporting the players under adversity, Jimmy Buss played with Pau Gasol’s head, leaving him with the empty feeling of being trade bait for the past 3 years. How can Pau Gasol play his heart out when at any moment he was going to be traded away?

    And of course, Jimmy Buss’s toxicity personally lost Dwight Howard after giving away $20 Million in income and Andrew Bynum. What a huge waste. Look at what Dwight has done for Houston. The smarter thing was to simply trade Kobe Bryant and keep Dwight. And build the team around Dwight Howard.



  47. I believe Kobe had a no trade clause. So he couldn’t just be traded.
    And the fan base wouldn’t have accepted an abrupt support of Howard in favor of Kobe.

    If Kobe and his agent negotiated his new contract by threatening to play elsewhere, Jim Buss clearly flinched. His father should have taught him more about playing poker. And Kobe should have taken less if he really cared about winning above all else. I’m not talking “slave wages.” How about matching Tim Duncan’s $10 mil? That would have kept the team flexible and he would have looked good at the same time.

    If FO offered this amount without even asking Kobe to consider 10, 12, or 15 per year then they’re really dumb. He would have stayed for much less than the 23-25 he received.


  48. James – Dolan’s biggest mistakes were hiring people to be GMs who were unqualified and then refusing to fire them even though there was ample evidence of their shortcoming and, in at least one case, in the midst of ample evidence of sexual harassment.

    You seem to think everything here is Jim Buss fault. Including Andrew Bynum’s personality. And now you say the smart thing would be to trade Kobe and keep Dwight. Yeah, please tell us more of your well-thought out plan!


  49. No question James, Time Warner would have given the Lakers a billion Dollar contract if they were told the top money maker value wise Kobe was to not be resigned and replaced by Dwightmare.

    Better chance that TW had a severe penalty in the contract if Kobe was did not to return. Go back and check the rating decrease of over 40% in viewers with no Kobe this year.

    When will people understand. This is all about business. Winning is 2nd. Every move is about money to the Buss Trust and owners. Kobe is believed to be worth a $100 million a year(when playing) to the Lakers.

    Please do the math.


  50. Hey Snoop,

    I think Exum’s highish dribble is another solvable issue. The footage I’ve seen, the kid finishes through contact, but that won’t come as easily against NBA player. His court vision is excellent. He makes great reads. It’s not often that I watch a game on the screen and don’t see passes before they happen. We watch enough games and get a feel for who is open or about to be. I’ve been surprised by Exum’s passes. That is a tremendous sign and something that I experience only when watching the top PG in the game. I think Exum’s shot looks solid. I don’t know if his low arch is because of footwork issues, as he might need to get his legs underneath himself, or if it’s his wrist. Either way, very correctable with work. This leads me to the observation I have taken from limited data.

    Watching video of the kid, he is a competitor. He goes after people, he uses his teammates, he hustles, he doesn’t gives up on plays, and you can see him lead his team. Guys respond to him. The fact that Exum is in LA, right now, working out, and getting ready for the draft is a great sign as well. As much as he needs to compete against guys at and above his level, him putting in the gym work now is perhaps as important. He can work on his shot, his footwork, his strength and his flexibility now. As a college player, you are limited in the amount of coaching you can get. The fact that Exum already has an agent, a big one at that, means he has a team working to maximize his potential. He has access to dozens of retired players, NBA washouts (all of whom are better then all but the best college players), coaches, trainers and doctors that can give him game experience and training that the NCAA limits. I’m going out on a limb here but, from limited tape, I see a young Kobe with a more natural peripheral vision. I think Kobe’s handle was a bit tighter, he shot more midrange, and seemed to have more dependable shot in general. I’ve also seen more footage of young Kobe playing defense above the rim. I’m not saying he is another Kobe but I think the potential, the direction, and the work is there for him to be something very similar. There will never be another Kobe. The man is unique in so many ways, not the least in how we all expect a near homicidal level of focus on his craft and on winning. He is the Black Mamba and we don’t want another one of those. I think Exum has a chance to be as valuable. If Kobe is willing to do one of his Obi-Wan moves, like he did for guys like Caron Butler, Ariza, Young and various other players… at this point I don’t care if Exum turns out to be Darth Vadar or Luke Skywalker. The results will be entertaining. I want him.


  51. hey darius: very clever how you phrased the obvious: With Phil Jackson Gone, Now is Jim Buss’ Time. knowing full well the opportunity to move forward has been in jim buss’s court for some time and yet now with phil Jackson gone, Jim Buss you have no beast of burden to shoulder, no castigated shadow to cower under; no cross to bear; no axe to grind; no teeth to gnarl; no big boy pants to look for; we get it, totally.

    maybe, just maybe, the bad luck goes away as well.

    Go lakers


  52. Kobe Extension Negotiation: OK so some think the FO was foolish and came in with suitcases full of money, and Kobe simply said “OK”. Others think the FO is brilliant and we silly fans just don’t understand all that went into this. Let’s look at what J C posted above. Is that not reasonable? And I agree with the poker comparison (that’s why I like poker – it relates to almost everything). So if Kobe was digging in at $24 million, then I think the move would have been to call his bluff. Had he gone elsewhere, he would have received about $10. Keep in mind he was hurt at the time. Most of the league would not have even touched him and definitely not for more than $10 (had he not been hurt he would proabaly go for about $14 – which is huge – but $24 – no way). The timing of this was also mishandled. We should have started the discussion last season to lay the groundwork (I said so at the time so no Monday morning quarterbacking here). We did not do that, and then once he got hurt, we should have waited to see how he was. This literally could not have been executed any worse. Bad timing, huge dollars unnecessarily, and the guy you gave the extension to is still unhappy with you. Incredible.


  53. Ko!
    I’m shocked.
    This is a business?

    It’s probably true that TW did mandate that Kobe return.

    However, if it’s all about the math, my number for Kobe pre-new contract was about 16-18.
    That would have allowed them to pay at least one more mid level player in addition to one top tier FA. That would have made them more competitive which leads to more wins, which leads to more $….


  54. A lot of scape goating of Jim. I’m not seeing references conclusively linking Jim to hamstringing Mitch. I can’t think of any leaks of Mitch having a master plan that didn’t work out due to nefarious interference by Jim.


  55. I can’t think of any leaks of Mitch having a master plan that didn’t work out due to nefarious interference by Jim.

    That is not the position people are taking. Some people think Jim should step back and leave the Lakers’ day-to-day ops to Kupchak and a more traditional basketball man. Others, like me, are not sure about that but think that:

    a) Since Buss is the highest-ranking basketball executive in the Lakers’ organization, the team’s sorry state is partly–partly–his responsibility.
    b) That he has made some very questionable moves and appears to have an image problem.

    Guys like JamesKatt are over the top–but no more so than hardcore FO Defenders are, and as the losses and bad vibes pile up, the defenses of the FO are getting more and more labored, both here and elsewhere.


  56. I think people would, nt be as disappointed if management would step up, and give the people some kind of an explaination.but not saying nothing at all will leave anybody to wonder.


  57. I don’t think even the most ardent front office supporter would say there haven’t been mistakes. What us supporters are saying is that there have not been a ‘horrible’ number of mistakes and that any mistakes made were all Jim Buss’ fault. He will rightly take the major share of the blame when things do not work out, but the last three years have been very complex in the “who made decisions” question.

    What we should all be able to agree on is that a number of risks were taken and they didn’t work out. The reasons range from David Stern interference to bad luck to personality to questionable judgement by the final decision maker. What we also have to remember is that the decisions were made for business/marketing reasons as well as basketball ones. I simply can’t abide those fans who say basketball reasons ‘uber alles’ and give no shrift to the business situation. That doesn’t mean the remaining fans will agree with me on most or all of the choices, but it does mean some of the rants I see are not based in reality.


  58. William,
    The Laker organization/family is structured to keep as much information in-house as is humanly possible. Whether or not you agree with this philosophy, it has served the franchise well when dealing with other clubs and it has meant we almost never know about personnel moves before they happen.

    One of the problems, since Jerry Buss got really sick, is that there have been a number of leaks from the Laker organization. Combine this with the Phil Jackson penchant for leaking information that helped his cause and fans get a feeling that all is in disarray in the Laker family. This is a key reason I am glad Phil has moved on – as well as the fact that the NBA needs his intelligence and star power.

    With Jeannie rededicating herself to being more of the face of the Lakers – from a publicity point, not a basketball decision point – I thinks things will settle down a bit and the ‘talking heads’ will get extremely frustrated. This doesn’t mean the road will be smooth – that is not the Laker way either – but there may not be as much news about the organization devouring itself.


  59. Laker fans are gonna suffer until Jim Buss figures it out. And you look at his processes in some areas, and it makes you wonder if he ever will get it.

    He runs a family business and he has trouble realizing how those two words are separate but connected. You don’t screw over your sister and her fiance without making some kind of public apology. Especially when the fiance is Phil Jackson. You might also be a little nicer after your sister lands you a huge Time Warner deal a perfect time with a team of declining stars, attendance and National TV Exposure.

    Jim Buss didn’t handle that well. At all. It’s not easy, but he has found a way to make it harder than it had to be.

    If you can’t treat your sister right (who is your equal on the business side!!!), what does that say?

    The Time Warner contract also negates any claim that money issues forced you to clean out so many longtime staff. You have to take ownership that you want to go in a different direction.

    Again, not an easy thing to do. But you have to do it correctly. He didn’t.

    Just like the hiring and firing of coaches. Jim Buss hired Mike Brown and didn’t really interview anyone else (like Rick Adelman – probably a much better hire given the team at that time). It was reported that Buss worried that Golden State would take Brown if he didn’t act right away. Whether that’s true or not, you would think that the Laker brand would have persuaded Mike Brown to wait a few days. Even if you’re gonna go with Mike Brown, you just look more sensible when you interview multiple coaches.
    And in the case of Jim Buss – impressions are important.

    To fire Mike Brown at that time was a huge mistake. At least wait until the end of the year, when many experienced coaches were available. I don’t care who supposedly wanted him gone, it just doesn’t make sense.

    The hiring of MDA speaks for itself. MDA has had an enormous amount of bad luck, but clearly he was still rehabbing and not at all ready to coach. And I don’t think he’s a good coach. A great assistant coach perhaps.

    I’m not a big believer that everything that is reported is completely true. The reporting may be correct (or not) but there’s no guarantee that the person providing the information is being honest.

    That certainly opens a can of worms about what is actually true. But over time, I think you can see where the truth really lies.

    And this leads me to this quote from a Ramona Shelbourne article:

    “Kobe [Bryant] and I have a relationship where he can just look at me and say, ‘Everything’s cool,'” Buss said. “So yesterday during practice, I gave Kobe a quick glance, and everything was cool.”

    A couple days later Mike Brown was fired. A coach who came pretty close to beating OKC in the playoffs a few months earlier.

    It just seems that Jim Buss is learning as he goes along, lessons that he should have learned before he was given this role.

    He’s certainly trying, but you can try all you want, work all night if you have to, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to make the right moves. (See Mike Brown)

    It’s entirely possible he will figure it out, but by that time, it may be too late. Or not.


  60. What us supporters are saying is that there have not been a ‘horrible’ number of mistakes and that any mistakes made were all Jim Buss’ fault.

    That is fine, but your posts about the subject in general are not usually framed in this manner, with the stuff that you have said about Kobe’s extension in this conversation being the latest example.

    As far as Phil and leaks, you have a point, but one of your problems there is that you don’t acknowledge how the media have changed, since blaming Phil and Jeanie for Jim’s travails fits your narrative better. As I have noted, right after the lockout, there was a story on ESPN.com saying that the Lakers were planning to try to get Paul and Howard. The Nash deal was surprising, but based on Kupchak’s description, it was somewhat unusual–and sudden–in how it developed. Jerry Buss’ time is over, and that means more than just the fact that there is a new CBA.

    One of Darius’ overall points here is that with Phil gone, it is now “Jim Buss’ time” and there is some truth to that. But according to Shelburne, Jim’s time started after the Dallas series, and Phil has not actually had a job with the Lakers since 2011. ISTM that Jim has been on the clock.

    As I have said, people defending Buss seem to want to do it in part by disempowering him, but now, it is basically Jim, who outranks Mitch; Mitch, and Kobe, who is obviously a unique player–but a player nonetheless.

    The last point I would make is that you are leaning very heavily on Lakers Exceptionalism–We are the Lakers, there is a complexity and depth to the Lakers legacy that you get and fans like me don’t get, that I don’t understand the marketing and business aspects, etc. etc. Robert, I think, would actually agree with you to some extent, and that is part of what he is upset about. As Lee Jenkins pointed out in a piece at SI.com that I linked to here a few days ago, all the greats who have been the Many Faces of Lakers Greatness except for Kobe, are gone. A lot of that is just time and circumstance, and certainly much of it is not on Jim Buss. But I think it is unwise to assume that The Lakers Are Still The Lakers just because their top exec is named Buss and until we see some evidence of it. Right now, the Lakers a bad team with limited future assets, and it is hard to market them anywhere but on ESPNClassic.


  61. FB&G: This place is great. Just look at this thread. Jim, MD, Phil, Kobe, Draft picks – we cover it all and from all points of view – pro + con on all of these issues. Thanks to Darius and all the posters (well most of you anyway – just kidding).

    MannyP: I raised the interim possibility of Rambis a couple of months back in a post here. It was during a time when support was higher for MD so I think the concept got incinerated in the flamethrowers I was hit with at the time : ) That said – it has some merit. Ideally we would make enough changes to the roster to make the team competitive and attract a new coach (some possibilities are a dream – but others are quite attainable). We need to avoid bringing in a new guy to lose 50+ games in his first year (which is possible if the pick and KB’s health do not cooperate). Rambis could take one for the team – literally. Or MD could. I am currently leaning to the Rambis solution (if we do not get the new roster/coach), because (and I am being serious – not sarcastic) – we can’t take another year of this circus. If we retain MD, do not catch breaks roster wise, and continue to be horrible next year, the fan base sarcasm will be too much for any organization to withstand. A change at coach – even to an interim would at least say – “OK we know we have a problem and we are on it”. If they go into next year – like everything is great with the status quo – OMG – it will be ugly. As I have said – I STILL do not think we have hit rock bottom. I hope I am wrong.

    Craig W: ” Byron Scott has worn out his welcome in two different organizations” Indeed and he has this in common with someone else. Byron at least did this in NO and Cleveland so he minimized the damage. There are way more people you alienate in NY and LA. I also read with interest your comments about the Lakers brand and marketing and not being all about championships. For me it is mostly about championships, but I understand your point. The Laker brand was established by Jack Kent Cooke and was expanded immensely by Jerry Buss. We did not just sell basketball – we were sexy and cool. JKC was a debonair billionaire. He sold the team to a playboy billionaire. When JKC had the team, we had the logo (the logo for Pete’s sake), we had Wilt (I mean Wilt freaking Chamberlain), we had the Laker Girls (who are to hoops as the Dallas cheerleaders are to football), and we have always had state of the art facilities. Moving to the 80’s we had Magic Johnson (quite possibly the most popular player ever), and Pat Riley (again – cool – as in the coolest). We built even newer facilities, new unis for the Laker girls, the purple and gold unis for the team are the most recogizable in sports. So I get it. I want championships, but I understand this other side. I am not clear however why you are bringing it up in this context. So we have gone from JKC+ Jerry Buss to Jim Buss. Do I need to explain why the cool/sexy factor went down there? We went from The Logo, Wilt and Magic to whatever you want to call this roster we have now. Again forget the talent – I am talking Marketing + cool factor. We went from Pat Riley and Phil Jackson to Mike D’Antoni. Do I need to explain that? Riley’s doo alone was worth 4 points a game. So yes – let’s call the Marketing group – we are in bad need of a makeover.


  62. I’m curious when it was ever Phil Jackson’s time, since he stopped coaching. It’s been Jim Buss’ for a while now. Phil Jackson will loom as long as Lakers fans hold on to the past and count the ringzz instead of looking to the future. I, for one, as a Lakers fan, want to move on. Hopefully, someday, the media will too.


  63. There are mistakes, and there are MISTAKES.

    Hiring Mike Brown after one conversation was a mistake, but to Jim’s credit, he recognized the mistake and tried to fix it before further damage could be done.

    The inability to hold onto Dwight, and losing the best center in the league for nothing to free agency (for the first time in Lakers history) was a bigger mistake, but hey, modern day athletes are unpredictable, so I can let this one slide as well, but just barely.

    Trading for Nash was a mistake. The main excuse was that everyone (meaning fans and the media) thought it was a good idea at the time. This is a bogus excuse because fans and media are not paid to do the due diligence necessary to analyze an NBA trade. The professional basketball decision makers should be held to a higher standard, but still, Nash and Dwight P&R sounded pretty good, so again…another somewhat forgivable mistake.

    Choosing MDA over Phil, however, was a MISTAKE, and is the main reason there is so much frustration directed at Jim, by the fans, Magic, Kobe, Jeannie, etc. This was not just a mistake, it was a MISTAKE of epic proportions. I made this analogy before, but to me, it would be no different than Jim choosing Evan Turner over Lebron. This is not hyperbole, it is a fair comparison. This kind of MISTAKE makes people question , not only Jim’s basketball IQ and his inflated ego, but his sanity. It’s the kind of MISTAKE that can haunt the franchise for decades. If the goal was to win, you pick Phil 10 out of 10 times over MDA. If the goal was to keep Dwight, you pick Phil over MDA. If the goal was to attract free agents, you pick Phil. If the goal was to strengthen the Lakers brand, it’s Phil again. If the goal was to make the fans happy, you pick Phil. Make Kobe (as well as other Laker greats) happy, you guessed it, it’s Phil. Jim’s MISTAKE was still fixable….until Phil signed with NY. Now Laker fans are stuck with the biggest MISTAKE of all….Jim Buss.


  64. The big change with the passing of Jerry Buss is that it is now the Buss family running the Lakers. No one has the authority to make the decisions the way Jerry did. In addition, Time Warner is a business partner and will have a say in the decisions as well. They are not about to let their money circle down a drain. The Buss family has chosen to go it alone with Kupchak and have been this way for close to two years. For better or worse this team reflects their collective will and they deserve the praise and criticism that comes with how the team performs. The question is will the fans have the patience to see if their way of running things can put a winning team on the court.


  65. Let’s the race begins, LA Lakers, NY Knicks, Boston Celtics, which team will win championship first ? One thing the Lakers fan should realize the glory days are gone.


  66. Why are we still on this Kobe deal??? Someone said Kobe should have taken $10 million likeTim Duncan. Is that a joke? First of all, Tim Duncan is overpaid at $10 million. He didn’t take less; he took what he was worth in his Market. How much has Tim Duncan made for his owner? What value has Tim Duncan had/added to growing the business that is NBA Basketball? Kobe is known Globally, Tim Duncan is already forgotten. Kobe’s $24 Million is way way less than Duncan’s $10 million. How much does the Spur local TV deal pay? How much do they make from corporate sponsorship?? If Kobe was in San Antonio I could understand people complaining, but Kobe is in LA. After underpaying him for his entire career, people are complaining that management paid him a third less than he could ask for?? Kobe playing at the minimum for the Bobcats or any other NBA team is way more expensive for the Lakers than paying him $24 million. Once you understand that then you will pay no mind to the talking heads at ESPN who don’t understand numbers outside of the Salary Cap. The Lakers are a business, not some imaginary establishment that operates on monopoly money. Lastly, about taking less, no NBA player has ever taken less. Even the Big 3 didn’t take less. Lebron and Bosh didn’t sign as free agents with the Heat; instead they both signed Max deals and were traded to the Heat by their original team. The Heat didn’t have enough room under the salary CAP to sign all 3. While Wade, Lebron and Bosh opted out of their deals to be free agents, Melo also in their draft class didn’t opt out. That early opt out is why Melo makes a measly $2.4 million than those 3. If Melo had opted out he too would be getting apid the same amount give or take a couple of thousand dollars. ESPN knows this idea of taking less is a Myth but they won’t say it. Instead the player who will be truly taking less is been vilified by the press and some in his own fan base.


  67. LT Mitchel: Excellent points, but I disagree on one key point: Phil has said, time and again, that he did not want to coach. Heck, even today Phil said: “I’m too lame to coach” (see http://www.latimes.com/sports/lakersnow/la-sp-ln-lakers-closure-phil-jackson-knicks-20140318,0,3942282.story#ixzz2wM2ySrzk)

    You are free to trust your gut on this, but I have a hard time believing Phil, Jim, Mitch, Ramona Shelbourne and others are not lying when they say that Phil was less than interested in the coaching job,

    So, understand that Phil was not coming, so keeping Dwight would have meant also trading/amnestying Kobe. Are you saying that it was a MISTAKE to pick Kobe over Dwight then?


  68. Robert: I think Mike D is gone. He will be the sacrificial lamb for the ailing of this season.


  69. Farmar on the DL again. I had such high hopes that he was our long term solution at the point. I don’t see how we can rely on him as anything other than a backup going forward. I keep trying to find a silver lining in this year’s dismal season and I’m not sure there are any.


  70. It appears reality is beginning to seep in. Thus far the Jimmy Buss era has been…well a bust. A few here saw and questioned his illogical moves from the beginning. Other are starting to wonder, some still believe he has a plan. History has shown us that championship quality teams can survive w/ dysfunctional players, but I’m not familiar with one that has with an owner that fits that description.

    Bitter truth is I see very little team success in the next two years. Maybe Jimmy B & Kobe deserve one another. Both are so stubborn and unrealistic. They have both made their bed and now must lie in it…together.

    I fear the only thing some will find to cheer about in the next two seasons is Kobe’s individual stats, such as climbing up the all time scoring list. If that’s the case, let me be among the first:

    This season, Kobe posted his career high in assist per game: 6.3. 🙂


  71. MDA will be gone because he plays a variant on Nellie small ball. Entertaining, surprising wins, and too many lop-sided losses. Not sustainable, it is perfect for the bread and circus year we’ve had but cannot be the system to build a solid enough foundation to attract top-level free agents.

    The front office knows this. The only question remains is given the dearth of talent that we are likely to see on the roster next year, is another year of MDA the best course? Nah. Of course not. I’d like the Lakers to take a look at the top level, youngish, assistant coaches from the best organizations for candidates. Build a deep roster of guys like this year, except no one-way players (bye-bye K Butter). The only way to compete with such a roster, is too play hard both ways and use depth to keep guys fresh enough to do so.


  72. P. Ami – Good feedback on Exum. I too see similarities with a young Kobe, without quite the same explosion or nuances (such as footwork). But I can definitely see the basis for that comparison. I wasn’t as impressed with the court vision – I think I focused more on the dangerous passes and TO’s – but that could have just been the selection of plays in the videos I was watching. I’m looking forward to re-watching and seeing if I can dig up any more footage. But I’ve definitely grown more positive on him the more I see.


  73. Phil Jackson’s emphasis on “developing a culture” in his Knicks into video sounds like a swipe at Jim, Jeanie Buss and the Lakers FO. His announced belief in support and continuity for players is a swipe at D’Antonio. His “injuries are limited,” a swipe at Gary Vitti. His “positive atmosphere” rubs our team dissension in our face.

    Of course, he believes in such things. But his points seem to be a purposeful poking at our wounds.

    Whatcha think? Is it personal??



  74. Why are we still on this Kobe deal???

    Basketball reasons.


  75. If you don’t know Tim Duncan’s value to the system in San Antonio- one of the best-run franchises in the league- you don’t know basketball.
    Duncan is arguably the best power forward in NBA history and is still performing superbly in minutes limited by his coach to keep him healthy for the playoffs.
    The guy has 4 rings and would have tied Kobe last year w 5 if they had won game 6 like they should have. Pop overcoached and had Timmy on the bench when Bosh had those two key rebounds that Lebron and Allen turned into 3s.

    In what world should Kobe be paid more than Lebron James?
    It’s a terrible contract.
    Pure and simple.


  76. Haha Rr funniest post ever


  77. I think people would, nt be as disappointed if management would step up, and give the people some kind of an explaination.but not saying nothing at all will leave anybody to wonder.

    William, good point. The Lakers are a family-run business. And they tend to play things close to the vest. But there are some real analogies to the corporate world with which I’m rather familiar.

    Whenever a company is having a disastrous year, it’s always helpful to have the CEO say something to reinsure investors that all will be well. I suspect that Jim Buss is not the charismatic type (as his father was) and may not feel comfortable in the lime light. But even so, there should be some sort of statement that the Lakers will be moving forward from this debacle of a season, that substantial changes are on the way, and that they will right the ship. He should have Kupchak at his side when he says that.

    Fans are already falling by the wayside, at least for the time being. Jim and the entire organization are being skewered mercilessly every day in the press. And blogs throughout the internet revile him endlessly. Something — anything — should be said to stop the hemorrhaging.

    Jim may be waiting for the end of the season which, thankfully, is only 4 weeks away. My own prediction is that they will fire D’Antoni almost immediately after the season is over. At that time, a press conference should be held — not only to announce the coaching change but to inform the world that many other changes are forthcoming, that a plan is in place, and that things will be restored.

    The press needs to hear that. The fans need to hear that. And it should come from Jim. I think that would really help.

    It’s just a suggestion.


  78. If Kobe’s contract prevents the Lakers from signing ‘melo it was money well spent.


  79. Some excellent post my fellow Laker Fans. It is indeed dire times in Lakerdom. Hopefully, we can come out it of but I suspect that it won’t be until Kobe leaves or retires. We can’t move him and I doubt few teams want to eat that contract. I think we are going to have to ride this one out people. Maybe by that time Jimmy will have learned how to run this organization properly. I have railed on him incessantly on this site, so I will not go down that road again. But I want to say that LakerLand (the only other acceptable term) should never forget the treachery that Stern pulled. We definitely would be relevant right now if Paul, DH12 and Kobe were all on the floor donning Laker gold.

    Endeavor to persevere…. ~ Chief Joseph of Nez Perce Tribe


  80. I’d rather be reading posts by Warren and Aaron.


  81. Rub

    Sorry to inform you but they are both with the Knicks now.


  82. Haven’t Jim and Mitch been working together these last few years? Shouldn’t a lot of the ‘heat’ directed at Jim also go towards Mitch? I guess its because one is a proven commodity.

    I think Mitch is a superb GM. And I also think they’ve made some great decisions over the last few years. Trade for CP3, trade for Howard, (re)sign the premier 2014 free agent (Kobe).

    Its easy to fault them with the power of retrospect.


  83. Also, remember when Mike Brown wanted to go very, very big and start Metta World Peace at the 2? Lol.


  84. True, equating contracts of Kobe and Duncan is foolish. Maybe comparing them as people is foolish. But I don’t know either of them personally. What I’ve heard from Kobe is that he considers himself a businessman. I guess he doesn’t want to suck at that any more than at playing basketball and, apparently, getting paid more is smart business in his mind. He knows the Lakers make a lot of money, and he expects them to spend it. He doesn’t want to hear excuses from management, and I’m fairly certain he loses not a split-second of sleep thinking that some people want him to take less money. He just does his job, trying to win championships, and expects to be paid very well for it. Accept it or not, makes no difference. Just like with Nash or any other player, you’re understanding of life will increase dramatically once you realize they’re not living their lives for you. 🙂

    I don’t think anyone outside the loop really knows how the Kobe extension went down, so what’s gained by guessing? Bottom line, management acted pretty quickly and must have thought spending the money was good business. If he can play enough to give hope, Kobe makes the Lakers relevant the next two years for many fans all over the league and the world. Without Kobe, those years promise little else except the haziness of trying to rebuild or patching something else together. Sure, some Laker fans, with no money on the table, prefer to think longer term with the hope of rebuilding or getting some shiny new stars that may or may not be gettable, but I think Laker ownership, seeing the current landscape, must feel that a functioning Kobe is more money in the bank for the time being. They know the risk is his health, and they decided to take it. If you want to root for the Lakers, welcome to reality.


  85. Warren Wee Lim March 19, 2014 at 4:44 am

    Rubenowski, thanks for the props.

    I haven’t been as active lately as I saw the topics discussed were opinions based heavily on people’s feelings towards Jim Buss and Mike D’Antoni rather than factual, objective statements. Many posters, whose opinions gravitate towards hate of these personalities rather than see the actual weight of the things they’ve done. Granting Jim Buss and Mike D’Antoni are not media-savvy, I feel they do not deserve most of the criticisms that they get.

    I will summarize my thoughts as objectively in this manner:

    Mike D’Antoni has had a good track record with his offense. This is the Phoenix Suns we all remember so well that nearly won in 2007 if not for the melee the Spurs caused. They’ll have Robert Horry to thank for that. The components of this team of course was the biggest factor it succeeded. Steve Nash winning back to back MVPs, Amare Stoudemire at his best, Raja Bell, Leandro Barbosa before the injuries, Kurt Thomas… For 4 seasons they were a very good team sporting records of: 62, 54, 61 and 55 wins. This also with the injuries to Amare and Nash already with back issues.

    Its important to note that he also had bad records coaching the Nuggets (14-36) and the 4 terrible seasons with the Knicks before he got the Lakers job. Its not an excuse but those years under the Knicks, fixing the problems Isiah brought to the team were not easy years by any means. Even Phil or Pop would’ve had trouble dealing with that mess.

    His time in LA has not been good. From politics of being chosen over Phil, to Dwight’s drama and everything else in between, it has not been a very good stint to say the least. Factor in this season’s decimation of injuries and a team filled with 1-yr deals its safe to say he has not been dealt a fair hand to assess his abilities.

    I am not a MDA apologist or a Lakers PR man as some here have posted sometime ago. I just thought that the Lakers have had the worst luck in the last 2 seasons and its not a fairshake to MDA that he is based and judged on this. If you want to make a coaching change, thats fine. But to argue that he is a coach that mumbles and doesn’t know what he’s doing is amazing in itself because he went 232-96 (.707) in his time with Phoenix. Pretty good to win 7 games out of 10 with a coach that doesn’t know what he’s doing.

    I argue that the coach best accentuates the team and he is only there to make the other guys better. Taking nothing away from Phil Jackson’s amazing resume, it would not have been possible if not for the strength of his superstars and HEALTH of his teams. Please note the word health.

    Team building is not easy esp if it involves changing the Collective Bargaining Agreement in the middle of the game. This most especially that the CBA was targeting the Lakers and the Mavs in its pursuit of parity. The CBA and its repercussions belong to its own category of debates but its not the end-all-be-all. It also cannot be disregarded that when it was imposed, the Lakers were a dynasty team at the middle of its long-term and big contracts. The amnesty was provided, and the Lakers unwillingly did it on Metta World Peace. We all love Metta World Peace but he had to go.

    Its not productive to wonder how things would have been different had the CBA not changed. Its better to just take it as it is and deal with it. This is exactly what Jim and Mitch are doing nowadays, trying to pick up the pieces and trying to maximize what’s salvageable of the Lakers’ assets.

    Jerry Buss gave the 90M and 57M extensions to Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Yet it spanned until 2013 where Jim Buss can pretty much be held accountable for. This was also the year prior to the new CBA was signed. So can we blame the 30M and 19M salaries of Kobe and Pau to Jerry?

    Mitch Kupchak is well-regarded all-throughout the league. This is evident with the number of deals he has cut with a number of teams over the last 5 years. That shows that Mitch has the ability to deal with his peers and has been participative. Let me cite a couple of deals:

    2007 – Orlando, Cook and Evans for Ariza.
    2008 – Memphis, Gasol.
    2009 – Charlotte, Radmanovic for Morrison and Brown.
    2009 – Memphis, Mihm.
    2011 – New Jersey, Vujacic.
    2012 – Houston and New Orleans, Gasol and Odom for Chris Paul.
    2012 – Dallas, Odom.
    2012 – Cleveland, Walton and Kapono for Sessions.
    2012 – Houston, Fisher for Hill.
    2012 – Dallas, Johnson-Odom.
    2012 – Orlando and Denver, Bynum for Howard.
    2013 – Phoenix, Picks for Nash.
    2014 – Golden State, Blake for Bazemore and Brooks.

    If you think an inept GM does all this, he’s a very good inept GM.


  86. @J C, since you know basketball, please share with us, what is the San Antonio Spurs Local TV deal worth??? Do you realize Kobe has a higher net worth than Peter Holt the owner of the San Antonio Spurs??? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, people lets stop comparing Tim Duncan’s contract in poor San Antonio to Kobe’s in LA.
    I will reiterate, in relative terms, Tim Duncan is overpaid compared to Kobe Bryant. Kobe is Globally Known, he is on the level of Michael Jordan, Pele, Mohamed Ali, Messi, and Ronaldo in terms of world wide popularity and you want to pay him like Tim Duncan who nobody outside of North America remembers?

    Now to those bashing Jim Buss, if David Stern doesn’t nix the CP3 deal, Dwight Howard would have stayed here; so in my humble opinion to question Jim Buss is foolhardy. The man is more qualified than anyone to run the Lakers. Jerry Buss who most Lakers fans idolize handpicked and groomed Jim. If you trust Jerry then you gat to trust Jim


  87. darius: the part of all this phil Jackson, president of basketball operations for the new york knicks that I find interesting is that we will be able to witness from afar; given all the prior knick ownership histrionics notwithstanding, how the lakers might evolve had phil been given the same opportunity here in lakerland. so far phil is saying all the right things. sometimes that’s all it takes from someone who’s reputation for success is much greater than the past failures of the knicks organization. time will tell of course.

    for now, we will never know exactly how that would have turned out here in los angeles; but we would get an idea over time.

    Is there a game tonite?

    Go lakers


  88. The truth fans won’t admit is that the Lakers didn’t have any need for Phil Jackson if he wasn’t going to coach. We already have Mitch and Jim, what exactly could the Lakers have given Phil that would have been enough for his enormous ego? I for one I am glad he is gone cos now Jeanie can be free to be the face of the Lakers without feeling bad that her lover is hurt in the process.


  89. I agree Jo Houston, I love Phil but if he wasn’t going to be the Lakers coach, I’m glad he’s gone. Now everyone is free to move on with their lives fans included. As long as Phil was a possibility his name would always be tossed out there. Now Jim and Mitch are working without a net and for most people that fear of falling leads to incredible results.


  90. darius: now that phil is gone; you almost want to say it’s Jeanie buss’s time:


    Go lakers


  91. Jo Houston,

    Its called a salary cap. It limits how much money teams can spend freely. Yes, the Lakers can just go over that cap and pay the tax. But that can only be done when resigning their own players. So if the Lakers have a bunch of studs on roster they needed to give bigger contracts to, then no problem. Just pay them and pay the tax. The problem is all the studs play for other teams. That’s the rub.

    They can only sign new players to the space available under the cap. Having Kobe take up so much of the salary cap (over 40%) is problematic for attracting top flight new players no matter how you slice it.

    If the Lakers wanted to pay Kobe back for his contributions they could have promised him a percentage of the team like Dr. Buss did with Magic. You can’t use a heavily limited salary cap to give your aging star player a lifetime achievement contract and still expect to pay for new talent. Its just not set up that way.


  92. TRogers: You can’t offer ownership percentages anymore, much like you can’t offer $1 million dollar contracts for 20 years like Magic was given. Any type of compensation, whether you agree to give the guy cold hard cash or buy him a car, house, pay his child support, give his friends and family jobs, etc. will affect the cap. Otherwise, teams would be signing players for $1 million dollar contracts and making up the difference by buying them $30 million in real estate and giving jobs to their friends and family.


  93. Go read that Jeannie Buss interview. She says she is the boss and her brother is responsible for the basketball decisions. The family will make decisions together and there will be consensus, if not total agreement.

    Now let’s stop this witch hunt around Jim Buss. Now let’s stop insulting Mitch Kupchak and denigrating the job he has done – you do this by saying Jim is responsible for everything and implying Mitch is simply an ‘errant boy’ – sarcasm intended.


  94. I do think that the Veto is the single biggest factor in where the Lakers are now, which is why I have not been as rough on Buss and D’Antoni as some other people have. There are many secondary factors, but some of them include the fact that from 2009-12, the Lakers made a series of short-term moves designed to try to get Kobe #6 and to get Jerry Buss one more ring before he passed on. In addition, Kobe and Pau got the big extensions back in 2010–which they are still on even now. I wouldn’t put much of that on Jim Buss.

    That said, other than the fact that the Paul deal was made on his watch, I really haven’t seen much evidence that Jim Buss will be a big asset in his current role. The Nash deal was a decent gamble but it didn’t work. The Howard deal was the right move, but Howard had been wanting out for two years, and the Lakers were one of the few teams iwth the pieces to make it happen and take the risk, and of course Howard left anyway.

    This is why, as I have said, and we see it again above, the defenses of Jim mostly involve stuff like saying his dad picked him, the CBA is tough on the Lakers, he was in the FO for the title runs, his dad was still making decisions up until he died, Jeanie has been undermining him, the fans are spoiled and dumb and don’t get it etc etc. This is because you can’t really defend Jim much based on what has actually happened on the basketball floor since Phil left.

    And as to MDA, same thing. He seems to be a good offensive coach, and his system helps point guards and wings produce. But I don’t see a lot of evidence that he is anything but just another NBA coach. He doesn’t seem to communciate all that well, or work well with bigs, and he doesn’t seem to be very good at coaching defense; even with Rambis around, and limited talent, there are execution issues with the D. Bringing MDA in to try to get the Nash/Howard thing going made sense to me, but it didn’t work (not that many people here are defending MDA anymore in any case) and I am not clear on what he is bringing to the table now.


  95. rr, the general consensus I’m reading is that Jim is screwing things up and if he were not involved everything would be ok. That bar of evidence would require more then saying he has final approval. For all we know Jim has never overridden Mitch in any matter. To say specifically Jim is the problem one needs to be able to point to matters where Jim has actually interfered with a decision that had consequences.

    This is not to say Jim has no responsibility for the state of matters but, I am not seeing anyone prove the thesis that he is interfering in any way to justify the argument he needs to get less involved. For all intensive purposes it may be the opposite that Jim is to blame for not being involved enough. Its really unknowable from anything I have read.


  96. The Think Tank Train
    The Lakers can ill afford to win any more games as the season winds down. This means putting aside “Laker Pride” because the ramifications of winning games for this reason can be catastrophic for the franchise in the future.
    Laker coach Mike D’Antoni is doing his absolute best in securing the Lakers future, granted at his own expense. His reluctance, no insistence, on limiting/eliminating the playing time of Kaman and Hill, have reduced wins, just how many wins is debatable but even one extra win could mean falling out of a potential top four prime pick. As MDA continues to shuffle his line-up to assure mis-matches the Laker players are acquiescing for the most part by refusing to play defense and running and gunning. But for the stated goal to be achieved, the players must resist the temptation of having career scoring nights that could result in wins.
    The last 2 wins against the Blazers and Thunder were most disappointing. The Laker’s inability to let the Blazers come-back and win at the “Rose Garden” was surely an opportunity not realized. However, the win against the Thunder with Jodie Meek’s career game of 40+ points is a prime example of what can go wrong when everyone is not on the same page. The Laker players must put aside their ego’s and play for themselves and a contract only to a certain point. Career nights are devastating to the bottom-line. How selfish for these players to put themselves above the team. If I were Mitch/Jim, I’d think long and hard about re-signing these players who cannot get with the program.
    Kendall Marshall will be rewarded for his team oriented play, with the Lakers picking up his option next year barring a trade. Kendall showed when he was first called up his passing and scoring skills, at one point I believe Kendall was hitting nearly 50% of his 3 point shots. Kendall Marshall realized if he continued his torrid shooting it would compromise the losses that the Laker organization needs. So Kendall, showing what it means to be a company man, stopped making shots. Seriously, you really didn’t think that a player can go from 50% shooting to 10% just like that, did you?
    To get back to the 2 horrible wins against the Blazers and Thunder and possible consequences, let’s look at the standings. The Lakers currently are sixth at the bottom. Take away the 2 wins to the Blazers and Thunder, the Lakers would have only 20 wins against 46 losses and would be in a 4th with a little more breathing room for that inadvertant win that is possible. A complete melt-down (wins) could land the Lakers in the 7th. Right now the hated Celtics are in 4th, those 2 wins against the Celtics this year don’t seem so satisfying now do they?
    Is it really worth the price to play for wins at this point in the season? Think Tank Train, be like Kendall, be like Mike D.

    Just don’t do it.


  97. Robert mentioned it earlier: darn good thread we got goin´ here at FB&G (so what else is new? 😉

    As far as our (near?) future goes, I am willing to side with Darius and take an optomistic view of what needs to happen in the next couple of years; that is, Mitch & JIm do surely have their hands full, but despite what seems to be a bleak outlook, they are the ones who know best how to move forward.
    With all the endless bailing out they´ve been doing from our season-long sinking just to barely stay afloat, (I know, I know, many of you must be thinking `we didn´t even stay afloat; we sunk to the bottom of the deepest ocean bed, so what the heck are you talking about?! But hey, there have been a few bright spots…ahem cough cough…) I wouldn´t be surprised if by now the buckets had holes in `em too; and frankly, they must be absolutely sick of it ! (as are all of us, clearly)
    So there shouldn´t be any lack of motivation on their part, right? I don´t believe JIm wants our beloved organization to become a has-been, an also-ran, for much longer; the ghost of Phil now departed, & the Lakers legacy to uphold, his is a gargantuan task to be sure, but he now has a prime opportunity to step up big. I surely hope he can rise to the ocassion -& as for Mitch, he had possibly the greatest mentor available, that & his years on the job are, imo, positives all around for the future of THE Los Angeles Lakers.


  98. Phil: This story is not going away. Anytime Phil speaks – people will look for the innuendos about the Lakers. The media will not miss a trick here. He is not just President of the Knicks. He is Phil Jackson, President of the Knicks, former coach of the Lakers and fiancé of Jeanie Buss (show stock footage of Phil with Jeanie and Phil on the Laker bench). Further wait until FA season. What if the Lakers do go after Melo? What if Phil goes after Love in 15? What about coaching candidates. This is going to be a combination of ESPN and the National Enquirer. Such is the Lakers world of the past 3 years.
    Craig W: Would it change your opinion of my posts if I told you that my sister and I consulted over them, and that I could not stand her boyfriend? It is the results that matter. By the way. Does anyone ever like their sister’s boyfriend?
    T Rogers: Way too logical. I have thought about the Magic reward as well. Now let me guess that somewhere it is written that it is not Jerry’s wishes and the Trust forbids that. So we just had to mess up our whole cap for 2 years instead.
    Jo: “groomed Jim” Those two words do not belong together. Perhaps use “prepared” : )
    Aaron: Since Rub brought it up – yes – it has been a while. I was able to bring him out a while back so let’s see if he responds again. For anyone who does not know, back when Aaron was a frequent poster, he was skeptical (meaning the injury was worse than everyone else thought) on every single injury that the Lakers had associated with them. Dwight, Nash, and Kobe and others. He of course was 100% correct. Now just to keep his head from getting too big, he also had a LeBron comes to LA scenario for about 3 months last year. He has since backed off of that for good reasons. Aaron – are you out there? Are you still pessimistic? Do you think Nash is done? Do you think Kobe is almost done? Do you still think talent rules the NBA and we have little of it? I am counting 5 yes answers for these. Let us know.


  99. In time, we’ll see what the Buss family can accomplish after Jerry. They’re people with their own emotions, ambitions, and priorities, and if you think you know them or what’s best for them, you’re mistaken. Winning, though, is straightforward to assess. I see a tough road ahead. As a Laker fan, I’ll be rooting for them to find the winning path.


  100. rr, the general consensus I’m reading is that Jim is screwing things up and if he were not involved everything would be ok.

    1. I think it is mostly Robert and Ko here who think Jim should step back. Maybe some others. Also, the Kamenetzkys have been saying that since Jim took over. I myself am willing to give him some more time due to the Veto but have not been impressed.
    2. I don’t think anyone is saying that “Everything would be OK.” I think they are just saying that based on what they have seen, they would rather have someone else in the job. Robert and Ko go at it pretty hard and uhh, often, but ultimately, they are not unreasonable guys.

    You are being much more reasonable about it than some other people are, and even this site’s most vocal FO Defenders are far more measured than those at some other places. But there is a general reactiveness to that I see in most people defending the Buss FO, and as I have said, that is because the big decisions haven’t worked, the team is terrible, and Jim Buss is the organization’s highest-reanking basketball executive.


  101. I just found out I can’t go to the game tonight. If anyone wants to buy my tickets, email me at kb9kb9kb9@aol.com and put Laker tickets/FB&G in the heading. Sec 205, row 2. Price is 180/pair, which is just below face.




  102. Good point Robert. Now that Phil is “gone”, he may cast an even larger shadow over Jim from NY, than he ever did from Montana.

    You better believe that Laker fans will be tracking the race back to contender status between the Lakers and the Knicks. The battle between Jim and Phil isn’t over, it’s just getting started. On your marks, get set……


  103. …the big decisions haven’t worked

    Were they made in a vacuum? Context is everything, and summing up the things that went wrong by saying that fact is that indeed they did not and therefore the FO is culpable, is at best simplistic. I won’t bother to rehash the particulars as they have been discussed ad nauseum. I think what is more relevant is to remember that bold thinking involves more risk, but the reward can be far greater than playing it safe. Remove Stern’s move from the equation and we are likely calling Jim Buss a brilliant successor to his Pappy. The Kobe deal has been covered from every corner and again, we may lament the outcome to cap space in the near term, but the decision from a business standpoint has great merit. Basketball reasons and business reasons are intertwined in a billion dollar operation. The talking heads keep the arguments simple so the masses can follow.


  104. “This is how winners are built. I understand fans have little patience for stuff like this, but in many ways there’s no choice this time. This isn’t like when Phil Jackson took over the team that Del Harris couldn’t get over the hump. And it definitely isn’t like the team Pat Riley took over that won a championship just a couple of years earlier. There is no ready made roster here that is one piece away. The Lakers are rebuilding and need the time it takes to forge a foundation that a contending team can rest on for years to come.”

    – I think the difference between a low playoff seed and a contending team is not nearly as big as many seem to think.

    Portland became a contender this season by making a couple small, but effective moves (signing Robin Lopez and Mo Williams).

    A team like Minnesota, who is out of the playoffs, is not far from contending. If Rubio becomes a stud PG, and they get another solid SF, they could easily make a similar leap that Portland made this season.

    During the Smush era, the Lakers barely made the playoffs. They added DFish coupled with an improved Bynum, and suddenly, they were number one in the West (even before Gasol arrived).

    If this year’s team had been healthier, with Kobe back at 80-90%, this team could have made the playoffs, albeit a likely low seed. If the team gets a better coach, keeps Gasol, adds a solid free agent, possibly trades the pick for an all star….. and this team could very well reach contender status next season. This front office has set expectations so low, that the majority of Laker fans are resigned into thinking this team could never contend next season…but I disagree. Turning an fringe playoff team into a contender is very possible with a couple solid moves.


  105. darus: we broke the century mark again. good work as always for this dysfunctional family proudly known as the forum purple blue and gold.

    isn’t this about the time coach popavich begins to rest his starters? too soon??

    Go lakers


  106. Bryan S,

    Here is what else I said:

    I do think that the Veto is the single biggest factor in where the Lakers are now, which is why I have not been as rough on Buss and D’Antoni as some other people have.

    So, sure, there is a context, and there are also results.

    We are pretty much arguing over how to weigh each.


  107. people who use the veto as a way to show jim buss’s effectiveness are not fooling anyone that’s a smokescreen. jim buss wasn’t the only one who worked that trade and I’m sure he wasn’t one the driving the trade. That would have been kupchak.

    And even if the trade went through, there’s a good chance jim buss would hire the wrong coach, as he’s done multiple times.

    And it’s quite possible we would have another del harris moment – a coach who isn’t the right fit. (Sounds a lot like the last 2 years!)

    We’ll see if jim buss figures it out. He’s really got no other excuses now. No PJ to whine about. He’s got to perform at a level that’s acceptable for laker fans. And that does not mean championship title every year, or frankly, a deep playoff run every year.

    Jim Buss has the heavy burden of trying to replicate the high level of success in the past. And with this current situation, it’s sort of like taking a team with smush parker and kwame brown and getting them to be 3 seconds away from upsetting the defenseless phoenix suns in a playoff series. That Laker team needed a lot of teamwork, organization, trust and belief, just to get to that point.

    (D’Antoni should be sending thank you cards to Tim Thomas for the rest of his life. Saved his career big time!)


  108. I feel they do not deserve most of the criticisms that they get.

    That’s fine–but notice the word you picked: “feel.” The idea that the pro-FO people are somehow more objective about this is simply wrong. As Darius has pointed out above, Jim Buss hasn’t really proven much as an executive. There is nothing wrong with saying he has had it tough and that he should get more time, and there is nothing wrong with saying that things have gone really badly lately and that you would rather have someone else.

    Also, no regulars here that I am aware of have bagged on Mitch or said that he should be replaced. Robert has gone out of his way to give Mitch some ups.

    Again, the FO Defenders are defensive because of Buss’ track record. If the track record gets better, they won’t need to explain everything anymore, and the coversation will shift. And it starts with the draft pick.


  109. And, yes, LT and Robert are right about Phil and Jim. The Knicks will be going after some of the same FAs as the Lakers, and the noise will be frightful if Kevin Love signs with the Knicks.


  110. LT mitchell/rr: Lakers vs. Knicks 12/25/2014 – ABC will demand it.


  111. my tix are still available (see above). of all the laker fans here, does no one actually enjoy going to the game? will knock down to 160/pair.

    Go Lakers!


  112. rr,
    Gotta say, I pretty much agree with your statement @1:36.


  113. Jeanie Buss will be addressing the public tomorrow about the Phil situation and the overall state of the Lakers. She will be on the air with Mason and Ireland for an hour taking calls from regular fans and answering any and all questions. My only issue with that is Jeanie is not the one running basketball operations. It seems the one(s) making basketball decisions are the ones who have screwed up. They should be the ones facing the music publicly. Jeanie Buss didn’t build this team. Jeanie is not the one who passed on Phil. And she didn’t hire D’Antoni.

    Good for Jeanie for stepping up. But this doesn’t inspire confidence in Jim. And Mitch needs to speak up as well. When it goes this bad the people who made the decisions need to talk.


  114. I know this may seem ridiculous, but if MDA is gone at the end of this season and you are a reputable basketball coach of any kind, would YOU want to come to this disaster of a situation? Would you want to be the guy who came after Phil Jackson, after terminated Mike Brown, after terminated Mike D’Antoni…into total uncertainty? It seems scary to me. On one hand, what coach wouldn’t dream of coaching the Lakers? On the other hand…what coach wants this reality?!


  115. Thanks Warren!
    It’s always good to read your posts.


  116. A number of folks have stated correctly that Kobe’s extension has pushed the Lakers into a minimum 3 year rebuild. I think this is true. The good news is that we have just endured Year 1. While we all want solutions that provide instant results the Lakers at best 1/3 of the way home. I believe the team can be successful if the FO makes the right decisions in the draft and in spending our cap dollars.

    I have a question that touches on what the Lakers can do this offseason. I would appreciate your feedback:
    A) Just looking at this draft and I can identify a number of players slotted to be drafted later in the 1st round that would helpful to the Lakers rebuilding efforts. I understand that we have our top pick (hopefully top 3). Can anyone think of how the Lakers could pick up an additional 1st rounder (say between slots 15 – 25)? Do we have any assets to acquire such a pick?
    B) Can we use Pau as a sign and trade piece? I don’t know the definitive answer. I would think that Pau would be worth a two year deal to a contender. Being over the cap the other team may be willing to give back a future pick or a young player with upside.


  117. jerry buss knew exactly what he was doing when he put Jeanie buss in charge of the money side of the business. if it were the other way around; possible we would be looking at an organization that could not pay the high priced free agents all wanting to play for the los angeles lakers

    Go lakers