Tag: Buss family

New Los Angeles Lakers head coach D'Antoni walks on crutches as he passes by Bryant during practice in El Segundo, California

Kobe Bryant comes to defense of Jim Buss


Magic Johnson shredded Jim Buss — son of Jerry Buss and the guy running the Los Angeles Lakers now — on national television. And he spoke for a lot of Lakers fans when he did it.

Magic said he trusted Jerry, not Jim. He said Mike Brown was a mistake hire from the start and to replace him with Mike D’Antoni when Phil Jackson wanted the job was another mistake. And Lakers fans everywhere were nodding along.

But Kobe Bryant came to the younger Buss’ defense. From the Los Angeles Times.

“[Johnson’s] opinion is valued greater than most others because of what he’s done here with this franchise. I can only speak from my perspective in my dealings with Jim. He’s been phenomenal,” Bryant said. “He’s seemingly made all the right choices. Going back in time, I’m sure he would have called me and consulted me on the Mike Brown hiring but that is what it is. Other than that, he’s been behind some pretty good moves, some pretty good trades for this organization.”

Jim Buss clearly wants a ring to validate his spin as head guy for the Lakers. He found a way — and was willing to pay — to bring in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard while keeping Kobe and Pau Gasol. When he realized (later than he should have) that Mike Brown was not the coach to get this team a ring, he made an aggressive move to get someone he thought could.

That person was never going to be Phil Jackson. The relationship with Jackson and Buss was rocky, when Jackson left Buss cleared out a lot of people in the organization believed to be “Jackson’s people,” and Buss only asked Jackson about the job because they thought he’d say no and they could tell fans “hey, we tried.” When Jackson was interested they were caught in a spot they didn’t predict.

That is the one big difference so far from the Jerry to Jim Buss transition — Jerry was playing chess. He was three moves ahead in his mind and had thought out the possible outcomes of moves. Then he would act, and take risks, but they were calculated. This didn’t feel like that at all. Jim Buss has felt reactionary. But with enough money to cover his mistakes.

Lakers owner says it is no accident they have 2014 cap space

Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Dwight Howard

It wasn’t LeBron James directly, that is just sort of a happy coincidence.

But it is no accident that in a couple years the Lakers are going to have a boatload of salary cap space.

Lakers owner Jim Buss — his father Jerry still owns the team but Jim is the guy running the show now — told Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register the plan was to have maximum flexibility the year Kobe Bryant’s contract ended, the summer of 2014.

“We purposely ended all contracts that year,” Buss said. “I can’t talk about Kobe (Bryant), but this is what he signed till. So basically we put everything to that, and we want to make a big splash in the free-agent market if we get to that spot. So we designed the contracts and the players and our future all around that….

“Yeah, depending on the free agents that year,” Buss said. “We would basically, money-wise, be able to sign the top free agent – maybe even two. I don’t know the numbers exactly, because we’re not privy to what the cap is and how much room we have, but it’s going to be close to two of the top free agents that year.”

Right now the only Lakers contract on the books for that season is Steve Nash at $9.7 million. You can expect Dwight Howard will be added to that list in the neighborhood of $21 million when he re-signs with the team this summer (he could technically leave but I wouldn’t bet on it). That’s a little over $30 million on the books, which even with the salary cap where it is now would leave them $28 million to chase free agents. That’s at least one max free agent.

A bunch of you just read that and said “the rich get richer” or something like that. Maybe with more curse words in there. And you’re ready to go off on your “the NBA is fixed” rant.

But what the Lakers are doing is something Portland or Memphis or Washington or any team can do — clear out cap space to chase the biggest names in the game.

It’s what the Heat did successfully under Pat Riley — they took a huge risk but it paid off. Other teams, including the Knicks and Nets, have tried similar strategies but it doesn’t always work.

It just always seems to work for the Lakers. Because if you’re a big market and willing to take risks like this, the Memphis’ of the world will almost always lose out no matter how prepared they are.