Jerry Buss is still the owner of the Los Angeles Lakers.
But he’s not the guy pulling the strings anymore, the power shift to son Jim Buss is pretty much complete.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the move to set up and hire former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown was the younger Buss’ call.
Brown, 41, became the front-runner because Jim Buss, the team’s executive vice president of player personnel, was impressed with his defense-minded style.
Former Houston Rockets coach Rick Adelman also was in the mix for the job and will remain a candidate to replace Phil Jackson if Brown turns down the deal from the Lakers.
Jim Buss, who had a reputation as a playboy in his younger days, runs the basketball side of the operations while his sister Jeanie (outgoing coach Phil Jackson’s girlfriend) runs the business side of the Lakers. Jerry Buss still has the last say on everything, but his role is greatly diminished. He did not even attend the Lakers victory parade last year, instead being spotted playing poker in a local card club. Still, it can be a little like Kremlinology to figure out who is running what inside the Lakers organization. This is a clear sign.
Jim Buss also made the call to hire Rudy Tomjanovich last time Phil Jackson stepped away from the organization. That ended poorly, with Tomjanovich leaving midway through the season and eventually Jackson having to be brought back to calm season ticket holders. The good news is that Brown has already coached in a high-pressure circus and should be better prepared for the Lakers gig in that sense.
This hiring is not sitting well with Lakers fans, who remember Brown’s stagnant offenses in Cleveland. Things were not as bad as they appeared there, that was a matter of the players on the roster around LeBron James to a degree. Still, the execution of the Xs and Os was an issue under Brown before.
But Jim Buss wants him, so he is the man.