Jeanie Buss is the person in charge of the Lakers franchise, but from a day-to-day perspective, she runs the business side of the operation.
Jim Buss, Jeanie’s brother, is the one charged with making the basketball-related decisions. And as we’ve seen the past few seasons, none of them have worked out anywhere close to the way they were planned.
Injuries aside, the Lakers are in as dire a state as they’ve ever been in. The team is likely to lose the most games in franchise history for the second straight season, and though Jim has said in the past that he’d step down if things don’t quickly turn around, it’s unclear if Jeanie would be willing to force his hand if the rebuild goes on longer than is deemed acceptable.
Jim Buss complicated things when he recently announced that he will step down from basketball operations “if this doesn’t work in three to four years, if we’re not back on the top — and the definition of top means contending for the Western Conference, contending for a championship — then I will step down because that means I have failed.” I ask Jeanie Buss — the boss — if she would fire her brother if he doesn’t keep his word and resign. “I think my brother would step down. I don’t think he’d ever want to be … ” she trails off. “He is very sincere in his efforts. I don’t think he has doubts that he’ll be able to get everything to where we need it to be, and there will be no reason to make any changes.”
For now, she is bound to her father’s plan. “Jeanie is doing what her dad wanted done. She wants to do it the way he saw it,” says Linda Rambis. “But I don’t think she is going to be afraid to move in another direction if we’re not successful.”
This is the inherent problem with the family nature of the Lakers business.
Jim said in 2014 that he’d bolt if he couldn’t fix things in three-four years, but it’s worth wondering if Jeanie — who’s looking at things from a business standpoint — shares that same timeline.
Jeanie was asked point blank if she’d be willing to fire Jim, and she hesitated to answer, assuming that her brother would leave on his own if that time should come. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out, of course, but the internal family drama will continue to increase exponentially the longer the Lakers continue to dwell at the bottom of the league-wide standings.