HoopsHype Jim Buss rumors

April 20, 2014 Updates

Her older brother Jim Buss, 54, in charge of the Lakers' basketball operations, spoke up in the boardroom of the team's El Segundo training facility and pledged to resign in a few years if the suddenly dark fortunes of the franchise weren't reversed. "I was laying myself on the line by saying, 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," he told The Times about the meeting. "I don't know if you can fire yourself if you own the team … but what I would say is I'd walk away and you guys figure out who's going to run basketball operations because I obviously couldn't do the job. Los Angeles Times

For her part, Jeanie uses the word "empowering" to describe the current situation with Jim, and Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak, trying to fix the basketball side of the franchise. "Jim has assured me that they have a plan in place, that the team will be better next year and we will be back in contention shortly," Jeanie said. "He's very confident in that plan and so I have to believe he knows what he's doing and what he's trying to accomplish. We have to be patient and give him that opportunity." Los Angeles Times

There's no doubt, though, who has the final say in the team's day-to-day operations, according to the family trust set up by their father. "If Jeanie and I got into a disagreement, Jeanie can overrule my argument," Jim said. "If she is adamant about the way she wants to do things, all she has to do is say, 'That's the way it's going to be.' But I don't anticipate those kind of arguments. We're two smart people and we respect each other. We're grown up enough to where we can talk things out." Los Angeles Times

Although Jim and Jeanie Buss say the family is committed to keeping the team, it only requires a "yes" vote by four Buss siblings to force the sale of the Lakers. Philip Anschutz, whose company owns Staples Center and the NHL Kings, and who personally owns 27% of the Lakers, holds the "first look" if the Buss family decides to sell its two-thirds ownership stake. It's not as strong as a right of first refusal, but it allows Anschutz a chance to buy the team. But if Anschutz passed because the Busses asked for too much, the Chicago investment group Guggenheim Partners, owner of the Dodgers, would eagerly jump into the bidding. The Guggenheim group envisions employing former Lakers star Magic Johnson as the ceremonial face of the franchise, a role he currently holds with the Dodgers. Los Angeles Times

April 19, 2014 Updates

However, with Jackson working for the Knicks, some in the Lakers organization believe his departure might help smooth out past family disputes. Jim insists he and his sister Jeanie get along fine. "I hate to burst the bubble of what the perception is. We've worked together for many, many, many years," he said. "With the missing piece of my dad, people think we have lost a connection, but that's not true. It's just business as usual." Los Angeles Times

Still, interviews with NBA officials, agents, players and current and former team employees suggest that the communication between the Lakers' business and basketball operations needs some improvement. Kobe Bryant raised the issue last month, saying the Lakers' future starts with Jim and Jeanie "and how that relationship plays out." Los Angeles Times

There's no doubt, though, who has the final say in the team's day-to-day operations, according to the family trust set up by their father. "If Jeanie and I got into a disagreement, Jeanie can overrule my argument," Jim said. "If she is adamant about the way she wants to do things, all she has to do is say, 'That's the way it's going to be.' But I don't anticipate those kind of arguments. We're two smart people and we respect each other. We're grown up enough to where we can talk things out." Los Angeles Times

As the team tries to retool its roster, Jim continues to work closely with Kupchak, who sounds out ideas with Buss before they arrive at a decision. Buss and Kupchak were torn on what to do with veteran Pau Gasol as the NBA trade deadline approached in February and the team lagged in the standings. Buss was fine with trading him, Kupchak wasn't so sure. In the end, the Lakers were never offered more than a second-round draft pick for the aging star, a pittance in their mind. And they didn't want to seem like they were dumping Gasol's $19.3-million salary for nothing. "Mitch wins a lot more of these battles than people imagine," said an agent who asked not to be identified because he deals with the Lakers. "They respect his caution." Los Angeles Times

April 18, 2014 Updates
April 17, 2014 Updates

Mike D'Antoni might have coached his last game with the Lakers on Wednesday. Or he might return for the final guaranteed year of his contract. It'll be the biggest subplot of a Lakers off-season sure to feature twists and turns. "We'll sit down with Mitch and Jim at the end of the year and reassess everything and see where we are and see what their thoughts are," D'Antoni said Wednesday, referring to Lakers executives Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss. "I don't have any thoughts yet. The biggest thing was trying to get to the end of the year and we got that done. Now you go to the next step. Nothing has been talked about or said or looked at." Los Angeles Times

April 6, 2014 Updates

For 54 years, Joe Smith has loved the Lakers graciously, gratefully and unconditionally. But then, two weeks ago, nearing the conclusion of the most rudderless, ridiculous Lakers season in history, Smith received a letter from the Lakers asking that he renew his season tickets two months earlier than in previous seasons. That's long before anyone will have any idea about the makeup of the future roster and coaching staff. That also enables the Lakers to collect an extra two months of interest on Smith's $400,000-plus investment. All for a team that probably will finish with the franchise's worst record since it came to Los Angeles. Their most enduring fan says he doesn't even know who the Lakers are anymore. After all this time, Joe Smith is finally considering dumping his tickets. "This is so out of line,'' said Smith. ''The organization has become toxic from top to bottom." Los Angeles Times

Translated, the Lakers are essentially commanding their fans to pluck down big bucks for next season without having a clue how next season's product will look. They are ordering fans to have blind faith in basketball boss Jim Buss when Buss has done nothing to earn it, and compelling belief in a franchise that has shown no signs of recovering from the loss of its leader. Considering a buzz around town that has included emails to this newspaper and rants on a Facebook page, Smith's disillusionment with the letter is shared by many. "For those of us who have been with them for 54 years, in good times and bad times, this is unconscionable," said Smith. "They're not going to be good for another couple of years at least, there's times they look like a Developmental League team, it's really no fun, yet they are arrogantly demanding that we renew earlier and hold our money even longer?" Los Angeles Times

March 27, 2014 Updates

Doing those things, however, were not Jerry Buss’ wishes. So Jeanie’s wishes, whatever they might’ve been, never mattered in one sense. It is just now getting interesting now that her wishes might really become her commands, as she begins an honest evaluation of the basketball operations department’s future years. Bleacher Report

For all of the public’s disappointment, there is very real private Lakers relief at Jackson’s square-shouldered shadow being gone, including for Jeanie. She has been banking time with her father and her fiance in recent years, but she will increase her focus on the Lakers now. Bleacher Report

March 24, 2014 Updates
March 21, 2014 Updates

Lakers president and governor Jeanie Buss made it clear Thursday that the final say, the "final hammer" as Dr. Jerry Buss used to call it, lies with her now. "I'm the boss," Jeanie Buss said in an hourlong interview on the "Mason and Ireland" show on ESPNLA 710 radio Thursday. "I am responsible ultimately for anything with the team and decisions that are made. "In my position, I empower people that are in positions to do their jobs. [Executive vice president of player personnel] Jim Buss and [general manager] Mitch Kupchak are responsible for all basketball decisions. They are empowered to do that. My job is to make sure, as a boss, that I provide them the tools to do the job successfully. But it's up to them to make the day-to-day decisions on how they operate their area of the business." ESPN.com

March 19, 2014 Updates

Buss' role in the Lakers' organization is on the business side; she doesn't have a major say on the basketball side. Her brother and team co-owner Jim Buss is in charge of basketball operations. General Manager Mitch Kupchak works directly for Jim Buss. "I don't know specifics on the plan, but they're confident and have assured me that next year will be better, measurable by more wins," she said. "We'll continue to build from there." Los Angeles Times

March 18, 2014 Updates

Fans have bailed on the Los Angeles Lakers during their miserable 2013-14 season, with local TV ratings down sharply from last year. Looking at Nielsen’s “Live plus same-day” ratings for the 2013-14 season, the 57 telecasts of Lakers games on Time Warner Cable SportsNet have averaged 199,000 viewers — down a whopping 49% from last year at this time (390,000). The team has been without stars Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash for just about all of the season, and has one of the worst records in basketball at 22-44 this season. Variety.com

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