Jim Buss Rumors
The Laker rebulding program dates to 2014 when they got Randle at No. 7, followed by three No. 2s, D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball… leaving them far behind Minnesota which got Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins and Philadelphia with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz. No, the problem wasn’t Jim Buss, a figurehead… It wasn’t GM Mitch Kupchak, who was mostly, if not always, on the money with picks like Randle, Ingram, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance. The first rule is: Get lucky. The Lakers did, drawing those three No. 2s… just not enough to have a transcendent player there for them, as Towns was for the T-Wolves at No. 1 in 2015, or Embiid was for the Sixers at No. 3 in 2014 after hurting his foot before the draft.
LeBron’s people don’t argue with the notion he may leave Cleveland, just not perhaps for a team near you with marketing point man Maverick Carter pooh-poohing the importance of “gigantic market(s) like Boston or Chicago or New York or L.A.” as opposed to winning titles. Not that the Lakers can’t revamp fast enough to field a contender with Bron, Paul George and their young players… but their last official with a time frame that optimistic was Jim Buss.
Ultimately that cost Buss and Kupchak their jobs and in an appearance on The Woj Podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Kupchak admitted that they may have placed some unrealistic expectations on their rebuild: “I think as a group, the two of us, Jimmy and myself, we imposed maybe some unrealistic guidelines as to when the team can be competitive and how quickly we can do it. I think in today’s world it takes more time under the existing collective bargaining agreement with 30 very, very competitive teams and 30 competitive teams and I felt we were on our way with young talented players.”
On that night, the friends reminisced about the days of Lakers glory, and Jeanie shared her concerns about the direction of the franchise. She had already given serious thought to deposing her brother and Kupchak from their roles. “Earvin and I were basically raised by the same person,” she said. “We see things the same way.”
Last summer, they spent $136 million of precious cap space on veterans Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov, who made little sense for the direction of the team. “I just didn’t understand what the thought process was,” she said, “whether our philosophies were so far apart that I couldn’t recognize what they were doing, or they couldn’t explain it well.”
Johnny maintains that his intention was never to usurp his sister’s authority. He says he worried that Johnson would spend too much in pursuit of a championship. He says he and his brother were aiming for a majority on the board to get control of the budget, but insists he did not know about the effort to elect a board without Jeanie. “I immediately apologized to Jeanie saying, ‘Hey, look. This is not what I wanted. Please don’t include me in this,’” Johnny said. “Jeanie did not accept my apology. Decided to publicly string me up and you know, it was sad.” A source close to the Buss family who was not authorized to speak publicly denied that Johnny had ever apologized and insisted that the conflict only became public because of actions taken by Jim and Johnny.