When will Jeanie Buss start running the Laker front office?
The “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers have lost their mojo.
The storied organization that has won 16 NBA titles on the broad shoulders of some of the greatest players of all time, like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, has quickly become one of the worst teams in the NBA. Over the last three years, the Lakers have finished dead last in their division each season.
The fall of the Lakers over the last few seasons has mirrored the decline of their superstar player Kobe Bryant, who recently retired. With Kobe no longer in the fold, the rabid fan base is pressuring ownership to find another franchise player and resurrect their winning ways.
The person ultimately tasked with this turnaround is team president Jeanie Buss. The obvious decision for her is to overhaul the front office; however, in order to shake things up, she’ll have to fire her brother.
The Lakers are a family organization
While Jeanie handles the team’s business affairs and deals with league matters, her brother, Jim, makes all the basketball decision as the vice president of basketball operations.
At issue with many fans is Jim’s timeline announced in April of 2014 when he threatened to resign if the Lakers were not competitive by the next season. As we know, the Lakers were continued to be irrelevant in 2015 and 2016 and Jim was not held to his word.
According to a recent NBA A to Z podcast with USA Today Sports., Jeanie is happy with her brother’s performance and will not shake up the front office:
I think that (Jim Buss) was very sure of himself when he promised that timeline, and I think that he has everything he needs to fulfill that promise of getting the team back competitive. … (Jim and general manager Mitch Kupchak) have earned the right to take the time that they’ve needed to put together what they want to have on the court, and if they can’t do that then we have to reexamine how things are going.
It appears that Jim will have a very long leash to turn things around which likely angers fans who have another candidate to rebuild the franchise whom Jeanie knows very well.
Bring on the Zen Master
Since Jeanie Buss has been in a long-term relationship with the NBA coach with the most career titles, Phil Jackson, many fans hope that she will be able to convince the Zen Master to make a triumphant return to Los Angeles. That’d be a lot easier if he wasn’t already in the middle of a 5-year, $60 million as the president of the New York Knicks. Also, he has not exactly turned things around for the Knicks, another underachieving team with a storied history.
The fans of the Lakers are so used to winning that they have forgotten what it took to build the team that won five titles in the 2000s. The Lakers became a contender by picking a superstar in the draft, Kobe Bryant, and signing a marquee free agent, Shaquille O’Neal.
Since it only takes a couple of superstars to be a title contender in the NBA, the Lakers could conceivably make a fast turnaround. Last year, they picked D’Angelo Russell, who off-the-court problems aside has superstar potential, they have the second overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and Los Angeles remains an attractive destination for free agents.
So, Jeanie Buss’ patience might be a good lesson for all Lakers fans.