Jeanie Buss, the principal owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, expects her team to return to winning ways next season after missing the postseason for a third consecutive time.
In April 2014, part owner Jim Buss assured Laker fans that he would step down from the position of VP of Basketball Operations if the team wasn’t contending for a title by 2017. Time is running out for Jim and there is wide speculation that Jeanie could fire her brother and make wholesale changes. If Jim is fired, expect General Manager Mitch Kupchak to follow suit.
Jim has been subjected to ridicule ever since Dr Jerry Buss, his late father, handed him the reigns of the team in 2012. “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,” Jeanie Buss told USA Today in a tell-all interview on Sunday.
Jeanie added that she wants her team competing for the Western Conference title. “And when I say competitive, it’s competing for the Western Conference Finals, which would mean at least second round (of the playoffs) – if not more…They have earned the right to take the time that they’ve needed to put together what they want to have out on the court, and if they can’t do that then we have to re-examine how things are going,” added Ms. Buss.
Don’t blame Kobe…
Jeanie shot down the idea that Kobe Bryant’s ongoing farewell tour hampered the development of youngsters D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle. “I don’t buy into that, that Kobe is such a distraction. It’s about managing how things go. I see a player like Kevin Garnett who has done well in Minnesota with the younger players. A guy like Dwyane Wade playing with younger players (in Miami). I think you see it around the league everywhere.”
Phil isn’t coming back…
The Lakers, in their illustrious history, have never missed the postseason for three consecutive seasons. Recently, there were rumors that Jeanie’s fiancée, Phil Jackson, would return to the Lakers next season to restore the team’s credibility. “It really isn’t about trying to get him back here (to the Lakers). He (Phil) is happy with what he is doing, and he … is up for the (Knicks) challenge, and he’s seeing the results of the work that he’s put in. But he has a ways to go,” she said.
Will Jeanie Buss stick to her promise and fire her brother by next season? It’s very likely.