L.A. Times: Jerry Buss looked relaxed in a seashell-print shirt and khaki shorts as he sat down near lush hotel grounds of botanical gardens and koi ponds, a paradoxical setting for his frank discussion of the very real possibility that his star player might not be on the team in two years, if not sooner.
The owner of the Lakers spoke publicly for the first time since his team’s off-season of disarray, providing details of his involvement and his deepest thoughts during several months’ worth of distress signals emitted by Kobe Bryant.
The conversation Wednesday also steered in other directions, touching on his opinion of his front office, whether he would sell the team in coming years, and Coach Phil Jackson’s unclear future with the franchise.
Buss, who has presided over eight championships and five other NBA Finals appearances in his 28 previous years of ownership, acknowledged considering offers for Bryant over the summer — none of them deemed remotely good enough to act upon — and also conceded that the gaping hole in Bryant’s contract could make the nine-time All-Star an ex-Laker by 2009.
Buss, 74, also said Bryant was not necessarily off the table now that the new season had started. Offers will inevitably continue to trickle in, particularly if the Lakers struggle before the February trade deadline.
“I would certainly listen,” Buss said. “At any time, I think you have to do that with anybody. It’s just part of the game, to listen to somebody who has a dissatisfied player that you think is going to fit. You can’t keep too many loyalties. You’ve got to look at it as a business. He looks at it the same way I look at it.”