Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Tags Posts tagged with "Jim Buss"

Jim Buss

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Photo courtesy of Emmanuel Dunand, Getty Images

Most Lakers fans have expressed disappointment and frustration towards Lakers management this offseason, primarily towards Lakers Vice President of Basketball Operations Jim Buss and Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak.

This will be the second summer in a row that the Lakers have not acquired a big-name free agent while losing a key asset simultaneously. Last year, the Lakers could not acquire high-quality players like PG Chris Paul, SF Andre Igudola, and PF Paul Millsap while C Dwight Howard left the Lakers to sign with Houston Rockets. This off season, the Lakers could not acquire neither SF LeBron James nor SF Carmelo Anthony, which correlated to C Pau Gasol leaving the Lakers to head to the Chicago Bulls to compete for another NBA championship.

In the past, Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant vocally expressed his displeasure with Lakers management–most notably during 2007 when he demanded a trade from the Lakers and in 2011 when the Lakers traded Lamar Odom away for a trade exception. However, Bryant tells ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne that he approves the effort Lakers management made this offseason, despite not coming away with big name free agents.

Bryant seems to understand that despite the long shot, the Lakers did everything they could possibly do to acquire James or Anthony, which included a 2.5 hour presentation towards Anthony to convince him to join Bryant and the rest of the Lakers for this upcoming season.

Furthermore, Bryant approves of the Lakers so-called “Plan B” in response to losing out on free agents and losing their own.

The Lakers have acquired PG Jeremy Lin and two draft picks from the Houston Rockets, PF Ed Davis in free agency, and PF Carlos Boozer after the Chicago Bulls decided to amnesty him. Furthermore, the Lakers re-signed SF Nick Young, C/PF Jordan Hill, and G Xavier Henry, while selecting PF Julius Randle and PG Jordan Clarkson at the 2014 NBA Draft.

If the Lakers can hire a high-quality coach to maximize the ability of the Lakers roster and acquire an impact player during the NBA Trade Deadline, Bryant and the rest of the Lakers can still surprise the rest of the NBA and make some noise to return to the NBA playoffs this upcoming season.

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Photo by: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America

Lakers’ star player Pau Gasol may not return next season, then again maybe he will. At this point it is all contingent upon Kobe Bryant and the oncoming changes within the Lakers organization. Gasol has a blog in Spanish that he posts to quite often. Previously, LA Daily News writer Mark Medina translated one of Gasol’s latest posts.

“Re-signing for the Lakers is a possibility, but I’m not sure whether to say it’s a remote one. If there’s anything or anyone who could make me stay it’s Kobe Bryant. I’d stay for him, but there’d have to be significant changes. I’ve said it many times: I want to be in a team that has a solid chance to win another tournament and where I can be an important factor in the game….

“I’ve never concealed the fact that (Lakers coach Mike) D’Antoni’s style doesn’t suit my game. Everybody knows this. I don’t know if my decision will be swayed by whether Mike stays or leaves. Obviously, the coach is a very important factor for any team.”

Gasol spoke out about his frustrations with former coach Mike D’Antoni’s system before and certainly has no gripes with discussing his future plans. Yet this is the first time that he’s spoken publicly about Bryant’s affiliation with his future plans. Since then, Bryant has responded to Gasol by telling him how much he wants the big man to return. While this latest response hasn’t been public, ESPN’s Chris Broussard on Mike and Mike in the morning has reported that they have been in communication.

Another reason why Gasol may stay is due to general manager Mitch Kupchak wanting to retain Gasol at the NBA’s trading deadline. First reported by Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times, Kupchak and part owner and executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss, were not in agreement on what to do with Gasol.

“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.”

If anyone knows what can still be successful within this league it is Mitch Kupchak. Yes the Lakers this past season were not great, but considering how the past two years in LA have gone nobody would have expected a swift turnaround. They have done the best they could with what they had. At the least, last season displayed which players could be retained moving forward and who the organization will move on without.

Basketball may have transitioned to a guard oriented game but the big men can be the difference between being a good team and a great one. Not many big men in today’s game have a skillset similar to Gasol’s. Bryant is smart in recognizing this as Gasol, when utilized correctly, can still be a primer big man. Building a team around a core of Bryant, Gasol, and a third star would do well in the league and could compete for a title with complementing pieces. The next couple of months will be instrumental in the Lakers restructuring themselves, bringing back Gasol would be a great benefit as he has become an integral part of their identity and a player that can make a difference.

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Image: Kevork Djansezian | Getty Images

In comments to the Mike Bresnahan and the Los Angeles Times, Lakers owner Jim Buss made his most impactful statement since taking full control of basketball operations in 2013.

As fans continue to have doubts regarding the direction of the franchise, Buss clearly knows the expectations of franchise and as a result noted in a board meeting with his family that he would resign from his position if the team was not back to being a contender in the coming years.

“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.”

Buss has hardly been a public figure for the team since taking over the team after the death of his father, Dr. Jerry Buss. Without the appearances at games or at press conferences, the fans have questioned the whereabouts of Buss while also criticizing the lack of responsibility being taken by management.

Buss is said to have been the driving force behind the hiring of Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni, two very unpopular hires amongst the fan base.  To make matters worse for Buss, this year the team suffered its worst season since moving to Los Angeles with a 25-57 record.  Add in Dwight Howard leaving to Houston or the team passing over Phil Jackson twice, many if not all decisions have gone wrong the past two seasons.

Although it is easy to focus on the negatives, Buss has shown flashes of brilliance such as moves like acquiring Chris Paul before the move was vetoed by the NBA and then responded to that by making moves for Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, giving the Lakers high expectations before everything came crashing down due to injuries and many other issues.  It might be that brilliance that gives Buss the confidence to tell people the Lakers will be back on top sooner than later.

“There’s no question in my mind we will accomplish success. I’m not worried about putting myself on the line.”

If anything, fans should at least give Buss credit for finally stepping into the spotlight and putting his job on the line.  Not only does it show that he is maturing as an executive, but is also taking responsibility for the success and failure of the Lakers.

It is a start in the right direction.

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Image: Kevork Djansezian | Getty Images

While Laker fans are undoubtedly upset over the Phil Jackson making his way to the New York Knicks, it is important to remember that the situation is not on the shoulders of one particular member of the Buss family.

It is easy for everyone to point the finger at Jim Buss, the Executive Vice President of the Lakers as well as the main man running the basketball operations of the team, mainly citing the publicized ‘bad relationship’ between him and Jackson over the years.

In his article “No Phil Jackson shows Kobe Bryant doesn’t run Lakers”, Sam Amick of USA Today Sports, shed some light on the Lakers-Jackson situation including a bombshell:

This will all make for another great Lakers book someday, and maybe then we’ll find out if all the chatter is true that Jerry made Jim swear in his final days that Jackson would never return after he was gone…  It would shock no one, then, if it turned out that the senior Buss’ aversion to Jackson’s return was extended out of respect to their father from there.

Could Dr. Jerry Buss have been the driving force behind Jackson not returning to the Lakers? If true, does that change the perception of Jim Buss amongst fans who have no issue blaming him for the team’s troubles?

Friday afternoon on ESPN AM 710 in Los Angeles, Ramona Shelburne talked more in-depth about the dynamic surrounding Jackson not coming back to the Lakers, saying it was not only one of Buss children who had reservations about Jackson joining the franchise, but multiple Buss children that were uncertain about creating a role for the legendary coach.

According to Shelburne, the Buss children had ongoing discussions since December regarding the Jackson situation but with multiple members of the family against the change, it never reached a vote.  Additionally she mentioned it was a case of the family wanting to continue with the franchise structure their father left for them, instead of changing it a little over a year after his death.

In the end, was this simply a situation of children carrying out what their late father wanted?  While nothing has been confirmed directly (and it may never be), it is easy to understand how the family would go down this road in order to honor their father and his wishes.

Now with Jackson out of the picture, the Buss family can continue on the path laid out for them without the pressure of the fans calling for another figure head to take control of the purple and gold.

It is time for the Buss children to show what they can do.

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Getty Images

Since Mike D’Antoni joined the Lakers last season, legend Magic Johnson has made his feelings known regarding the head coach, while blasting the front office and Jim Buss every chance he gets.

It was no different recently as Johnson went on ‘The Tonight Show’ with Jay Leno and ripped the Lakers coach.  Here is one of the most telling quotes of the interview:

“We’re the Lakers, we got to have a championship coach,” Johnson said.  “We made a critical mistake in not bringing Phil Jackson back.”

The video is below:

Do you agree with Johnson’s criticism of D’Antoni? Sound off Nation!

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Photo: Getty Images

Magic Johnson might have sold his share of the Lakers franchise a little over three years ago, but he still likes to share his opinion when it comes to his old team.

According to Mike James of the LA Times, during a meeting with Dodgers officials and media members, Johnson gave his two cents:

“This is what happens when you make the wrong decisions, two coaching wrong decisions, giving Steve Nash that deal, it’s backfired,”

“The biggest problem they’re going to have right now…you’ve got to get a guy like Jerry West to be the face of the team…you’ve got to have someone helping Jim. He’s got to quit trying to prove a point to everybody that he can do it on his own, get his ego out of it, and just say, ‘Let me get someone beside me to help achieve the goals I want.’ Dr. Buss was smart, he said, ‘I’m going to get the best dude, Jerry West, and he helped me achieve my goals. Then I went and got the best coach [Phil Jackson].’ He wanted to work with the best.”

Jerry West is currently a consultant for the Golden State Warriors, but Lakers fans may be asking themselves, ‘what about Jim’s General Manager, Mitch Kupchak?’

“Mitch is great,” Johnson said, “but he doesn’t have the power…you need to get someone like Jerry to be the face, so agents are comfortable, players are comfortable, knowing the Lakers are going for a championship…look what Pat Riley did in Miami…if Pat Riley’s not there, you don’t get LeBron to buy in.”

Johnson also lamented the idea that free agents haven’t been pining to come to the Lakers like they used to.

“Everybody’s telling me free agents don’t want to sign [with the Lakers]…they’re looking at the Lakers now as a team that’s dysfunctional; who’s their leader, who’s the guy?”

Johnson brings up a very good point. The Lakers used to bring in talent easily because they had the resources to attract the star power. What Magic fails to realize is that there is a new CBA in place and things just aren’t the same as they used to be. Especially not for the Purple and Gold.

Johnson also seems to be back tracking from his thoughts of Jim Buss after the Lakers landed Nash and Dwight Howard last summer.

“I love it. Jim, you look like your father; I’m proud of you. He’s definitely the guy now to win the NBA executive-of-the-year award.”

Flip. Flop.

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Image: Nokia Theatre
Image: Nokia Theatre
Image: Nokia Theatre

August 15th, 2013 The Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation partnered with the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to host Kobe Up Close.

All proceeds from the event went towards eliminating homelessness in Los Angeles.

The event was a unique opportunity for Lakers fans to access the unfiltered mind of their beloved superstar, Kobe Bryant.

In attendance at the event were current Lakers Robert Sacre, Ryan Kelly and Wesley Johnson, new assistant coach Mark Madsen, former Lakers coach Bill Sharman, Lakers executives Jeanie Buss and Jim Buss, former NFL player Terrell Owens, among others.

The event began with CBS sportscaster Jim Hill speaking on Bryant.

Hill on his first impression of Bryant back when he was drafted by the Lakers:

“I remember Jerry West talking about Kobe Bryant and saying he was going to be very, very special. He was going to be one of the true great ones. And Jerry doesn’t say that about a lot of people, especially young people.”

“The first time I met Kobe, I knew then he was going to be not only a great one, but a very special one.”

On just how special Bryant really is:

“We will never see the likes of Kobe Bryant again, he is truly a gifted basketball player.”

“He doesn’t look at basketball as a job. For him it’s a passion. He’s spoiled us with his excellence.”

“What drives Kobe the most is when people doubt him. You will see a devoted Kobe this season like you’ve never seen before.”

Former Laker Robert Horry also spoke on Bryant before the main event started.

Horry on Bryant’s mental edge:

“Kobe’s mindset is amazing. When you see someone in the locker room as focused as he was, it really lifts everyone else up.”

On his relentless work ethic:

“When you walk into practice and you see him in there working hard. He’s in there sweating before you get there and after you leave.”

After Horry’s short segment, the main event with Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Kimmel began.

Bryant on the number of minutes he played last season:

“I don’t think it was too many. The Achilles injury was just a freak injury.”

On whether he’ll play less minutes next season:

“That’s the goal … I could sit back until June, I just want that jewelry.”

On when he will play again:

“I don’t know if I’ll be ready opening night, but I am really ahead of schedule.”

On whether it was a personal decision to stop tweeting during games last season or a franchise decision:

“That was my decision. The Lakers know I’m a little too stubborn to ever be told anything.”

On his popularity in China:

“I really don’t know. I started going out there in 1998 and have gone every summer since.”

Kobe was a Lakers fan even before he came to the United States:

“While I was living in Italy, my grandpa used to send me tapes of Lakers games and I absolutely fell in love with them.”

On his decision to skip college and go straight to the NBA out of high school:

“I liked Duke and I absolutely love Coach K. If I had had to make a decision though, I would have gone to North Carolina. Mainly because of the competition and being able to play against Vince Carter every day to improve.”

“The first college letter I ever received was from West Point … I was just happy to get a letter.”

Would he tell others to skip college?

“I would just tell others to follow their dreams.”

On his pre-draft workout with the Clippers:

“The Clippers told me they wouldn’t draft me because they wanted to ‘turn things around.’ They said they wouldn’t be taken seriously if they drafted a 17-year-old kid out of high school.”

On the late Dr. Jerry Buss:

“He knew exactly what his vision was. He was very patient, understanding. He allowed me room to grow as a person.”

On his first time meeting Shaquille O’Neal:

“It was the coolest thing in the world that he had a huge cell phone.”

Which title was Bryant’s favorite during his time with Shaq?

“Number 2. We should have gone undefeated. It still bothers us to this day that we let that one game drop.”

What is Bryant’s relationship with Michael Jordan like?

“It’s like a big brother relationship. He gives me phenomenal advice on how to better elevate my teammates.”

On who are the toughest players he’s played against:

“Allen Iverson was a load to handle. Stephon Marbury dropped 50 on me once. Gilbert Arenas. Today, probably Carmelo Anthony because he’s so strong. Kevin Durant too. The guy who gave me the most trouble though was Tracy McGrady.”

When asked if he was certain he’d be a Laker for life, Bryant responded: “Yeah.”

Bryant on Dwight Howard and his exodus from Los Angeles:

“Dwight is a great kid. We have different perspectives on what it takes to win and what it takes to be successful.”

On trying to convince Howard to stay:

“It’s all about the organization and trying to set them up the best I can for when I retire.”

On his once volatile relationship with Shaq:

“It never bothered me when other people said, ‘You only won because of Shaq.’ It bothered me when Shaq said it.”

On his evolution as both a player and a person:

“I was so consumed with my craft in the beginning of my career. … I go into games now looking at what my guys are going through and who’s struggling, and how I can help. I look at my teammates now as partners.”

When asked if he could have one former teammate return, who would it be:

“I’d take Derek Fisher back … that’s my guy.”

On what he’s most proud of:

“Being a 17-year-old kid and challenging the system at the time.”

Is Bryant chasing Kareem Abdul-Jabar’s all-time scoring mark?

“I’m so obsessed with winning that those type of things don’t really matter to me.”

Which is Bryant’s favorite nickname right now?

“I like Vino right now. Black Mamba is my alter-ego.”

On the ESPN experts projecting the Lakers to finish 12th in the West this season:

“I use it as motivation, as fuel. We were the favorites last year and they were wrong about that.”

On who is the ‘next Kobe Bryant’:

“There’s several. Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. Even Nick Young. They all have that gene.”

The event ended with Terrell Owens asking Bryant a few questions. The two share a common neuro-muscular scientist consultant in Barrence Baytos. Both Bryant and Owens raved about Baytos and Bryant called him a “genius” who has helped prolong his career.

The Kobe Up Close event was a great opportunity to delve into the mind of Kobe Bryant.

This revealing ‘other side’ to the ever-intense Black Mamba was certainly riveting and quite interesting.

Bryant will continue what he called an “aggressive” rehabilitation process as he prepares to return from his Achilles tendon tear.

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Image: Mark J. Terrill | AP

Kobe Bryant is now three months into his rehabilitation process for the torn Achilles tendon he suffered on April 12th.

In the YouTube video above, Heeluxe‘s Dr. Geoffrey Alan Gray provides an in-depth look at Bryant’s injury, and the strenuous rehabilitation process required to get Bryant back into playing form.

Bryant’s initial timetable for his recovery was listed at six-to-nine months, but he may be ahead of schedule.

While vacationing in Italy on Saturday, Bryant had this to say about his rehabilitation:

“I’m here on vacation but I still have to work and improve on recovering from my injury,” said Bryant. “It is difficult because I can’t do much, but I am getting stronger every day and I am hoping to return by November or December.”

Contrary to Bryant’s cautious prediction, Lakers’ executive vice president of player personnel, Jim Buss, recently predicted an even earlier return for the Lakers’ star:

“I would bet a lot of money on him coming back in preseason,” Buss said during a recent broadcast of a Lakers’ Las Vegas Summer League game.

“He’s going to come back when he is right. I see him coming back at the beginning of this season.”

Whatever the case may be, Heeluxe’s Dr. Gray predicts that Bryant could certainly return in time for the start of next season:

“We know from the research that over 92% of all athletes will return to their sports within about six months,” Dr. Gray said. “Is it possible that Kobe Bryant could return in time for the start of the NBA season?”

“Certainly. So if there is ever an athlete that can rehab from a torn Achilles in time for the NBA season start, it’s going to be Kobe Bryant.”

 

* Video created by Heeluxe: masters of foot and shoe science. Follow them on the Web, Facebook and YouTube.

PhotoCredit: HarryHow/GettyImages
PhotoCredit: HarryHow/GettyImages

This has happened before, right?

The Lakers have “lost” superstars before, right? Usually it has happened after they have given so much to the Lakers organization. What I mean by that is all-star appearances, rookie of the year awards, a couple of championships here or there, and maybe even a few years of coaching. Never have they “lost” a superstar during free agency the way they did a few nights ago. The franchise is in a state of disarray.

That’s looking at it from one side of the spectrum. The side I choose to look from is very different.

Dwight Howard never fit in as a Los Angeles Laker. Not from the moment he was traded to the organization, to the Adidas “All In for L.A. commercials”, to when he announced on Twitter that he was going to become a Houston Rocket. His interviews seemed forced, his 1,000 watt smile was never as powerful and commanding as it was in Orlando, and it always seemed that he was making light of whatever situation he was in. Very different from what the Lakers have been used to since the Big Aristotle or Cactus, Superman or… you get it, left town.

When I read Yahoo Sports NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski’s latest, and maybe final, story on Dwight Howard announcing that he will become a Houston Rocket and leave the Lakers on July 10th it all came together. The reason why Howard did not fit the franchise is because he wanted it to fit him from day 1. Sorry Dwight, but that is not how things work here.

In late January when the team was in a rut there were reports about how the Lakers had a team meeting in Memphis where everything was aired out so they could all move past their difficulties. That’s not what really happened according to Wojnarowski.

Every time you trash me to teammates, it gets back to me, witnesses said Bryant told Howard in the visiting locker room of the FedEx Forum. Every time you do one of your impersonations when I walk out of the room, I find out. Everything tumbled out of Bryant, one grievance after another, and the Lakers coaches and players sat watching the two biggest personas in the room push closer together, or irreconcilably apart.

Around this time Dwight’s influence was beginning to take over the team and Kobe Bryant was not happy about it. In his mind there was no way that a player who was not dominating like he should csn come into the organization and overtake what he and countless other Lakers legends have built.

“Kobe talked to Dwight in a way that I don’t think anyone one had ever talked to him – not in Orlando, not here, not in his life, I’m betting,” one witness in the room told Yahoo! Sports. “He’s been coddled, and Kobe wasn’t going to coddle him.”

Despite what you may hear, this was not the driving issue as to why Dwight Howard left. He even stated himself that via Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times. The reason why he departed is due to the praise he did not receive in Los Angeles. You know, the type of praise that is given when you do good things like win consistently. If Howard is not adored by everyone then he will not perform like he should. It happened towards the end of his tenure with Orlando and it happened all year in Los Angeles.

“If he missed two big free throws in Orlando, it was forgotten in 30 minutes,” one league official with ties to Howard’s past says. “If he missed them in L.A., they talked about it for a week. With Dwight, he has to be the face of the franchise. Anything less than that, and it would be difficult for him to function at his highest level.”

“The conditions need to be lined up perfectly to get the most out of Dwight,” one team official who has history with Howard told Yahoo! Sports. “When he’s engaged, he can carry a team like few else in the league. Houston is suited for him.”

Now I will give Howard the credit he deserves. He came off of a possible career-ending surgery and still led the league in rebounds. My hat is off to him, no doubt whatsoever. But for the Lakers to essentially beg Howard to stay in Los Angeles is what did not sit well. He is a superstar that yes, could have become the future of the Lakers and the face for years to come, but he is not what or who the Lakers need to move forward.

To become the face of the Lakers franchise you must earn it. Point blank period.

George Mikan earned it. Elgin Baylor earned it. West and Chamberlain earned it. Kareem and Magic earned it. Kobe and Shaq earned it. Kobe and Pau earned it. They did not come into the franchise and expect for everyone to love them. They played through injuries, team chemistry issues, and even management problems all while working hard and eventually becoming champions.

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

The Lakers biggest mistake would have been convincing Howard to stay and he actually did. Do the Lakers need a superstar who needs to be handed everything in order to become great? If he could not take the criticism he was receiving all year long what do you think would have happened after Kobe, Pau, and Nash all retired?

With Dr. Buss’ passing and Jim Buss currently at the helm the Lakers cannot afford too many more mistakes as is. Resigning a superstar who would turn to the culture into a laughing stock would have been a mistake for them.

The Lakers have been through this before. The difference between now and then is that everyone wants results immediately. Give the Lakers time. Yes Kobe is pushing his 18th year in the league, yes Nash is going to be 40, and yes Pau Gasol just had his 33rd birthday but in due time it will be fine. If Baylor, Chamberlain, and West needed time so does this team.

What happened when George Mikan, the franchise’s first legitimate star left the franchise for good? They drafted Elgin Baylor. Two years, and one finals appearance for Elgin, later they drafted Jerry West.

What happened when Elgin was becoming older and the duo could not conquer the Celtics? They traded for Wilt Chamberlain. After Wilt retired in 1973 and Jerry hung up his shoes 19474, who was their savior? At seasons end of 1974 they traded for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Or how about when Kareem could not win a title alone?

In comes Magic. After Kareem retired and Magic states in 1996 that he wants to go out on his own terms, what happened? The Lakers trade for Kobe Bryant on draft day and sign Shaquille O’Neal almost two weeks later. Kobe starts to publicly look elsewhere to finish his career and the Lakers land Pau Gasol.

The Lakers have a clear history of doing whatever needs to be done to improve. Yes it may still sting that Dwight Howard told them no and chose to walk away. Best of luck to him. If he feels Houston is where he will succeed then by all means go. Yes, Jim Buss hired Mike D’Antoni when he could have had Phil Jackson, but don’t forget that he and Mitch pulled the deals to bring in Nash and Howard in the first place.

If there has ever been anything constant within the Lakers organization it has been that they are always a few moves away from being prominent once again. This is just another chapter in the Lakers history book. Rather than become frustrated and spiteful, let us just watch as they plan on making history again.

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Trust Isuues
Photo Credit: In Flex We Trust

As Drake once said the number one problem with relationships today are trust issues. Usually someone has their phone locked, tweets blocked, or just do not want to tell their partner how they feel in fear of being the bad guy (or girl). On Monday, Lakers star center Dwight Howard sat down in an exclusive interview with ESPN broadcast journalist Stephen A. Smith to discuss all-things Lakers and his role in the team’s future plans:

In a one-on-one interview, Dwight Howard swore he’s committed to the Lakers — for this season. That he wants to remain a Laker — for this season. That he’s happier with Kobe Bryant now, more so than he was before, although he said there’s still room for their relationship to get better.

“I’m learning from Kobe,” Howard told me on Monday. “I’m watching how he works, how he operates, what he knows and feels about this organization. Things continue to get better every day. But there’s always room for growth.”

Let’s just say Dwight is trying not to be the bad guy in this relationship:

Howard is free to trust everyone or no one. Free to dictate his own terms. That means his own system, arguably his own coach, and definitely which franchise to choose between the Lakers, Mavs and Hawks, just to name a few.

“I’ve trusted enough people in my career,” Howard deadpanned. “Now it’s time for me to trust myself. I’ve given and given. I’ve thought about everyone else. Now it’s time for me to think about me.”

Throughout the article Stephen A. brings up the point that the Lakers do not have time to waste with Dwight. On July 1st he becomes a restricted free agent and is free to roam to any team he wants to. The problem with that scenario is that Dwight is the Lakers future: for better or for worse:

He never swore his allegiance to the Purple and Gold. He never said he wanted to be a Laker for life. Dwight Howard never displayed affection for the pantheon of Lakers big men serving as his predecessors — just that he wanted to one day be as iconic as they are.

This is the best the Los Angeles Lakers can hope for from D-Howard at the moment. That he’s great. Committed to excellence.

And so it is precisely for that reason that, as we sit here today, with the Lakers visiting the Nets in Brooklyn and an injured Howard on the sideline, GM Mitch Kupchak should make sure to visit his Nets counterpart, Billy King, for the sole purpose of attempting to trade L.A.’s resident big man.

Quick, fast and in a hurry!

Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak recently stated that:

“We will not trade Dwight Howard,” Kupchak told Newsday last month. “We have no intention of making a trade. It’s unlikely that we’ll make any trade with any of our principal players.”

Yet Smith stuck to his guns about his feelings on the statement:

Such proclamations do not make the Lakers look smart, or like an organization with a clue about what is in the heart and mind of Howard.

Trade him for some combination involving Nets center Brook Lopez. Trade him for multiple pieces involving Hawks forward Josh Smith – who desperately wants out of Atlanta — and other respectable parts.

Dwight even touched upon how he and, power forward, Pau Gasol can be effective together on the court despite what may be said:

Howard also said he believes he and Pau Gasol should play together, even though coach Mike D’Antoni has them playing apart.

What part of all this are the Lakers finding difficult to comprehend?

Somebody help me out here, please!

Stephen A. Smith makes very valid points. Losing Dwight could derail the Lakers for a number of years. They essentially gave up draft picks to bring him here as he is the present and the future of the organization.

The Lakers do need to find out what exactly Dwight’s thoughts are because there is no future if he decides to leave Los Angeles during free agency. With an aged point guard in Steve Nash, a disgruntled but valuable player in Gasol, and a hall-of-famer in the twilight of his career named Kobe Bryant the Lakers have no time to waste.

To say that this season has been been more frustrating than exciting would be an understatement. Everyone had high hopes once the trades were made however we all have been left looking confused rather than looking like Confucius. Call me crazy, but I still do believe that with Bryant’s willingness to become a play maker, rather than his usual scoring self, the Lakers can still make a title-run. Yet it will take less #countonKobe and more #countonDwight to make it there.

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In a story that every Los Angeles Lakers supporter, fan, or advocate will soon have read, Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski tells all in a recent column following the Lakers loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

In the article, Wojnarowski discusses everything wrong with the current Lakers squad. He begins with a statement about why the organization hired head coach Mike D’Antoni. Next he moves on to Laker Vice-President Jim Buss who believed that former Laker coach Phil Jackson would not have correctly utilized point guard Steve Nash and would have tried to “move nash out”

The biggest issue Lakers vice president Jim Buss had with choosing Phil Jackson over Mike D’Antoni as head coach centered on the consequences for Steve Nash. With no use for this point guard in the triangle offense, Buss’s fear was that Jackson would’ve pushed to move Nash out, sources said.

“The way this turns out,” one league source connected to the hiring process said, “you’ve chosen not only Steve Nash over [Pau] Gasol, but maybe over Gasol and Dwight [Howard].”

To say the Lakers been below expectations this season would be a sever understatement. They are currently 17 – 25 which places them 3rd in the Pacific Division and 12th in the Western Conference standings, far from the championship aspirations the team had after acquiring stars Dwight Howard and Nash.

Buss doubled down on the wrong coach, and wrong player. D’Antoni and Nash are busts, unable to bring the systematic and connective threads to a lineup that they were charged to regenerate. As far back out of the playoffs as these Lakers have dropped, here’s the most disturbing truth: Los Angeles is closer to the drop-dead bottom of the Western Conference with Phoenix and New Orleans – three games – than they are climbing four games to reach the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoffs.

On top of that reality Lakers power forward Pau Gasol is reportedly bracing for a trade he believes will soon come,

Nevertheless, D’Antoni has marginalized Gasol, leaving him livid and privately expecting to be traded before the February deadline for an athletic forward who fits his coaching designs. Buss believed that Nash had been neutralized in the Princeton offense, sources say, and that he would never flourish with the changes – blessed by the organization over the summer, by the way – that Brown implemented for the season.

Two years ago, Buss chose Mike Brown over Kupchak’s choice, Rick Adelman. This time, it was the desert myth of D’Antoni and Nash, a reunion that feels like it should be touring state fairs with REO Speedwagon.

Wojnarowski touched upon how bad the Lakers currently are and how Jackson would have led this team away from a mess like this,

The Lakers are a flat-lined, free-falling folly, an embarrassment of excess, a mangle of mismatched and non-connective parts. Whatever confrontational message Kobe Bryant delivered to Howard in a team meeting reported by the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday morning, make no mistake: The Bryant-Howard dynamic is the most minimal of the Lakers’ issues.

Under Jackson, the Lakers would’ve played through Gasol, Howard and Bryant in the post, would’ve dictated terms through the strengths of the franchise’s Hall of Fame players. Under Jackson, the Lakers would’ve had a leader of men to gather them out of this rubble.

The team’s best stretch of basketball this season was during the transition of former coach Mike Brown to D’Antoni. Assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff coached the team for five games and went 4 – 1 by making everything as simple as possible,

For the Lakers to fire D’Antoni with three years left on his new contract – just after they fired Mike Brown with three years left – would leave them buried with $25 million in coaching payouts. And then, who do you get? Forget Jackson. That can’t happen now. Funny, but everyone on the Lakers knows that the best week this team played happened to be under Bernie Bickerstaff, who simplified the offense, played traditional sets and had the Lakers hustling on defense in winning four of five games in November.

Trade rumors within the past few weeks have also included Dwight due to him not speaking about signing a new deal with the Lakers. Despite the rumors, the Lakers are not looking to move their future star but doubt about his future is certainly beginning to creep in on Howard’s part,

For those who’ve called the Lakers on Howard’s availability – the Dallas Mavericks and the Atlanta Hawks – the message has been unmistakable: Howard isn’t available, nor will that change before the February deadline.

The Lakers understand that Los Angeles gives everything Howard wants to be a global star, gives him the guarantee of a five-year, $100 million extension this summer. They don’t believe he’ll walk, and yet as one source tied to the Lakers and Howard says: “Even if they’re right, and Dwight stays, do you want Dwight unhappy and feeling uninvolved with D’Antoni?”

Wojnarowski even discussed how D’Antoni turned the Knicks away from acquiring Howard and sparked their interest in Tyson Chandler

As New York Knicks coach, D’Antoni issued a clear stance in organizational discussions on a possible pursuit of Howard: He wasn’t a fan. He told Knicks front-office staff stories about how the elders of USA Basketball preferred Tyson Chandler to Howard, and that the Knicks would be wise to adopt that thinking, a source with knowledge of the conversations told Yahoo! Sports.

The entire story is worth the read and can bring new light onto the troubling situation within Los Angeles, with so many different story lines unfolding it is very difficult to tell which one is the most important. Nonetheless, I have hope that the Lakers will turn it around. It will just take more time than usual.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Getty Images

Yesterday I wrote an article intimating that Lakers star, Kobe Bryant, was taking a players perspective when expressing his frustrations with the Pau Gasol trade rumors. While I felt it was a great show of leadership for Kobe Bryant to stick up for his teammate, I didn’t think placing public pressure on the organization to make a trade or not make a trade did the team or the organization any good. So on the surface, Kobe’s rant really served no positive purpose outside of showing his support for Gasol, which has been doing all along anyway.

However according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, Kobe’s rant had less to do with his frustration with the Pau trade rumors, and more to do with the structure of the organization as a whole:

The Lakers’ front office is an uncommunicative, rudderless fiasco, and the unrest and paranoia that have been festering for years threaten to derail the team’s plans to ride Bryant to his sixth NBA title while they still can. And much of it can be traced to the growing influence of executive vice president Jim Buss, the owner’s bon vivant son, who has helped transform a great franchise into a steaming pool of nepotism and nincompoops.

Joey Buss, another son of the owner who runs the team’s D-League franchise, has moved into Jackson’s old office. Jesse Buss, 23, who was arrested for alcohol intoxication in Lexington, Ky., on a “scouting” trip in December, has moved into (Ronnie) Lester’s former office.

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