Culver City Observer -

By Mitch Chortkoff
Sports Editor 

What's Next For The Lakers? Uncertainty


February 19, 2013

What’s Next For The Lakers? Uncertainty

The family of Jerry Buss issued a statement Monday saying they would honor their father’s wish to keep the team in the family rather than selling it following his death.

I admire Jerry Buss for his many accomplishments and the fact he was a strong family man.

But keeping the team in the family brings concern to Laker fans because nobody in the family has emerged as an obvious choice to maintain the Lakers at a championship level.

Jim Buss, in his first year in charge of basketball operations, has assembled a team with a 25-29 record and has hired two coaches with opposite philosophies, leaving the players confused.

Jeannie Buss has proven herself as an extremely capable leader in the business department and properly has been assigned to be the Lakers’ representative on the NBA Board of Governors.

But Jim and Jeannie don’t get along well, and the Lakers bypassed her fiancée, Phil Jackson, as coach when they brought in Mike D’Antoni.

Magic Johnson says Jeannie should run the basketball operation. If Phil would help her, that wouldn’t be a bad idea.

To summarize the thought, there’s a great deal of uncertainty in the Lakers’ future. Jerry Buss’ death is the end of an era. Will it be the end of the championships?

Magic is long retired. Kobe Bryant has just one year left on his contract. Dwight Howard might or might not stay here. The Clippers have taken over as the best team that plays in Staples Center.

The Lakers’ 10 NBA championships in the Jerry Buss Era are proof of the man’s genius. So are 16 appearances in the NBA Finals in 34 years.

However, the Lakers’ 25-29 record this season and 10th place standing in the Western Conference are evidence of the team’s potential for a major fall without Jerry Buss.

He did almost everything right as the Lakers’ owner but his decision to leave the team to his six children was a questionable one.

Forbes values the Lakers around $1 billion, but season ticket holders are becoming increasingly unhappy with the franchise’s direction.

Wouldn’t fans feel better if Jackson or Jerry West were putting together the Lakers’ roster now? Or Mitch Kupchak with more authority?

If you’re a Laker fan, wouldn’t you feel better if the Lakers, not the Clippers, ran off to a 15-0 lead at the start of their game last Thursday?

I’m sorry to say I saw it coming. Last summer I wrote about the wise moves the Clippers were making and wondered if the Lakers were formulating an old starting five with very little depth – a recipe for failure.

It would have been nice if I was wrong about what was happening. But now the standings illustrate the Lakers’ plight.

When Jerry West saw the vast potential of 17-year-old Kobe and the possibility of signing free agent Shaquille O’Neal, Buss approved the gamble. That was brilliant.

Brilliance is needed in the front office again to revamp the current roster, but who will be that person?


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