The Los Angeles Lakers’ management issues were ongoing through the beginning of the 2012-13 season. The square of decision making between Dr. Jerry Buss, his son and daughter, and general manager Mitch Kupchak made it difficult to understand just who had loudest voice during the downhill fall of the team. Five games into the season, the Buss family decided that Mike Brown was not the appropriate choice for the head coaching duties.
Hiring Mike D’Antoni in November was a controversial choice, but was a group consensus decision according to a statement from Kupchak last season. Since Dr. Buss’ death in February, more questions have arisen about who will be in charge moving forward.
As part of the family agreement when their father stepped away due to health issues after the 2010 championship run, Jim Buss became the primary head of the basketball decisions and Jeanie Buss was to be in control of the business aspects within the organization. However, recent comments by Jim have raised some eyebrows, especially for the fans.
In a recent interview with Fox Sports Radio 570 AM, Jim Buss addressed the question of who will likely be the leader through the next few seasons.
“Jeanie would probably have the ultimate say… the system has worked for years,” he said. “Jeanie has been running the business side for years and it has been working.”
In his statement, it’s hard to tell if Jim is pointing to the fact that he plans to give some of the basketball operations to Jeanie. A whole world of controversy can come from this issue when you take into consideration who Jeanie is getting married to.
Phil Jackson, fiance of Jeanie Buss and widely considered as the greatest coach in basketball history, must feel like he’s in an awkward position. The vacancy that opened last season, before going to Mike D’Antoni, was one that Jackson truly wanted. Having the chance to coach Steve Nash and Dwight Howard and still have Kobe Bryant as your on-court leader was something he didn’t want to pass on. We all know how the story unfolded. Jim and Jerry Buss denied Jackson, mainly due to his coaching style with the triangle offense, and went in a different direction.
Now, it can’t be out of the question that Jackson is aware of what’s going on with the Lakers and even being asked his opinion on things from his fiancee. Yes, Jackson and Jeanie Buss have had an ongoing relationship for a decade, but not at a point in time where leadership is being questioned in the organization. Something to look out for is the future of D’Antoni as head coach. Because from an outside looking in, it seems that a midseason firing of D’Antoni would almost guarantee a heavy pursuit of Jackson. The 11-time champion would surely laugh at that point, but would feel a bit of desire to come in and clean up a mess on the court.
All eyes will be on the decisions the Buss family makes this season and into the future. Whether it’s Jim or Jeanie running majority of the show in Hollywood, things will stay somewhat calm in the final few years of the Kobe Bryant era. As long as Kupchak is in charge of making the moves to improve the roster for the years to come, the fans should not be affected by the ownership decisions as much as they anticipate.
As far as hiring head coaches is concerned, there’s a lot of people that don’t want that power in Jim Buss’ hands.