43 years. 11 championships and countless memories.
That is the resume of the Los Angeles Lakers since the late, great Dr. Jerry Buss bought the franchise back in 1979. Buss changed the trajectory of both the Lakers and the NBA for the better, bringing in new eccentric ideas and change to the sport.
Buss unfortunately passed away in 2013 and left the controlling ownership of the team to his kids. Yet, what has happened since his passing has left the team in somewhat of disarray. The Lakers have reached the postseason only three of the last ten seasons including a stretch where the franchise missed six seasons in a row. They did win one title during this time, but it came during the bubble run in 2020. Not taking anything away from the championship win but the Lakers haven’t been able to consistently win since Buss passed.
His daughter Jeanie Buss took over the team after his passing and even fired his brother Jim Buss a few years back so she could fully take control. While the championship in 2020 was nice, it’s time for the Buss family to sell the team.
Now I won’t sit and speculate on how her late father would view the job that she has done since taking on more responsibility. However, I do know that he wouldn’t be happy with the results on-court.
Once star LeBron James joined the Lakers in 2018, the team was vaulted back into the contending powerhouse that they always have been. Yet, the team hasn’t won at the level that was expected. After a title run in 2020, the team was bounced in the first round in 2021 and missed the postseason entirely in 2022.
Both LeBron James and Anthony Davis have dealt with some injuries over the last few seasons, but the fact still remains that the roster surrounding them has been atrocious.
General Manager Rob Pelinka, former agent of the late Kobe Bryant, was appointed to lead the team once Jeanie Buss fully took over. Pelinka has been rumored to be a hard person to make deals with due to his time as an agent around the league. It has cost the Lakers in terms of putting together a competitive team, year in and year out.
Heading into the 2023 season, the Lakers still had some problems to work out. A new head coach gave some signs of hope, but the roster remained awful.
The Lakers find themselves 2-8 with no signs of improvement. Los Angeles still has two top-20 players on their roster and yet, this team isn’t close to contending. And now you have the new head coach talking about being a repeat tax offender and the budget of the team.
This is the Los Angeles Lakers. The biggest franchise in the NBA. And the head coach has to cover for the ineptitude of the front office just ten games into his new job?
And yet, despite all the mistakes that have occurred over the last few seasons, Pelinka was granted a contract extension through the 2026 season.
🚨FULL AUDIO of the Darvin Ham “repeater tax” quote:
(This was VERY hard to find. Not on spectrum OR Lakers YouTube. Had to go to the NBA site.)
Includes question from media that prompted the response. Full context. Nothing cut.
You can freely decide what you’re hearing. pic.twitter.com/ZspSlgna7E
— 🏆LakersGuru🏆 (@GuruLakers) November 8, 2022
What Pelinka has done to deserve a contract extension is beyond me and points back to the fact that it seriously may be time for the Buss family to start considering selling the franchise. For too long, the decision makers of the Lakers have run the team like a small mom-and-pop shop.
Buss has been criticized for her lack of branching out for help. She has a close, tight inner circle of people that she relies on to help with her decision making. While every person has people they can rely on, the most successful of those tend to allow others in to help, especially with business moves.
Buss relies on Kurt and Linda Rambis, with the former being one of the worst coaches in NBA history. She relies on former head coach Phil Jackson, who to his credit is arguably the best in history. But the two did have a romantic relationship in the past. However, it’s not who she is relying on that is the problem but the fact that she won’t break out from that inner circle to do what is best for the Lakers.
She could easily branch out and offer a large sum of money to one of the best general managers around the league. But she won’t. The Lakers are being run on a tight budget and it is costing them. This is Los Angeles where the Lakers should be dominating. They are a large market team that acts like a small market franchise.
Buss has said that her dad left the Lakers to the family and that they were like his baby. She has said that she will make sure that that “baby” thrives. However, her actions over the last few seasons have seemed like the complete opposite.
Take away the title season in 2020 and the last ten seasons have been some of the worst in franchise history. A once storied franchise has fallen on hard times and it’s time for a change.
Buss isn’t a bad owner by any means. She is great in the community and generally does care about the success of the Lakers. The Buss family has done a lot for the city of Los Angeles, but all good things do come to an end. Laker fans deserve better. NBA fans deserve better. It’s time for them to sell the team.