For all of the Jim Buss haters out there, encouraging news broke yesterday regarding the owner’s future as Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations. In an interview with the L.A. Times, Buss bluntly stated that if the Los Angeles Lakers are not competitive within the next three-four years, he will in fact forfeit the high ranking management position.
The owner had the following to say while Mike Bresnahan conducted the ground-breaking interview, “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. I don’t know if you can fire yourself if you own the team … but what I would say is I’d walk away and you guys figure out who’s going to run basketball operations because I obviously couldn’t do the job.”
As Executive VP of Basketball Operations, Buss holds the right to make decisions regarding personnel, coaching staff, trades and free agency. Subsequent to his father’s, Dr. Jerry Buss, passing last year, Jim has warranted plenty of harsh criticism for his questionable decision-making as well as the tendency to approach basketball decision with his ego rather than what’s best for the team. A prime example of this is hiring Mike D’Antoni to fill the head coaching vacancy rather than five-time Lakers champion Phil Jackson, who was previously offered the job if he wanted it. It is believed Buss passed on the opportunity to hire Jackson because the two have had personal issues for a few years now.
Since the hiring, fans have thrown Buss into the doghouse indefinitely. At this point, the one thing Buss can do to begin to gain back the support of Lakers fans once again is to in fact terminate D’Antoni during this offseason. There simply is no alternative. Los Angeles will not be a competitive team until they have moved on from the disastrous hire. If Buss fully desires to stay true to his goal of competing, he must begin to make some risky, but sensible transactions immediately. Who knows, maybe Buss stepping down is the best thing for the franchise moving forward. It would likely call for his sister Jeanie Buss taking the reigns as her father has prepared her for.