Friday, March 2, 2012

Jim Buss to Laker fans - "Go $@#% yourself"

Ok, he didn't actually say that... but he might as well have. Sort of.

Jim Buss, son of team owner (and all around fantastic man who has brought 10 titles to LA) Jerry Buss, is ruining the Lakers. Since he began taking an active role with the team in 2005 I have been dreading this day, the day I realize it was already happening. Since 2005 Jim has increased his duties with the Lakers to the point of basically taking complete control from Jerry, making calls on staff hirings and firings, player movement (with GM Mitch Kupchak) and all other dealings that involve the Lakers. While some have turned out well, others have not. That is where our headline comes from.

First came the Mike Brown hiring. I rationalized this because Mike Brown is actually a decent head coach; he's coached a superstar before and he would bring an intense defensive minded attitude to work everyday. Little did I know he would play Kobe a butt load of minutes and rely on him an incredible amount when he was on the floor (Kobe leads the league in usage rate, which is the amount of possessions that player uses when he is on the floor, plus the 33 year old is 6th in the league in minutes per game). This isn't about Coach Brown though, this is about the man who hired him, and at the same time sent away the guy many thought should replace him, including Kobe and numerous teammates, Brian Shaw. Looking back, I shouldn't have tried to rationalize this move because with Shaw at the helm there wouldn't be these huge transitions and horrid offensive performances while we move to a new era. The choice to go with Brown over Shaw was one of many mistakes, but one I was willing to overlook.

This past summer when ol' Jimmy hired Mike Brown, he made the organization look fugly when he fired long-time staff members like assistant GM Ronnie Lester who had been with the team for almost 25 years, an equipment manager who had been with them for 30+ years, and a host of other staff members. Why did he do this? If it was financial reasons, someone should remind him that they just signed a TV deal which is worth 3-5 BILLION dollars (no, seriously). If it was because he didn't think they were good at their jobs, someone should slap his face. In reality, I think it was to send a message that he was in charge, the Phil Jackson era was over, and he would lead the team in their new direction, which in case anyone is wondering, is straight down to hell.

Then the Lamar Odom trade happened. Lamar Odom, the reigning sixth man of the year, was given to the team that just embarrassed the Lakers in the playoffs for a trade exception. Odom was reportedly unhappy that they tried to trade him as part of the Chris Paul trade, but come on, you don't think he would have gotten over it with Kobe and childhood friend Artest at his side? Now he is in Dallas, where it is safe to assume his happiness hasn't increased since he contemplated retirement, asking the Mavs to buy out his contract, etc.

The decision that just pushed me over the edge though was much smaller, but made me actually look at what has happened in LA. Recently the Timberwolves offered the Lakers Michael Beasley, an athletic small forward who can score the ball, for a first round draft pick. A first round pick that will undoubtedly be used to draft another player who will be fairly useless as LA generally picks at the end of the draft since they generally don't suck a hard one like Jim Buss wants them to. The rumor is that this deal was turned down because they didn't want to take on Beasley's salary.. Give me a second to compose myself.. The Lakers traded away Lamar Odom creating a trade exception. That trade exception is more than big enough to take Beasley's salary. The only downside is that it would cost them a bit of money due to the luxury tax (which only effects teams over the salary cap limit). When I saw this, I realized what was happening. The Lakers, led by Jim Buss, the team that signed a deal for billions of dollars, are pinching pennies when it comes to their players. How the hell did they win championships before? They spent more money than the other guys.

Bottom line #1, I see the moves Jim Buss is making as a $@#% you to the fans that love this team. Bottom line #2, there is only enough room for one top dog in LA.  Someone has to be the proverbial Clippers. With Jim Buss at the helm, it's going to be the Lakers.

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