Let’s face the facts. The year of 2012 has been largely filled with pain and disappointment for Lakers faithful worldwide. Last season ended with yet another second round playoff exit and this season began with championship aspirations that have given way to the hopes of simply making the postseason.
How does everything go so wrong so fast?
Simply put, this team is all Buss’d up.
The reality is there is but one problem holding this organization back from reclaiming its throne as the king of all sports franchises. It’s Jim Buss.
The man that inherited the throne from his father has bungled one situation after another over the last two years. Quite frankly he’s Buss’d up one too many times to ignore. So to put a bow on the year here are the top 10 Jim Buss Ups of 2012.
10. Failing To Re-Sign Ramon Sessions – The desperate price paid for Sessions should have been our first warning. Backup, journeymen point guards generally aren’t worth a first round pick. So by using that logic they’re definitely not worth paying the luxury tax on. Once the season ended with Sessions doing next to nothing to help better the Lakers and their title chances, Mitch Kupchak was given the red light on re-signing Sessions. That is fine because his two-year, $10-million contract from the Bobcats is bloated. Problem is what the Lakers are lacking right now is a speedy point guard capable of filling in for Steve Nash. Hmmm…wonder where they could get one of those…
9. The Enabling Of Andrew Bynum– Buss hung his hat on Bynum. It was his pride and joy as a Trust Fund owner’s son. He insisted on drafting Bynum after the now fired Ronnie Lester (more on him next) scouted the young big man from New Jersey. It was Buss that hired Mike Brown because he knew the easily malleable coach would make Bynum a focal point of the offense. It was also Buss who would routinely refuse any trade requests for Drew’ services despite the immature nature of Bynum both on and off the court. But in the end Buss realized he needed to sell high after buying low on Bynum. Buss gets credit for allowing Kupchak to use Bynum as a bargaining chip in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. However for allowing a teenager to grow all too comfortable into his own ego he gets another tick on the Buss up meter.
8. The Unceremonious Exit of Ronnie Lester – You won’t hear this discussed much in the hoops world because it didn’t have a direct affect on the product on the court. Indirectly is a different story as this move really tipped the hand of Jim Buss. The unceremonious and undue manner in which Lester and many other longtime front office employees were relieved of their duties was the early writing on the wall that the Buss ups were coming. Lester won championships as a player, scout and assistant GM with the Los Angeles Lakers. For his decades of service Lester was owed much more than a pink slip simply because the owner’s son wants to do things his way while saving some cash.
7. Ignoring Brian Shaw (Twice) – When Phil Jackson stepped down there was plenty of momentum behind Brian Shaw getting the opportunity to take the helm of the Laker ship. The players liked him, heck, some of them like Kobe Bryant even played with him. Shaw knew Phil’s system and philosophy. The transition would have been seamless and the move made sense on many levels. Of course when you’re Jim Buss and your selfish desire is to rid the franchise of all connections to Jackson then what you do is give Shaw a token interview only to not even inform him if he got the job or not. But in life we all Buss up, it’s what makes us human. Jimmy B had another chance to re-examine his choice in coaches once he realized Mike Brown was a failure (more on that later). So, did Buss take the opportunity to reconstruct a bridge he burnt? You already know the answer to that.
6. Overpaying For Steve Nash – This past offseason was one of delusion and confusion for the Lakers front office. On the one hand Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss were preaching the “no major moves” mantra. On the other they were busy making desperate moves to try and save some face once it was realized that the upcoming season was going to end the same way the previous two did. Enter Steve Nash, an aging point guard whose success was largely tied to a playing a style of ball that has never been synonymous with championship success. While it was Kupchak that pulled the trigger on the trade it was Buss who ultimately gave the green light to move four valuable draft picks while committing $27-million over three years to a 38-year-old guard that to date has played just two lackluster games in a Lakers uniform. Making a move for Nash was necessary but mortgaging the future was ill advised and desperate.