Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss is generally a beloved figure for Laker fans, except when the team underperforms. Scrutiny has come her way since the end of last season along with turmoil.
The Lakers are coming off a year where they missed the playoffs and fired their head coach in controversial fashion. LeBron James and Russell Westbrook’s relationship seems to be at a crossroads. The two sat across from each other during the Lakers’ Summer League game without acknowledging each other. James has been lobbying for the Lakers to acquire Kyrie Irving to replace Westbrook.
Changes to the roster were inevitable and Buss made it clear that the front office isn’t bowing down anytime soon, according to Mark Medina of NBA.com:
“We still have work to do. We’re not done,” Buss told NBA.com. “Until training camp starts, we’re not going to rest until we’re satisfied that we have the best chance for success.”
General manager Rob Pelinka echoed a similar sentiment earlier this month. The two seem to be connected in their willingness to make moves.
But, because of the Lakers’ dire cap space, signing preferrable free agents is a challenge. James, Westbrook and Anthony Davis take up the majority of the Lakers’ money, which leaves little wiggle room to work with. L.A. has also been uninterested in spending into the luxury tax, something that cost them key role player Alex Caruso last year.
Buss acknowledged the challenges of rebuilding the roster with limited money but was optimistic about the task:
“We’re in a league that has a salary cap. There is movement we can make within the rules. Since we’re a luxury-tax team, that comes with a lot of restrictions with what you can do. After last season, it was clear we needed to make changes because we didn’t make the playoffs. Darvin and Rob [Pelinka] can talk better about the building of the roster. But it’s very thought out and purposeful on how they’re going to put together a roster that is going to play the way that Darvin Ham wants to play.”
Pelinka and head coach Darvin Ham are seeing eye to eye in the reconstruction of the roster. Ham mentioned he loves everyone on the Lakers roster, amid the swirling Kyrie trade rumors.
Irving’s link to the Purple and Gold may be dying out, however. He reportedly has not requested for a trade and intends on playing in Brooklyn next season. But, Buss implied a big swing by Pelinka for Irving in a trade wouldn’t be shocking:
“Nothing would surprise me. We’re not making change for the sake of change. It has to be good, basketball decisions that help us now and doesn’t compromise our ability to deal in the future.”
With one roster spot available and free agency two weeks in, the moves might be running dry for the Lakers.
Buss clarifies Kobe Bryant tweet was not a shot at LeBron
In the middle of an Irving trade to the Lakers gaining steam, Buss shared a message on Twitter about missing Kobe Bryant. Many assumed it was a shot at LeBron James’ leadership or Russell Westbrook’s lack of sacrifice last season.
But, Buss emphasized the tweet was not meant to discredit James, putting potential tension between the organization and its biggest star at ease.
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