Lakers News: Why Jeanie Buss Still Values Input Of Phil Jackson, Magic Johnson

Lakers News: Why Jeanie Buss Still Values Input Of Phil Jackson, Magic Johnson

Las Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buiss continues to rely on the advice of former team President Magic Johnson, as well as her long-time friends Kurt Rambis. ESPN reported that former head coach Phil Jackson and current L.A. All-Star forward LeBron James also speak with Buss about personnel decisions.

In a recent podcast interview with Sam Amick from The Athletic, Buss talked about her ongoing relationship to these advisors.

Buss seemed to challenge the notion that the Rambises advising her is a new phenomenon.

“Then there became this fascination with the role that Linda and Kurt (Rambis) play. (laughs). As if they hadn’t been there (all along). As if I had hidden them for all these years or something (still laughing). I don’t know why people are so curious. “

Rambis certainly hasn’t been a trusted Lakers voice for decades straight-through. He served as the Timberwolves’ head coach from 2009-2011, leading the team to 32-132 record. He returned to the Lakers as an assistant coach for one season, 2013-14, and then served on the Knicks (under team president Phil Jackson) as an associate head coach from 2014-16, an interim head coach in 2016 (the team went 9-19), and then got demoted again by Jackson to associate head coach under Jeff Hornacek from 2016-18. To be fair, Rambis served as an assistant coach on the Lakers’ 2002, 2009 and 2010 title-winning teams under Jackson, and as an executive advisor on the team’s 2000, 2001, and 2020 title teams. It’s not clear how valuable his advice is given his failings as the man in control. He has certainly won a lot as an advisor, to be fair.

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Though he was one of the NBA’s all-time best players with the Lakers, Johnson’s record as a coach and executive for the club is more checkered. As a head coach for the club during the 1994-95 season, Johnson went just 5-11, including losing 10 straight contests. Johnson took over for Jeanie’s older brother Jim Buss as team president in February 2017. Johnson’s biggest success as an executive was being part of the group that successfully signed LeBron James in free agency in 2018.

L.A. sported a mediocre draft record under the 12-time All-Star and five-time Lakers champion. As team GM, Johnson was the current president. In 2017, Los Angeles chose well, selecting solid 3-and-D point guard Lonzo Ball with the second pick out of UCLA and eventual championship role player Kyle Kuzma from the University of Utah with the 27th pick. Ball was drafted ahead All-Stars Jayson Tatum (taken No. 3), Donovan Mitchell (No. 13), and Bam Adebayo (No. 14), but he has developed into a productive two-way player with the New Orleans Pelicans and Chicago Bulls. His nagging knee injuries have slowed his growth.

The team totally whiffed the next season, drafting journeyman center Moritz Wagner with the 25th pick out of Michigan and small forward Svi Mykhailiuk out of Kansas with the 47th selection. The team also tried — and failed — to trade for Anthony Davis during the 2018-19 season, creating toxic locker room chemistry. L.A. would miss the playoffs with a meandering 37-45, marking an end to LeBron’s eight straight years of NBA Finals appearances. Johnson would announce his resignation from the team via broadcast without informing Buss. He later called Pelinka a “back-stabber.” It is difficult to know exactly what Johnson’s intentions are right now, as Pelinka remains in power.

Although he won 11 titles as a coach, Jackson had a miserable three-year run as the Knicks’ chief decision-maker, at least outside of drafting eventual All-Star big man Kristaps Porzingis in 2015. It is somewhat confusing that Buss looks to her circle of friends for advice, and not to the best and most brightest basketball minds around the world, regardless of their Lakers past. This “Lakers exceptionalism”, may be hurting the team.

Here’s what Buss had to say about her conversations with Johnson and Jackson:

“When I lean on Magic Johnson, when I lean on Phil Jackson, that’s advice that I’m getting for me in my decision-making process. It’s not like Magic is making a decision about who we will hire as coaches. Phil is not telling me who to hire for coach. It’s about process, about learning from past experiences, and how you approach a problem like this. These are people (she trusts). They are people that everyone has. You know they will give you the truth. “

The issue at the time was that folks were shocked, and understandably so, that Buss is leaning on former Laker greats almost without exception, despite no real evidence that they’re particularly adept at talent evaluation in the modern era.

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