SH Blog: Jim Buss takes shot at Dwight Howard, Olajuwon says Howard is still raw

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Lakers Jim BussWhen certain NBA owners are unable to attain a coveted player via free agency, they seem to feel the need to lash out or downplay what that player meant to their franchise. Mark Cuban has done this a number of times: he said the Dallas Mavericks were better off by not signing Deron Williams in the summer of 2012, and basically said the same about Dwight Howard after missing out on the center this summer. We all know about the vicious things Dan Gilbert had to say about LeBron James when the forward bolted to the Miami Heat.

Add Jim Buss to the list of owners who feel bitter about the loss of a critical player. In an extended interview with NBA insider Ric Bucher about a variety of topics about the Los Angeles Lakers, Howard’s name came up and here is what Buss had to say about losing the center to the Houston Rockets, from The Hollywood Reporter:

Jim insists he’s just following his father’s blueprint, but the Howard situation suggests he missed a page. Instead of Jim spending time with Howard, the team launched a widely derided media campaign that implored “Stay” on billboards. After Howard bolted, Jim turned on his former star, saying he wasn’t surprised or dismayed. “He was never really a Laker,” says Jim. “He was just passing through.”

Those close to Howard say the Lakers could have persuaded him to stay. Even Jeanie believes that if her father had not been sick, he would have sealed the deal like so many before it. “It’s disappointing that Dwight isn’t here,” she says. “I feel like we failed him.”

First of all, what does it even mean to say that Howard was “never really a Laker”? Was the entire season of him wearing a Lakers uniform a figment of everyone’s imagination? Is there some special personality that one must have in order to be a Laker? A certain time period they must wear the uniform, perhaps? Does it then mean that Jim Buss feels the same way about Steve Nash or anyone else on the roster not named Kobe Bryant or Pau Gasol? It’s a shame that certain owners feel the need to say such unnecessary things about players they once had or ones they wished to have acquired at some point in time. If you were “better off without them” or you believe that they never represented your franchise properly, then why did you go after them so hard? The words spoken and the actions taken are total contradictions, and bad-mouthing players because they didn’t let you have your way is petty and downright bratty.

The above, of course, is all in reference to what Jim Buss had to say. Jeanie Buss’ statement about Howard was much more thoughtful and done with class – something Jim could have shown plenty more of.

Onto other news from around the league:

  • la_jerrybuss_01Jim Buss also said that the decision to hire Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson was ultimately his father’s decision, from Bucher: Jim nonetheless is credited — some say blamed — with orchestrating events last season that contributed to the team’s poor performance. Head coach Mike Brown was replaced five games into the season with current coach Mike D’Antoni instead of Jackson, who presided over the Lakers’ past five titles. As Dr. Buss lay dying at Cedars-Sinai, D’Antoni and Jackson were approached about the job. Jackson thought he was being given time to mull his interest when he received a call from Kupchak saying D’Antoni had been hired… ”The Lakers went into that week prepared to offer the job to Phil,” says one source. “Dr. Buss may have rubber-stamped [the D'Antoni hiring], but he clearly wasn’t at the helm. If he had been healthy and involved, that never would’ve happened.”… Jim denies that perception is reality. “I have zero problem with Phil, and Phil has zero problem with me,” he says. And while Jim and Kupchak interviewed both D’Antoni and Jackson, Jim says the final decision was made by Dr. Buss. “Mitch and I interviewed Phil together and then reported back to my dad at the hospital for hours upon hours,” he says. “He gave the final hammer; we just enforced it.”

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  9. With all the talk about Al Harrington being close to a deal with The Wiz, it terms out to be a 1 year minimum. Reminds we of the Oden to Heat talks.

    Jared Zwerling has about a 10% success rate – that is for every 10 players who Knicks reportedly have interest in or vica verca (or mutual), at most 1 signs with team. Knicks already have 14 players on Roster and that usually is how teams like to start season.
    Knicks front office like to think they are “special” as part of their publicity.

    Regarding Howard to Houston at trade deadline in 2012, Fred Kerber of the NY Post wrote as fact, about 15 months ago (wasn’t picked up by any major sports network) that ORL threatened to trade Howard to the Lakers if he didn’t waive his Early Termination Option. Kerber didn’t mention Houston, but its quite possible Dwight received a threat to be traded to Houston (we always knew the teams had some trade talks). However, truth is that Howard’s agent expected his client to be traded to Nets, when he got Howard to issue a statement during that infamous day, hours before Howard changed his mind. After the season Howard made reference to promises that ORL didn’t keep, and he still wanted to be traded to Nets.

    The fallacy with Berger’s story is that the Lakers and even more so Houston, would have wanted some sort of guarantee that Howard would re-sign with them. Otherwise it just would have been a 3 month rental and not worth giving up assets similar to what Nets were offering (including their 1st round pick that ended up becoming Damian Lilliard). Nets were prepared to sign Howard as a free agent that summer (without forfeiting Lopez), so they had the leverage to force the trade to B’klyn, had Howard resisted ORL’s last minute efforts. Brooklyn had always been Howard’s desired destination, but ORL, according to GM Billy King, didn’t want to have to trade him to an EC team.

  10. Alek Samm says:

    As far as Jim not having issues with Phil as well as putting the onus on his dad in the coaching decision, yeah, I’m calling BS on that. Jim Buss is going to run what his father built right into the ground (like he did with the KIngs) if he doesn’t start putting the franchise first instead of his own ego.

    • Truth is that the Lakers team is on its way to becoming irrelevant in NBA. LeBron isn’t going to join Kobe in LA, and Melo soon will be an aging former Star (he never was a superstar because of his lack of Defense and Team play).

      Howard made the smart decision, that even Phil Jackson endorsed, by going to Houston where he will get training from 2 Greats (his coach and Olijawon).

      • Alek Samm says:

        Please. Low spot? Probably or yes. Irrelevant? Never. Lakers have been ducking a bullet for the last couple of years, restarting fresh was an inevitability that’s needed. We had to do the same after Magic and co. retired and we did the same after Shaq left. Now it’s almost that time with Kobe. But we’ll get it together. There’s no reason to think they won’t.

        As far as Dwight making the smart decision, that’s open to debate. He certainly has come up with a bunch of justifications to show that it was a good idea (despite the Lakers and ROckets being virtually the same situation save that one kissed his ass and the other didn’t) but it’s all exactly that–justifications, to cover up that his choice to go to Houston had almost next to nothing to do with basketball.

        Let’s just wait and see who’ll be truly irrelevant in the next couple of years. Kinda late in the game to be trying ot teach an old dog new tricks and if Howard hasn’t been a good post player by now, he’s likely not going to, even with Mchale and Olijawon working with him. Name me a player Howard’s age that suddenly did a role reversal, got better to the level that people are going to expect from him/rely on him for championships.

  11. Alek Samm says:

    To be fair to Jim Buss (and this is definetly not my thing to defend Jim Buss as he’s nowhere near the smarts of his sister and father), this time he’s actually speaking the truth. Howard was, by and large, passing through. Saying he wasn’t really a Laker isn’t literally “he wasn’t” because he put on his uniform and went out and played. But as far as where his heart was throughout the season, he wasn’t really feeling it and it showed.

    So saying he wasn’t really a Laker is pretty truthful (especially if reports from varying parties are to be believed, that mid-way through the season it became apparent that Howard wanted out).

    Make no mistake, Laker management really wanted him (running the pick and roll with Howard and Nash was a goal with D’Antoni and something the Lakers forsaw running with Howard since he was so good at it in Orlando). Is it the Lakers fault or Howard’s that he completely bucked the system that was basically built to use him at his offensive best (since his post moves are…limited to say the least)?

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