“Do they have final say? No. Are they running the team? No, no, not at all,” Buss told The Los Angeles Times about Lakers star LeBron James and his camp at Klutch Sports.
“I am controlling owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, I’m held accountable for every decision that’s made here.”
Watch Live Coverage of The 2022 NBA Playoffs with ESPN on Kayo including every game of The Conference Finals and The Finals. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >
Wednesday May 11th
Buss’ bold statement came less than two weeks after Bleacher Report reported that the Lakers front office is internally blaming James and Anthony Davis for their failed Russell Westbrook experiment.
The organization reportedly felt pressure from Klutch Sports Group, which also represents Davis, for the blockbuster trade that landed them Westbrook — who has been completely out of sorts.
“I’m growing impatient just because we had the fourth-highest payroll in the league. … When you spend that kind of money on the luxury tax, you expect to go deep into the playoffs,” said Buss, who admitted she is not happy nor satisfied with the current state of the team.
“So, yeah, it was gut-wrenching for me to go out on a limb like that and not get the results that we were looking for.”
Buss acquired point guard Russell Westbrook in hopes of forming a Big 3 with James and Davis, who led the Lakers to a 17th title in the 2020 NBA bubble. James reportedly had a heavy hand in recruiting Westbrook, who had one of the worst offensive performances of his career in his debut season with Los Angeles.
“It’s normal when you have a top player or players you bounce things off of them, I think that’s smart business,” Buss said about James. “I want him to feel confident in the team, that we have the pieces to win a championship. He has to be happy. … I want to make sure that he’s happy.”
Buss still believes the Lakers can win another championship with James and Davis leading the charge.
“There’s no reason for me to think we can’t win with them,” she said. “Something that I learned from Phil Jackson is that there’s always a path to success… Sometimes it might be a little bit harder than other times… but you have to see the ability.”
Buss expressed that she decided to do the interview after being “in the background for too much” amid the Lakers’ struggles this season — in which the James-led Hall of Fame roster failed to make the play-in tournament, let alone the playoffs .
Last week, rumblings around the American sports media saw personalities, including ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, suggest that the Lakers should consider trading James, who is up for a contract extension in early August.