LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17: ESPN reporter Stuart Scott interviews owner Dr. Jerry Buss of the Los Angeles Lakers after their 83-79 victory against the Boston Celtics by holding up five fingers in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
We really should know better by now. We really should have a better idea of how the Los Angeles Lakers organization works. But we always fall into the trap. We start believing in the rumors, start buying into the crazy talk that exists about Laker land, despite the fact that none of it is actually coming from Laker land. Regarding the Laker franchise, you would do well to adopt this simple rule.
If you've heard about it, it's probably not true.
Put simply, the rumors that you actually hear about the Lakers rarely come to pass. Rumor was that Chris Bosh for Andrew Bynum was a real possibility. I'll be very surprised if that happens. Rumor was that Phil Jackson was going to be forced out because Jerry Buss was unwilling to pay his high salary demands. Well, I suppose that could be real ... PJ could be coming back for one more year at drastically reduced cost because he cares about his legacy enough not to walk away from this team. We don't know because the terms of his contract have not been released (and may not even be known). But, the only fact that exists is that Phil will be NOT roaming the sidelines next season, just like he always does.
The Buss won't pay rumor extended to the Lakers being unwilling to use their Mid Level Exception, except that they just did. They didn't use the whole thing, signing Steve Blake at 4 million per for 4 years, but they used a sizeable portion of it, and there really isn't anybody out there who fits better into what the Lakers need, so why overpay? The Lakers were supposed to be desperate to shed salary, but if Derek Fisher is re-signed, their final salary will look very much like it did last year.
It works the other way, too. How many of the deals which have shaped the face of this franchise did you know about beforehand? Anybody who knew that Pau Gasol would be traded to the Lakers for pennies on the dollar, raise your hand? How about the people who knew Ron Artest would be wearing purple and gold this year? Oh sure, people knew the Lakers were interested in Artest, but the prevailing sentiment is that the Lakers would wait to resolve Trevor Ariza's situation first. The prevailing sentiment, as it almost always is with this franchise, was wrong.
That fact isn't random. It's a company policy. The Lakers just don't play the game the same way as everybody else. They don't talk about their plans, not on the record, not off the record. The "sources" within the Lakers organization just don't exist, or if they do, they are being fed the same bullshit that the gets to the rest of us, and are just as wrong. So the next time you hear that Jerry Buss is willing to trade Odom for nothing, the next time you read Roland Lazenby's latest "Woes of the Lakers organization" piece, take it all with a grain of salt. The Lakers keep things in-house, so if you've stumbed onto something that seems to the contrary, it probably isn't real.