It's mid-August, the end of summer and a basketball free zone. There's not a great deal to do aside from kick around old subjects and for folks who eat, sleep and breathe Los Angeles Lakers that means re-hashing all those precious moments leading to Dwight Howard's departure.
Because of that, and perhaps because of a profile that Ric Bucher published for The Hollywood Reporter that had a juicy quote -- you know, the one about Dwight Howard never being a Laker -- from Lakers executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss, the fire has been re-lit under the man with giant shoes and expensive seats to fill.
Or maybe that was just gasoline being tossed on a fire that never ceased to exist.
Directly, Roland Lazenby -- a very reputable and respected voice with ties to the Lakers franchise, Phil Jackson and all things NBA -- has been banging on the Jim Buss drum. It seems like every morning before I even sip from my first cup of coffee there's noise being made in the form of crashing trash cans.
Dammit, let me settle in.
Is it fair to blame Jim Buss for the failure of retaining Howard? No matter how you break down the situation it leads to hypotheticals and speculation. We'll never know what would have happened in an alternate reality because there is a single timeline to follow, and it's already set in smoldering stone.
Would caving to Dwight Howard's repeated requests for Phil Jackson's guiding Zen-ology as part of the organization have made a difference? If there is a lesson to be learned from the eye-roll of a season that was the 2012-2013 Lakers, it's to be wary when investing trust in... well... anything.
That Lakers squad -- the one that most would like to lock in a box, melt the key to, bury in a hole and cover with grass -- may be the single-most disappointing off-season paper champion of all-time. For a fun hindsight is a "expletive" moment, ESPN's experts (all 35 of them) were polled and had the Lakers with the second-highest amount of votes for 2013 NBA Champion (8). The Miami Heat blew out the competition with 26 votes. That leaves one vote left to shell out, which belonged to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Howard was supposed to mesh with "ultimate" teammate Steve Nash -- the bridge between Emperor Vino. Instead, Nash has consistently taken jabs at Howard since he decided to join the Houston Rockets, and there was little-to-no on court chemistry between the two. Nash passed low, Howard wanted it high. Howard slipped the screen, Nash gets hounded by defenders because he couldn't create space without a solid pick. This was most infamously displayed when Nash and Howard starting throwing their arms around enough to make Mike D'Antoni proud:
And that's the relationship that was supposed to be the "easy" one for Howard to deal with. Howard and Bryant certainly didn't kick it off, what with all the "you need to learn how to win" and "I already am a winner because I've played in the league longer than the average draftee" barbs. Who's to say Uncle Phil would have gotten Carlton and Will on the same page in this reboot, anyway?
Point being, even things that were supposed to be gimmes like, say, pick-and-rolls between Howard and Nash flowing like wine in Napa Valley, were anything but last season for the Lakers. To say that Jim Buss pressing Phil's suit, shining his shoes and chauffeuring him to Staples Center would have, unquestionably, fixed everything last season and forever for the franchise is a reach.
Once you start getting into specifics it becomes clear how many dominoes have to be taken into consideration. Leave it up to me and I'll rewind to 2011, bring the David Stern veto to the table, and say that's the biggest reason why the Lakers are without either superstar today and why we're having this conversation to begin with.
None of this matters. It's time to move on from Howard and the blame game.
Jim Buss may have been in the background working with the team prior to the passing of the great Dr. Jerry Buss but this is the first time he's at the forefront for the masses to observe. So things didn't go swimmingly in his first full-time shift. All he can do is brush this one off, chalk it up as a loss, and move on. People fail. But projecting his trajectory on the outcome of someone who has a track history of making questionable decisions and following "bad advice?"
Maybe Jim Buss will ultimately fail and become a smudge on the Lakers prestigious history. Maybe he'll add more banners to the rafters, stars at half court and find the next player who wows a new generation of Lakers fans. Maybe my children will have championships to enjoy, maybe they won't. There's no telling from here with so much in the air for the organization, and it's far too early to close the book on this one.
Continuing to run this Dwight Howard situation into the ground isn't getting any more entertaining. The Lakers shot an air ball in Jim Buss' first "clutch" moment. So be it, the Lakers are a franchise, not a flavor of the month. I'll just leave this here and continue looking toward the future:
- Follow this author on Twitter @DrewGarrisonSBN
More from Silver Screen and Roll:
- Kobe unsure he will play in season opener
- Free agents doubt Lakers are 'cutting edge', according to report
- Jim Buss says Dwight Howard was never a Laker
- Lakers coach discusses Mike D'Antoni, Phoenix Suns influence on offense
- Lakers news: Nick Minnerath invited to Lakers training camp, according to report