The Lakers front office has been a bit of a laughing stock over much of the last decade. After years of ineptitude — draft picks notwithstanding — from Jim Buss, Magic Johnson took over before an impromptu presser where he quit, paving way for Kurt Rambis to become the lightning rod of criticism.
While the team won a title in the midst of all that, that season has been the exception in a rather rough stretch for the franchise. One of the bright spots throughout all that, though, has been the youngest Buss siblings in Jesse and Joey.
Through their work with the scouting department and G League Lakers, the pair have helped the team identify a number of young talents that have blossomed into solid contributors across the league, both for the Lakers and other franchises.
As they’ve continued having success, their voices have continued to gain volume internally within the Lakers front office. In a recent piece from Jovan Buha, Sam Amick and Shams Charania of The Athletic, it was revealed just how influential the brothers have become (emphasis mine).
While Pelinka has been given the ultimate power to make these decisions, sources say there was a desire for the entire group to come to a consensus. It appears the voices of Joey and Jesse Buss are being considered among Lakers leaders now more than ever. If they were going to gamble on a make-or-break move of this magnitude, the thinking went, then everyone had to have confidence in the same vision. But when that wasn’t the case, sources say, the choice was made by Pelinka to remain patient and see, yet again, if Westbrook might find a way to make this imperfect fit with the Lakers work.
Only time will tell if this sort of collaboration is the new norm for Lakers leadership, which in recent years had kept its inner circle small with Jeanie Buss, Pelinka and Rambis. Ironically, the decision to bring Westbrook to town the prior summer in the trade with Washington was not made in this sort of fashion.
For a Lakers team that hasn’t had many positives, this is a big win. While in smaller roles, Jesse and Joey have a long list of victories when it comes to identifying talent and making smart decisions in that regard. And for quite a while, that has been one of the few positives about the franchise.
The pair have been the proteges in the front office for some time. Magic reportedly took them under his wing when he was in charge and the two have had their say in coaching searches in the past.
Elevating them into larger roles is both deserved and a smart basketball decision. The stakes are increasing for both Joey and Jesse when it comes to decision-making as far more people pay attention to success and failures in the NBA versus the G League, but they’ve so far given no indication that they aren’t prepared for the task at hand.
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