When someone is forced to root for nepotism, the hope becomes that somewhere in that gene pool, someone is actually worthy of the opportunity they’re unfairly in line for. Lakers fans find themselves now hoping that either Jesse or Joey Buss fare better in prominent roles than their older siblings have to this point as, reportedly, they are assuming more responsibility in the organization.
What would it mean, though? How would Jesse or Joey, whose focuses for so long now have been on the future, fit into an organization hell-bent on winning now?
Even beyond those questions, at some point, it’s fair to wonder whether Jesse or Joey are incentivized to put their support behind keeping the 2027 and ‘29 picks as they very well could be in charge of the franchise when those picks convey.
Hell, if we really want to be cynical, doesn’t it behoove them to nix any trade right now with Rob Pelinka’s seat as hot as it is? If the Lakers don’t meet expectation this season, and Pelinka gets fired as a result, there’s a decent chance they’d assume his responsibilities — a promotion they would not otherwise get with him still employed.
With all that in mind, it was certainly interesting to see — in the same graf of The Athletic’s reporting on the situation — that Jesse and Joey’s voices are being taken into account in ways they weren’t before and that apparently the Lakers’ brain trust couldn’t come to a consensus on whether or not to trade those two first rounders:
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.
And while we’re considering their potential promotions, if the youngest Buss brothers might be on the verge of taking over depending on how things go with Pelinka, wouldn’t they want those extra couple assets with which to rebuild post-LeBron James?
By the way, we’ve seen this play out before, as Jim Buss was at one point ready to make an all-in move for DeMarcus Cousins, it was Jeanie who outranked him with an eye towards the future. Sound familiar?
All this is most likely conjecture. If any of it was true, you’d have two high-ranking Lakers officials essentially rooting for failure — if not outright making sure it happens. Sure, both Jesse and Joey are hardworking and from all accounts, very ambitious, but there’s quite a bit of distance between ambition and cutthroat behavior.
Do I honestly think all this is going on? Probably not. But when the organizational ladder is as reliant on birthright as the Lakers’ is, such maneuvering can’t be disregarded outright.
This week in the “Lakers Lounge,” I discussed all that with Harrison Faigen, after we gave our thoughts on what we’ve seen from the Lakers to this point and why, given what we’ve seen, the Lakers should push their chips into the middle of the table and make the reported deal with Indiana for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield.
You can listen to the full episode below, and to make sure you never miss a show, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts.
And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.