The nature of having LeBron James on your team is that Klutch Sports will have an influence on the franchise. The pros of that are the acquisition of Anthony Davis, who almost certainly wouldn’t have come to the Lakers if not for LeBron and Klutch. The cons to that are the constant discussions of how much power Klutch Sports has and the squabbles that come along with that.
The Lakers experienced the latter of those two when LeBron went on his media tour around All-Star weekend which eventually led to a meeting between the front office and Rich Paul to get back on the same page. The former of those, though, is something that can’t really be doused entirely, but Lakers owner Jeanie Buss did her best to squash that notion during her recent interview with Bill Plaschke of the LA Times.
In a wide-ranging conversation, she continued to offer support of embattled general manager Rob Pelinka, but also confirmed that she is now also receiving input from historic Lakers figures Magic Johnson and Phil Jackson. She defended Kurt Rambis and Linda Rambis, but emphasized that Linda is not making basketball decisions. She expressed loyalty to LeBron James and the desire to do whatever it takes to make him happy, but bristled when asked what every fan wants to know — do James and Klutch Sports run the Lakers?
“Do they have final say? No. Are they running the team? No, no, not at all,” said Buss. “I am controlling owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, I’m held accountable for every decision that’s made here.”
Jeanie taking full accountability, as did general manager Rob Pelinka with his comments at his exit interview, is certainly noteworthy. It’s clear that they want the credit for things if they go right, but it also means that if things do continue to go awry, those two have positioned themselves as the two main figures to lump all the blame on.
It’s also freeing Klutch Sports of the blame, though there have been contradictory reports on that matter. The Lakers want everyone to know they’re in charge, but also want to blame Klutch and LeBron for the Russell Westbrook trade. This isn’t a matter where they can have their cake and eat it, too. Either Klutch is involved or they aren’t.
The truth is Klutch Sports and the Lakers can have a beneficial partnership and largely have during their tenure together. I mean, they won a title less than three years ago. A disastrous season deserves some level of finger-pointing and blame and the two parties have done that.
So, while Klutch Sports does not run the Lakers, they have had significant influence on the franchise, no matter how much Jeanie and Rob want to deny that moving forward. In reality, it may be in their best interest not to entirely separate Klutch as the hammer may come down if there is another disappointing season and no one is going to be left to absorb that blow.