This may seem like it's out of nowhere, but I was going to post this as a defense of sorts for Jerry Buss on the thread that was trashing him for bestowing so much power to Jim. It's locked now, so I figured that since I spent twenty minutes typing it up, I'd put it here. If it's interrupting another discussion, I'll go back in my corner and be quiet :)
I think it looks bleak now, but if I allow myself some optimism, I'm hoping that this period will be viewed more favorably in a few years.
Not too long ago, it felt like Jim Buss was the trust-fund baby who valued lowering the luxury tax bill over winning, stubbornly refused to part ways with his pet project in Andrew Bynum, and hated all things Phil Jackson. With the CP3 fiasco, the Nash trade, and the Dwight saga, he, at least momentarily, seemed more flexible than thought on spending and showed a modicum of maturity in sending out Bynum for the gamble on Howard.
With the peculiar hiring and firing of Mike Brown and the shoddy treatment of Phil Jackson, Jim displayed the behavior of a spoiled child, and that, along with hiss arrogance, ultimately cost the Lakers, at least in the short run (as evidenced by Dwight Howard's revelation that he requested Phil as coach).
In a perfect world, this would be the best scenario. Jim's human. I don't think he resents his father in any way, but I think it's reasonable to expect someone in his position to prove to his family, his detractors, and ultimately himself that he can 'be his own man' and experience success that came so easily to his father. Insecurity has to play a large role in this: Jim probably spent his life working towards/dreaming of a day in which he can take the reins from his father, yet Phil Jackson's presence undermines his ability to do so. Putting yourself in his shoes, you can sort of see where he's coming from: My legendary father retires, yet an equally legendary coach is in a long-term relationship with my sister, has ingratiated himself with our franchise, and publicly reveals that he's seeking a position that, for better or worse, I've been afforded the opportunity to hold? Especially considering Phil's penchant for manipulating the media (I love the guy, but it's true), I can see Jim's trepidation.
So, we have examples of Jim's maturation (willing to spend on premier talent, parting with Bynum), but it's tempered by lingering immaturity (his relationship with Phil). Hopefully, the Dwight Howard situation will further Jim's, let's say, humbling. I'm not sure about anyone else, but I, for one, anticipated more from the Lakers meeting with Dwight - their insistence on having "the last word" coupled with rumors of surprises led me to believe that had a slew of aces up their sleeves, and I thought at least one was Phil Jackson (the idea of him leaving town so close to the meeting seemed like an obvious 'let's throw off the scent and surprise Dwight' maneuver).
Given what we know, I think that Jim viewed the situation either arrogantly - 'We're the Lakers, that's enough of a pitch' - or with hesitance, sort of the 'I'm lukewarm on Dwight, but I guess we kind of have to go after him.' Maybe it was both, and to be frank, that's how I felt.
I vacillated between 'It's the Lakers, we don't beg, to hell with him,' and 'Dwight's our best, realistic shot at maximizing Kobe's final years,' but I never thought 'LA locks him up, the Lakers have locked up elite status for years.' Like many, I found Howard's free-agent attractiveness more appealing than his game.
I love Jeanie, and I realize that has head of marketing, her decision to go with the billboards and essentially beg for Dwight has more to do with the state of today's league and her need to go all in for any Lakers-related endeavors than it necessarily did with her belief in Dwight Howard, player, but I feel like, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, if we aren't perturbed at her for #StayD12, then we shouldn't be perturbed at Jim for losing Dwight.
Again, as the Phil thing demonstrates, he's still a brat in many ways, but I think the possibility does exist that Phil's absence at the meeting and this season has something to do with Jim not totally being sold on Dwight. He's not a moron. If having Phil at the meeting was a slam-dunk move to get Dwight, and Jim truly wanted Dwight back, Phil would have been there. After all, if Jim was just so totally opposed to avoiding Phil at the expense of the franchise, why did the team even acknowledge the option of hiring Phil back in November? Maybe it was to embarrass the man - it's a possibility. But maybe, Jim's doesn't necessarily hate Phil so much as he dislikes him, never believed in Dwight, and shuddered at the idea of having to stand in Phil's shadow while watching Dwight underachieve for the next five years.
Obviously, the next year or two will be very telling for the direction of the franchise with Jim at the helm. But I was among those who thought that if Dwight re-signed, then awesome, he's got bigger stones than I thought, but if he doesn't, he was never Laker material anyway. Maybe that's how Jim felt too. And if that's the case, he's at least showing some restraint in allowing Mitch and the Lakers PR staff to pursue him so vigorously, which is good for the franchise. If not, then his remaining immaturity may have allowed the organization to dodge a bullet in Dwight, and this experience will hopefully prove to be a humbling experience from which he'll grow.
I appreciate anyone who took the time to read this novel. I'm a big-time lurker here, and any time I try to contribute to the discussion, I'm hesitant to tip my toe in the water - in the 1100+ page Dwight thread, it just felt weird to chime in mid-discussion seemingly out of nowhere. I tell you this so no one sees my post count, reads this defense of Jim Buss, and thinks that I'm working as Jim's intern, earning college credit by laying the groundwork of his redemption among Lakers fans.