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Lakers owner Jeanie Buss explains why team will never tank

James Foglio profile picture
Updated 1 month ago on
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Lakers owner Jeanie Buss explains why team will never tank
USA Today Network
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Lakers owner Jeanie Buss went on SiriusXM NBA Radio to discuss the future of her team, and she reiterated that the franchise will never tank.

“It’s hard to win in the NBA,” Buss explained. “Nobody has the exact formula. But I know you can’t win a championship if you’re not in the playoffs.”

“You can provide enough resources to make sure you have a competitive team year in and year out. Some people may debate the idea of tanking for several years. My dad [Jerry] never did that in 32 years.”

Buss is correct in a sense. From 2014–19, the Lakers fell short of qualifying for the postseason. The team went through three head coaches during that span: Mike D’Antoni, Byron Scott and Luke Walton. For such an iconic, valuable NBA franchise, a six-year playoff drought hurt their image.

“It’s just not the way he would have seen the Lakers brand to be at the bottom of the standing year after year,” Buss continued. “He always felt that the fans invested their time and their money in your team, and you have to perform for them.”

“And if you don’t, then they’re going to move on and find something else to spend their time and money on. They deserve to have a quality product.”

“Nobody can promise a championship a year, but again unless you are in playoffs, you’re not going to get a chance to win. So, I like to have the team be in a position to compete for championships year in and year out.”

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss explains why team will never tank

In the 2019-20 season, the Lakers finished the regular season 52-19 (.732) and ranked at the top of the Western Conference standings. They went on to defeat the Miami Heat in six games of the 2020 NBA Finals. Of course, LeBron James won his fourth ring and Finals MVP.

However, in the following season, the team lost in six games against the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. At least they made the playoffs.

Last offseason, the Lakers traded Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma to the Washington Wizards for Russell Westbrook, a 2023 second-round draft pick, a 2024 second-round draft pick and a 2028 second-round draft pick.

Then, the Lakers finished 33-49 (.402) with Westbrook, LeBron and Anthony Davis in the 2021-22 season. They fell short of qualifying for the play-in tournament. Frank Vogel was then fired, and Darvin Ham succeeded him, becoming the team’s 28th head coach in franchise history.

Now, the team’s entering the 2022-23 season with Patrick Beverley. Lakers G.M. Rob Pelinka is also pursuing Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. Though, Jazz executive Danny Ainge is asking for four first-round draft picks. There’s a chance that Westbrook could be dealt in a Lakers-Jazz trade as well.

According to Jeanie Buss, one thing is for certain: the Lakers will never throw in the towel. It makes sense though, considering the NBA draft lottery discourages tanking. Therefore, it’s different from the NFL.

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James is a Basketball Insiders contributor. He earned his bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. James enjoys watching sports and helping gamblers win money.

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