If 2012 will be remembered as the year when people stopped making jokes about LeBron being ringless then let’s also make it the year we said goodbye to Jim Buss jokes. That’s because in addition to not being the buffoon people thought he was, he might actually be one of the league’s most brilliant execs.
No need to reread that. Your mind isn’t playing tricks on you. I really just used ‘Jim Buss’ and ‘brilliant’ in the same sentence. Jim Buss has made four trades in the past nine months that any executive in any professional sport would be in awe of. The fact that he did it in a league with a salary cap and for a team that was well over that cap makes it even more impressive. Now it’s true that only three of those trades came to fruition, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that Buss had a deal in place that the commissioner blocked.
**It should also be noted that from this moment forward Lakers Nation has lost the right to complain about the failed Chris Paul trade. Deal?
Let’s look at the trades that Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak have pulled off since December of 2011:
- A 3-team deal involving the Hornets and Rockets that would have sent out Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol and brought back Chris Paul.
- A trade of Lamar Odom that not only saved his family a ton of money but also brought back a trade exception and a future first-round pick.
- A trade of the aforementioned exception, three awful drafts picks, and possibly one decent draft pick for future Hall of Famer Steve Nash.
- A 4-team trade involving the Magic, the 76ers, and the Nuggets that sent out Andrew Bynum and brought back Dwight Howard.
The genius of the failed Paul deal was that it would have strengthened the team moving forward. It would have sent out much more in salary than it would have brought back and that’s what scared the other owners. Owners like Cleveland’s Dan Gilbert were not only upset because the Lakers’ reduced payroll would give them back less money in luxury taxes, but also because they were positioning themselves to add a 26-year-old star point guard and pair him with either their 24-year-old center, or even scarier, find a way to pair him with the only center better, the 26-year-old they just so happened to acquire on Friday.
That brings us to Jim’s greatest achievement. It was he who championed the drafting of Andrew Bynum with the 10th pick in the 2005; right after Charlie Villanueva, Channing Frye, and Ike Diogu. Jim Buss should forever be given credit for being the guy who drafted the guy who was traded for Dwight Howard.
Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss were told they couldn’t make a right turn so they made three left turns.
Next Page: Buss, Kupchak Turn Water Into Wine