There are times when Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss posting a message about how much she misses Kobe Bryant won’t raise many eyebrows. 11:11 pm PT on a Sunday night amid a high-stakes Lakers offseason isn’t one of them.
Buss posted such a message late Sunday night, lamenting Bryant’s loss and extolling his “team over self” mindset:
Why would Buss be missing Bryant’s counsel and selflessness at that exact moment? Well, it may be because that’s the kind of season (and year, really) the Lakers are having.
The Lakers are still in a bad place
The Lakers are currently working through a highly important offseason after last season’s disaster that saw them finish 11th in the Western Conference while being plagued by injuries and issues of fit with point guard Russell Westbrook.
It had been widely expected, or at least hoped by some, that the team would overhaul its supporting cast around LeBron James, namely by trading Westbrook and his $47 million salary. That hasn’t happened yet.
Instead, the team has mostly signed younger players to deals ranging from cheap to the minimum: Lonnie Walker IV, Damian Jones, Troy Brown Jr., Juan Toscano-Anderson. Three of those four players are clients of Klutch Sports Group, an agency whose alleged involvement (or lack thereof) in Lakers decision-making via top client LeBron James has inspired some grumbling in the past.
Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported Saturday the Lakers are currently trying to trade Westbrook to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for James’ old friend Kyrie Irving, with the two teams currently haggling over which 3-point specialist to include. That Westbrook is even moveable at this point is mildly surprising, and mostly thanks to the reported toxicity in the Brooklyn Nets organization.
The Lakers acquired Westbrook last season after James reportedly made it known he wanted Westbrook over Buddy Hield, only for James’ agents to reportedly want the team to trade Westbrook for John Wall, another of their clients, months later.
Oh, and James is a free agent after next season.
If all of that sounds like Buss is dealing with a lot right now, you’re probably not far off. Her tweet could be a veiled shot at a number of people behind the scenes, or she could just genuinely Miss Bryant’s aid and wanted the world to know less than an hour before midnight on the West Coast.