Lakers Executive VP of basketball operations Jim Buss believes Kobe Bryant is worth his league-high $25MM salary this season after all he’s done for the franchise and said that while the team is operating on the premise that Bryant will retire at season’s end, he’d welcome him back with open arms if he’s willing to accept a role that fits his age and ability. Buss made his comments as part of an interview with Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times, adding that he “feels like we’ve righted the ship” with coach Byron Scott and a new cast of key players, even if the team didn’t sign a star free agent this summer.
“It’s just that it takes time to build a core that guys want to play with,” Buss said to Pincus. “I understand a superstar doesn’t want to come in and say, ‘Oh, we still have two or three years of rebuilding.’ I think with Jordan Clarkson, [D’Angelo] Russell, [Julius] Randle, even [Roy] Hibbert … we’re getting a core of seven or eight players.”
See more on the Lakers amid the latest from around the Pacific Division:
- Buss, also a part-owner of the team, has no regrets about pledging in April 2014 to resign from his basketball operations position if he couldn’t restore the Lakers to contention in three or four years, as he said to Pincus for the same piece. Buss’ sister Jeanie, the primary owner of the franchise, has said she’ll hold him to that pledge if the Lakers aren’t back in the Western Conference Finals by the spring of 2017. Still, the top goal for this season, Jim Buss said to Pincus, is identifying core players for the future, and not necessarily making the playoffs.
- Omri Casspi cited DeMarcus Cousins, calling him the best center in the league in an interview with James Herbert of CBSSports.com, among the reasons why he decided to re-sign with the Kings this summer.
- The Suns officially named Chris Jent the head coach of their one-to-one D-League affiliate, the franchise announced Thursday. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported earlier this month that the sides were finalizing a deal. Jent had been Michael Malone‘s lead assistant with the Kings.