Jerry Buss entertains the media
Unlike last year, when Lakers owner Jerry Buss (pictured at left) sat with the media during training camp in Hawaii and the attention was on whether the Lakers would trade Kobe Bryant, Buss smiled more and was upbeat when he talked to the media Sunday.
Buss, 75, talked about the future with Bryant, his children, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak and how good this team is.
Bryant is making $21.2 million this year, but can terminate the last two years of his deal worth $47.8 million this summer and sign a maximum extension of five years and $135 million.
Buss said the team wasn’t ready to address that issue.
"But we can’t afford to lose Kobe," Buss said.
Another option for Bryant might be going to Europe. There was a rumor that Olympiakos, a team in Greece, would be willing to make Bryant an offer this summer.
"I can’t see it, but there are people who are wealthy enough in the world that could make astronomical offers and I certainly couldn’t compete with that," Buss said. "But, quite honestly, I don’t think that’s a real threat."
Kupchak acquired Pau Gasol and Trevor Ariza and drafted Andrew Bynum. It seems as if Kupchak has done a very good job for the Lakers.
"I’ve always been pleased with everything that Mitch has done," Buss said. "It may seem as if there are ups and downs, but our relationship has never been up and down. It’s been totally steady."
Jeanie Buss, the team’s vice president of business operations who dates Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, and Jim Buss, the team’s vice president of player personnel, are Jerry’s two kids with big roles in the organization.
Jerry said he has been comfortable with them.
"At this point, I’m just really, really pleased with their performances," Jerry Buss said.
The Lakers are considered the favorites to win the NBA championship this year. There has been talk about them winning 70 games. The Chicago Bulls own the all-time mark with a 72-10 record.
Buss said he sees the Lakers winning 60 games.
"I’d be happy with 73, though," Buss said, smiling.
-- Broderick Turner