Given the unsettled state of the Lakers, coming off a dismal 33-49 NBA season that saw coach Frank Vogel replaced by Darvin Ham in the offseason, and with a potential deal for controversial point guard Kyrie Irving looming, a seemingly unprovoked and mysterious tweet from the team owner is sure to attract attention.
That’s what Jeanie Buss delivered over the weekend, musing about late Lakers star Kobe Bryant by saying, “I miss KB.” But Buss raised questions about the state of the team by adding, “He would understand and explain everything that I’m not allowed to. Honestly he was the greatest Laker ever. He understood team over self. Meaning your rewards would come if you valued team goals over your own then everything would fall into place.”
What, exactly, is Buss herself not allowed to explain? What did she mean by “team over self?” Did she have a player in mind, or someone in the organization? Mysterious, indeed.
Buss closed her tweet with, “All can reply.” And plenty took the opportunity to do just that—there were 10,500 retweets and 4,700 quote tweets of her message just 20 hours after it was posted.
So, Who Did Buss Mean?
Among those replies was a wide swath of opinions on whom Buss was referring to. Point guard Russell Westbrook was one of the first candidates, presumably because his ball-dominant style of play hindered L.A. last season, as Westbrook never quite changed his approach to adjust to the presence of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Another interpretation: Maybe it’s time to trade away Anthony Davis, whose injuries in the last two seasons have cut off any chance the Lakers had on building off their 2020 NBA Championship. Davis missed 42 games last year and 36 games the previous year.
Could it be, maybe, general manager Rob Pelinka?
And, as always, there is a default setting around the NBA on simply blaming LeBron James for anything that has gone wrong. So, maybe that is what Buss was up to with her inexplicable tweet?
Irving Negotiations Are On
It could be, of course, that Buss did not mean any of the above, that all she was doing was expressing the fact that she missed Bryant. But with the Lakers at a crossroads this offseason and with negotiations on a potential deal for Irving overshadowing everything the team is doing now, surely Buss knew that anything she tweeted would be parsed for added meaning. You don’t run the Lakers for as long as Buss has and not know that public statements are going to be pored over by millions.
As it stands, the Lakers are in solid position to land Irving in a trade that dumps Russell Westbrook. There is some question about how far the talks have progressed. but it is likely that any such deal will involve a third team, with point guard Russell Westbrook winding up elsewhere. The Lakers could wind up with Irving on the roster, as well as one of two shooters, Joe Harris or Seth Curry.
With the reputation that Irving has carved out in recent years, though, if the Lakers do trade for him, Buss might be using this tweet again, with Irving as the target.