Sports Lakers

Jeanie Buss not worried about free-agent competition from Knicks

Here's the Lakers' newest nightmare development, other than the play-so-terribly-they-miss-playoffs one they're living now.

It starts with plenty of money to spend on free agents. And there's a player or two who can change a franchise.

But he's also being recruited by the New York Knicks.

Phil Jackson vs. the Lakers? Could easily happen.

It won't be in July unless the Lakers show a renewed interest in Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony should he opt out of his contract.

But next year, when Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge could be available, the Knicks and Lakers will have plenty of money. The year after that, LeBron James and Kevin Durant could both be available.

So what happens if the Lakers and Knicks fight over a franchise forward? Jackson, the Knicks' president, might have more drawing power than Lakers executives Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak.

"That's not true. I don't agree with that," Lakers governor Jeanie Buss said Thursday on ESPN 710. "I think the Lakers are a legacy franchise. Players know when they come here this is the ultimate platform…. I'm not worried about that in any way, shape or form."

But Dwight Howard took substantially less money last July to sign with Houston.

"I still don't understand why he left," Buss said. "He had his own reasons. People I guess maybe would be talking [angrily] about the billboard. That really seemed to rub people the wrong way. I thought it was a good idea. It obviously didn't mean anything to him."

Buss was referring to the "STAY" campaign unveiled last summer around Los Angeles.

Despite the Lakers (22-45) careening toward their worst record since moving to Los Angeles, Buss said there were no plans to abandon ship.

"There's no reason for us to sell the team," she said. "My dad made a plan, he made it possible for us to keep the team and that was a lot of years and years and years of estate planning. We want to operate the team as a family and there's no reason for us to ever sell."

The one good part to a historically bad season — the Lakers will be fairly high heading into the May 20 draft lottery. Buss encouraged Lakers fans to watch the NCAA tournament and individually determine which player they'd like the team to draft.

"Who's our new baby going to be?" she said.

One thing bothered Buss — continual talk about the vetoed Chris Paul trade that almost took place in December 2011.

"Every time we bring up the Chris Paul trade, we set ourselves back," she said. "To rehash it over and over again, I don't think it really solves anything."

Bryant, Nash back?

Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash were back on the practice court Thursday in their Lakers uniforms. It was only for the annual team photo.

The injured guards did better than Jordan Hill, though. He was a no-show.

The team postponed the photo shoot for 20 minutes before taking it without Hill. He will probably be fined for his absence.

Young back

Nick Young said he would play Friday against Washington after sitting out 17 of the last 18 games. "I'm feeling good," he said. "Ain't too much 'Swaggy' can't do out there."

Young, who gave himself the nickname "Swaggy P," has been out because of a fracture and bone bruise in his left knee.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

Twitter: @EricPincus

Bresnahan is a Times staff writer. Pincus is a Times correspondent.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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