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Lakers vs. Phil Jackson in free-agent battle? Jeanie Buss isn't worried

Los Angeles LakersNew York KnicksMike D'AntoniChris PaulPhil JacksonESPNNick Young

If the Lakers and New York Knicks fight for a franchise-turning free agent in coming summers, Lakers governor Jeanie Buss isn't worried.

But wouldn't new Knicks President Phil Jackson and his 13 championship rings (11 as a coach, two as a player) have more drawing power than Lakers executives Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak?

“That’s not true. I don’t agree with that,” Jeanie Buss said Thursday on ESPN 710. “I think the Lakers are a legacy franchise. I think that players know when they come here this is the ultimate platform. I really don’t think a free agent that’s going to come [will] not consider the Lakers. I’m not worried about that in any way, shape or form.”

But Dwight Howard bolted last July to sign a free-agent deal with Houston, taking substantially less money in the process.

“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 by the Lakers last summer around Los Angeles.

Despite the Lakers (22-45) stumbling badly this season, and well on their way to 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.

They are almost guaranteed a top-10 pick. They might even climb into top-five territory if they keep losing. Buss encouraged Lakers fans to watch the NCAA tournament and 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 was supposed to take place in December 2011.

“Every time we bring up the Chris Paul trade, we set ourselves back. I think we need to move on from it,” she said. “To rehash it over and over again, I don’t think it really solves anything.”

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Kobe Bryant has sympathy for D'Antoni, unsure if coach should return

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Los Angeles LakersNew York KnicksMike D'AntoniChris PaulPhil JacksonESPNNick Young
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