Lakers

Jeanie Buss says Luke Walton is the right man for the Lakers

Jeanie Buss
Jeanie Buss speaks at the 12th annual Lakers All-Access event.
(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Jeanie Buss won’t speculate on what will happen to the Lakers’ front office after this season. She won’t speculate, either, on what the team will do, or what will make a successful season for her.

She’d rather wait.

“I think that in my job, what my job is, is to make sure that I ensure the success of the franchise going forward,” said Buss, the Lakers’ president and governor. “As we define success, there’s no reason to speculate on what will happen this season. We have to see what happens and evaluate at the end of the season.”

Buss spoke Tuesday while promoting a passion project of hers — a documentary that will focus on the Showtime Lakers and the life of her late father, former owner Jerry Buss. Haven Entertainment is producing the documentary. As she helps unearth material for it, she has delved into her father’s belongings and memorabilia from the Lakers’ glory days.

It’s conjured memories she hasn’t thought of in ages.

“In some ways it gives me peace ... it brings back good memories,” she said. “In some ways it makes me sad because I miss it and I know every year we get further and further away from it. 

“I think it’s probably what everybody feels when they look back on their past and their history.”

The Showtime Lakers won five championships, and the Lakers have won five more since. The franchise has recently fallen on lean years, having won only 17 games last season, 21 the year before and 27 in the 2013-14 season.

Jeanie’s brother, Jim, is the team’s executive vice president of basketball operations. The two of them and four other siblings each own 11% of the team as part of the Buss Family Trusts. 

In April 2014 Jim Buss told The Times that if the Lakers weren’t contending for a championship in three or four years, “then I will step down because that means I have failed.”

As this season begins, though, the Lakers are focusing more on the development of their young team, which includes three consecutive lottery picks, than they are on any playoff aspirations.

Rather than react to her brother’s timeline, or any talk of rebuilding, Jeanie Buss turned the conversation forward to first-year Coach Luke Walton.

“I think that with Luke Walton, under his leadership, I think he is the right person to lead this young team,” she said. “I think he’s going to have them working hard and playing hard and I do think this is a positive for Laker fans to watch somebody who chose to come back to L.A. 

“He was in a pretty good situation in Golden State. He knows where the Lakers have been the last couple seasons … in the bottom of the standings, and he chose to come back to a place where he won two championships as a player.”

Winning was a major part of her father’s legacy. It’s a legacy she admits she feels pressure to uphold.

“I mean, it was his dream and he was very disciplined about how he would set up a trust so that we could keep the Lakers in the family,” she said. “And it was really his fondest wish that we would continue in his legacy to own and manage the Lakers [with] the values that were important to him.

“He really wanted Los Angeles to be proud of their team. … He knew what a winning team would mean to the community.”

And while continuing his legacy, she also seeks to preserve it through the documentary. Linda Rambis, the Lakers’ manager of special events, is also involved with the project. 

Not a bad start

No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram made his presence felt defensively in his first NBA exhibition game. Ingram scored only two points, but he had two blocked shots, a steal and two defensive rebounds in the Lakers’ 103-84 victory over Sacramento on Tuesday night.

“I don’t think that I had the offensive game that I wanted to have,” Ingram said. “But I tried to attack the game in a different way and tried to get after it defensively and [with] steals and tried to do something that would help the team.” 

tania.ganguli@latimes.com

Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli