Jeanie Buss doesn’t see any logic in idea of Lakers tanking

In a radio interview Tuesday, Jeanie Buss said she doesn't understand the logic in tanking to keep a Lakers draft pick away from the Phoenix Suns.
In a radio interview Tuesday, Jeanie Buss said she doesn’t understand the logic in tanking to keep a Lakers draft pick away from the Phoenix Suns.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers (11-24) will lose their first-round pick to the Phoenix Suns if they don’t have a top-five selection in the 2015 NBA draft.

Some, including Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, have suggested it would be better if the Lakers tank the season, to make sure the team adds a nice, young prospect in June.

Lakers President and Governor Jeanie Buss doesn’t agree.

“The draft pick to Phoenix, if we don’t give it to them this year, we have to give it to them next year, so I don’t really see what the logic would be,” said Buss on Tuesday, via SiriusXM NBA Radio’s “Off the Dribble” with Jared Greenberg and former Lakers champion Rick Fox.


“Try to tank to keep it this year, because we’d just have to give it away next year -- that doesn’t resonate with me,” she continued. “I think it’s impossible to tell your coach and tell your players, ‘Try not to win.’ That goes against everything an organization is about.”

If the Lakers do keep their pick this season, their 2016 selection will go to the Suns with top-three protection. That same protection is also in place in 2017, finally going to Phoenix unprotected in 2018, if not sooner.

While Buss said the team isn’t tanking, she acknowledged it is having a difficult time winning games, what with injuries and trying to adjust to the ways of Coach Byron Scott, who was hired over the summer.

“We’re struggling but we’ve been in so many games and you see the learning curve with a new coach and players learning how to play together, learning how to play the way he wants them to,” said Buss. “There have been many games where a basket would have made the difference and we’d be telling a different story now.”

Buss runs the business side of the organization, but ultimately holds the highest position as governor. She’s said she’s looking forward to seeing the basketball staff -- led by her brother, Lakers Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Jim Buss -- rebuild the team into a winner.

“I’m still all in for watching this, giving our front office the opportunity to put together what their vision is for a basketball team,” she said. “We need to be patient.”

Buss also had a message for the Lakers’ aging star, Kobe Bryant, who at 36 has just one more year left on his contract.

“Make sure when he retires that he’s ready to give up the game,” she said. “We’ve seen a couple of times guys who, they decided that it was too soon and they tried to come back.

“My advice to Kobe is to be sure in his heart that the time is right for him, because really the only person who knows when it’s right will be Kobe.”

The Lakers will visit the Clippers (23-12) on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

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