In Los Angeles, the Lakers are being examined like a patient during surgery. Even after the team's impressive victory over Golden State on Saturday, fans and analysts have gone deep in their attempts to diagnose the franchise.
Jeanie Buss, who took over the Lakers completely in 2017, has been the subject of conversations so far, with critics pointing to her inner circle as the source of poor decision-making.
Nevertheless, Jeanie remains unshaken by the calls for her to abandon her current group of advisors, which includes team President/GM, Rob Pelinka.
Before and after the meeting, this much remained clear about Buss: Even if there’s criticism coming from all corners, she’s unapologetic about the counsel she keeps and the people she chooses to empower. And often, it seems, the significance of the history she has with each of her chosen allies is lost on most observers. Take Pelinka, for example, the longtime agent for Bryant and close friend of Buss, who sources say still has her full support and trust.
Jeanie's inner circle also apparently includes Kurt and Linda Rambis, who have been longtime friends of hers. Even ex-Lakers coach Phil Jackson has gotten a say in the decision-making process this season.
"Sources say Jackson, the Lakers legend and ex-fiancé of Buss, whose presence at Saturday’s win against Golden State was highlighted by the team’s Twitter account, has been in frequent contact with Buss about team matters all season long. "The complicated and often uncomfortable dynamics surrounding the Westbrook situation, in particular, are known to have drawn his interest. As unofficial consultants go, they don’t get much more experienced or credible than Jackson."
In what has been a disastrous season for the Purple and Gold, people are looking for anyone to blame, and who is better than the one calling the shots?
The problem is, nobody really knows where the power lies in the organization. Is it with Kobe's old agent, Pelinka? Is it with Kurt Rambis? Phil Jackson? Jeanie Buss herself?
There is no clear answer, but perhaps that is precisely part of the problem.