Too many questions remain
There has to be some degree of concern when talking about the Lakers' future right now.
Let's begin with the passing of Dr. Jerry Buss. As much as everyone within the organization talks about this seamless transition that's been in place, with Jim Buss handling the basketball operations and Jeanie Buss handling the business operations, it's simply not that easy.
Before his passing, Buss had stepped away from the day-to-day operations of the team over the past three seasons and hadn't attended a game over the past two seasons, as he was in and out of the hospital. I don't think it's a coincidence that the Lakers have failed to make it out of the second round of the playoffs during that time and wouldn't make the playoffs if the season ended today.
Kobe Bryant once said that the Lakers always seem to figure things out, and he's right -- to a certain extent. The Lakers won 10 titles and went to 16 NBA Finals under Buss' ownership. Before he took control of the team, however, the Lakers had won just one title in their previous 25 seasons. In hindsight, maybe it wasn't the Lakers who always figured things out -- maybe it was Buss. He was a brilliant man who always seemed to make the right moves, and it is still a big question whether Jim and Jeanie will be able to have that same kind of success.
Beyond the ownership questions, look at the Lakers' roster. Kobe Bryant is turning 35 this summer, Steve Nash is 39 and Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace are 33 and constantly on the trading block. Dwight Howard is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and it's no secret how unhappy he has been. As talented as the Lakers are on paper, they are an old team that is four games below .500.
So not only are there questions surrounding the Lakers' ownership, there are questions surrounding their roster and much-maligned coach Mike D'Antoni moving forward. If that's not cause for some concern, well, it should be.
Buss family up for challenge
Dr. Jerry Buss is irreplaceable. There might never be another owner like him. And there certainly will be an adjustment period as the Lakers learn to conduct business without him as the final say. To suggest everything will run as smoothly and as well as before is naive.
But to suggest everything will fall apart and deteriorate is wildly premature. The Lakers have one very important thing going for them here: All of the Buss children who've been entrusted to take care of the franchise that Buss built want to make it work. For their father and his legacy, for the Lakers and for the city of Los Angeles. There's no way any of them accepted the responsibility of trying to run the Lakers as a family if they weren't up for the challenge. There were plenty of opportunities along the way to step out of the loop if they weren't game.
Yes, what you've read about the chill between Jeanie Buss and Jim Buss is true. They don't talk often, and the situation was exacerbated by the way the way Phil Jackson was treated in November. But again, both want to make it work and have done what's necessary the past four or five years as they've each assumed more power to do so.
Time will tell in the end. This won't be easy. But if you're looking for a reason to have faith in the Lakers' future, perhaps you can still look to Dr. Buss, who came up with this succession plan in the first place and was never afraid to change his mind.