Agreement puts Jeanie Buss in control of Lakers for life
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A battle over control of the Los Angeles Lakers is over after an agreement was reached to have Jeanie Buss serve as controlling owner of the storied NBA franchise for the rest of her life, making permanent the arrangement her late father and longtime Lakers owner Jerry Buss said in his will that he wanted.
The agreement was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday and states that Jim and Johnny Buss have agreed that their sister will serve as the controlling owner. The filing ends weeks of uncertainty about control of the Lakers as the franchise tries to put several losing seasons behind it.
Earlier this month, Jeanie Buss went to court seeking an order to control the team after her brothers called for a board meeting that she interpreted as a challenge to her power. That filing came days after she removed Jim Buss as the Lakers’ executive vice president of basketball operations.
She replaced her brother with Magic Johnson and also fired longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak, whom Johnson replaced with sports agent Rob Pelinka.
A person familiar with the agreement who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly said Jim Buss has been replaced as a trustee of the Lakers by his younger sister, Janie. A document filed Monday names Janie Buss as a successor trustee and states that she agrees with her older sister serving as the team’s controlling owner.
Jim Buss will retain his ownership stake in the team.
Attorney Robert Sacks, who represents Jim and Johnny Buss, did not return a phone message Monday. Sacks had previously said the brothers have no interest in wresting control from their sister and that the entire court fight was unnecessary.
The Lakers also had no immediate comment on the development, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s hard to imagine a better outcome. Jeanie will run the team, just as Dr. Buss always intended,” her attorney, Adam Streisand, wrote in an email. “And Laker fans can get back to hoping for championships instead of favorable court rulings.”
The league approves of the move.
“We are pleased that this matter has been resolved,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “Jeanie is as knowledgeable and experienced as any owner in sports and the Lakers are in great hands.”
As a player, Johnson led the Lakers to five NBA championships, but the team has been in rebuilding mode for several years in what has arguably been the lowliest stretch in franchise history.
Hopes were briefly high with even talk of a return to the playoffs at the beginning of this season when Luke Walton took over as coach with high draft picks like guard DeAngelo Russell and forward Brandon Ingram taking the floor.
But the team is just 21-52, in last place in the Western Conference and headed to the draft lottery again.
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP