SBD/Issue 51/Franchises

Lakers Owner Jerry Buss Addresses Team's League-High Payroll

Buss Says Team Will Maintain Big Payroll
If It Is Necessary To Win
Lakers Owner Jerry Buss said spending a league-high $112.7M in payroll and luxury taxes this season "doesn't thrill" him, according to Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. TIMES. The Lakers will spend $91.3M in player salary this season and an additional $21.4M in luxury taxes "if their roster is still the same on the final day of the regular season." Buss: "I don't like to be singled out for that particular purpose, but I feel in this situation it was necessary. When it's necessary, we're going to do that." When asked why he would "cut greatly into profit margins that, in Buss' words, came close to $30[M] or $40[M] last season," Buss said, "We want to win as many championships as we possibly can. We're still a few shy of our rival [the Celtics] and our intention is to catch them." Meanwhile, Lakers Exec VP/Player Personnel Jim Buss, Jerry's son, "has picked up more and more of his father's personal day-to-day decision-making duties," while Exec VP/Business Operations Jeanie Buss, Jerry's daughter, "oversees the business side of the Lakers." Jerry Buss said, "Jeanie's had the business responsibility for some time now. Jimmy, I would say started at about 10% or 20% many years ago (on the personnel side) and has gained about 10% a year. I think he's up around 90-something now" (L.A. TIMES, 11/23).

WHATEVER IT TAKES: Jerry Buss said, "If we could find a way to save some money and stay the level of competition we're at, obviously, we'd try to do that. In this [particular] case, we feel the dollars were well spent. Nobody likes this. I'd rather take the $30[M] or $40[M] and put it in my pocket. Just look at my (frayed) jeans. You think I don't have a big payroll. If it's necessary, we're going to do it." Buss: "Like all gamblers, we feel like we're on a run." Jim Buss said that he "would not hesitate to add to the team's payroll before next season if that's what it takes to keep the Lakers ahead of the pack." He added, "If we win again, I'll look to raise the bar that much more. I'm not one who sits pat on a win. You kind of want to improve because that's what all the other teams are doing, which is basically improving to beat you" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 11/23). Lakers C Andrew Bynum said of Jerry Buss' spending, "As long as we keep winning, I think he'll keep doing it." The Mavericks "have the second-largest payroll, about $4[M] below the Lakers" (L.A. TIMES, 11/21).

LABOR THOUGHTS: Jerry Buss said that he is "hopeful that things will get resolved" in negotiations for a new CBA between the NBA and NBPA. Buss: "Obviously the intent is to avoid any kind of conflict, somehow to get everybody happy. But at the end of every (collective bargaining) contract, it's been kind of difficult to get the next one signed" (L.A. TIMES, 11/23).

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