SBD/March 20, 2014/Franchises

NBA Takes Steps To Head Off Any Conflict-Of-Interest Issues In Buss-Jackson Relationship

Buss (l) and Jackson have been together since '99 and are engaged
The NBA has put "parameters in place" to make sure the relationship between Lakers Exec VP/Business Operations Jeanie Buss and Knicks President Phil Jackson "doesn't create any issues," according to Rovell & Shelburne of ESPN.com. NBA Exec VP/Communications Mike Bass said, "To avoid even the appearance of a conflict, we have addressed the issue with the Knicks and Lakers to ensure that the relationship between Jeanie Buss and Phil Jackson will not affect how the teams operate." Buss and Jackson have been dating since '99 and got engaged in December '12. Former NBA Commissioner David Stern previously had "several conversations with Buss as Jackson entertained potential jobs" with the Raptors, a potential Seattle franchise and the Cavaliers (ESPN.com, 3/19). Buss on Tuesday sat for an interview with Time Warner Cable SportsNet's Bill Macdonald and noted she has discussed the conflict of interest possibility with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Buss: "There is an understanding that, all trades are approved by the NBA, and I don’t anticipate any problem because I don’t make the basketball decisions on behalf of the Lakers. I don’t really (know) where there’d be a conflict" ("Access SportsNet," Time Warner Cable SportsNet, 3/18). Buss added that she "would probably share a little less information with Jackson involved with another team, although she does plan on attending Knicks games" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/20).

BUSS STOP: As part of the TWC SportsNet interview, Buss touched on Jackson taking a role with the Knicks instead of the Lakers, as well as the front-office dynamics with other members of her family. She said, "I think it was clear that Phil wanted to go back to work. ... There was no role for him with the Lakers. He’s too good of a basketball mind to just sit at home in a rocking chair playing Solitaire. He decided, and I feel comfortable with that, and he knows my commitment is here with the Lakers. The Lakers are my life. For him, the Knicks will be a job that will have a beginning and hopefully for him, success. ... It’ll someday come to an end because he’s a hired person. But the Lakers are my life and it’s a family business. This is going to be my family forever." Buss added, "There were a lot of Laker functions that Phil was with me because he was there to support me, in no official capacity. There is no role in the front office for him for what he could contribute." Buss said of the state of the franchise, "It’s very important the way my father left things was for us to operate the team as a family. ... I would say that, by and large, we are all on the same page." She said of who the voice of the Lakers is, "I think, ultimately, the buck stops with me. I am president and governor of the team and I have empowered the basketball operations and the front office to put together a basketball team based on working within the confines of the collective bargaining agreement and putting together the best team they possibly can" ("Access SportsNet," Time Warner Cable SportsNet, 3/18).
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