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Mark Cuban: 'I don't know if the Lakers will ever be the Lakers'

By Zach Harper | NBA writer

Cuban isn't sure the Lakers can return to being the Lakers we knew. (USATSI)
Mark Cuban isn't sure the Lakers can return to being the Lakers we knew. (USATSI)

Jerry Buss was one of the most respected owners in professional sports. He owned the Los Angeles Lakers from 1979 until he passed in 2013. He passed on controlling interest of the Lakers to his six children, mostly controlled by Jim Buss and Jeanie Buss. Jim Buss took over the basketball operations of the team while Jeanie Buss is the representative on the NBA Board of Governors and running the business side of the organization.

The Lakers have fallen on hard times as they transition from one era of the Lakers to the next, but some competitors aren't sure the Lakers' mystique will easily come back like we saw when Jerry Buss was running the team. According to Dwain Price of Full-Court Press, Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban has his doubts as to whether or not the Lakers can be the Lakers' team we remember so easily stacking the odds in their favor on the bench.

Since the Los Angeles Lakers are under new ownership following the death of their previous owner, Jerry Buss, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban doesn't believe the Lakers will ever be the same.

"Jerry Buss was the Lakers, so I don't know if the Lakers will ever be the Lakers,'' Cuban said prior to the Mavs' 94-89 win over Boston on Monday. "I don't think there was a smarter owner in the history of the NBA than Jerry Buss, so that's tough to replace.

"I don't think people realize just how good of an owner Jerry was. I looked up to him a lot. Absolutely. So I don't know if the Lakers will ever be the Lakers.''

The organization looks to have a tough road rebuilding ahead of them, which could make Cuban look prophetic here. They've committed $49 million to a 36-year old Kobe Bryant over the next two seasons. That will eat up a significant portion of the cap as this team tries to add star talent alongside Bryant. They'll need to attract at least one max free agent and are assumed to be targeting Kevin Love in 2015.

The Lakers will have their own pick in the 2014 draft, which is projected to be a top five pick, but they owe their 2015 pick to the Phoenix Suns for the Steve Nash trade. Considering their failure in keeping Dwight Howard during his free agency and the new lay of the land in today's Collective Bargaining Agreement, it will be hard to just add a lot of star talent to the roster without being precise and finagling the restrictive rules.

But if anybody can do it, a market like Los Angeles with a history like what the Lakers sport in the rafters of the Staples Center probably has the best chance of reloading to a championship contender. The Lakers just won't have the charismatic Jerry Buss to help convince the top free agents to trust the Lakers' mystique will be there to help carry them in the future.

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