Each week, ESPN.com Lakers beat writer Baxter Holmes, along with ESPN.com NBA writers Ramona Shelburne and Arash Markazi, will weigh in on three questions that are on the minds of Los Angeles Lakers followers.
1. Is Magic Johnson right when he says Jim Buss should admit his mistakes?
Holmes: He's right in that Jim should have more of a public presence, particularly now when Lakers fans want answers about the direction of the team. And it obviously wouldn't hurt for Jim to admit fault when it comes to some of these decisions. After all, when you're at the top, the buck ultimately stops at you.
Shelburne: I'm pretty sure I did an extended interview with Jim and Jeanie Buss in December where Jim Buss said, "I accept the responsibility for the criticism. I don't think it's correct, but I accept it." What else do you want the man to say? The truth is that Magic is, first and foremost, a Lakers fan. He hates to see the franchise in this position. He hates all this losing and he's lashing out. There's merit in some of the criticisms he has of the Lakers' decision-making, but I don't think Jim Buss has run from that criticism.
Markazi: No. There might be a time and place for Buss to admit his mistakes and maybe even relinquish his duties because of them, but now is not the time to offer up apologies for trying to help turn around the Lakers. He has made some big moves that were either overturned (Chris Paul) or backfired (Dwight Howard and Steve Nash), but I think he has done what he thinks is best for the team. He has said he would step aside if he can't turn the Lakers around, and that's all he needs to say. I don't think Lakers fans want to hear apologies or admitting to mistakes. That does nothing.
2. After the LeBron James-Kevin Love Twitter dust-up, does it make it any more probable Love will be a Laker at some point?
Holmes: I honestly can't see Love joining the Lakers, if only because he can choose from any other number of options that are more attractive in terms of an organization that is in position to compete right now and in the foreseeable future. The Lakers would have to make one hell of a pitch to Love, and I'm just not sure what that pitch could entail to really make him interested.
Shelburne: The Twitter dust-up is nothing. But Love's inability to fit in in Cleveland so far is a real concern for both the Cavaliers and him. He is a free agent. He can leave this summer. If things really don't go well in the playoffs, it's only natural for him to look around at other options. I still think he stays in Cleveland, but it's not as much of a slam dunk as before.
Markazi: I don't think so, and to be honest I don't know if Love is the franchise max player that the Lakers need. I think there's a chance Love is available and the Lakers would certainly be interested in him, but after watching him on a contender for the first time this season, is he still a guy that you want to pick as your next franchise guy? I'm not so sure anymore.
3. What should be the Lakers' primary focus after the All-Star break?
Holmes: Developing young players. It has been the focus before the All-Star break, and it should especially be the focus afterward. Players such as Jordan Clarkson should get plenty of playing time, and they should also play Ryan Kelly and Tarik Black plenty, too. The Lakers will lose, sure, but they were already losing before the break. Best to make the best of these remaining games by giving young players a chance to develop on their own.
Shelburne: Developing their young talent and trying to acquire as many assets for the future as possible. If you're going to play Clarkson this much, you might as well trade Jeremy Lin and get something for him. The Lakers have from now until Feb. 19 to decide if guys like Ed Davis, Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre, Wayne Ellington and Lin are part of their future. If they are, play them as much as possible. If not, they should look to trade them and get assets in return.
Markazi: Lose as many games as possible and develop role players for the future. The Lakers aren't going to lose on purpose, of course, but it's imperative they keep their top-five pick and find some good role players for next season's team.