by Marcel Mutoni

In Laker-land these days, there’s an eerie calm to the proceedings. It’s perfectly jarring, to be honest with you.

The team is winning with machine-like efficiency, there are no injuries to worry about, guys are accepting roles, and everyone’s getting along swimmingly. Just what in the hell is going on here? I have no idea, but team owner Jerry Buss seems content with things, and is ready to open up his wallet to keep the good times rolling. Well, sort of.

From the LA Times:

“I think Kobe very definitely understands how hard I made the effort to get sufficient talent to win,” Buss said. “I was talking to him on the phone right as the Pau Gasol [trade] came through, and he said, ‘Wow, I can go win with this now.’ I think Kobe and I get along pretty well.”

Well enough to open the vault again if Bryant leaves $47.8 million on the table and rips up his contract after this season? “We really don’t address those issues until they come up because we don’t know what the environment is, but we can’t afford to lose Kobe,” Buss said.

Though it had virtually no effect on his team at the start of the season, when discussing the money Bryant would command once he opts out and becomes a free agent this summer, Buss kept alluding to the crippled economy. Good luck using that one during the negotiations, Jerry.

Buss also said he doesn’t foresee Phil Jackson walking away after his current deal expires, and has no qualms with paying the luxury tax if it ensures a winning product.

All of this care-free optimism is making me queasy. These aren’t the Lakers I know and love.