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Dwight Howard 'never really a Laker,' according to Jim Buss

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The Lakers did all they could to keep Dwight Howard in Los Angeles earlier this summer. Now that he's gone, however, Jim Buss says the Houston Rockets' center was never really a Laker in the first place.

Harry How

Dwight Howard could have made more money if he decided to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, but the free agent instead opted to take his talents to the Houston Rockets. That decision apparently hurt some feelings in the Lakers' front office, particularly with Jim Buss, the team's executive vice president of player personnel.

Former ESPN reporter Ric Bucher did an in-depth story on the Buss family for Hollywood Reporter, looking at how things have changed with the Lakers after the passing of longtime owner Dr. Jerry Buss. The entire feature is interesting, but reading how the Buss family feels about Howard not that he's in Houston is particularly compelling.

Instead of Jim spending time with Howard, the team launched a widely derided media campaign that implored "Stay" on billboards. After Howard bolted, Jim turned on his former star, saying he wasn't surprised or dismayed. "He was never really a Laker," says Jim. "He was just passing through."

Those close to Howard say the Lakers could have persuaded him to stay. Even Jeanie believes that if her father had not been sick, he would have sealed the deal like so many before it. "It's disappointing that Dwight isn't here," she says. "I feel like we failed him."

The feature also goes in-depth about how Jim and Jeanie Buss handle player personnel -- Jeanie "defers" to her brother, Jim says he considers it a democratic decision-making process -- and a multitude of other interesting things that go on behind the scenes of one of the NBA's more famous franchises.

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