Opposite roles for Clippers, Lakers

You don't argue about and then belabor the same points 60 games in. But sometimes it's easier to focus on trivial issues like this, rather than the gigantic, franchise-defining questions that loom this summer.

More troubling for the Lakers, or perhaps just more telling, is that D'Antoni and Gasol are essentially the only voices of consequence speaking for the franchise these days and neither of them seem to have much of a future in L.A. Kobe Bryant is the team's best spokesman, but he's busy selling Nikes and rehabilitating his knee these days.

Team president Jeanie Buss has a Q-rating to inspire and connect, but has been spotted at Staples Center only a handful of times, and on most of those nights Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was sitting next to her, stealing some of the spotlight.

Buss' fiancé and former coach Phil Jackson tries so hard to stay in the shadows, but he actually has become a gigantic shadow hanging over the franchise.

General manager Mitch Kupchak bravely faces the cameras every few months but has never had the charisma to inspire much swagger among the masses.

Executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss prefers to watch games from high above in a suite and is determined to stay in the background until his accomplishments speak for him.

But even if any of them were speaking on a regular basis, what exactly would they say? This is a miserable lost season? Hopefully a great free agent is landed this summer? Hopefully the lottery pick will make an impact before Kobe hangs 'em up? Yeah, we're basically just using the rest of the season to evaluate which of these players on one-year deals will be kept next season?

Other teams say things like that. But they disguise it with talk of developing a culture of winning and finding young players to build around for the future.

The Lakers already have a culture. Their brand is one of the most iconic and solid in all of sports.

It's the Clippers who are catching up on that score. And really, there's not much they can do to catch up to a franchise with 16 championship banners and its own Mt. Rushmore of legendary players.

Hiring Rivers was a great start, though. For better or worse, they are his franchise now. He is setting their course, and they'll either end up where they all want to be, or trying to do better next year.

Down the hall it's not even clear who is on the same ship.

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