After the 2013-14 season, Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss said:
if this doesn’t work in three to four years, if we’re not back on the top — and the definition of top means contending for the Western Conference, contending for a championship — then I will step down because that means I have failed.
Buss says the Lakers are ahead of schedule.
He better hope so, because his sister and fellow owner – team president Jeanie Buss – has a different idea about his deadline.
When pressed on the matter of when the deadline date will be, Jim said, “Two more full seasons, a summer of change and then let that season go. Whatever happens in that third season, that’s fine. I have no problem with that. I think we’re that close.”
Yet Jeanie, the Lakers president, told USA TODAY Sports that she was perplexed by that characterization of the timeline.
“He has given me a timeline, and I have no reason to think that they won’t have a competitive team by the deadline,” Jeanie said.
That deadline, she was asked, is the end of the 2016-17 season?
“Yes,” she said. “Not this season, but the end of next season, which will be the summer of 2017.”
This was always a strange declaration by Jim, especially making it public. The imprecise “three to four years” is only the start of the problems.
The Lakers are forced into short-term thinking when a lengthier rebuild might be wiser. Jim is building the roster to keep his job, not to maximize the Lakers’ long-term outlook. Those goals don’t always conflict, but when they do, we’ve seen the result. Despite likely missing the playoffs this season, the Lakers are keeping veterans over promising young players.
And define “contending for the Western Conference, contending for a championship.” That’s such a vague standard – far more than the years Buss has to achieve his goal. Jim and Jeanie might be headed for another disagreement on that.