Jim Buss said, after the 2013-14 season, he’d resign as executive vice president of basketball operations if the Lakers weren’t “contending for the Western Conference, contending for a championship … in three to four years.”
How vague is that?
Jim and Jeanie Buss, siblings who both own shares of the team, have publicly disagreed about the timeline. Jeanie said next season was the limit. Jim said he has through the 2017-18 season.
Even if they clear that up, what exactly does “contending for the Western Conference, contending for a championship” actually mean?
Jeanie on USA Today’s NBA A to Z podcast:
He has everything he needs to fulfill that promise of getting the team back competitive. And when I say competitive, it’s competing for the Western Conference final, which would mean at least second round – if not more.
I wonder whether Jim agrees with that assessment.
Just as importantly, have they agreed on his or her deadline for making the Lakers competitive?
This all remains silly and misguided. Jim, especially as an owner, should have the Lakers’ best long-term interests in mind. Instead, he’s trying to meet this standard to keep his job, even if patience is a more sound strategy. That’s why the Lakers are stocked with veterans like Roy Hibbert, Lou Williams and Brandon Bass.
Fortunately for the Lakers, they’re still bad enough to be in decent shape to keep their top-three protected first-round pick.
But even if they keep the draft choice, would it surprise anyone if they trade it, D'Angelo Russell or Julius Randle for veterans more capable of winning now? Depending on the deal, that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad choice — especially if it helps draw quality free agents. But might Jim be incentivized to fast-track the rebuild even if it comes at the expense of long-term success?
The Lakers’ front office should be run by someone they believe in, not someone forced to make questionable moves to save his job. These arbitrary lines — second round by 2017 or 2018, depending on whom you ask — just promote poor decision-making.