Jim Buss may have made a promise he can’t keep. The longtime Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers famously claimed the team would be a contending by the end of the 2016-17 NBA season or he’d step down and soon that stance will be put to the test.
Jeanie Buss has frequently been asked whether the organization will shake things up if that promise doesn’t come to fruition. Buss does believe the team is headed in the right direction with Luke Walton at the helm and the young core in place, and won’t speculate further on the future of the team after this season, but will evaluate when the time comes, via Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times.
“I think that in my job, what my job is, is to make sure that I ensure the success of the franchise going forward,” said Buss, the Lakers’ president and governor. “As we define success, there’s no reason to speculate on what will happen this season. We have to see what happens and evaluate at the end of the season.”
With the Lakers front office striking out in NBA free agency year after year, it has been impossible for the storied franchise to find a quick fix or a proven star to step in with Kobe Bryant walking away. Despite the team’s inability to be a draw in free agency, Mitch Kupchak and company have done an admirable job in the NBA Draft.
Although it remains to be seen whether any of the team’s talented young players will ascend to the throne left empty by Kobe Bryant’s retirement, the Lakers have put together a team with a lot of promise. D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., and Brandon Ingram all have potentially bright futures in Los Angeles, but this fan base is impatient, and for good reason, with 16 banners hanging in the rafters at the Staples Center.
Iconic players and winning have become synonymous with the Lakers franchise. This is unfamiliar territory for this team and the timeline for success isn’t all that realistic. Jim Buss may pay the price for such high annual expectations.
In the meantime, Walton will try to rebuild a winning culture while bringing along his players in the post-Kobe Bryant era in Los Angeles.