Before Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka took over basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers, the previous regime was led by Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak. While there were some positive things done with both running the show, they were unable to get the team in the right direction during the rebuild.
One of the biggest memories of the regime was Buss, then the vice president of basketball operations, promising to resign if he didn’t return the Lakers to Western Conference contention in three seasons. The Lakers, of course, never came close to reaching that goal.
Ultimately that cost Buss and Kupchak their jobs and in an appearance on The Woj Podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Kupchak admitted that they may have placed some unrealistic expectations on their rebuild:
“I think as a group, the two of us, Jimmy and myself, we imposed maybe some unrealistic guidelines as to when the team can be competitive and how quickly we can do it. I think in today’s world it takes more time under the existing collective bargaining agreement with 30 very, very competitive teams and 30 competitive teams and I felt we were on our way with young talented players.”
Kupchak and Buss certainly deserve credit for their drafting of young players. Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., and Ivica Zubac all look to be essential pieces of the present and future of the Lakers.
Nonetheless, Buss and Kupchak contributed to their own undoing by placing a timeline on the rebuild when they didn’t have to. As he admitted, the new collective bargaining agreement changes things for the Lakers and they hadn’t adjusted.
Now with Johnson, Pelinka, and Walton all on the same page the Lakers have a clear direction and newfound optimism as they are set to head into the 2017-18 season and turn some heads.