The Los Angeles Lakers are in the midst of the worst three-year stretch in their storied history. The team set new-lows for most single-season losses in team history in two consecutive years, and currently sits at last place in the Western Conference with a 3-15 record so far in the 2015-16 season. Lakers team president and part-owner Jeanie Buss acknowledged in an interview on the Sports Business Radio Podcast that the team's futility has worn on her.
"It's difficult when you don't make the playoffs," Buss said. "16 teams out of 30 teams make the playoffs, and in the 32 years that my dad ran the team he only missed the playoffs twice."
With all of these struggles, many have wondered if it is realistic for Buss' brother and Lakers vice president of basketball operations, Jim Buss, to meet his self imposed deadline to return the team to contention by 2017.
"So when the team [did not] make the playoffs, I asked my brother how long that would take until we would be back into contention," Buss said, before outlining how she defined what that meant to her. "Basically the second round, competing to get into the Western Conference finals. And I know that teams can't guarantee winning a championship every year, it's hard to win a championship. All the stars have to align the right way."
And Jeanie, who praised her father for his hands off approach with basketball operations, re-iterated that Jim's deadline does remain, and specified exactly when in 2017 the team must reach contention.
"My brother assured me that by the summer of 2017 that we would be back in contention," Buss said, and repeated what Jim told her at the family meeting when he told his siblings about his self-imposed deadline. "'If I can't do that then I'm not the right person for the job.' So he even acknowledged that a change would need to be made."
Buss still believes that her brother will meet his deadline.
"I feel that they have everything that they need in order to build a successful basketball team," Buss stated. "They have the cap space. Everything that they need in order to put together a great basketball team that will get us back into the playoffs. So I have faith that will happen in plenty of time for the timeline."
Magic Johnson called for Jim Buss to put people in place to run basketball operations for him earlier this week, but it appears that Buss will be allowed to continue to build the team as he sees fit until the summer of 2017. With a young trio of D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle in hand and 65.8 million in estimated cap space coming with Kobe Bryant's upcoming retirement, Jim will certainly have a chance to reach contention, but as his sister says, it will take the stars aligning.