The Los Angeles Lakers are in the midst of a franchise-low for the second season in a row, and if thing's don't change quickly, Jeanie Buss has vowed that the franchise will head in a different direction. What executives say should always be taken at face value, but what Jeanie said is the second time this promise regarding Jim Buss has been referenced.
Jeanie first brought up the three-year timeline in January, stating the expectation is for the Lakers to return to the Western Conference finals within three years. That's a big shift from where the Lakers currently are -- a team that is well out of the playoffs. LA is on track to miss the postseason for the second year in a row, and it's last exit was a sweep against the San Antonio Spurs.
She reiterated her point in an interview with the media, stating the Lakers will move in a "different direction" if they don't see the kind of leap Jim promised on this timeline, reports Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
"I've been assured by our basketball operations that the team will be back in contention soon. If we are not meeting those goals, then changes have to occur," Buss said in a recent interview with Los Angeles News Group in her office at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo. "I have no reason not to believe them when they tell me that's what they can deliver. I don't see what would be holding them back."
And if not?
"Then we owe it to our shareholders, fans and partners that we have to move in a different direction to get this team back into contention," Jeanie Buss said. "We made a commitment that we would operate the team the way Dr. Buss ran it."
The Lakers aren't on a quick-rebuild path, looking at what will be the last year with Kobe Bryant and hopefully first full season with Julius Randle and a top-five draft pick. There's a chance for Mitch Kupchak and the front office to make a splash in free agency, again, but only a handful of elite players will be "available" this summer. Kupchak has also made the front office's stance clear, indicating both the possible top-five pick and future salary flexibility beyond this summer are key focuses.
This is all to say the Lakers are definitely trying to move in the right direction, but the type of message coming across has been mixed depending on who's being quoted. As these things go, it's more smoke and mirrors than fire, but this three-year plan sounds like it's going to be a reoccurring theme.