Those "three to four years" Jim Buss gave himself to straighten out the
A month into the season, the Lakers are 3-13 and can't even mark time properly.
They lost an eight-point lead in the final five minutes Friday against a team that was supposed to be more dreadful than they are.
You want an injury excuse? The
Stuff happens. In the Lakers' case, the wounds are mostly self-inflicted, Buss navigating free agency as if the man running the team's basketball operations pulled his ever-present cap over his eyes and tried to walk across Figueroa during rush hour.
He used an all-or-nothing approach the last two summers and there was no need to guess which side the Lakers came out on. Their resulting rosters weren't going to make the playoffs, fully intact or not.
Throw in season-ending injuries to Nash, Randle and Henry, and this season's team may very well vie for ignominy. The Lakers have won 18.8% of their games, easily putting them on pace to "top" the 1957-58 Minneapolis Lakers, who went 19-53 to win 26.4% of their games.
The current Lakers are last in the
How does Buss justify this product to fans paying four figures every game for courtside seats? (Perhaps more important, how do those fans rationalize those prices to their accountants?)
It's time to face some painful purple-and-gold facts. The Lakers brand isn't what it was, no matter how many times they reference their 16 titles or make slick video presentations to free agents narrated by Tobey Maguire. What's their working theme these days? We were the Lakers?
Just imagine what the Lakers might look like had they not lucked into Jeremy Lin via a salary dump and Carlos Boozer via the amnesty clause.
Buss and General Manager
Let's take a look at the transformative talents and where they're likely headed in free agency.
LaMarcus Aldridge has pledged to become "the best Blazer ever," which would be difficult were he to become a Laker.
Kevin Love is not going to give up at least one more year of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving for one year of
Marc Gasol essentially grew up in Memphis, where he has attained Elvis-like status for the team with the best record in the NBA.
Rajon Rondo would be an injury risk similar to Nash even if he made the unlikely move from the
Goran Dragic is probably not going to leave behind brother Zoran, whose two-year contract with the
Other top free agents such as
In other words, get ready for this darkest of Lakers eras to stretch into the foreseeable future. They are destined to miss the playoffs in back-to-back years for only the second time in franchise history and are a strong bet to "three-peat" next season, even with the return of Randle and the possible infusion of two first-round draft picks this summer.
Nothing is clicking for the man who put himself on the clock during an April interview with The Times.
"If this doesn't work in three to four years," Buss said, relaying a message he had passed on to his family, which collectively runs the Lakers, "if we're not back on the top — and the definition of top means contending for the Western Conference, contending for a championship — then I will step down because that means I have failed."
It's been seven months since Buss uttered those words. Can the Lakers really afford to wait another few years to confirm what is already obvious?