Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss admits his pitches to free agents in recent years have lacked oomph because he couldn’t promise them immediate success, but he’s confident he has the core in place now to change that, as he explains to Sam Amick of USA Today. Buss is particularly high on No. 2 pick D’Angelo Russell, Amick notes.
“I think we’ve done a great job [rebuilding],” Buss said. “Yeah, I think we’re in dynamite position. Not good position – dynamite. I think we’ve turned the corner. I don’t know if you discount that terminology, ‘turn the corner.’ But when you’re headed down the wrong road, and you can finally get off that road and turn the corner, that’s huge in my opinion.”
Buss set a timeline for turning the Lakers around that his sister Jeanie, the team’s primary owner, interprets as a mandate to get to the Western Conference Finals by 2017, and he believes the team is ahead of schedule and just needs to land a major free agent this summer, as Amick details. See more on Buss and the Lakers:
- Warriors consultant Jerry West thinks the criticism of Buss is off-base, as he tells Amick for the same story. “He’s really smart … but he’s the easiest target there is,” West said of Buss. “And I will tell you, it’s grossly unfair sometimes. Grossly unfair. It’s almost like they want him to be a reincarnation of his dad, but he can’t.”
- Issues surrounding Robert Upshaw “that go beyond talent” proved too worrisome for the Lakers, who waived the big man today, tweets Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times, though whatever the issues are, they aren’t outrageous, Pincus cautions. Coach Byron Scott cited a “big-time learning curve on both ends” for Upshaw, according to Times colleague Mike Bresnahan (Twitter link). In any case, Scott said the Lakers hope Upshaw and Michael Frazier, whom they also cut today, clear waivers and sign with the team’s D-League affiliate, notes Bill Oram of the Orange County Register (on Twitter).
- Both Bresnahan and Oram speculate that Metta World Peace and Jabari Brown are on the bubble for the last regular season roster spot on the Lakers, with Bresnahan suggesting that World Peace has a slight lead (Twitter links).