L.A. Notes: Buss, Scott, Stephenson

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss further clarified her interpretation of the timeline for a return to contention that her brother, Lakers executive VP of basketball operations Jim Buss, imposed on himself in 2014. Jim Buss said he would step down if the team wasn’t back in contention within three years, and since then, it’s become clear that this has implications for GM Mitch Kupchak too, writes Sam Amick of USA Today, who spoke with Jeanie Buss in a podcast.

“I think that [Jim] was very sure of himself when he promised that timeline, and I think that he has everything he needs to fulfill that promise of getting the team back competitive,” Jeanie Buss said. “And when I say competitive, it’s competing for the Western Conference Finals, which would mean at least second round [of the playoffs] – if not more. … They have earned the right to take the time that they’ve needed to put together what they want to have out on the court, and if they can’t do that then we have to reexamine how things are going.”

Kupchak makes most of the Lakers player personnel decisions with plenty of latitude from Jim Buss, who has the final say over basketball operations, notes Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). See more on both teams from L.A.:

  • Jeanie Buss told Amick she thinks she’s spoken with Byron Scott “maybe three times” since the Lakers hired him as coach in 2014 but said that she’s nonetheless supportive of him. Scott’s employment beyond the end of the season appears to be in jeopardy.
  • The Lakers are fond of Lou Williams, Brandon Bass and their contracts, Pincus tweets. They were reportedly available on the trade market before the deadline.
  • Lance Stephenson was an awkward fit on the court for the Clippers, but he had a strong desire to fix that and was starting to make progress on that front before the trade that sent him to Memphis, notes Dan Woike of the Orange County Register. The Clippers would seek to re-sign him this summer if the Grizzlies turn down his team option for next season, one Clippers staffer told Woike.
  • Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers didn’t hesitate to give up the lottery-protected 2019 first-rounder that’s going to Memphis as part of the Jeff Green/Stephenson swap, notes Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times“That one wasn’t a tough one because the way we looked at it was it’s protected,” Rivers said, “so if we’re bad enough to be a lottery team we get the pick. That wasn’t that awful for us.”

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