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Lakers GM says front office was impatient because Buss was ill

Feb 26, 2013, 8:43 PM EST

Lakers starters chat during their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles Reuters

If there was one thing the Lakers front office did well through the entire Jerry Buss era was be patient, pick their spots then be aggressive when it was best suited for them.

Which is why the past year — getting an aging Steve Nash plus Dwight Howard, then firing a coach five games into a season when he didn’t have a healthy roster — was not like them. A lot of blame flew at Jim Buss (the guy taking his father’s place) for the moves.

But on John Feinstein’s show on CBS Sports Radio Tuesday Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak admitted that part of the win now philosophy was hoping to win one more ring before Jerry Buss passed away. Thanks to Royce Young at CBS’s Eye on Basketball for the transcription.

“The one thing that was a big factor is our lack of patience,” Kupchak said. “When we made the changes we made in the offseason, we really did it with a two- or maybe even a three-year window, probably a two-year window to do our best and win a championship. And clearly we knew Dr. Buss was not in great health, and we were hoping for the next year or two we could put something on the court that would result in being in the hunt at the end of the year for a championship.

“And when we didn’t feel we could get there after a preseason and a small number of games, we didn’t feel we had the patience to wait and see if it was going to work out,” he continued. “And that’s really why we made the change we made so early.”

It explains not only these moves but why the Lakers locked themselves into a ridiculous $100 million payroll for next season (assuming they re-sign Dwight Howard) that will cost an additional $85 million in luxury tax. If they didn’t really know how long the Lakers patriarch would be around they may have said they would bite the bullet for a year to go after it.

The fact that next season could be Kobe Bryant’s last season — his contract runs out and he has talked openly of retirement — I’m sure also played a factor. Combined it gives some context to the Lakers moves. Even if they were not the right ones long term (or even short term).

Go read the entire Eye on Basketball post. Kupchak talks about how the locker room chemistry is better after the wins and reiterates he expects Dwight Howard to stay and re-sign sith the team this summer.

  1. thebigkahuna23 - Feb 26, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    That would be an honorable gesture but I don’t really buy it 100%. James, Wade, and Bosh who were three of the top ten players in the league when they got to Miami couldn’t put it together in one season. How could you expect Pau, Kobe, Nash, and Howard to? Not to mention that still doesn’t explain going with Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson, who is the obvious choice if all personal issues are aside and it’s only about winning now.

    • psung26 - Feb 26, 2013 at 9:01 PM

      James, Wade, and Bosh went to the Finals their first year together. The Lakers might not make the playoffs. Pretty sure Miami “put it together” after their 9-8 start.

    • cosanostra71 - Feb 26, 2013 at 9:48 PM

      How do we know that Phil Jackson didn’t turn down the Lakers? It wouldn’t be the first time a spurned team claimed they were the ones who chose to move on. Think of the Browns and Chip Kelly in the NFL earlier this year. It’s just that we can actually believe it when the Lakers say it.

      • dko83 - Feb 27, 2013 at 2:08 AM

        Sorry, Bosh wasn’t in the top ten then or now.

      • davidly - Feb 27, 2013 at 7:17 AM

        I think they turned each other down. Phil, by making a demand he wanted, but knew they wouldn’t grant him, and the Lakers, by not giving him his due.

      • fanofevilempire - Feb 27, 2013 at 10:10 AM

        Bosh is a HOF’er.

        Don’t forget the injuries set them back, coaching change.

        I still would like to know what would have happened if they didn’t have
        all this to deal with all this but no one is crying for you.

      • cosanostra71 - Feb 27, 2013 at 4:09 PM

        davidly sounds pretty reasonable.

  2. tannethrill - Feb 26, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    Surprised his health didn’t get Phil back in the fold.

    • zxrated - Feb 27, 2013 at 12:06 AM

      Dr. Buss didn’t want Phil. It was his disdain for the triangle VS. his Showtime vision.

      • zxrated - Feb 27, 2013 at 2:25 AM

        Funny how the truth is always unpopular

      • davidly - Feb 27, 2013 at 7:15 AM

        Oh yeah. The five rings he got for his other hand were just pissin’ him the f off the whole time.

      • bougin89 - Feb 27, 2013 at 3:26 PM

        @davidly…

        Nailed it!

  3. BigBeachBall - Feb 26, 2013 at 10:24 PM

    “jerry buss would be rolling over in his grave…..”

    everyone here gets a nickel any time this statement is said from here on out…

  4. iamjimmyjack - Feb 26, 2013 at 11:15 PM

    The lakers will be back on top sooner rather than later. I know it, u haters know it, this author knows it, Dwight Howard knows it, Los Angeles knows it, Mitch knows it, I know it, my mom knows it, my cousin knows it, Chris Paul knows it, Lebron knows it, Matt kemp knows it, Lamar odom knows it, Matt Barkley knows it etc. thanks that’s all for now.

    • psung26 - Feb 26, 2013 at 11:38 PM

      lmao epic

    • dko83 - Feb 27, 2013 at 2:10 AM

      I’ll take that bet.

    • fanofevilempire - Feb 27, 2013 at 10:13 AM

      you forgot Bo, Bo knows it too!

  5. kb2408 - Feb 26, 2013 at 11:17 PM

    In hindsight, Mike Brown would’ve been a better choice. He would’ve emphasized defense and they would’ve figured it out offensively. Whatever the LAKERS do in the playoffs (if they make it) it’s going to be a very intriguing off-season.

  6. mazblast - Feb 27, 2013 at 1:13 AM

    The only reason Short Buss has kept his job is that he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth (or up his…). Now will someone explain to me how Mitch Kupchak has kept his job?

    Another day, another rationalization. That’s life in La-La Land, I guess.

    • 00maltliquor - Feb 27, 2013 at 1:46 AM

      Say what you want about “Short” Buss, but Mitch is golden. Leave him out of it.

  7. davidly - Feb 27, 2013 at 7:22 AM

    I take this back. Sort of.

    Upon further contemplation: If Mitch was saying this to gain sympathy for Jerry Buss’ son, and by extension, trying to enhance a perception of the family business, then I cut him some slack.

    But if he’s just trying to curry favor from the fans… cynical.

  8. cowpiesnotcowboys - Feb 27, 2013 at 8:57 AM

    LAL = LOL

  9. omniusprime - Feb 27, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    What a pathetic excuse Kupcake comes up with, must have heard it from that little idiot buss boy. Had the Lakers been in a hurry to win a championship then why did they bring in Ancient Trash Nash when they needed a great young point guard like Kyrie Irving? If they were serious about winning a championship then why didn’t they bring back Phil Jackson when he would have made the comeback?

    There’s no excuse for truly stupendously horrible personnel moves like Trash Nash and Dumbtoni. While haste certainly makes waste this was more a case of total stupidity. Dumbtoni was the worst pick for a new coach since it was known he was too arrogant and ignorant to change his system to fit the players he was going to coach. No this was all about the little idiot buss boy wanting to do things his way instead of his father’s way.

    Thanks Dr. Buss, Rest in Peace!!! Fire Dumbtoni!!! Trade Trash Nash and Steve Flake!!!

  10. wtfruthinkn - Feb 27, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    I don’t buy the “impatient” excuse for their failures this season. If they were really desparate to “win now”, why not just hire back PJ? Bringing in another coach with a mediocre track record was risky at best, ill-advised at worst (a coach, by the way, with a system that not only failed in NY but whose team quickly turned things around without any major roster changes or a big name coaching change). Hiring PJ would have clearly been the safest “win now” bet. Instead, we have Jim and his small time ego who has never accomplished anything in his life and desparately wants to put his “stamp” on this storied franchise. Congratulations Jim, you have left quite a stamp…

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