The clock is ticking ever closer toward a potential front-office shakeup for the NBA’s glamour franchise, the once mighty — but now rebuilding — Los Angeles Lakers.
The timeline was first set in April 2014, when Lakers part-owner and executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss told the Los Angeles Times that he would step down within three years if the team hadn’t made a deep playoff run by then.
The Lakers, who opened training camp at UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday, are entering the final season of Buss’ self-imposed deadline — one that Lakers president and co-owner Jeanie Buss has time and again publicly stated that she will make sure her brother honors.
There’s a chance — if not a strong possibility — that Jim Buss’ potential departure won’t be the only one within the Lakers front office, though it’s unclear what exactly might happen. It has long been widely speculated, though, that if Jim Buss departs, so too would Lakers longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak.
In the past, Kupchak has deferred questions about Jim Buss’ deadline to turn around the Lakers, who have missed the playoffs for three straight seasons and are coming off their worst campaign in franchise history after finishing 17-65 last season.
The New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony, who was among those to open this year’s ESPYS with a plea to stop the violence, said the Knicks likely will do something collectively to address the social turmoil.
“I think we’re in the same state,” he said. “I think it’s actually getting worse.”
Similarly strong assessments have been expressed around the league for months, as the list of U.S. cities dealing with protests — including Baltimore, Milwaukee, Chicago, New York, Ferguson, Missouri, and now Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Charlotte, North Carolina — over gun violence and racial turmoil continues to grow.
Anthony, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Paul talked openly in July about how players and coaches can help create substantive change in cities across the country.
In a league in which about 75 percent of the players are black and some have enormous social-media followings, plenty of eyes will be on the NBA to see what it does after NFL players and some athletes from other sports have taken to kneeling during national anthems or raising a fist in an effort to spark discussion about race relations and other matters.