Lakers clinch worst record ever in Los Angeles: Mitch Kupchak insists Lakers did not become bad franchise when Jerry Buss died [VIDEO]
The Los Angeles Lakers did not become a bad franchise when Dr. Jerry Buss died.
That was one of the messages Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a question-and-answer interview with USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday.
The Lakers' 145-130 loss to the Houston Rockets ensured the franchise's worst record since moving to West Coast in 1960. Never before had a Los Angeles Lakers team lost 53 games in a season.
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When asked about the questions about the Lakers management in the absence of Buss, who died in February of 2013 and left son Jim, daughter Jeanie and Kupchak to figure out how to run the team, Kupchak said:
"That's a process, and we are making progress. You can't lose the (key figure) of the organization as Dr. Buss, and then all of a sudden function without any, I guess, perceived criticism. You know, if we're having the season two years ago that we're having this year, and Dr. Buss passed away a year ago, none of this would be happening right now."
Kupchak was asked to elaborate.
"The controversy, the speculation. It's only because we're losing, and we're not losing because Dr. Buss passed away and made a bad decision, OK? We're losing because by and large, we haven't had a team to field all year long. So I think Dr. Buss' passing coupled with the season we're having is, for obvious reasons, leading fans - and the media either leads or follows suit - to run with this thing. Take it and run with it. If we're 55-20 right now, nobody is talking about anything, about Dr. Buss passing away."
Kupchak's comment is subject for serious debate because most Laker fans - from Magic Johnson on down - agree that he and Buss made a horrible decision to hire Mike D'Antoni over Phil Jackson when Mike Brown was fired as Lakers coach five games into the 2012-13 season.
That's what has Laker fans questioning the leadership values of the team without Dr. Buss.
Kupchak did say that he was confident the Lakers could assemble a team that is competitive and fun to watch and has a plan to do it sooner rather than later. He was asked about what the Lakers had in store for the offseason and whether they would sign a free agent for appearance's sake.
"Well, obviously we're not going to share our plan with you, OK? Our goal is not to go 41-41. That's not our goal. Our goal is to be considerably better than that. And maybe we can do it in a year, or maybe it takes two or three years, OK? Any of those scenarios would be wonderful scenarios. I mean there have been teams - seven or eight teams in the NBA who have never even been to the Finals of the NBA and they've been around 30 or 40 years."
But there has never been a Los Angeles Lakers team as bad as this one, and that's what has the Buss family and Kupchak under the microscope to produce.
How long do you think it will take the Lakers to become serious title contenders again? Comment below or tell us @SportsWN.