If you have not read all three parts of Eric Pincus‘ interview with Lakers Vice President of Basketball Operations Jim Buss, you should. Pincus doesn’t try to play “gotcha” or spin Buss’ comments in either a positive or negative way, instead giving us Buss’ words directly for our own interpretation. It’s refreshing to hear what Buss says in this format, even if you don’t agree with what he’s saying.
In the wake of Pincus’ work, one of the more under-discussed topics is Buss’ slight hedge regarding the summer of 2016 and building through free agency:
What the Lakers didn’t accomplish this summer was to sign a major free agent.
“It’s just that it takes time to build a core that guys want to play with,” Buss said. “I understand a superstar doesn’t want to come in and say, ‘Oh, we still have two or three years of rebuilding.’ I think with Jordan Clarkson, Russell, Randle, even Hibbert … we’re getting a core of seven or eight players.”
With the NBA’s new national television deal kicking in next year, the Lakers could have up to $60 million to spend in July, enough to go after two max-level free agents, including Kevin Durant.
“If a big name or two came, we have the room. That’s the key,” Buss said. “We’ve kept our flexibility.”
Buss’ first quote gives us a bit more background into what he and the rest of the front office has learned through the past three years of free agent meetings and recruiting pitches*. From Dwight Howard to LaMarcus Aldridge (and even Greg Monroe), the Lakers saw their top targets sign with teams in better position to win games sooner. These results seem to have left a lasting impression.