NBA News Wire

Buss: Will quit if team doesn’t contend

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Los Angeles Lakers owner/head of basketball operations Jim Buss told the Los Angeles Times that he will step down if the team does not contend for an NBA title within three or four years.

Buss said he made the decision during a family meeting in January.

“I was laying myself on the line by saying, if this doesn’t work in three to four years, if we’re not back on the top — and the definition of top means contending for the Western Conference, contending for a championship — then I will step down because that means I have failed.

“I don’t know if you can fire yourself if you own the team … but what I would say is I’d walk away and you guys figure out who’s going to run basketball operations because I obviously couldn’t do the job.

“There’s no question in my mind we will accomplish success. I’m not worried about putting myself on the line.”

Buss took over the team’s basketball operations in recent years when father Jerry Buss’ health went into decline. He died in February 2013. Since 2011, Jim Buss let Phil Jackson go as coach, hired and fired Mike Brown, and then hired Mike D’Antoni over Jackson.

The Lakers also lost center Dwight Howard to free agency last offseason and have been littered with injuries this season, notably to star guards Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. The team finished a franchise-worst 27-55.

The Lakers gave Bryant a two-year, $49 million contract extension while he was recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. Shortly after returning, he sustained a knee injury that kept him out the rest of the season. He played just six games.

Nash insists he will not retire. The Lakers also intend to re-sign power forward Pau Gasol.

General manager Mitch Kupchak was given a multi-year extension at the end of the season.