When Is It Finally Time to Declare L.A. Lakers a Bust?

It’s time to break out the B-word: the 2012-13 Lakers have been a bust.

Too soon? Hardly.

We’re just about halfway through the season. The Los Angeles Lakers are currently 17-23. They’re sitting in 12th place in the Western Conference, ­three games out of the final Western playoff spot and 14-and-a-half games behind the division-leading Clippers.

Last season, the Lakers captured a fifth consecutive Pacific Division title and finished as the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. They accomplished that with Kobe Bryant—who had the least efficient shooting season of his career—Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and virtually nothing else.

Then, over the summer, they swapped out Bynum (who is yet to play a single minute this season) for the best center in the NBA in Dwight Howard.

They also upgraded from the worst point guard situation in the league—Derek Fisher (currently out of work) and Ramon Sessions (currently a backup on one of the three worst teams in the league)—to Steve Freaking Nash, an offensive savant who guided a Phoenix Suns team devoid of talent to a top-10 offense that ranked ahead of the Lakers in 2012.

Talk about expectations. The hype machine needed extra juice to keep up with all the wild optimism spewing out of Los Angeles as the season approached.

I remember listening to 710 ESPN LA’s coverage of Lakers media day and hearing all the fans calling in, confidently predicting between 65 and 75 (75!) wins en route to a worry-free 17th championship.

ESPN LA radio personality and Lakers radio broadcaster Mychal Thompson said right before the season started that he expected Lakers to go at least 17-3 in their first 20 games.

Metta World Peace was thinking about breaking the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ record for most wins in a season.

Just before the season began the Oklahoma Ci...

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