And with a clutch of players in the infancy of their careers, a first-year head coach and no aging superstars for whom every consideration must be made, the Lakers general manager is correct. The organization has indeed turned a page.“I think it’s about time that we look to the future,” Kupchak said, prior to the team’s practice at UC Santa Barbara. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error @Billoram on TwitterSANTA BARBARA >> The new-look Lakers took the court for their first slate of practices Tuesday after three years of unprecedented losing. The word of the day was “beginning.”It was a “new beginning” and an “exciting beginning,” according to Mitch Kupchak. Sounds sensible enough.However, there is a second timeline, and on that one, the Lakers are much closer to the end than the beginning.Jim Buss’ pledge has not gone away. This spring will mark the end of the third year since the Lakers’ top basketball executive vowed in a statement to the Los Angeles Times that he would resign if the Lakers did not return to Western Conference contention within three years.That clock is ticking. And no one has come out and said anything that makes you think that’s been amended internally.D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram might show promise, but no one expects them to carry the Lakers deep into the playoffs this season.It’s never been clear whether Kupchak, a decorated executive who has overseen four championship teams in 15 years as the Lakers GM, would get a pass for his demonstrated skill as an executive, or whether he is on the hot seat right along with Buss.At this point, it wouldn’t be surprising if it’s the latter.These are important questions facing the organization. Kupchak had no answer when asked directly about that dynamic and what top members of the front office need to do to retain their jobs beyond this season.“I’m not really in a position to debate some of the stuff you just talked about,” he said.Instead, Kupchak talked broadly about goals for the young team.Among them: improvement in young players, production from rookies.“I want our team to be fun to watch,” he said.“I don’t know how that translates into anything else under my control,” he said.It was no surprise that Kupchak wouldn’t set a target number of wins, saying, “That’s something I would stare at for the rest of the year.”Last year, the Lakers finished a franchise-worst 17-65, a campaign that came on the heels of 21- and 27-win seasons.“It’s got to be more than 17,” Kupchak said. “And it can’t be a game or two more. We have to show progress.”Every losing organization has questions at the top. But Jim Buss’ decision to disclose his timeline, coupled with the awkward division of duties between the siblings, creates a juicy drama at the Lakers helm.It makes the team’s definition of success as important as ever, and will reveal a great deal about Jeanie Buss’ patience.To be on the ground floor of a rebuild is one thing. To still be there after the three worst seasons in franchise history is quite another. If Jeanie Buss ushers in a change in the front office, it will be those three seasons stuck in the mud that sealed her brother’s fate.This has not been a gradual build toward a fresh start, but rather a halting, uneven path, like a teenager learning to drive a manual transmission. The Lakers are on their third coach since 2014, and have failed to land any of the top free agents they targeted.Kevin Durant wouldn’t even listen to their pitch this summer.Kupchak acknowledged that the team “kicked the can down the road for two or three years timing our contracts,” opting to sign role players to one-year contracts once premier targets turned them down.That hardly smacks of the desperation one might expect from a front office feeling the walls closing in or the weight of an imminent deadline.Judged against where the Lakers were a year ago – young players at odds with the coach, old player at odds with reality – Buss and Kupchak and the rest of the organization have clearly turned things in a better direction.The vibe around the Lakers is a positive one. Veterans of Byron Scott’s two seasons at the helm – meaning young guys like Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson – have beamed when asked about Walton’s approach. They enjoy the freedom to blast contemporary music in practice and believe they will have more say in the direction of the team.Pulling the plug on Scott and landing Walton were bold moves executed by the tandem of Kupchak and Buss, and coupled with some tremendous luck in the lottery, they have made savvy choices when drafting late in the first round (Larry Nance Jr.) and in the second (Clarkson).Timeline or not, Kupchak and Buss have assembled a team that can evolve and get better over time.Unfortunately for them, it took three years of stumbling around to get here. And the question they will face all season is whether their time is up.