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Mitch Kupchak: Lakers won’t consult Kobe Bryant on coaching decision

Kobe BryantOn Tuesday, we shared with you a somewhat surprising report indicating that the Los Angeles Lakers are leaning toward keeping Mike D’Antoni at the end of the season. Less than a day later, a conflicting report from ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Dave McMenamin claimed that the exact opposite is true and that D’Antoni is likely to be fired.

Toss in the John Calipari rumors and it is obvious no one outside of the organization really knows what the Lakers’ intentions are. What we do know is that general manager Mitch Kupchack insists Kobe Bryant has nothing to do with the coaching decision.

“We will not consult with him,” Kupchak told Sam Amick of USA Today Sports on Wednesday. “No, we won’t consult with him.”

The most recent news we have heard about the relationship between Bryant and D’Antoni came last month, when it was reported that Kobe has “no interest” in playing for D’Antoni next year and is hoping a new head coach will be in place by the start of the 2014-2015 season.

“We won’t consult with him,” Kupchak said emphatically. “Our decisions going forward — we’re not going to do knee-jerk stuff. We’ll let the season end, and take some time. We’ve got a lot of injuries and surgeries to sort through. That’s a lot to accomplish. We have the draft coming up.”

The Lakers are 25-53 this season, but most would argue that D’Antoni has not been given a fair shot due to injuries to Bryant, Steve Nash and others. Jim Buss chose to hire D’Antoni over bringing back Phil Jackson, so you would think he wants to give the decision a chance to work out.

Given the rough state the Lakers are in, Kupchak also admitted that competing for a championship next season is something that may not happen. Amick followed that up by asking how Kobe will feel about that.

“He’ll be fine. He’s got no choice,” he said. “He’ll be fine. When we lose, he’ll rant and rave and be upset and be hot and won’t talk to anybody, but that’s the way it is. You’ve got to take the good with the bad.”

The $48 million extension the Lakers signed Kobe to this past season is looking worse by the day. It’s tough to imagine him staying healthy after suffering two serious injuries in the last year, and the team has now committed big bucks to a franchise icon who may grow more and more unhappy by the day. If Kobe truly is not involved in selecting the next head coach, he won’t be pleased.

LOL at this incredible Mitch Kupchak face of despair (Video)

Mitch Kupchak face

Oh. My. God.

Nothing could have possibly captured the emotion of the Los Angeles’ Lakers terrible season than this priceless reaction from GM Mitch Kupchak during the middle of the team’s blowout defeat against the rival Clippers.

Up by nearly 50 points, the Clips went for alley-oops on back-to-back plays in the third quarter. The first one failed, but the next one was executed perfectly by Blake Griffin. After Griffin brought down the house, TNT shifted to a priceless shot of Kupchak giving the look of hopelessness Lakers fans have embraced all season.

That was amazing.

Here it is in GIF form:

Video via @cjzero

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak still not over David Stern rejecting Chris Paul trade

Mitch KupchakLos Angeles Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak still has not gotten over NBA commissioner David Stern rejecting the Chris Paul trade two years ago.

Paul, now in his third season with the Clippers, was originally set to be traded to the Lakers as part of a three-team deal also involving the New Orleans Hornets and Houston Rockets. Though a trade had been agreed upon that would have sent CP3 to the Lakers, the league, which was controlling the franchise after acquiring it from George Shinn, later turned down the deal for “basketball reasons.” Less than a week later, the Clippers pulled off a trade for Paul and have become the top team in the city.

Kupchak was speaking to fans at a season-ticket holder event on Sunday about how the new CBA has helped create more competitive balance within the league. He was complimentary of Stern for globalizing the game, but he mentioned the Paul trade.

“He’s done so much for this [league with] his vision,” Kupchak said via the Los Angeles Times. “. . . We’ll miss him, with the exception of one moment.”

Lakers broadcaster Stu Lantz, who was moderating the event, asked whether Kupchak had forgiven Stern for that.

“No I haven’t,” Kupchak answered.

We doubt that Lakers fans have, either. They probably will never get over the rejection of the deal, and the words “basketball reasons” will always be a sore spot for them. As for Kupchak, well, he usually finds a way to build a successful team, and we have no idea he’ll figure that out again.

Chest bump to Slam

Mitch Kupchak: Lakers ‘clumsy’ informing Phil Jackson of Mike D’Antoni hire

Phil-Jackson-KnicksThe Los Angeles Lakers took a lot of heat for a number of reasons when they chose to hire Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson last season. For starters, Jackson is a legend in LA and he was clearly interested in returning to the team he coached to five NBA titles. In addition, most people felt he would be the best candidate to get the most out of Dwight Howard.

Instead, the Lakers made a surprise move and went with D’Antoni. In fact, it was so much of a surprise that the way they handled it became as much a source of criticism as the move itself. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak addressed that in an interview with ESPN Radio earlier this week.

“There was really no other way to get around it,” Kupchak said, via the LA Times. “In this business you don’t make announcements until you have signed contracts. The last thing we wanted was for Phil Jackson, who we love in the organization, the city loves him, to wake in the morning or to get a phone call from somebody at 4 or 5 in the morning saying, ‘Guess what? Didn’t Mitch tell you?'”

After defending the way things went down, Kupchak admitted the team could have handled it differently.

“Really there was no other way to do it, and you could say it was clumsy,” he added.

There is no doubt the Lakers could have approached the situation with a bit more grace. It took enough to convince Jackson to come out of retirement to begin with, so pulling the offer was shocking. Doc Rivers felt that they embarrassed Jackson with the way it played out and Charles Barkley agreed. We’ll find out this upcoming season if the decision was worth it.

H/T Pro Basketball Talk

Mitch Kupchak: Dwight Howard is Lakers’ future, should have a statue someday

Dwight-Howard-Kobe-Bryant-LakersIf the Los Angeles Lakers are exploring the possibility of trading Dwight Howard before the trade deadline on Thursday, they don’t want anyone to know about it. During an interview with ESPN’s Colin Cowherd on Wednesday, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak had nothing but praise for his center.

In fact, praise would be an understatement. Kupchak said the team has no intention of trading Howard and that he expects him to be in LA for many years to come. It even sounded like he expects Superman to be a Laker legend before his career is over. Kupchak said people are going to view Howard a lot differently when he wins his first championship and added the following tidbits.

[Read more...]

Mitch Kupchak responds to Kobe, says he will continue pursuing trades

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak heard Kobe Bryant loud and clear and has a message in response: Sorry, but Pau Gasol is still on the trading block.

“As a former player, I understand how the days leading up to the trade deadline can be nerve-wracking for an NBA player. Nonetheless, as General Manager of the Lakers, I have a responsibility to ownership, our fans and the players on this team to actively pursue opportunities to improve the team for this season and seasons to come,” Kupchak said in a statement. “To say publicly that we would not do this would serve no purpose and put us at a competitive disadvantage. Taking such a course of action at this time would be a disservice to ownership, the team and our many fans.”

Considering the Lakers were planning to trade Pau Gasol prior to the season, it’s no surprise to hear that they’re still pursuing a deal. They didn’t enter the season with the roster they wanted and their 18-13 record likely has Kupchak convinced he needs to make some tweaks. As much as it sucks for Pau, he’ll have to continue being a professional and show up ready to play as well as possible each game.

Kobe’s Demands, Stern’s Hand Sure Go a Long Way in Lakers’ Title

Now that the Lakers have won their 15th NBA title in franchise history and we’re analyzing some of the angles of the championship, I’d like to dig up a few stories from the past. Amazingly enough, it was only two years ago that Kobe was saying he wanted out of LA. Bryant felt he was lied to by management regarding the team’s future plans and he wanted to win now, not later. His comments gave GM Mitch Kupchak a good ‘ol kick in the ass and made the message clear: give me more help. That was almost two years ago to the day, not long after the Lakers lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Suns. Well Kupchak responded by bringing in Trevor Ariza and Derek Fisher, one move ingenuous, the other by luck, and then a third fell in his lap.

The day Pau Gasol got traded to the Lakers it felt like things had been manipulated to get them back in the Finals. Gregg Popovich ripped the trade immediately and so did George Karl. Come on, Kwame Brown, Javarris Crittenton, and Marc Gasol all for Pau who’s a borderline franchise player? There’s no doubt the league did everything it could to make the Lakers more competitive. The move also proved one more truth about championship teams — you need several top notch players to win, not just one. Like Ray Allen said in ’04, you need two and a half good players to win a title. Kobe had a couple of years to average 30+ points per game but learned he couldn’t do it all on his own. Championship teams need several good players, not just one great one. Rather than fight it, Kobe finally embraced it.