HoopsHype Mitch Kupchak rumors

February 6, 2014 Updates

Magic Johnson recently said the Lakers needed a face of the franchise, someone like Jerry West or Phil Jackson, to help sell the brand to free agents during dollar-driven summers. A volunteer stepped forward Wednesday: Johnson. He pledged to do whatever it took to turn the Lakers into a championship team, including recruiting of free agents. "I've done that in the past," Johnson told The Times. "I told [General Manager] Mitch Kupchak that last week. First they have to make up their mind on who they want, and then they tell me, just like I recruited Ron Artest, I talked to Lamar Odom." Los Angeles Times

January 28, 2014 Updates

Bryant making it back from this knee fracture to strut some great stuff before season’s end could still serve as inspiration—and reassurance for free agents who will consider joining the Lakers this summer and want to win. Yet Bryant’s latest comeback remains on hold for now. And however long he stays out carries other repercussions beyond this season. The Lakers could wind up losing so much that they land a plum pick from the 2014 draft class that Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak described to the team’s website this way: “I would say one through 10 is as good as I've seen in a long time.” Bleacher Report

January 26, 2014 Updates

With that in mind, it was almost jarring to hear (by Kupchak's standards) unbridled optimism from the GM a couple weeks ago when the team was mired in a stretch of eight losses in nine games. "I just expect our players -- and they will -- to play hard and to compete, and they'll be fun to watch if they do that," Kupchak said. ESPN.com

By bringing Shaw to Indiana, it was an opportunity to repay a debt from six years earlier when Vogel was looking for an opportunity after the Philadelphia 76ers made changes to their coaching staff. Shaw was with the Lakers when he got a call from longtime friend Lester Conner, who was an assistant with Vogel in Philadelphia. Conner asked Shaw if the Lakers could use Vogel as an advance scout on the East Coast. “Sight unseen, just off of Lester’s word, I went to (Lakers general manager) Mitch Kupchak and (coach) Phil Jackson and said, ‘Can we think about hiring this guy?’ For $200 a game, he scouted all our East Coast opponents. That kept him involved, kept his name out there and so he always reminds me, ‘You threw me a lifeline and I threw you one.’ It worked out well.” NBA.com

January 23, 2014 Updates

One of those calls Jackson disagreed happened after retiring in 2011. The Lakers hired Mike Brown over Jackson’s lead assistant Brian Shaw. Brown led the Lakers to the 2012 Western Conference semifinals against Oklahoma City, but he was fired five games into last season. Shaw landed his first head coaching gig this season with the Denver Nuggets. “They should have given him [Brian Shaw] the opportunity to have that job, but that’s not my decision,” Jackson said. “That’s where Jimmy Buss wanted to make that decision. I don’t know where [General Manager] Mitch [Kupchak] was behind all of that, because Mitch kind of sits behind that decision making.” Los Angeles Daily News

January 11, 2014 Updates

MT: For the teams that are simply young and don’t know if they can win that season, is there a big difference between “tanking” and “rebuilding?” Kupchak: There are certain teams with young players and assets with a goal to still win games, but they may remove themselves and say, realistically, we're probably going to be a sub-.500 team. That's different from tanking. Tanking is intentionally instructing the coach to lose, and that’s (not acceptable). Rebuilding is another matter. NBA.com

Kupchak: If John Stockton were in the D-League, we would have picked up John Stockton. We are trying to win games. With that said, you have to continue to monitor your roster as the season goes on. That's the job as a general manager. You have to be more realistic. Most of the time, we start the season with a certain ratio in mind. It could be 80 percent looking at the current season, and 20 percent at the next season. If you have a chance to win a title in a given season, maybe you sacrifice the next year to a certain extent. Or, maybe that ratio changes with injuries, from 60-40 in December, to 50-50 in January or30-70 in February looking to the future. Now, the coach is 100 percent focused on winning that year, but part of the manager's job is to have the future of the organization in mind. NBA.com

MT: How much does the repeater tax penalty impact your thinking when considering the roster for this season and the coming two in particular? Kupchak: You have to be out of the luxury tax in two out of five years to avoid a repeater penalty. If we stay in the tax this season, it will be three consecutive seasons as taxpayers. Now, how that impacts future decisions depends on the mechanics of each deal. Like anything else, if there is a debt that you have to pay, you'd like to get it behind you as soon as possible. But ownership here has never been afraid to be in the tax. If you're $30 million over the tax as a repeater, that's a tax bill of about $130 million. But if you're in the tax and it's only $1 million over, it's around $2.5 million. So you’re still a repeater in the latter situation, but that’s a big difference. NBA.com

MT: Is the coming NBA Draft as deep and good as has been reported? Kupchak: Right now, I would say one through 10 is as good as I've seen in a long time. MT: Like going back to the LeBron-Anthony-Bosh-Wade 2003 Draft? Kupchak: Yeah, that’s the first draft that comes to mind. Going into that draft, I’m not sure everyone knew that would be such a great draft, but looking back on it, it really was. We'll have to wait and see how this one turns out, but I think it has the potential to be a heck of a draft from one through 10. NBA.com

January 10, 2014 Updates
January 8, 2014 Updates
December 12, 2013 Updates
November 26, 2013 Updates

Kobe Bryant got his contract extension on Monday. Is Pau Gasol, the guy who Kobe often refers to as a "brother" and who he paired with to win two championships, soon to follow? "We have not had any discussions with Pau," Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said Tuesday on a conference call with a small group of reporters. "I’m sure I will and where that leads I’m not sure right now. A lot has to do with different variables. I’m not saying that something won’t be considered and I’m not saying that something will be. I’m just saying that it’s not something that came up and it wouldn’t have come up before (Monday) anyway. There was no reason for anything to take place until we signed Kobe. So, we’ll kind of roll with that and see where it leads." ESPN.com

"Obviously, he took a pay cut," Kupchak said of Bryant, who will be paid $30.5 million this season and was eligible to be offered up to $32 million next season under the terms of the new CBA. "A substantial pay cut. A lot of people look at it and say, 'Well, that's not a huge financial pay cut,' but it was a negotiation that we felt like was pretty quickly accomplished and fair on both sides. We're comfortable." ESPN.com

Even with so much money committed to Bryant -- his $23.5 million salary accounts for more than a third of the expected $62.9 million salary cap next season -- Kupchak believes the Lakers can still fill in enough pieces around him to compete for another Larry O'Brien Trophy. And what a title that would be -- Bryant's sixth, to tie his idol Michael Jordan, and the team's 17th, to tie the rival Boston Celtics. "I think we do," Kupchak said on a conference call with a small group of reporters. "I think we do. The challenges are there. The collective bargaining agreement doesn't make it any easier for anybody. It's restrictive and challenging, but yes, I do believe we can." ESPN.com

In the end, the negotiation went rather quickly. Less than two weeks from beginning to end. Because in the end, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers wanted the same thing: for him to have the opportunity to retire as a Laker. "This wasn't something I decided to do; this wasn't something [general manager] Mitch Kupchak decided to do. This was a Buss family decision," Lakers executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Monday night, after the team inked Bryant to a two-year, $48.5 million extension. ESPN.com

November 25, 2013 Updates
November 13, 2013 Updates

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