Mitch Kupchak Rumors
(Actually, it’s unlikely that Kupchak, who worked easily with Jackson, would have objected to something ownership wanted to do. If Jim didn’t want Phil, it was because of his own issues with him.) Stung as Jeanie was, she wasn’t then inclined to fight Jim, knowing her father didn’t want an inter-organizational struggle. Instead, she took Jim up on his off-hand vow to leave if he couldn’t get the team back in two years – which she took to mean making the Western Conference finals by this season – or in other words, so long, Jimbo!
The Lakers’ first 10 games: 10th in offensive rating (106.6 points scored per 100 possessions), 15th in defensive rating (103.5 points allowed per 100), 10th in overall net rating (3.1). The Lakers’ past seven games: 14th in offensive rating (103.9), 30th in defensive rating (117.1), 28th in overall net rating (minus-13.3). Mitch Kupchak knew there were bumps coming in their road, if only because there always are for teams that won 17 games the season before. When I spoke with the longtime Lakers general manager at the team’s practice facility after his team got off to a good start, with Lakers fans everywhere feeling so reenergized and national writers taking notice of those early exploits, it was impossible to miss the measured tone he took.
Even with the recent losses, this is major progress for a team that won eight games in its first 35 tries last season. Couple that with the widely-held sense that Walton will only get better as a head coach from here, and – uncertain future be darned – there’s still a lot to like here. “It’s a completely different team, and it’s going to be a different team a year from now because everybody’s going to be a year older,” Kupchak said. “But (Walton has) instilled a selflessness to the team. It looks like he’s going to play a bunch of guys. Everybody feels invested in the game. They’re going to get a chance to play. They play hard. They look like they have fun.”
For now, they’re having too much fun to worry about what’s next. “It does seem to have come together, and everybody pulls for each other, and Luke is the ring leader,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told USA TODAY Sports. “There’s no doubt (Walton is) in command. He’s in charge. I wouldn’t say he’s easygoing. He knows what he wants, and he’ll enforce whatever it takes to get what he wants to get on the court. “He’s got a little bit more of an edge than I thought. I knew, as a competitor and as a player, he had the edge. But he does have a little bit more of an edge as a coach than I thought he would’ve.”
Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford was chatting recently with Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak. The conversation quickly turned to ex-Lakers center Roy Hibbert, who signed with the Hornets over the summer. “You’ll be surprised how good a basketball player he is on offense,” Kupchak told Clifford. Four games into the Hornets’ preseason, Clifford buys Kupchak’s point.
First things first. World Peace must first prove he can survive several rounds of roster cuts before the NBA regular season starts in late October. “We didn’t expect him to make the team last year and he made it,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. “The same thing can happen this year.”
An ominous cloud looms over the Lakers, however. Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss said in 2014 he would step down if the Lakers do not become a Western Conference contender in three years. Lakers president Jeanie Buss has often said she would hold the front office accountable with unspecified changes if that does not happen. All of which perpetuates uncertainty on if Kupchak’s focus on development could conflict with Jeanie Buss’ focus on results. “I’m not in a position to debate the stuff you talked about,” Kupchak said on Tuesday at UC Santa Barbara. “I’m not sure what was said with certainty. From my point of view, we’ve created a team that has a lot of young talent that can grow into really good NBA players that can leave an imprint on this league. I think we’ve surrounded them with older veterans to help us win games. I’m excited about our coaching staff.”