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.”
The Lakers acquired some intriguing veteran, including a rim protector (Timofey Mozgov), a versatile forward (Luol Deng) and steady point guard (Jose Calderon). Yet, who knows how much any of those players can both produce and mentor as much as the Lakers hope they do. “I want to see improvement in the young players,” Kupchak said. “I want to see some production from our rookies and I want our team to be fun to watch. I want them to have fun playing. I want them to get better as the season goes along. But I don’t know how that translates into anything else under my control.”
But it was clear coming back to the town where his NBA career began sparked some emotion within the four-time NBA scoring champ. Because Seattleites aren’t the only ones who fantasize about what Durant could have done in this city — Durant does, too. “When the Seahawks won the title, and I was with the Thunder, and we were playing well, I was imagining how the city would have felt with both teams here,” Durant said. “It would have been electric. It would have been something we’ve never seen before — something no city has seen before. But we can dream, man.”
Would you be surprised to see him on television as an NBA analyst? Jimmy Jam: No, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on TV. I would enjoy seeing him on TV. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a chance to sit with him to watch a basketball game, but it’s hilarious. It’s unbelievable. I wouldn’t be surprised if he did that. Ownership, he expressed an interest in that. But it’s too bad with Flip passing away. It was a great plan that Flip had. The initial plan was to bring him back, give him the ropes of ownership. I think he still is interested in that. He has never expressed one definitive thing that he wants to do. That’s why I said there is no rush to me. I’m sure he’s made plans and there are things he wants to do.
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