Mitch Kupchak Rumors
Mitch Kupchak was always particular about draft night. And he demanded calm in the moments before he called in each Lakers pick. Adam Filippi knew this. He had been through half a dozen of these already. But on June 28, 2007, Kupchak had not yet announced what the Lakers were doing with the 48th pick, and as the Lakers’ scouts huddled around Kupchak’s office door, the team’s 35-year-old director of international scouting simply could not help himself. “We’re going with Marc Gasol, right?” Filippi blurted. “We’re going with Marc?”
Kupchak shot him an icy stare. It was a look, Filippi would later remember, that seemed to say, “Adam, mind your own f—— business.” Finally, the longtime Lakers general manager replied, “We’re going by the board.” The board was Kupchak’s bible. He trusted the board. It had guided many successful draft picks over the years. The names of the top 60 prospects in the draft had been written on a dry erase board in the war room inside the Lakers El Segundo, Calif., practice facility. They were color-coordinated by class year. When a player was picked, that name was crossed off.
“Mitch liked to say the secretary could do the draft,” former assistant general manager Ronnie Lester said. “All she had to do was look at the board, see who was left and take that player.” Filippi cast an anxious glance at the board and sighed with relief when he saw the highest remaining name was written in green. Green was the color for international players. It read: Marc Gasol. Kupchak made the pick.
“I remember that pick!” Gasol said, triumphantly “I was still around at that pick. I remember they called him ‘the Chinese Magic Johnson’ (on TV). And me and Pau, we were like, ‘What are we doing? Who is this?’” Gasol and his comrades dutifully raised a glass to each draftee and hoped for a different outcome each time Silver appeared. “I’m a big guy,” Gasol said, “I can hold myself.” Until, finally, he couldn’t “By the time the 48th pick came around,” he said, “I was already out.”
This is the last season on Zeller’s contract, and I think he’s a good fit as a “rental” for a contender: He’s not caught up in whether he starts or comes off the bench, and he’s low-maintenance. If a good team lost a big man to an injury, I can sure see that call being made to Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak. Rozier is more complicated because there is another season beyond this one on his contract, with a guaranteed $17.9 million salary. Seemingly, it would be easier to trade him next off-season than now.