Los Angeles Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has a very tough job, steering one of the most glamorous sports organizations, and dealing with arguably the most demanding superstar of all.
Kupchak recently inked a multi-year contract extension with the Lakers, and has plenty of decisions to make this summer, following quite possibly the worst season in franchise history.
At the top of the list will be what to do about head coach Mike D’Antoni. According to Kupchak, despite Kobe Bryant’s strong opinions and considerable sway, he will not be consulted on the coaching matter going forward.
Per USA Today:
Kupchak: “We will not consult with him. No, we won’t consult with him.”
Q: Because when he was asked about Mike last week, the perception was that he didn’t go to bat for him publicly. That started the storyline of “Well, Mike’s not coming back because it doesn’t seem like Kobe wants him back.”
Kupchak: “We won’t consult with him. 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?”
Q: Do you have clarity on that (D’Antoni) decision yet?
Kupchak: “No. No. In fact, I told Jimmy (Buss) let’s get to the end season, take some time off…then review the season. Look at our roster. I mean we have a plan. We’ve aligned our contracts in such a way where we’re at a position where we’re not financially stuck. But there’s a lot we don’t know. We don’t know where we’re going to get our pick. Are we going to be sixth, are we going to be eighth, are we going to be two or three? We don’t know. We know who may be a free agent, but we don’t know for sure until June 30. So we know a lot, and we’re set up to take advantage of the situations — whether it’s to make a trade, take back a player, get a good draft choice, pursue free agency. But once again, it’s a different world than it was 20 years ago. And as much as we’d like to be very competitive and competing for a championship next year, it may or may not happen, ok?”
Mitch Kupchak remains patient, practical, and realistic in the face of enormous pressure from the huge Laker fan base, corporate partners and the team’s impatient, aging shooting guard. He’s honest about the Lakers perhaps not contending for NBA championships in the very near future.
As for Kobe and the loud ticking clock in his head as he stares down basketball mortality? Well, he’ll just have to suck it up, says Kupchak:
“He’ll be fine. He’s got no choice. 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.”