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Tuesday, July 30th, 2013 at 9:00 am  |  31 responses

GM Mitch Kupchak Says the Lakers Won’t Tank


by Marcel Mutoni @ marcel_mutoni

To no one’s great shock, Los Angeles Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak insists that despite Dwight Howard’s departure and the monster free agent class next summer (and 2015), the team will do its best to be as competitive as possible in 2013-’14.

Kupchak admits he’s disappointed with Howard’s decision to bolt for Houston, but not all that surprised.

Per the LA Times:

How disappointed was he to lose Howard in free agency to the “little town” of Houston, as Shaquille O’Neal derisively called it? “It wasn’t a surprise. I had a feeling that Houston was a frontrunner, and whenever a player is an unrestricted free agent, anything can happen,” Kupchak said. “Clearly, we wanted to keep him here in Los Angeles, and I felt we did everything we could do within reason to show we did want to keep him here. Until the end, I kept up hope. I think we were as persistent as we could be within reason. I wasn’t shocked but I was disappointed.”

With Kobe Bryant coming back at an unknown date from a torn Achilles’ tendon, is it time to punt away next season and play for a high draft pick in 2014? “You know that’s not our plan. Our plan was to bring back Dwight Howard and that would have sky-rocketed our payroll,” Kupchak said. “That’s never a plan here with our fan base, to throw in the towel before the season begins. We always try to win, and that’s what we’re going to do this year.”

Unlike Jim Buss, Kupchak won’t make any predictions about Kobe Bryant’s return to the court, though the GM says he’s optimistic:

“Obviously, we’re all hopeful and we all know Kobe. When you guess on Kobe, he always tries to prove you wrong,” Kupchak said. “The reality is he’s doing what he should be doing. He’s making progress probably weekly. Does that mean five months is possible or it’s really going to be eight or nine or 10? We just don’t know. When he gets back in September, we’ll take another look at him, but he hasn’t been on a basketball court. It’s really premature to try to predict other than try to be optimistic that he’ll be ready for opening night or the 15th of November or the 1st of December or the 15th of December.”

Despite having added some athleticism on the cheap this summer, and a potentially happier locker room next season, the Lakers have plenty of challenges ahead. It remains to be seen just how healthy and effective Steve Nash and Pau Gasol will be, and the team’s defense remains a major concern.

The organization may not be going into tank-mode, but Lakers fans would be wise to keep an eye on the future beyond next season.

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  • i_ball

    Well they will probably be bad but I don’t see Kobe tanking

  • JibbsIsBallin

    Their fan base will tank before the team tanks.

  • Slamson

    *Lakers won’t HAVE to tank

  • spit hot fiyah

    this is a lakers tank

  • Conor

    Lakers fans aren’t of the same ilk as those of Miami and Boston.

  • cory

    they won’t tank intentionally….

  • JibbsIsBallin

    No, but they’re getting there. Miami has the worst fan base. And I am a Miami fan.

  • Ishmael Jenkins

    Laker fans should prepare for the worst season since 2004-2005.

  • Shooting Guard

    lies

  • http://soundcloud.com/tray-8 T-Ray

    I think there’s a nice sample size of Laker fans that resemble Heat fans. The main difference is most of them didn’t just become Laker fans in 2010 like Miami fans but they’re just as delusional.

  • Shooting Guard

    hahaha

  • shockexchange

    Mitch is just trying to under-promise and over-deliver. If LA has a losing season, he can say “I told you so.” The Lakers could have had a healthy Andrew Bynum / Pau Gasol at the same ____ time, but gave it up for a chance to rent D12 for a year. Mitch is using 2014 as a smokescreen to cover up this epic fail.

  • Conor

    I just remember 2004-2007, when the only draw was Kobe, and Staples was sold out every night.

    I’d say that Lakers fans are more delusional thanks to being seeped in history, but not in the same class of fairweather.

  • http://soundcloud.com/tray-8 T-Ray

    Exactly. I think a lot of times Lakers fans tend to revert to the past and forget about the present or make irrational comments to justify their arguments. However, if I had to choose I’d rather be that than fairweather.

  • bike

    I wonder what the penalty would be–assuming there is such a penalty–for blatant tanking. Teams in the past have been accused and/or suspected of tanking but if it became very obvious how would the commish deal with the situation?

  • Jake

    There’s no reason to tank. Sure, they can tank, piss off their two stars and hope for a good pick… Or, they can make the playoffs, lose in the second round and go after 2-3 free agents that will boost them back into championship contention. If they tanked, I wouldn’t put it past Kobe to leave for somewhere else. F*ck pride and loyalty at this point, he wants to win chips.

  • Jake

    Call me crazy, and many people will….but I could see them ending up with a better record than last year if everyone comes back healthy. Dwight Howard didn’t make that much of an impact on the team. If Kaman can put up 15 and 8 a night they’ll be in pretty decent shape. 48-34 is my prediction, 6 seed in the West, playing San Antonio in the first round.

  • RipCity

    what two stars? Kobe will be lucky to be half of what he was if he tries to come back this year. Gasol is another year older, still productive but hardly a star anymore. Nash looked washed up last year, he is no where near star level anymore.

  • shockexchange

    The Shock Exchange agrees with you. LA has Pau Gasol / Chris Kaman at the same ____ time and Steve Nash. Everything is predicated on whether Horry Jr can return in the first half of the season healthy.

  • Jake

    Nash looked washed up because he had major injuries to deal with. Kobe will be Kobe. He can’t be compared to Elton Brand’s injury( I assume that’s who you are thinking of when you say he won’t be half of what he was) since he’s 50 pounds lighter and plays a completely different kind of game. Gasol’s horrible season can be blamed on Dwight Howard, D’Antoni and injuries. With Howard gone, he is free to be in the post again. D’Antoni knows he can’t play Gasol on the perimeter any longer, and Pau has all summer to rest his aching body. Tim Duncan is proof that a fundamentally sound big man can play well at age 33.

  • LakeShow

    Truth.

  • Jake

    Honestly though. Kobe and Pau, and Nash for that matter, have access to the greatest doctors in the world. There’s no reason not to assume that they will come back and be very productive this season. I think it’s going to show people just how much of a chemistry problem Dwight Howard was as well. Losing the name Dwight Howard on the roster and in NBA 2K14 hurts much worse than losing the player Dwight Howard on the court and in the locker room.

  • Max

    It’s not like they have much of a choice..

  • Max

    Lose in the second round? haha/

  • underdog

    Yeah, like tanking would be possible with a motivated as ever, grumpy, old, Kobe Bryant on the team. Nah.

  • bike

    A real possibility. I think a Pau and Nash tandem could really light it up providing they can stay off the disabled list. And just the notion that everyone thinks they will suck is enough motivation for Kobe to do something no one anticipated.

  • Pingback: SLAM ONLINE | » Steve Nash Glad People Counting Out the Lakers

  • Jake
  • Max

    They’re still not getting past the first round, the West is stacked.

  • Rudy’s Gay

    Lakers could be 13th team in the lottery and still win the lottery! No need to tank! Wiggins baby!

  • The Seed

    DUH, now with Kobe on the team.

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