Archive for the 'Mitch Kupchak' Category

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Buss, Kupchak, Jackson Wish Rambis Well

Kurt RambisThe Los Angeles Lakers released the following quotes from owner Dr. Jerry Buss, General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Head Coach Phil Jackson regarding the announcement of Kurt Rambis as new Head Coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves:

Dr. Jerry Buss
“Kurt is one of the hardest-working and brightest assistant coaches we’ve ever had, and I expect he will be very successful with the Timberwolves. Kurt has been a key figure in the success of the Lakers for nearly three decades. In my mind he will always be a Laker, but we wish him the best of luck in Minnesota.”

Mitch Kupchak
“While we’re obviously sad to see Kurt leave, we are excited for him to realize his long-time goal of becoming an NBA head coach. Kurt is a true professional and has ingrained himself as a fixture as a player, front office executive and coach in this organization, and has become a fan favorite both on and off the court. I’d like to thank Kurt for his tremendous contributions to the organization over the years. While he will undoubtedly be a welcome addition to the Timberwolves franchise, Kurt will always remain a part of the Lakers family.”

Phil Jackson
“It’s ‘best of luck’ that the coaching staff sends to Kurt Rambis as he takes on the coaching duties with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Kurt has been the workhorse of my staff the past few years. He’s worked with the youth of our team, coming in early and staying late, to help players develop. Last season he took on the responsibility as the defensive coordinator, a valuable part of our championship run. We will miss him, but know this is his time to do what he’s destined to do.”

Mitch Kupchak Podcast on Brown, + Artest/Odom

Shannon Brown - Ron ArtestWe sat down with Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak on Thursday afternoon primarily to discuss the signing of Shannon Brown, and also to touch on the Ron Artest deal … plus the team’s continued hope to retain the services of Lamar Odom.

Clearly, Kupchak is still pretty busy.

He detailed what the Lakers like about Brown’s game, explained why the 23-year-old was acquired in the first place, and opined on why signing Artest put the team in a better position to ink Brown and Odom. Kupchak also said that while L.A. would like to expedite the Lamar talks, the organization has “way too much” respect for the versatile swingman to rush the process: “We’re hopeful that a day goes by, two days or maybe the weekend and we’ll have more clarity,” he concluded.

You can listen to the audio (9:53) by clicking below:

Mitch Kupchak Statement on Ron Artest

Kobe - Ron ArtestA statement released on Thursday evening from Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak:

We have entered into discussions with Ron Artest and it is our intention to sign him to a contract at the conclusion of the moratorium period.

The free agency moratorium period started on July 1, when free agents were allowed to speak to NBA teams, and concludes on July 7, setting July 8 as the target date for the potential, official agreement between the Lakers and Artest.

Mitch Kupchak’s Initial Draft Reactions

A quick transcription of Mitch Kupchak’s initial reactions after L.A. traded its first pick (29) and took Patrick Beverley*** (who played in Ukraine this past season) with its second (42). Kupchak talked about why L.A. traded the pick (for cash and a future second rounder) and addressed the move in relation to L.A.’s unrestricted free agents.
***UPDATE: The Lakers traded Beverley’s rights to the Heat for a future second round pick.

- “We think we did the right thing. As I’ve indicated, there’s a chance if we can keep our team together that we really wouldn’t have roster space for draft picks. This year’s draft we felt was not as strong down in the 29 range. We had made provisions that if a player had dropped … We could have gotten that player. We didn’t feel that would happen, and it didn’t happen. We didn’t want to committ to a player for two years if there was a chance he wouldn’t make the team. The best deal ended up being (with New York).

- On if it helps retain Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown: “I don’t know what the market’s going to be. After tonight, the draft is behind us and we start to focus on July 1. I don’t know what the free agent market is going to hold for us. If a competing team makes an offer that we don’t think is a good basketball decision, we won’t try to match that offer. We’ve done that in the past. The fact that you sell a pick and get a future pick doesn’t mean it’s going to translate into a player on July 1, but it certainly won’t hurt.”

- On Patrick Beverley: “He played overseas last year, it’s something that remains possible (leaving him overseas). At the 42nd pick there may or may not be guaranteed money and we’ll see if he can make the team.”

Mitch Kupchak: Draft Presser

Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak joined assembled media members at L.A.’s practice facility to discuss Thursday’s draft, in which the Lakers currently have the 29th, 42nd and 59th picks.

Here are some highlights of the presser:

- Kupchak quipped that the Lakers might take Hasheem Thabeet and Blake Griffin if they’re available at No. 29.

- As he told us in podcast form yesterday, Kupchak reiterated that the team would like to keep its roster at 13. In other words, L.A. won’t use all three of its picks: “There is a better than even likelihood that we’ll move one of our picks.”

- Kupchak did concede that at the later stages of the draft, it’s usually a “best player available” situation.

- When asked about positions, Kupchak said that point guard is the one spot that isn’t set for the future considering Derek Fisher’s age.

- On drafting an international player: “We’d draft a (first-round) player, retain his rights and tender him an offer, but there’s normally an understanding … of a guaranteed component. Typically with a first round pick, you’d do your homework in advance and see if the player would agree to go to Europe and not sign the tender. That way he plays in Europe and you retain his rights.” Kupchak explained that it’s similar in the second round, without the hindrance of the guaranteed money.

- On what it would take for the Lakers to use their first-round pick to draft a player with expectation to play: “It’d have to be a player that we had ranked in the top 18 or so that we feel like could fit in with our team, he’d have to fall.”

- Kupchak said that it “Doesn’t appear to be a strong international draft,” though the Lakers employ a full-time European scout and a full-time Asian scout, as obviously the team spends more money on scouting than it had to in the past. However, Kupchak said one positive was that they no longer have to go to high schools to watch players due to all the professional leagues, camps and the like that recruit the best players.

- The GM also addressed Phil Jackson’s comments on ESPN radio yesterday that suggested the coach and Kupchak had discussed Jackson’s not traveling as much should he return: “Yes, Phil and I had a long discussion this morning, and the short of it is, what he said he didn’t mean it to sound the way it sounded. If he comes back to coach, he will come back and coach both home and away games. I guess there was a hypothetical approach to the question, and Phil answered the question, but today my discussion with him was that type of scenario doesn’t work, and that’s his opinion as well.”

- Kupchak added that he thinks Jackson “Wants to come back, he’s excited and very energized. It solely rests on his ability medically to come back and coach.”

- I asked Kupchak how crazy things get with the multiple forms of communication these days, and he listed these conversation enablers: Multiple cell phones (between him and his assistants); computer e-mail; five or six hard telephone lines; and texting. Kupchak said that he actually answered a text from another general manager for the first time today. But during the draft, it is complete chaos, where Kupchak said he can take/make at least 15 calls in a 10-minute window.

- He added: “If I yell out, get me Pat Riley, typically it’s still done mouth-to-mouth by phone” to describe what some of his staff is up to in crunch time. Back when he first started drafting with West in the 80′s, Kupchak said there were eight rounds, and only phones were used while a rep was at the draft in New York.


Podcast: Kupchak on Draft, Free Agency

Mitch KupchakWe sat down with Mitch Kupchak – in the middle of his ongoing draft meetings with assembled scouts at L.A.’s practice facility – to touch base on the June 25 draft, the Lakers’ free agency situation and the luxury tax.

While summing up L.A.’s roster situation, Kupchak explained why this year’s draft is unique:

“It’s a little dicey because we have three free agents (Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza and Shannon Brown), and I don’t anticipate carrying more than 13 players next year. So if we’re lucky enough to resign (those players), we’d have 13 assuming we exercise options for D.J. Mbenga and Josh Powell. Right now we’re assuming (Mbenga and Powell) are on our team next year. It would be something unusual where we wouldn’t exercise their options, we think they’re both valued players. If that’s the case, we’re at 13, and I don’t anticipate we’d go above 13.

Essentially, unless one of those free agents isn’t resigned, it’s not likely L.A. will look to fill out its 2009-10 roster through the draft.

“The best solution may be to look for a player that would stay in Europe or in Asia, or maybe exchange picks when you may have more roster space,” said Kupchak.

To listen to the podcast, click below.

The Next Two Days…

Phil Jackson - TeamWhat exactly is Phil Jackson hoping to accomplish with his team heading into Sunday’s first round playoff matchup with the Utah Jazz?

Let’s ask him:

This is an intense period. It’s very much like football would be when you have a week or two weeks to prepare. There’s a scout team, there’s on court activity that replicates what Utah does even though we don’t have the same personnel, it’s the same actions … We hone up our execution offensively. I try to give the heavy-minute guys a few days off so they really get fresh legs – that’s important. Then we start working on end-game situations, and on significant things that would cut down opportunities for the other team (like turnovers) and increase our awareness in the offensive end, especially on side outs and half court, or halftime and quarter-ending sequences.

More accurately, Lakers radio voice Spero Dedes asked him at yesterday’s Lakers Town Hall meeting, which went out on a live video stream from (you can watch by clicking HERE).

With Mitch Kupchak to his left, Jackson went on to identify three things on which L.A. will focus when it comes to Utah:

A) Stopping Mehmet Okur, particularly from the perimeter
B) Containing the penetration of Deron Williams
C) Keeping the Jazz off the free throw line.

At Friday’s practice (CLICK HERE to watch), Jackson acknowledging that finding Okur is definitely an area of focus for the defense, but said that he feels confident in the ability of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum to track Okur to the three-point line. On Thursday, he expanded on each of the three keys:

One of the interesting things is that we ended the season with Utah being our last opponent, and the one key to their team that’s the X-factor is Mehmet Okur, who was not at that game because of a hamstring. His stat last year was that if he gets 15 points, they win, basically. If he gets less, they don’t win. That’s kind of a significant factor about how they play. We wanted Andrew (Bynum) and Pau (Gasol) to have that mixed responsibility about who was going to cover Okur in the situation where he trails down the floor – he’s their leading three-point shooter and he’s a 7-footer. But we did see Deron Williams busting down the middle of the floor and getting to the basket … Utah leads the league in layups and assists, and that says something about them, so those are big issues. The other issue that we saw in this ball game was that Utah got to the free throw line 29 times in the first half and 47 times in the game – you cannot allow a team to have that many free throws in a ball game. It’s going to change the outcome of how you play because it’s going to generate energy off the free throw line. Those are things we’ll try to correct leading up to the game.

Kupchak also weighed in, suggesting that while the basketball ops office is focused primarily on preparing for the 2009 NBA Draft to take place in late June, he is also on hand to assist the coaching staff when it comes to dealing with the league.

“He’ll come in after a ball game and say, ‘Did you see anything out there that you thought was inordinate that I need to draw attention to the league from,’” explained Jackson. “Because Mitch becomes the liaison between our team and the league as far as officiating, he’s constantly checking in with us.”

In just two days more days, the theories will be tested in reality.

You can follow our extensive playoff coverage at our Playoff Central page, featuring a full scouting report on the first round series with Utah.

Live Feed: Town Hall 2009

Here’s a reminder that at 3 p.m. today you can go to (CLICK HERE) to watch Mitch Kupchak and Phil Jackson answer questions at Lakers Town Hall 2009.

Play-by-play radio voice of the Lakers Spero Dedes will be on hand to host as L.A.’s brain trust collectively answer wide-ranging questions about the team and individual players.

See you there in a few.

Lakers Balancing Their Economy

Throughout the 2008-09 NBA season and particularly just before the Feb. 19 trade deadline, several teams seemed to be cutting salaries for purely economic purposes. Here’s why the Lakers weren’t one of them:

This basketball season, much has been made about the impact of the nationwide recession that’s adversely affecting so many people not just in America but around the world.

Owners throughout professional basketball have made deals that appear, at least on the surface, to have just as much to do with their respective economic situations as on-the-court performance (see: pre-physical Tyson Chandler).

““I think the country’s economic struggles will have an effect on the business of basketball and the NBA.” said Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchack. “It is obviously a tough economic environment right now with a lot of uncertainty going forward. It is essential that all NBA teams and the NBA in New York pay close attention to the economy and how it may affect this great game in the short term so as to ensure its success in the long term.”

To read the rest of the article, CLICK HERE.

Kupchak Weighs in on Mihm Trade

In a conversation we had Thursday with Mitch Kupchack subsequent to the passing of the NBA trade deadline, the Lakers General Manager offered some reaction on the trade that sent center Chris Mihm to Memphis for a future second-round draft pick.

Q: On how the move was easier to make considering D.J. Mbenga’s place on the roster, Josh Powell’s solid play and Andrew Bynum’s expected to return to the team:We had two players at that position – D.J. Mbenga and Chris Mihm – and with a healthy Andrew Bynum, neither one of those players played much at all. With Andrew getting injured, I was curious to see if Chris’s time was going to go up dramatically, and it really didn’t. He did play a lot of minutes two nights ago (vs. Atlanta, Feb. 17) in a game, but other than that Phil (Jackson) really chose to play Lamar (Odom) and Pau (Gasol), and also Josh Powell.

So here we are again, with Andrew – knock on wood – expected to return and even with the injury, neither Chris nor D.J. were getting much time. At that point you had to look at what was best for the organization and take into consideration Chris’s loyalty and his future as well. I think if you asked him, he would have preferred to stay here; I think there’s a degree of comfort that goes along with being in a certain place and I know he wanted to be a part of this. But I’ve been here for many, many years, and he really needs to go to a place where he’s going to play, get confidence – not only himself but confidence that other people who watch him play can feel. He has to be in a position where this summer he can pick a place to finish his career, because he’s still relatively young, and that’s tough sometimes for a player to understand. It was a painful thing for him; we kind of lived his frustrations here the last four years. Every time he had a surgery or went down with an injury, we felt it as well. It’s tough to part ways, but we get a roster space, we get some flexibility down the road and we get a trade exception. Chris has to go some place where he has a chance to play and set himself hopefully for next year and thereafter.

Stay tuned for more trade deadline reaction from Kupchak.