Mitch Kupchak

Lakers GM Kupchak says team wanted D’Antoni, didn’t think Jackson would want job


Phil Jackson was under the impression that the Lakers job was his if he wanted it — and it wasn’t just his impression. Mike D’Antoni thought it was Jackson’s job, everyone around the Lakers thought it was Jackson’s job, and Lakers fans thought it was Jackson’s job.

The Lakers front office wanted Mike D’Antoni. And Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak admitted Tuesday he didn’t think Jackson would want the job (in part because Jackson told Kupchak a few months before he didn’t think he’d ever return to coaching). They were caught off guard by the momentum of Jackson returning picked up.

Kupchak has taken the incoming fire and spoke with reporters about the move. Here are tweets from Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register about what he said.



That is a good soldier providing cover when under fire.

We’ve made the argument that D’Antoni is the better long-term hire (if he can get them to defend). But the problem with how this went down is the game changed for D’Antoni — he went from replacing Mike Brown (who D’Antoni will be better than) to replacing Phil Jackson in the minds of Lakers fans. Not even the real Jackson, but worse yet the legend of him, The Lakers could win 62 games for D’Antoni and he will hear how Phil’s team would have won 70 games. And swept the Celtics. And shut out the Bobcats 101-0. And how Kobe Bryant would have scored every time he walked over the half-court line.

But no pressure Mike. Good luck.

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
1 Comment

Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.

Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.

But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.

LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.

However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.

For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.

Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.


Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
1 Comment

Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.