Mitch Kupchak has been the Lakers’ general manager for 14 years, he’s swung big trades that led to titles (Pau Gasol) and made big moves that ended in a train wreck (Dwight Howard), but he’s been right more than wrong. He has won four rings from that chair. More importantly to the Buss family, he has been a loyal Laker employee — when Lakers season ticket holders have been frustrated and want to vent it is Kupchak that has to stand out there on the stage and essentially get pelted with tomatoes.
Kupchak has rebuilt this franchise into a contender once — after Shaquille O’Neal was shipped out of town — and ownership is going to trust him to do it again.
The Lakers are about to give Kupchak a multi-year contract extension reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed to a multiyear extension with general manager Mitch Kupchak, sources with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday night…
This new extension will keep him as the Lakers general manager for several years beyond what he was already under contract for.
With the Lakers in the midst of the worst season in franchise history, the extension for Kupchak solidifies his decision-making role and is a reflection of the esteem in which he is held by the Buss family.
Kupchak is widely considered to be one of the highest paid executives in the NBA (not quite Phil Jackson with the Knicks money, but who else would pay anyone that other than Dolan?).
Kupchak — once despised by many Lakers fans, at least until they got Jim Buss as a whipping boy — is now in charge of rebuilding a Lakers team having its worst season since moving to Los Angeles.
There is no doubt Kupchak can do the job — he has done it before — the better question is will he have the freedom to do it? Mike Brown was a hire made by Jim Buss, a situation that lasted just more than a season. Then came the Mike D’Antoni era and that was something Jim and Jerry Buss wanted (they have long wanted a return to the Showtime era). Does Mitch get to pick the next guy? Will he have the freedom to make the roster moves he wants?
No doubt he wants to go big game hunting and get the superstar who will be the next face of the Lakers after Kobe Bryant. At some point he and the Lakers will land someone. Kupchak tends to work quietly and pounce when it is not expected (remember the Gasol trade? The Howard trade?) but the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and the way it ties the hands of tax paying teams will make it a tougher task than ever to keep the Lakers on top.
At least Kupchak gets to stay on the job.