Mitch Kupchak

Report: Lakers to give GM Mitch Kupchak contract extension


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.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”

Knicks’ Rookie Jerian Grant gets up, throws it down (VIDEO)

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The Knicks did well trading for Jerian Grant on date night — he’s going to be able to walk in this year and play quality minutes off the bench.

And, he can get up and throw it down.

Carmelo Anthony had 18 points to lead the Knicks to a 94-88 win over the Sixers.