Mitch Kupchak

Report: Lakers to give GM Mitch Kupchak contract extension

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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.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: