Tag: Mitch Kupchak

Dwight Howard

Report: Magic to make decision on new GM by end of week


First comes the new general manager. Then comes the decision on Dwight Howard.

The first part of that decision could come by the end of the week, reports magicbasketballonline.com.

A source close to the decision making process within the Orlando Magic organization has informed me that the team is close, and likely to name their new General Manager by the end of the week….

More importantly, my source has also said that the new GM will make the decision on Dwight.

Is there really much of a decision there? Either he commits — which by all reports he is not willing to do — or you have to shop him around. Why would you invite the circus of last season back to town?

As for who gets to make that call? A lot of people have been linked to the job. The biggest names are former Knicks GM Donnie Walsh (who the Knicks said could talk to other teams) and current Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak (who may not have been given that right). Also discussed have been former Hornets GM Jeff Bower, former Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard and current Thunder assistant GM Rob Hennigan.

Whoever gets the job, he better like rebuilding projects.

How about a real Orlando GM target: Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak

Mitch Kupchak

We all had our laugh, time to get serious about the Orlando Magic general manager search.

How about this for a start, from Ken Berger at CBSSports.com — Mitch Kupchak of the Lakers.

So while there have been no public indications that Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak will be available or wants to leave Los Angeles, Kupchak is expected to be among the first wave of candidates the Magic pursue, one of the sources said…

The Magic also are interested in speaking with Pacers general manager David Morway and former Hornets GM Jeff Bower, both of whom have interviewed twice for the Trail Blazers’ opening, and former Portland GM and current Pacers executive Kevin Pritchard, sources said. Magic officials believe former Pacers and Knicks president Donnie Walsh would be a good fit, but sources say the team is convinced that if Walsh returns to a front-office job, it will be in Indiana in the likely event team president Larry Bird retires.

I have heard from multiple sources that Kupchak is not happy with the Lakers — working closely with Jim Buss, son of long-time owner Jerry — and is looking to get out.

However, Kupchak said on Wednesday that he has not intention of leaving the Lakers and that working with the Buss family was “the best job,” as reported in the Orange County Register. Kupchak is ever the straight shooter and company man and would never say anything to harm the Buss family or the organization. It’s not his style.

Whether it is Kupchak or someone else, the Magic are clearly looking for a veteran GM to take the helm and set a direction. From there a coach will be hired, but the GM will be first. Which is as it should be.

Jason Kidd would like to be a general manager when he retires

Mavericks guard Kidd watches from the bench against the Spurs  during their NBA basketball game in Dallas, Texas

Jason Kidd is not ready to retire after this season.

He will be 40 next season but has played solidly this season — 5.9 points and 5.2 assists per game with a PER of 12.4. He might be reduced to being a backup — especially if he returns to Dallas and they fulfill their goal of landing Deron Williams — but he is not ready to hang them up.

But when he does, he has a plan — he wants to be a general manager. He wants to go from organizing a team on the court to organizing the team from off it.

Here’s his quote, from Alex Kennedy at Hoopsworld (via SLAM).

“I would like to go upstairs,” Kidd said. “I’d like to be the person who puts all of the pieces together. We’ll see if that works out.”

It’s a tough transition to make — just because a guy has the athleticism and is considered a smart player doesn’t mean he really is good at player evaluations. Most of the time when you hear a player suggest a trade, it’s a bad idea. It also tends to go the better the player the worse they are at it. Plus, for modern players being a front office guy is a lot of long hours for a whole lot less money than they were just making.

But there have been and still are exceptions — Jerry West, Danny Ainge, Pat Riley, John Paxson, and Mitch Kupchak, just to name a few.

Jason Kidd maybe can be one of those exceptions. He certainly is a cerebral player. And he’ll get a chance (maybe in Dallas), someone will give him a shot.

Derek Fisher has moved on from Lakers trade, embracing his new role in Oklahoma City

Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Russell Westbrook

Derek Fisher returned to Staples Center on Thursday as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, his first time back since the deadline day deal the Lakers made to trade him away exactly two weeks ago.

The return was a triumphant one, with his new team thrashing his old one 102-93, behind strong performances from Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, particularly in the second half.

Fisher wasn’t necessarily signed for the statistical on-court production that now, at age 37, he’s unlikely to provide on a reliable or consistent basis. But he impacted the game a bit on this night, personally carving into an early 10-point Laker lead by scoring seven points in seven minutes in his first stint off the bench. This, after receiving two separate, sincere standing ovations from the crowd — one following a video tribute played in the arena just before tip-off, and another as he was subbed into the game for the first time with 2:04 remaining in the first quarter.

Before all that, Fisher met with a large group of media — crazy-large, really, for a regular season contest involving a player not named LeBron James — and talked about his emotions as he prepared to face his former teammates.

“My emotions aren’t really strange,” he said.  “You know, I’ve kind of been through this dress rehearsal before a few times with a couple different teams. It’s different compared to what I’ve been used to the last four or five years, but it’s a game. And I play for the other team now.”

Fisher said he has come to accept the trade now, and the fact that it happened at all wasn’t really the concern — it was the way it came about so suddenly that he said was the part that wasn’t all that pleasant.

“I know there have been a lot of statements made — including mine, I guess — about what I thought I knew about the situation, whether I knew I was going to get traded, how I was going to feel about it, what my role would have been had I still been on the team,” Fisher said. “I’m in a good place right now.”

“Initially it was more shock than just pure disappointment,” he continued. “I’ve been in this business for a long time, and, not just for me personally, but for thousands of guys that have played this game, I’ve always thought there were different ways to handle trade and waiver-type situations, where there can be some more communication — not necessarily far in advance, but enough to not have to find out from the mailman or at the post office that you’ve been traded.  And I’m not saying that’s what happened in this case, but I did wake up and I was traded. And that’s the part that shocks you more than anything.”

The prevailing belief in Los Angeles has been that those in power didn’t feel Fisher would adjust well to a reduced role on the team, moving further down the bench after the team acquired Ramon Sessions — a stance which was reiterated by Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak to reporters before the game.

“With Steve Blake and Ramon and Derek we have three point guards,” Kupchak said. “It’s not fair to the coach to get a young, ball-handling guard that you see as the future (in Sessions) and it’s not fair to the coach to have to choose between three players. It’s not fair to Ramon to come in and know he’s the guy pushing that guy to the bench.

“And the third thing is, Derek wants to play. And we felt making this trade that he probably would be the one not playing. And he would try to earn it, he would fight and scratch, but the odds were he would be the odd man out. That wouldn’t be fair to him.”

Fisher discounted this completely, saying essentially that his entire life has been about fitting in with the team concept.

“It goes against and flies in the face of — not just what I’ve been since I’ve been in the NBA, but the type of team player I’ve been in every group I’ve been a part of,” Fisher said in regards to possibly having to deal with a reduced role. “Team sports raised me, in a sense — outside of my mom and dad and family, I was raised on team sports. And that meant, and has always stood for, sharing and sacrificing and giving of yourself so that the group can succeed.”

Fisher genuinely seems fine with how things have shaken out, and has embraced his new situation in Oklahoma City. He specifically mentioned the fact that there was no “championship or bust mentality” as a positive, and said after his new team’s big win that the lack of that pressure has the Thunder playing in a free-spirited way that perhaps his former Lakers team hasn’t been able to in quite some time.

“It’s extremely refreshing and enjoyable to play on a team that’s really not playing with any additional pressure to have to do anything,” Fisher said. “We’re showing up every night just having fun and playing the game. To be on such a young team, it’s a lot of fun. The locker room is extremely different than what our locker room used to be like (in L.A.) in terms of preparing for games. But when that ball tips off, Kevin, Russell, Serge, Kendrick, Thabo — everybody’s ready to play. And it’s a good feeling.”

Kobe tells Laker management to clarify Pau Gasol plans

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Lakers

Pau Gasol was almost shipped out to Houston before the season even started in the eventually-killed deal that would have brought Chris Paul to the Lakers.

Last week there was talk of Gasol to Minnesota (an unlikely deal). Sunday came the report that Derrick Rose wants the Bulls to try and get Gasol (because the Lakers would take back Carlos Boozer?). Every day it seems there is another Gasol trade rumor. Even though GM Mitch Kupchak says the Lakers are not likely to make a trade (keep on reading, we get to that).

Saying it’s tough for a player to be invested and really give his all when he doesn’t know if he’ll be there tomorrow, Kobe Bryant called on Lakers management to decide what is up with Gasol after the Lakers ugly loss to the Suns Sunday night. This is via the best of the Lakers beat writers, Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register.

“I wish management would come out and either trade him or not trade him,” Bryant said after the Lakers’ loss in Phoenix on Sunday night.

Bryant said his preference is the Lakers do not trade Gasol, citing the team’s “foundation” is in place with Bryant, Gasol and “the emergence of Andrew (Bynum).”

“Can’t have one of our pillars not knowing if he’s going to be here,” Bryant said.

Kobe said the right thing — it plays well in the locker room — even if it is meaningless.

The natives are getting restless around a Lakers team that is clearly not a contender as currently constructed. They got rid of Lamar Odom for a trade exception, they have three quality players and no real depth after that. They need a point guard.

And frankly, nobody really trusts Jim Buss — son of Jerry and the guy running the show now — to get it done. Lakers fans trusted Phil Jackson (even if the male members of the Buss family didn’t love him) and now all traces of Phil have been wiped from of the organization. The younger Buss does not have the track record fans (or anyone) trusts. He has to earn it.

Which is why it’s impossible to say what will happen with Pau Gasol. The Lakers might trade him, but only if they can get a truly elite player back. They’d move him to get Chris Paul, not Derrick Williams and a couple picks. There’s nobody outside of the one guy the Bulls would not move for anyone (Derrick Rose) the Lakers would trade Gasol for on the Chicago roster.

Which means Kobe can say this and it plays well in the locker room — he sounds like the leader. The guy trying to bring the team together. He has his teammates’ backs. And maybe this helps Gasol’s attitude.

This didn’t weaken the Lakers trade position — Gasol is what Gasol is on the market. The Lakers want to win a ring again in the next couple of years and it’s more likely they do that with Gasol than without, unless he is used in a trade to bring another star at a needed position (read: point guard).

But Kupchak told Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated not to expect a trade.

“Of course we’ll talk to a lot of teams [about trades], like everybody else does, leading up until the trade deadline to see if there is a way to improve the team,” Kupchak said. “But the likelihood is that this is the team that’s going to finish into the playoffs. That’s just the way it normally works, but we’ll see.”

If this is the team the Lakers send to the playoffs, the second round would be the best they could do. But that doesn’t mean Gasol gets moved.