The whispers have been all over Staples Center — Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is not happy and wants out of working with Jim Buss. Kupchak is also the ultimate team player and would never say that publicly and disparage ownership. I’ll say I’ve heard the same rumors of his unhappiness from a couple second hand sources (not something I would write on its own, but I tend to believe them).
Now comes the report from ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Broussard that confirms reports Kupchak is unhappy and that Portland wants to target Kupchak for its vacant general manager position.
Kupchak is one of the Blazers’ top targets, sources told ESPN.com, in their quest to land an executive with experience running a franchise’s basketball operations.
It remains to be seen, however, whether the Lakers would be willing to grant Portland permission to speak to Kupchak, who has spent more than 25 years in L.A.’s front office…. Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that Kupchak’s latest contract with the Lakers is a lucrative multiyear deal. But Jim Buss — son of longtime Lakers owner Jerry Buss — is widely perceived to have the deciding vote on basketball matters with the Lakers and is regarded as the driving force not only behind the drafting of Andrew Bynum in 2005 but also L.A.’s decision to hire Mike Brown as Phil Jackson’s replacement over Rick Adelman.
Portland would not comment on the report to the Associated Press, but team president Larry Miller did say he he has not reached out to Mitch Kupchak or asked the Lakers for permission to speak with him. (Of course, those things are never done through formal channels first anyway.)
Make no mistake, the Jim Buss is steering the Lakers ship right now. That said, he told ESPN that he has a good relationship with Kupchak and everything is fine with the two of them.
The question is would Kupchak have real interest in a Portland job where two good GMs — Kevin Pritchard and Rich Cho — were let go because they couldn’t get along well enough with owner Paul Allen? Kupchak is a loyal company man, so maybe that relationship works better.
It’s something to watch, but one way or another the Kupchak era may be coming to an end with the Lakers in the next couple of years.