Mitch Kupchak: Jim Buss hasn’t limited my authority

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If Magic Johnson is trying to belittle Jim Buss and prop up Jeannie Buss, Mitch Kupchak has no interest in participating.

Johnson claimed Jim, the Lakers’ vice president of basketball operations, limited the power of general manager Mitch Kupchak:

“Jim is trying to do it himself and trying to prove to everybody that this was the right decision that [his] dad gave [him] the reins,” Johnson said Tuesday on ESPN’s “First Take.” “He’s not consulting anybody that can help him achieve his goals and dreams to win an NBA championship.”

“If Jim would say, ‘OK, Mitch. You run the show,’ I think it would be a lot better for the Lakers, too. Mitch Kupchak knows what he’s doing. He’s great. He’s smart. He’s hard-working. He’s at every practice. I think the fans would feel good [if he ran the team] as well,” Johnson said.

The only problem with that assessment? Kupchak disagrees.

Kupchak, via Bill Oram of the Orange County Register:

“I have the same authority that I had with Dr. Buss,” Kupchak said. “Jerry West had the same authority with Dr. Buss and I’ve got that same authority with Jimmy. Jimmy and I work very closely together and he does not make decisions in a vacuum.

“For some reason he gets a lot of the criticism and maybe that just comes along with a transition from an owner like Dr. Buss. But that’s not fair.”

Kupchak said that if a situation were to arise in which he and Buss disagreed over a basketball decision, “I think he would defer to me.”

“That is pretty much what Dr. Buss would do,” he said. “Although from time to time, he would say, ‘Mitch or Jerry I hear you, but we’re going to do this.’ But most of the time, Dr. Buss and Jimmy would defer to the basketball person.”

Kupchak won’t turn this into Jim’s undoing, but for Lakers fan who want Jim gone, just give it time.