After a horrendous season, undoubtedly one of the worsts in Lakers history, many questions surface about who’s to blame? Dwight? D’Antoni? One thing is certain, basketball is a team sport, so it is everyone’s fault. Yes, we can blame it all on injuries. Kobe, Blake, Hill, Nash, Pau, Metta – heck, even D’Antoni had a bum knee – though we can all agree on one thing: the Lakers will rightfully return to their place among the greats. Why? Because we
have one of the best general manager’s in NBA history.
Yes ladies and gentleman, Mitch Kupchak is the one. Mitch has always put the best talent out on the court, he has always given us the best chance to win. Although, that didn’t happen this year, we sure had the weapons to do so.
“Championship or bust” – that has always been the motto, and believe me, Mitch is well aware of that.
As we look back through the years, we can see some of the moves that Mitch has made to strengthen the roster and transform the Lakers organization year after year, season after season.
Mitch’s first BIG acquisition was when he brought in Hall of Famer’s Karl Malone and Gary Payton (who had both failed to achieve greatness by winning a NBA championship in their career.) That season was very similar to this past season. A team built with an amazing amount of talent that ultimately fell short of expectations.
Mitch was the one that decided to trade all-star and future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal to the Miami Heat for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler and Brian Grant, a trade that some people would be convinced was in the best interest of our very own Kobe Bryant (Mitch denies such reports.)
In 2005, Andrew Bynum was drafted 10th overall with many hopes to be the “next” Shaq.
Bynum, a 7’0” 285lb giant, had the skills and potential to reach those colossal heights that were set before him (although he was very young being drafted straight out of high school.)
The road was rough with Bynum in Los Angeles seeing as he turned out to be very injury prone which hurt the Lakers many times. In one instance, Mitch turned down a traded offer that would’ve potentially sent Jason Kidd to L.A. in exchange for Bynum. Bynum was the Lakers’ “project” and Kupchak wasn’t ready to give up on it just yet. He stuck with it and in the long run, the team would find themselves hoisting up the NBA championship trophy.
Years went by and Mitch was able to bring in players like Trevor Ariza, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest (better known as Metta World Peace), Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and former all-star and Sixth man of the Year, Antawn Jamison.
Kupchak would have also landed all-star Chris Paul, but the deal was later vetoed by commissioner David Stern.
The Lakers’ organization is built to “win now” and although that sometimes isn’t the case, that is the view point that is shared by many and Mitch Kupchak has delivered every year. We can all rest assured that he will come through with nothing less next season.
This is an article by Mike Texidor. You can follow him on Twitter: @miketexidor21