Kupchak Addresses Lakers’ Coaching Choice

Amidst Lakers.com scribe Mike Trudell's transcript of GM Mitch Kupchak's comments about the Lakers' decision to hire Mike D'Antoni as coach instead of Phil Jackson, Lakers spokesman John Black revealed that if Jackson had made it clear he wanted the job on Saturday, "the process may have gone differently." Kupchak admitted it was difficult to turn Jackson down, since he was clearly the fans' choice. The GM had plenty more to say, as we recap here.

  • When Jackson told Kupchak and Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss during their meeting Saturday that he'd get back to them on Monday about whether he wanted the job, Kupchak said he told Jackson he'd have to continue his search and interview other candidates. "He nodded that he understood," Kupchak said. "Maybe herein lies a little bit of the misunderstanding. As it was reported, we never offered a job, and he never indicated he would coach the team."
  • Kupchak said the decision to hire D'Antoni "revolved almost completely around the personnel that we have on the team and the style of play we saw going forward for the team," and he and fellow Lakers executives had concerns about the ability of some of their players to learn the triangle in a timely fashion.
  • Explaining his decision to wake up Jackson in the middle of the night with the news they were hiring D'Antoni, Kupchak said he felt it would have been the "worst thing to do" to wait until Monday to call. 
  • In Saturday's meeting, Kupchak, Buss and Jackson discussed the level of personnel input Jackson would have as coach, as well as "the rigors of travel in the NBA," according to Kupchak, who adds there was no talk of Jackson missing games and no conversation about salary.
  • Kupchak said he was already familiar with D'Antoni before they shared lengthy conversations this weekend, and is convinced about D'Antoni's plan for the team. "We didn't feel with Mike Brown and the Princeton offense that we were getting the most out of the players we brought in this summer," Kupchak said. "We looked for a coach that could get the most out of the players we brought in this summer, and on top of that the existing players."
  • Dwight Howard publicly expressed his backing for Jackson this weekend, but Kupchak said Howard's impending free agency played a "significant" role in the coaching hire. "We look at Dwight as a cornerstone for this franchise going forward," Kupchak said. "Right now, it's Kobe Bryant, and right there are Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, but the cornerstone for this franchise based on talent and age is Dwight Howard going forward. Certainly, a big part of getting the most out of Dwight was important in the search."

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