Kupchak On D’Antoni, Kobe, Potential Trades

Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News spoke with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak earlier today and discussed a number of the issues Lakerland is facing. The club currently sits at 14-21, just three games ahead of the Western Conference’s last place Jazz. Even worse, their losing roster was still an expensive one to assemble, and the team is currently slated pay around $11MM in luxury tax this offseason on top of a team salary that figures to be roughly $79MM. Still, the longtime GM seemed optimistic about the team’s future and scoffed at the concept of blowing up the roster. Let’s have a look at some of the more notable Kupchak quotations from Medina’s piece:

On Mike D’Antoni‘s performance as head coach this season:

Six weeks ago, I thought he would’ve been candidate for coach of the year… A month and a half later, our record is what it is. I know I’ll get criticized and he’ll get criticized. But the coaches in this league can’t win without players. That’s my job. I thought we were deep enough in the backcourt. Maybe we weren’t. But you can’t win in this league without players.

On Kobe Bryant‘s recent injury:

“His most recent injury had nothing to do with Achilles… If he had blown out his Achilles, you might think why did he come back so quickly. But you can’t do that. The knee just hyperextended and that’s very natural. It’s not a major injury. He’ll be back and better than ever.”

On whether or not any players on the roster are untouchable in trades other than Bryant:

I don’t even want to single out one person… I’ll leave you to speculate. I think it’s pretty easy. I trust your ability to look at our roster and think this guy might not be going anywhere. If there’s an opportunity to help us win right away, or an opportunity to help us plan for next year or the year after, then we’ll look at those opportunities.

On the importance of planning around the luxury tax:

It is a factor in planning. It is a business. The new collective bargaining agreement is such as that you have to be careful what you allocate and where… Strategically, it’s a factor. But with Dr. Buss and present ownership, it has never been a driving force that interferes what is best for the organization in terms of providing for our TV partners, radio partners and our fans.”

On the possibility of tanking for a high draft pick:

“That’s the worst thing an owner, general manager, coach or player can even consider. I can’t imagine going into a locker room or having a closed door meeting with a coach to say I want you to lose… I can’t imagine doing that. It’s almost un American.

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