In a shocking and unsettling news for Lakers fans, it seems as if the Orlando Magic, currently GM-less, are pursuing Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak.
In addition to reaching out to free-agent candidates, the team’s list also will include executives who are under contract with other teams. Martins also is expected to begin contacting teams Friday to ask permission to interview such candidates, and Kupchak — with multiple championships on his resume — will be among the obvious targets, sources said.
Kupchak has one year left on his contract, and made it clear after the Lakers were ousted in the second round for the second consecutive year that there will be some changes in the organization. Hiring Kupchak is not without hurdles — front-office sources find it difficult to imagine him leaving Southern California — but if the opportunity is right, the changes Kupchak alluded to could involve him.
WELP, THIS SUCKS.
There’s skepticism surrounding Mitch Kupchak’s departure, mainly because no one will think he leaves L.A. The Lakers are big spenders and the Buss family, it seems, is willing to give Kupchak nearly total autonomy (though that might be changing with Jimmy Buss).
On the other hand, though, this is scary as hell.
Because the Lakers are in some serious trouble in terms of cap space, and while Orlando’s cap situation isn’t too picture-perfect, he’ll feel a hell of a lot less pressure from the Orlando fan-base when he has to slash the payroll and gut it with a machete. Here in LA, though, where the fans already think Mike Brown should be canned, it doesn’t seem as if anyone understands the meaning of “patience” as if championships should be pulled out of Kupchak’s ass every season.
He’ll also get the shot at pretty much starting over, too. I’m not too sure how good Kupchak is at building through the draft (because he’s been forced to build teams via trades and free agency since, you know, Los Angeles), but the ability to trade whomever and whenever seems to be a more attractive option than being forced to stick with Kobe Bryant’s $30 million/year contract.
If he leaves, then this Lakers franchise is going to be screwed unless Jimmy Buss knows what smart GMs look like. And though the job of GM for the most prestigious franchise in the NBA seems like an attractive position, finding the perfect guy for it — one with all the trade and free agency and player evaluation savvy that Kupchak possesses — is going to be a pain.
(Kevin Pritchard would never work, despite the damn good job he’s done through the years; again, no one in LA will be OK with building through the draft, as Pritchard did, in building what looked like an elite contender in Portland with the Blazers.)
Kupchak leaving would be a major blow to the Lakers, even if there are some fans who wanted him fired (they’re out there, and they’re idiots). Kupchak has one more year on his contract, and not locking him up for the next five (or 10 … or 15 … hell, give him 20) years would be a catastrophe. We’re talking about a guy whose savvy landed the Lakers Pau Gasol for what looked like, at the time, just Kwame Brown and Javaris Crittenton and who damn near landed the best point guard in the league in Chris Paul while saving $40 million dollars in the process. (NOTE: That link will anger you to no end for something we should have gotten over months ago; I’m right there crying with you, bud.)
If Jimmy Buss knows what’s good for this franchise, he’ll make sure Mitch stays.