View Full Version : Mitch Kupchak Q&A Topics: Season Record, CBA, Accomplishments, Future Coach, and More

03-20-2011, 03:31 AM
This is a part of one long Question and Answer interview Cupcake had, and I separated certain topics to promote separate discussions in our forum. :up:


Q: On balancing a desire for the team to be playing better during some of the pre All-Star break struggles, and trusting the coaching staff and players to figure it out because they’ve done it before:

Kupchak: We – Phil, ownership and myself – have all been around long enough to know that you’re not going to win every game. There are certain games that are travel games, that you know based on the schedule that it’s going to be a tough game to win. You see that it’s not a very tough team, but know that we could get blown out by 20. There are a number of games like that, such as the Charlotte game (Feb. 14) before the break or at Cleveland (Feb. 16), where I wasn’t completely surprised. But we did lose games that we probably shouldn’t have lost, and that creates concern because you know from experience that giving away games that you should have won, particularly at home, could come back to haunt you later in the season. That’s kind of where we are right now. We’ve played really well the last three weeks, made some strides in terms of bettering our position for the playoffs, but we’ve really had to play at peak efficiency and we don’t know how we’re going to end up yet. Had we won two or three of those games that we should have, we wouldn’t be in quite as tenuous a position. That said, if we can win a bunch of games going out, we’ll be in good shape. We don’t want to lose any games, even if you understand why you lost a game, but this group has earned the right to defend their title from last year. We were hoping that they’d be in a position to play their best basketball about this time of year, and it looks like they are. At this point going forward, the key is just stay healthy.

Q: On how he runs his office with the uncertainty of the Collective Bargaining Agreement expiring after the season:
Kupchak: We’re preparing as if nothing is going to change. There is no other way to prepare. We have the draft that is coming up at the end of June with four second round picks, we’re watching the teams that owe us the picks to see where they end up (Golden State, Miami and New York). That’s our primary focus this time of year, in addition to the day-to-day stuff with our team going to the playoffs. Then, we look to July 1 for free agent signings and the offseason market to improve your team.

Q: On how he thinks about the head coaching job, since Phil Jackson has maintained that this will be his last year:
Kupchak: I’ve been thinking about it for years. There have been no discussions – you’re not going to do that right now, the last thing you need is for a name or two names to get out there this time of year. There’s no rush, and to be honest with you, I’m going to march into Phil’s office at the end of the year and try to get him to stay another year. But it doesn’t sound that way. It sounds to me like he’s made his mind up, and last year I didn’t get that feeling. It’s premature to do that right now, but as a general manager, you’re always looking at people that you might have some interest in down the road.

Q: On trying to put the accomplishments of the team, and more specifically Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant, into perspective:
Kupchak: It’s staggering. It’s a golden era in Lakers basketball right now. I think our fans do appreciate it. To be able to watch a guy like Kobe play at this level for so many years, to have a coach like Phil coach the team for 11 years and have the success he’s had, it’s just a god send for someone that lives in a town to watch this team. Part of Bryant’s greatness has been his durability. You know what that does for an organization to have a player of his status fill a roster spot every night? And clearly, our coach has just been great.

Q: On his recent scouting trip to Europe:
Kupchak: I went to France, Spain and Italy. (Assistant GM) Ronnie (Lester) and I were in nine cities in 10 days. You’re just going to watch practices and games, and that time of year in Europe the weather is not good, with rain and snow and cold the whole time. There are luggage issues, (Director of International Scouting) Adam (Filippi) missed a flight because of a connection due to a snowstorm, but by and large, it was a good trip. You see a lot of players for the draft, you see a lot of players that were drafted by other teams in case there is a trade down the road, and then there are a lot of free agents over there, Americans, that just get better. You may want to bring them into camp at some point. Overall, it was worthwhile.

Mods please organize/merge with other threads if you'd like. :up:

03-20-2011, 03:33 AM
This is a part of one long Question and Answer interview Cupcake had, and I separated certain topics to promote separate discussions in our forum.


Q: On what itís like watching Kobe Bryant roll an ankle as the teamís GM:
Kupchak: Kobe came down like he has a million times on a jump shot, and for some reason his ankle rolled instead of coming down straight. It can be as simple, as fickle as that. Until a guy gets up, you donít know, but with Kobe, I have less concern. I always assume heís going to get up more often than a lot of players will get up. But as I was watching, first of all, itís an ankle. Itís not like youíre getting hit from the side on the knee and see the knee bend in. There are different degrees of severity when a guy goes down that run through your mind, but an ankle doesnít make you nearly as concerned. And Kobe is just different, and it also helps that we had three days off this week.

Q: On the front office process in place during an injury like Bryantís?
Kupchak: Head Athletic Trainer Gary Vitti will call me. Ownership wants to know as soon as I know, and Gary knows that, so Iíll get a call at halftime, a call after the game and a call from the bus.

Q: On his relationship and dialogue with Phil Jackson throughout the season:
Kupchak: We talk during the season periodically, and a lot of times in the past if he feels weíre deficient in an area heíll come in my office and say, ĎListen, we need to talk.í That hasnít really happened this year. I would go to him and weíd speak in general about the team, and Iíd ask him questions like ĎHow do you feel about the team, do you think theyíre going to come around.í And he has said, ĎYes, I like this team,í even during times we werenít playing well, which tells me that he has confidence in the group. Iíll also visit with the coaches after games just in case they want to say something to me. I donít really volunteer anything, because you have to be careful Ö these guys are pretty high strung during that time. Sometimes things will happen during the game Ė technicalís, foul calls, flagrant fouls Ė that I may need to contact the NBA about.

03-20-2011, 03:36 AM
This is a part of one long Question and Answer interview Cupcake had, and I separated certain topics to promote separate discussions in our forum.


Q: On his thoughts of how L.A.ís main offseason acquisitions, Matt Barnes and Steve Blake, have fit in:
Kupchak: Matt has been a pleasant surprise. The fact that we could sign him (was great), and the way that he plays is kind of seamless. Unfortunately he went out for seven weeks, but when heís out there you donít have to run plays for him, he is very competitive, heís a slasher, heíll get an offensive rebound, drift to the corner for threes Ö heís not begging for the ball or asking for touches, and has been very productive on the court. Steve Blake has been fine Ė I donít think thereís really anything I can criticize. I look at the effectiveness of the second unit, and I look at how much a coach plays a player, which tells you what the coach thinks the value of that player is, and Steve has played big minutes this year (20.3 per game). Certainly we could urge him to shoot more, but Iím not sure thatís necessary. If you have a point guard thatís going to shoot the ball a lot, then maybe Lamar (Odom) isnít having the year heís having? Itís hard to find a guy thatís comfortable not scoring, and people love to play with guys like Steve. You know that the harder you run, and if youíre open, heís going to get you the ball. I have confidence in him taking the big shot if heís open. In the future Iím sure weíll ask more of him offensively, but right now heís been fine.

Q: On a difference between the approach of a veteran like Blake and that of younger players like Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic in 2009-10.
Kupchak: Different stages of their careers. Blake is not out there trying to create his niche. He already has, and people know what he can do. Jordan and Sasha were young players who wanted to get out there and be the best they could be. That meant minutes. But if Lamar brings the ball up, Steve is happy just being a harassing defender. If heís asked to take an open shot, he will. If heís asked to make an assist, heíll do that. Thatís just a function of players being in different stages of their careers.

03-20-2011, 03:41 AM
This is a part of one long Question and Answer interview Cupcake had, and I separated certain topics to promote separate discussions in our forum.

He talked about Ron Artest's value on defense too.


Q: On what he makes of Andrew Bynumís recent dominance, highlighted by his 12.6 points, 14.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks on 64.2 percent shooting in March.
Kupchak: We know that Phil had a conversation with him four or five weeks ago asking him to do the things that will help us win Ö but Iím not sure you can tell a player to play well tomorrow in a meeting and all of a sudden he goes from 10 points and eight rebounds to 12 points and 18 rebounds, just on a conversation. Iím not sure I can point to one episode of something that caused him to play better, but to me, clearly his conditioning has been key. Being able to run the floor, being able to sustain a second and third effort is noticeable. Itís that time of year that heís just in great shape. He didnít play all summer, didnít play all fall, didnít really start playing until December, and he only had three or four practices before we threw him into games. Finally, heís in NBA condition. He was also coming off an injury, so it takes some time to get the confidence back, feeling good about the knee.

Q: On how he dealt with the trade rumors that circulated about Bynum prior the the trade deadline:
Kupchak: Iíd say I get 10 to 15 phone calls a year about Andrew. Iíve called teams that have young, developing players myself. I donít think thatís going to change. Certainly if he had played as well as heís playing now for the last three years, teams would realize that, well, the Lakers would never trade him. But heís had stretches where heís played well and stretches where he hasnít, and heís been criticized, and I think general managers look at (those weaker stretches) and think maybe this is an opportunity for me to come in through the back door, let me make a phone call. And I understand that, and donít think thatís going to change. But having said all that: when Andrew is healthy, and he plays like he is playing right now, you are hard pressed to look at anybody in this league and say, ĎI would trade him for that person.í

Q: On if he meant that last statement literally about not trading Bynum for anybody:
Kupchak: Anybody. If heís healthy at this level heís at, youíd have to think about anything. In other words, you may not trade him for anybody. If he helps your team and heís what you need, and we can advance in the playoffs, then why would you take a chance and do anything? A lot of it is the right fit, the right personality for a team, and I think we have a group of players right now that are unselfish in the big picture, I really do. We know the players we had from last year are, because theyíve been through it, but the guys we added in Blake and Barnes feel that way too, and know whatís at stake here. We know there are going to be rumors about most of the guys on this team, but thatís just the way it is. If we play at a high level and we win, nobody has anything to worry about.

Q: On if he thinks Ron Artest is still the NBAís best perimeter defender:
Kupchak: Heís one of the best. Iím not sure Iíd pick somebody else in a playoff environment to guard players at his position. Iíd hate to have him hounding me for 48 minutes, I know that, with that level of strength and foot and hand quickness. Heís another good example of a guy that just fits in, not looking to get individual glory. He knows that comes with winning.

Q: On a conversation thatís been had several times: the advantages of L.A.ís big men:
Kupchak: Our strength is our size; I donít think anyone would argue that. That allows us to be competitive in every game. Having a player who can close a game or take over a game like Kobe, having a defender like Ron, having a leader like Derek Fisher Ö those are pieces that fit. But if you have to look at a strength of our team, it would be that our guys are big and they are skilled. You look at, is there somebody thatís better than Pau out there at his position? Than Andrew? Than Lamar coming off the bench? Those are hard answers to come up with and say Ďyes.í

Q: On he has sensed that Lamar Odomís off court life in the past year and a half has helped lead to whatís been his most consistent season:
Kupchak: Yes, based on what I see and what I hear. Iím not going to sit down and talk to players about their personal lives, thatís beyond the scope of what I do. If they come to me and want to talk, thatís fine. And yes, heís playing his best basketball. Whatís changed in his life in the last year or two? It looks to me like heís found somebody that he can settle down with and be comfortable with, and have some stability. That happens to players as they get older, and he found everything he was looking for. It certainly hasnít hurt his game, it looks to me like itís helped his game.

Mods please organize/merge with other threads if you'd like. :up:

03-20-2011, 04:27 AM
Awesome reading! :cheers:

03-20-2011, 12:45 PM
This is some good stuff. Thanks man :clap:

Hopefully the scouting team has found some sleepers from Europe.

03-20-2011, 01:07 PM
Q: On a conversation thatís been had several times: the advantages of L.A.ís big men:
Kupchak: Our strength is our size; I donít think anyone would argue that.:clap:

Clearly he doesn't read PSD during the trade deadline lol

Great Read !!!!!! all of it :clap:

03-20-2011, 03:05 PM
Sorry its disorganized! I had it in different threads separated by the different topics so we could talk about then separately, but it was merged.

Cupcake speaks nothing but the truth! He must be a regular in PSD :laugh2: