HOOPSWORLD.COM: The front office of the Los Angeles Lakers has been the subject of pointed criticism over the past few seasons as the team has slid from perennial contender to mediocrity. The strongest denigration has come from the fans, angry that Lakers owner Jerry Buss is so unwilling to exceed the luxury tax threshold (read: acquiring talented, but expensive pieces) despite having full pockets fueled by expensive ticket prices and high revenues. The losing has pushed the fans of the forum blue and gold to the point they are now – demanding big moves and seeking someone to blame for the team’s descent.
GM Mitch Kupchak firmly pointed the finger at himself earlier this week. “As an organization, we all share the responsibility, but I’m the guy up front so it falls to me,” he said. “That’s the job of a general manager.”
With the Lakers in disarray since injuries ravaged the squad in January, Kupchak is in charge of overseeing the assessment of and changes to this Lakers squad over the summer. When asked to summarize and detail the disappointment that was the Lakers’ season, Kupchak saw the team’s lack of chemistry as a primary reason for their plunge. “When you put together a team, those are things you take into consideration in terms of the players, complimentary players, lead players, et cetera,” he said, acknowledging his responsibility in not addressing the team’s need for togetherness.
However, Kupchak shot trenchant disapproval for the way the players handled themselves. “The trust wasn’t there; guys didn’t really play together,” he noted. “It didn’t seem to me like they wanted to play together. And why that is – certainly a break in momentum with injuries and the pressure to make the playoffs and the pressure to exceed last year, but those are things we are going through right now and its my job to figure out why it went the way it did.”
Injuries were a large part of the Lakers struggles this season, but the Lakers executive did not feel that was an adequate excuse for his players’ actions. “[Injuries are] typical with an NBA team,” he held. “You know New Jersey had it and a lot of teams have it but we lost something and we did not play our best basketball the second half of the year even though we were relatively healthy going into the playoffs. We were not a very good team, period.”