Kupchak: From Goat to GM of the Year?

Mitch Kupchak has gone from the man most Laker fans blamed for the issues over the summer to hero of all Laker fans in about an 8 month span. When Kobe Bryant become overly frustrated with the front office this summer and requested a trade, Kupchak took most of the heat from the media and fans because of some of the moves he had made and some of the moves he had not made in seasons past.

Everyone knows that Kupchak did not want to be known as the GM that traded away both Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. He had to trade Shaquille O’Neal, it was not as if Jerry Buss gave him a decision. Shaq and Kobe could not play together anymore and Jerry Buss obviously decided to pick Kobe as his future of the team. So Kupchak traded Shaq to the Heat for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant, and a future 1st round pick, which ended up turning into Jordan Farmar. Obviously Kupchak did not get back a star in the Shaq trade, but no other team was willing to give up their superstar to trade for Shaq.

During the 1st season of the post-Shaq era, there was a rumor at the trade deadline of Carlos Boozer coming to the Lakers for Vlade Divac, Caron Butler, and others. That did not happen and no one really knows for sure how strong this rumor actually was to becoming a reality. Of course there are the other superstars who were traded during this time for very little such as Baron Davis and Ron Artest. Along with the Caron Butler for Kwame Brown trade, these moves frustrated Laker fans since Kupchak was not getting help for Kobe Bryant during the prime of his career.

There was also some very questionable draft picks and free agent signings by Kupchak. We can look at Brian Cook (also resigning Cook to a $10 million extension), Vlade Divac, Vladimir Radmonivic, and Aaron McKie. But, even with those moves, Kupchak did make some good moves by drafting Ronny Turiaf, Jordan Farmar, and Sasha Vujacic.

Of course, last year there was the whole Jason Kidd trade rumor when the Lakers refused to part ways with Andrew Bynum in the Kidd trade. This move actually turned out to be Kupchak’s best non-move, even though most Laker fans did not know it at the time. Obviously, Kobe was upset that he was not paired with Kidd (video over the summer in the parking lot in Newport Beach bashing Bynum). Even over the summer as Kobe was calling out Laker’s management and demanding a trade, Kupchak saw potential in this team when healthy and signed Derek Fisher to come back to help stabilize the leadership of the team. This was probably one of Kupchak’s best moves because it helped out Kobe given that Fisher is one of his best friends and it brought guidance to the point guard position after the two year debacle that was Smush Parker.

When the season started, Kupchak was certain that if this team could stay healthy, they could be dangerous. Kupchak was right and the Lakers started off the season playing very well in addition to playing with a team attitude. Also, the emergence of Andrew Bynum and improved play of the bench was key to helping the Lakers win and keep Kobe Bryant happy in Purple and Gold.

In November, Kupchak traded away Maurice Evans and Brian Cook for Trevor Ariza. Not only did Kupchak trade away one of his biggest mistakes in Cook, but he got a young, athletic wingman in Ariza who plays good defense and can fly with his dunks. This also paved the way for Sasha Vujacic to get playing time behind Kobe. Then when Bynum went down in January, everyone started to panic and the Lakers looked lost for a little bit.

Then on February 1st, Kupchak was able to pull off a trade (heist) for Pau Gasol that put the Lakers right back into championship contention only three and half years after the Shaq trade went down. Now everyone is saying that Kupchak should be rewarded with General Manger of the Year and that he made most of the right moves by not trading Bynum, signing Fisher, trading for Ariza, making smart draft picks, and getting Gasol for practically nothing. Let’s also remember that he made up for his mistakes of Brian Cook and Kwame Brown for Trevor Ariza and Pau Gasol, respectively. Kupchak has made the right moves to help put the Lakers back at the top of the Western Conference and make Kobe happy enough that he will not be leaving the Lakers anytime soon.

So, even though most fans have called for his job on many occasions, Mitch Kupchak has done right by all of Laker fans and it might be time for the NBA to declare him General Manager of the Year.

The Laker Nation News Team is a collaborative effort from writers of LakerNation.com to bring you the latest Lakers news and information.
  • lakerz

    mitch for GM of the year!

  • pjt

    I hope Mitch lookes as Ron Artest in the off season as a free agent to bring in…

  • pjt

    as=at

  • lakers fan 22

    Another stupid article written by a another no name laker fan. Why do people waste their time?????? There wasn’t one thing in that article that I didn’t already know.

  • nyla

    Yes.

  • DCLAKER

    Forget Coach of the Year,how about KING OF LA! MITCHFORPRESIDENT.com,CAST YOUR VOTES!!!

  • ab4sure

    Nice Article….Lousy Title… Here are better Titles…

    “MITCH KUPCHAK…FROM SCAPEGOAT TO GM OF THE YEAR”

    “MITCH KUPCHAK…YOU WERE RIGHT ALL ALONG”

    “LAKERNATION EATS CROW”

    “KOBE COULDN’T HAVE A BETTER GM”

    “MITCH KUPCHAK…CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM MAKER”

    He was never a goat but a scapegoat for lakernation to deride. To be blamed for things unfairly is one of the worst things to experience. He handled it with class as he always has. I can remember last yr. when the suns were humiliating the lakers at the end of the series and there Mitch was surrounded by thousands of standing, screaming, suns fans and Mitch had the camera squared on him(which i thought was abit overdone). He stood there with class just like he always has and I am sure glad he is getting his due now. Mitch has brought a Championship Caliber team to the lakers. It is time for Kobe to take that team and bring back the Championship Trophy.

  • artpolo5

    GOOD JOB REDEAMING YOURSELF MITCH…CUZ IF YOU MESSED UP YOUD BE THE MOST HATED PERSON IN LA..NOW YOU CAN TAKE ALL THE CREDIT FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIPS THE LAKERS ARE GONNA WIN OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF YEARS

  • Phant0M

    [Comment ID #28138 Will Be Quoted Here]

    WHY so negative?

  • DCLAKER

    What makes MITCH(KING OF LA)so brilliant is he had this planned for a year,waaaaaaay before Kobe pulled his version of NAS’s “ETHER” and went off on the FO. MITCHISMYSTEPDADDY.com,That’s how good he is!!!

  • yash

    [Comment ID #28135 Will Be Quoted Here]

    We dont need Artest. Even though he is a great defender + Shooter, he does a lot stuff on his own, not listening to the Coach in the end of the games and he is a pain in the booty

  • DCLAKER

    MAGGETTE WILL BE A LAKER NEXT SEASON,WATCH(at this point his career he’ll MLE for ‘ship,he’d bestupid not to,NO ARTEST)!

  • kobe-wan kenobi

    maggette?
    r u crazy?
    this is his last chance to get big money!
    mle?
    yeahright!

  • lakerz

    [Comment ID #28154 Will Be Quoted Here]

    maggette is still young and is a good player, once hes old maybe.
    i think he will take the money over the ring right now.

  • DCLAKER

    9 OR 10 yrs in the league,what team is going to give him big money,Miami,they’re giving that money to S.Marion. It’s time for these players to start thinking about leaving legacies because they last longer than ‘THE MULLAH’. I say Maggette ’cause he and Ariza would be INSANE OFF THE BENCH. It’s just a suggestion,though kinda forceful but still JF/TA/C.MAGGETTE/RT/AB OR PG,SMELLS LIKE ANOTHER DYNASTY TO ME!!! GETMAGGETTEINTHEOFFSEASON.com,forget Artest,the player we need is right ACROSS THE STREET!!!

  • LakersFirst

    [Comment ID #28155 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Well said, maggette wants money and Artest, the only way he can come here is if he takes the Lakers MLE, which is less then what he is getting paid now. Artest knows he’s been underpaid and wants a pay day.

  • DCLAKER

    Maggette wants a RING NOT MONEY and LA would be perfect fit.Since where playing miniature ‘GM’ these days(I’ll speak for myself,I AM)ask me this,why was Kobe going to sign with the Clippers,of all teams,in ’04,I’ll tell you,’cause of Cassell,Brand and one of his close friends C.Maggette.Even Corey said ‘if that would’ve went down,who knows,maybe the Clippers would’ve had their 1st Cahmpionship’. I know you guys LOOOOOOVE Artest but he a head case and plus y’all like Artest because he reminds you of Rodman when he was with the Bulls,YES! They did win but THIS IS NOT THE BULLS AND THE LAKERS WANT QUALITY NOT CRAZY. IWANTMAGGETTETOBEALAKER.com,THE DYNASTY IS BACK!!!

  • La mamba

    Goat would greatest of all time…your article makes no sense

    get it right KYLE

  • http://thelakersnation.com Ed

    Fans and pundits have been debating who should be the NBA’s MVP this season, but when Phil Jackson chimes in on the topic, we should listen, right?:

    Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson was asked if his star, Kobe Bryant, is having an MVP-caliber season.
    “Definitely,” Jackson replied.

    “LeBron is another candidate,” Jackson said. “Kevin Garnett obviously is the other candidate. But definitely Kobe is having that kind of season.”

    The measure of an MVP, Jackson said, is how much better he makes his teammates. Another measure is a team’s record.

    “You can see the emphasis in Kobe’s game to get other people involved and to make the rest of his team better,” Jackson said.

    Coming off last year’s mediocre 42-40 finish and first-round playoff loss, Jackson initially didn’t think this team could challenge for a title this year. But he did see potential in the group and said the turning point was “when Kobe made a commitment to come and play with the team and leave the other stuff behind. It kind of caused us some distractions during the preseason. But right away he committed to put his heart and soul into this effort.”

  • DingleBerry

    [Comment ID #28144 Will Be Quoted Here]

    get off your knees dude!!!!

  • Lonestar848

    [Comment ID #28138 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Harsh but true.

  • ab4sure

    Dingleberry, You still want to get Randolph??? LOL

    Do TLN a favor and look up your name in the dictionary. It really means shyt. Did you know that??? gotta change it.

    Don’t be a DINGLEBERRY!!!!! LOL

  • MILO

    Does anyone agree that Gasol looks like an ostrich??? from now on we should call him THE OSTRICH Turriaf is PREDATOR Sasha is THE MACHINE and my friends think that Lamar and
    A-Walker/Minni should be called HAMBURGER FACE i really dont know about that one!What do you guy’s think???

  • http://swishtheball.net KOPAU BYDOM

    [Comment ID #28151 Will Be Quoted Here]
    we need artest, forget his 1 year suspension and what he did to paul pierce, 3 years old school lol. our weakest spot on the floor is the small forward position so over the summer we should either get artest, marion, or magette

  • http://swishtheball.net kenny smith

    [Comment ID #28182 Will Be Quoted Here]we should also call dj mbenga the evolving man. wouldn’t you agree he looks like him

  • kingkb24

    we cant really get anybody this offseason cuz we re already in the luxury and plus drew is gonna get a huge extension and we need room to resign kobe gasol and odom

  • sirtoken

    All i can say is that Kupchak was unlucky and then lucky. The difference is so slim when you betting on potential instead of a sure thing. You either look like a moron or brillant. Kupchak made some bad trades and some good ones and he was lucky with Fisher. So he is probably just above average for GM’s. But i will give him credit for taking advantage of the Gasol situation. Timing is everything and he did it and other GM’s didn’t. So congradulations Mitch.

  • David

    Yo, Lakers Fan 22, why don’t you write something and stop complaining. If you are such an “important” Laker fan then do somethinbg about it.

  • http://www.lakers.com Billy Kupchak

    [Comment ID #28145 Will Be Quoted Here]

    my dad REDEEMED* himself

  • kushking

    LIKE I SAID AFTER THE PLAN “G” TRADE I NEVER HATED SOMEONE AND LOVED SOME ONE AT THE SAME TIME SO MUCH BUT AFTER WHATS BEEN HAPPMIMG LATELY THE GOOD IS STARTING TO OUT WAY THE BAD. I AM NOT GOING TO BE LIKE THE REST OF THESE FLIP FLOPIN MOTHER FUKERS WHO USTED TO HATE ON THIS DUDE AND NOW ARE ALL OVER HIS NUTS.HE HAS DONE SOME STUPID SHYT. BUT RIGHT NOW ITS HARD TO HATE WHEN SHYT IS GOING AS GOOD AS IT IS… MITCH, “YOUR A FUCKIN IDIOT”. AND “YOUR THE MAN” ALL AT THE SAME TIME.