He has truly earned our respect.
ESPN: Mitch Kupchak always seems to be in the right place at the right time. At least that’s the common misconception about the Los Angeles Lakers general manager who never gets credit for not only maintaining a championship team for three years but for rebuilding a new one three years later.
Kupchak is the quiet, unassuming player at the poker table — never getting too aggressive or taking big risks yet always seems to end up with all the chips in the end.
When he traded for Pau Gasol two years ago, he was called a thief. When he drafted 17-year-old Andrew Bynum five years ago, he was called crazy and, after Bynum slowly developed into one of the best centers in the NBA, he was called lucky. When he replaced fan-favoriteTrevor Ariza with Ron Artest last year, he was called foolish and, when Artest proved to be the hero in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, he was called fortunate.
Call him whatever you want but Kupchak, more often than not, has been right since taking over for Jerry West a decade ago.
While general managers around the NBA throw $120 million contracts at the likes of Joe Johnson, Kupchak quietly re-signed Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to contract extensions this past season. Both moves, by the way, were announced via nondescript afternoon press releases as opposed to a prime-time special.
Few front office executives know the NBA landscape as well as Kupchak, who played for the Washington Bullets and the Lakers from 1976-1986 and joined the Lakers’ front office upon retirement in 1986. You’ll never see Kupchak overpay for a player or bid against himself for a player. He knows the market too well. He knows how much a player can get and knows what it will take to get him.
Try to bluff Kupchak all you want but chances are he’ll call you out and make you pay in the end.