Mitch Kupchak

According to ESPNLA’s Ramona Shelburne, the Lakers have agreed on a multiyear extension with general manager Mitch Kupchak.

Kupchak has been the Lakers’ GM since he took over for Jerry West in 2000.

This extension is a strong signal that Kupchak’s role on the struggling franchise remains solidified, and is a reflection of the esteem in which he is held by the Buss family.

The timing of the extension is also effectively a vote of confidence to reflect the Buss families’ trust in him to shape the future of the organization, sources told Shelburne.

Courtesy of Lakers reporter Mike Trudell, an interview with Mitch Kupchak went online this morning on Lakers.com.

Kupchak provided some insight on the current state of the Lakers as well as the future of the team.

On the Lakers “tanking”:

“I’ve been here over 30 years, and it’s never something that’s been discussed or talked about.”

Kupchak noted that while expectations vary from season to season, the main goal is to win games.  Kupchak put it best when saying that ownership would never say, “It’s best to lose” and that it is the worst message you can send to a franchise, coaches, players, and it’s fans.

Although, he added that there are some teams that know realistically they will be a sub-.500 team, but it’s important to realize that is different from tanking which he defined as purposely telling the coach to lose, which is “unacceptable”.  Kupchak also said “rebuilding is another matter.”

Something to note, Kupchak said “coaches are defined by their record.”  Very interesting to say the least.

On the repeater tax penalty impacting roster decisions this year and in the future:

“You have to be out of the luxury tax in two out of five years to avoid a repeater penalty. If we stay in the tax this season, it will be three consecutive seasons as taxpayers.”

It’s important to note that Kupchak says ownership has NEVER been afraid to be in the tax.  He then goes on to explain the rules of the tax, saying if your $30 million over the tax as a repeater, the bill will around $130 million, while if you’re only $1 million over, it will be near $2.5 million so it definitely makes a difference.

On the upcoming draft:

“One through ten is as good as I’ve seen in a long time.”

When comparing it to the 2003 draft, which included LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwayne Wade, he says that going into that draft, no one knew it would be that good but when you look back on it, it was a great draft.  He says that he doesn’t know if this draft will be that way, but the potential of players one through 10 is very good.

He says they are scouting all players in the draft and groups them in the top five, top 10, etc. all the way up to 70.  Once May/June come around, Kupchak says they will narrow their focus on particular players because they will know their draft position at that time.

On the 2014 free agency plan:

“Several years ago, we made a conscious decision to line contracts up for this coming year of free agency.”

 The only payer on the books for next year was Steve Nash, which obviously changed with the extension of Kobe Bryant but says they will still have “significant” financial flexibility this summer, as well as next summer.

On the Lakers’ next star:

Kupchak says that in meetings with the front office and scouts, they will talk about if they got a certain players just like the public and fans do.   While it’s all speculation at that point, the only thing they know for certain is that the rush starts at 9 p.m. on June 30th for free agency.

On Kobe Bryant’s extension:

“One of the premier free agents this coming summer was going to be Kobe Bryant. He’ll no longer be a free agent. We have acquired him.”

He notes that when looking at free agency this summer, they will look at what’s the best basketball and business decisions.

Also, Kupchak says that they will not only look at free agency, but at adding players through trades, while also weighing the option of waiting another year for a big acquisition.

On Pau Gasol’s status and future in Los Angeles:

“I think he’s had a great year. I do.”

Also goes on to say that Gasol is playing some of his best basketball and that he probably did not expect to play with the current group of players due to injuries.   Under the circumstances, he thinks Gasol has done a great job.

As for Gasol’s future, Kupchak notes that he will be a free agent this year and that he sees no reason he can’t finish the season as a Laker.   Says that he’ll have options to move on to other teams and that years/money will be a factor in his decision.  Kupchak adds that he loves Los Angeles and the franchise and if he wants to continue to play here, the Lakers would love to have him.

The interview is a must-read for all Lakers fans.  There is more from Kupchak regarding role players such as Xavier Henry, Kendall Marshall, and Nick Young, plus more on Gasol being an asset for other teams in the league.

To read the full interview, click here.

The Lakers, currently 14-22, started the season with low expectations.  That was even before they were hit with the injury bug for the second straight season which has resulted in inconsistent play and embarrassing losses to some of the NBA’s worst.  

Despite the team being tied for the second most losses in the Western Conference, speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak gave his vote of confidence to head coach Mike D’Antoni, expressing his pleasure with the Lakers second-year coach:

“We’re happy with Mike,” Kupchak said Wednesday. “You can look back six weeks ago and say it’s exciting and we’re playing great. It’s hard to ignore the injuries but it was a fun game to watch when we were playing without Kobe [Bryant] and anticipating his return. In other words, ‘Wow, we’re playing this well now and Kobe has still yet to return and neither has [Steve] Nash?’ So we had high hopes.”

Well I’m not sure if many fans will agree with the sentiment as the Lakers have lost 9 of 10 games, I will say that D’Antoni has done a good job with the roster he has had to work with since the start of the season.

Although, one thing about the fans here in Los Angeles, losing is a tough pill to swallow and is unacceptable regardless of the reasons.  As Kupchak said, six weeks ago, many were pleased with the performance of the team, but fast forward to today, that feeling has all but disappeared.

The question remains, will injuries to the roster save D’Antoni’s job heading into next season?

We all remember Jim Buss and his vote of confidence for former coach Mike Brown, two days before he was fired.  The Lakers started the season 1-4 before Brown was relieved of his duties, but even then, was coaching a roster that had no Steve Nash (hurt in second game versus the Blazers) as well as a rehabbing Dwight Howard, who was not close to 100% after back surgery a few months earlier.   If the injury excuse did not save Brown, how long will it save D’Antoni?

In addition, Kupchak commented on the possibility of the team making moves as they move closer to the Feb. 20 trade deadline and was asked what the odds were that Pau Gasol would still be with the team:

“My job is to be the caretaker of this team for this year and going forward,” Kupchak said. “And every move we make, depending upon the makeup of the team and your record at the time, has to be done with vision.

“I don’t know where we’re going to be six weeks from now and certainly we’re going through a very rough time right now, but we’re going to monitor the team closely and look for opportunities to help the team either in the short run or the long term.”

For those who have followed the Lakers closely over the past few years, Kupchak’s answer is an eye opener coming from an individual who stays fairly quiet when asked about player dealings and will usually say he is happy with the team and does not anticipate any moves.  His silence regarding Gasol is something that should noted as the team moves forward.

Finally, for the fans that feel the Lakers should “tank” and go for the high lottery pick in this June’s NBA Draft, the feeling is not mutual with the front office:

“In any sport, that should never be a factor, whether it’s NBA basketball or football or baseball,” Kupchak said adamantly. “That’s the worst possible message you could send to anybody anywhere, whether it’s a fan or a player or a coach, and we will not do that. Our players will play hard and fight to the very end.”

 

The NBA announced today the new schedule for the upcoming 2013-2014 NBA season.  Riddled with marquis games, rivalries, and guaranteed blowouts this season looks to be quite the ride.  You can look at the schedule here via ESPN.

The season opens on October 29th with Los Angeles playing Los Angeles in an epic battle of LA.  Some other notable games for the Lakers are playing the Heat at Staples Center on Christmas Day, and visiting Dwight Howard and the Rockets on November 7th.  The opening night game versus the Clippers will perhaps have a lot more meaning than appears at first glance.  Starting the season with a win there would give the Laker faithful a real hope for the rest of the season seeing as they were swept by their co tenants last year in the season series.  Dwight Howard doesn’t make a trip back to LA until February 19th when the Lakers host the Houston Rockets.  The Grammy road trip spans from January 15th – January 26th playing six games over that duration against PHX, BOS, TOR, CHI, MIA, ORL, and NYK, certainly no walk in the park.

The Lakers have a good core put together and should put up better numbers than many are anticipating this season so don’t throw in the towel just yet.  This season is sure to be filled with its share of ups and downs but has a rich helping of great, exciting games for fans every where to enjoy.

Here’s to a good season Nation, less than 3 months away.

Now that Howard has chosen the Houston Rockets over the Lakers reports are coming out with details of his meetings and what Howard’s representatives were saying.  According to sources speaking with ESPN.com Howard was looking for a quick end to Bryant’s reign as the leader of the Los Angeles Lakers.  It was said that Howard would have a difficult time re-signing with the Lakers if Kobe Bryant were to remain there beyond the 13-14 season, his contract year.

Bryant, while recovering from his Achilles’ tear, has found a new fire in his heart to play another three or four seasons in the NBA and this goes directly against Howard’s wanting to become the face of LA, so he bolted.

“How can it be Kobe’s team and Dwight’s team?” one source said. “It was about the passing of the torch.”

Here’s the part where it gets gutsy.  Howard’s camp reportedly asked the Lakers if they were considering using their amnesty provision on Kobe Bryant, seeing that his return to basketball was up in the air due to his devastating injury.  It seems quite audacious to ask such a question, in other words, are you willing to throw out Bryant, arguably the best Laker ever, for Howard who hasn’t really proven his worth up until this point.  Of course the Lakers said this wasn’t up for discussion and the end of Bryant’s tenure with the Lakers would be up to Bryant himself, you don’t just

PhotoCredit:AP/Sue Ogrocki

PhotoCredit:AP/Sue Ogrocki

throw in the towel on someone of his caliber.

It had even been discussed that Howard, when in talks with Chris Paul about teaming up, said that they both could play in LA for either the Lakers or the Clippers.  This would mean however, trading Nash and Gasol to make room for both their salaries, oh and they’d still be amnestying Bryant. Immediately this plan was off the table for the Lakers as they don’t see this as a viable option going forward.

Howard wanted the transfer of power sooner rather than later, and Kobe, now wanting to play three more seasons, was the biggest obstacle in his way.  Here’s what Howard had to say regarding his latest decision in free agency.

“I just really think the timing in L.A., it wasn’t right for me,” Howard told ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Dave McMenamin on Friday. “Maybe two years ago, or 2-3 years from now, it would have been the right time. But I just think right now the timing was off for me. That’s not saying that L.A. is a bad place, but I just think it’s all about timing and fit when you’re talking about basketball. You can put anybody together on the court and expect them to win, but the pieces have to really fit in order for a team to be successful and it was very, very tough, man. It’s probably one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make in my life.”

This actually makes a whole lot of sense when you look at it from Howard’s perspective, should this have happened a couple years ago or a few years into the future Howard may have re-signed with LA as the timing would have been more appropriate.  With Bryant still leading the team for three more seasons likely and Howard wanting to be the franchise player now, the puzzle pieces just didn’t fit into place.

Howard also wants it to be known that D’Antoni wasn’t the sole reason for his departure.

“I think that we had our moments, but I think that his style was a little bit different than what I was accustomed to,” Howard told ESPNLosAngeles.com of D’Antoni. “But I don’t want to blame any of that on the coach as the reason why I’m leaving.”

Overall Howard wanted the Lakers to be his own, he wanted to call the shots, have the offense run through him, and be the face of LA.  Kobe Bryant still being there however, impeded that vision of Howards, ultimately leading him to sign with a Rockets team that was much more amenable to his needs.  I find it interesting that his camp actually was thinking the Lakers would amnesty Kobe Bryant for Howard to take the reigns in the least organic way possible.  You can’t force things like this, they just happen with time and that’s how championship teams are built. Dwight Howard’s time in Los Angeles was running out from the second he stepped foot into Staples’ Center, and it clearly just wasn’t meant to be.

How do you feel about Howard’s camp asking if the Lakers would amnesty Kobe Bryant, audacious? Acceptable? Rude? Let’s hear it Nation!

 

PhotoCredit: HarryHow/GettyImages

PhotoCredit: HarryHow/GettyImages

This has happened before, right?

The Lakers have “lost” superstars before, right? Usually it has happened after they have given so much to the Lakers organization. What I mean by that is all-star appearances, rookie of the year awards, a couple of championships here or there, and maybe even a few years of coaching. Never have they “lost” a superstar during free agency the way they did a few nights ago. The franchise is in a state of disarray.

That’s looking at it from one side of the spectrum. The side I choose to look from is very different.

Dwight Howard never fit in as a Los Angeles Laker. Not from the moment he was traded to the organization, to the Adidas “All In for L.A. commercials”, to when he announced on Twitter that he was going to become a Houston Rocket. His interviews seemed forced, his 1,000 watt smile was never as powerful and commanding as it was in Orlando, and it always seemed that he was making light of whatever situation he was in. Very different from what the Lakers have been used to since the Big Aristotle or Cactus, Superman or… you get it, left town.

When I read Yahoo Sports NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski’s latest, and maybe final, story on Dwight Howard announcing that he will become a Houston Rocket and leave the Lakers on July 10th it all came together. The reason why Howard did not fit the franchise is because he wanted it to fit him from day 1. Sorry Dwight, but that is not how things work here.

In late January when the team was in a rut there were reports about how the Lakers had a team meeting in Memphis where everything was aired out so they could all move past their difficulties. That’s not what really happened according to Wojnarowski.

Every time you trash me to teammates, it gets back to me, witnesses said Bryant told Howard in the visiting locker room of the FedEx Forum. Every time you do one of your impersonations when I walk out of the room, I find out. Everything tumbled out of Bryant, one grievance after another, and the Lakers coaches and players sat watching the two biggest personas in the room push closer together, or irreconcilably apart.

Around this time Dwight’s influence was beginning to take over the team and Kobe Bryant was not happy about it. In his mind there was no way that a player who was not dominating like he should csn come into the organization and overtake what he and countless other Lakers legends have built.

“Kobe talked to Dwight in a way that I don’t think anyone one had ever talked to him – not in Orlando, not here, not in his life, I’m betting,” one witness in the room told Yahoo! Sports. “He’s been coddled, and Kobe wasn’t going to coddle him.”

Despite what you may hear, this was not the driving issue as to why Dwight Howard left. He even stated himself that via Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times. The reason why he departed is due to the praise he did not receive in Los Angeles. You know, the type of praise that is given when you do good things like win consistently. If Howard is not adored by everyone then he will not perform like he should. It happened towards the end of his tenure with Orlando and it happened all year in Los Angeles.

“If he missed two big free throws in Orlando, it was forgotten in 30 minutes,” one league official with ties to Howard’s past says. “If he missed them in L.A., they talked about it for a week. With Dwight, he has to be the face of the franchise. Anything less than that, and it would be difficult for him to function at his highest level.”

“The conditions need to be lined up perfectly to get the most out of Dwight,” one team official who has history with Howard told Yahoo! Sports. “When he’s engaged, he can carry a team like few else in the league. Houston is suited for him.”

Now I will give Howard the credit he deserves. He came off of a possible career-ending surgery and still led the league in rebounds. My hat is off to him, no doubt whatsoever. But for the Lakers to essentially beg Howard to stay in Los Angeles is what did not sit well. He is a superstar that yes, could have become the future of the Lakers and the face for years to come, but he is not what or who the Lakers need to move forward.

To become the face of the Lakers franchise you must earn it. Point blank period.

George Mikan earned it. Elgin Baylor earned it. West and Chamberlain earned it. Kareem and Magic earned it. Kobe and Shaq earned it. Kobe and Pau earned it. They did not come into the franchise and expect for everyone to love them. They played through injuries, team chemistry issues, and even management problems all while working hard and eventually becoming champions.

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

The Lakers biggest mistake would have been convincing Howard to stay and he actually did. Do the Lakers need a superstar who needs to be handed everything in order to become great? If he could not take the criticism he was receiving all year long what do you think would have happened after Kobe, Pau, and Nash all retired?

With Dr. Buss’ passing and Jim Buss currently at the helm the Lakers cannot afford too many more mistakes as is. Resigning a superstar who would turn to the culture into a laughing stock would have been a mistake for them.

The Lakers have been through this before. The difference between now and then is that everyone wants results immediately. Give the Lakers time. Yes Kobe is pushing his 18th year in the league, yes Nash is going to be 40, and yes Pau Gasol just had his 33rd birthday but in due time it will be fine. If Baylor, Chamberlain, and West needed time so does this team.

What happened when George Mikan, the franchise’s first legitimate star left the franchise for good? They drafted Elgin Baylor. Two years, and one finals appearance for Elgin, later they drafted Jerry West.

What happened when Elgin was becoming older and the duo could not conquer the Celtics? They traded for Wilt Chamberlain. After Wilt retired in 1973 and Jerry hung up his shoes 19474, who was their savior? At seasons end of 1974 they traded for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Or how about when Kareem could not win a title alone?

In comes Magic. After Kareem retired and Magic states in 1996 that he wants to go out on his own terms, what happened? The Lakers trade for Kobe Bryant on draft day and sign Shaquille O’Neal almost two weeks later. Kobe starts to publicly look elsewhere to finish his career and the Lakers land Pau Gasol.

The Lakers have a clear history of doing whatever needs to be done to improve. Yes it may still sting that Dwight Howard told them no and chose to walk away. Best of luck to him. If he feels Houston is where he will succeed then by all means go. Yes, Jim Buss hired Mike D’Antoni when he could have had Phil Jackson, but don’t forget that he and Mitch pulled the deals to bring in Nash and Howard in the first place.

If there has ever been anything constant within the Lakers organization it has been that they are always a few moves away from being prominent once again. This is just another chapter in the Lakers history book. Rather than become frustrated and spiteful, let us just watch as they plan on making history again.

PhotoCredit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

PhotoCredit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Well Nation, we’ve reached yet another off-season, one full of a particularly large amount of questions regarding the Lakers’ future.  So I’ve decided to create a series of questions that you, the fans, will answer about the Laker offseason.  Then in a week or so I’ll gather all the answers and write about what would need to happen for each scenario to occur.  Obviously the big ones are about retaining (or losing) Dwight Howard, and what will come of Kobe Bryant after his devastating Achilles tear.  So Nation, here are the questions, the more who answer the more interesting the possible scenarios will be!

Would you like to see the Lakers re-sign Dwight Howard?

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Should Chris Paul decide to leave the Clippers, would you want him to sign with the Lakers?

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Should the Lakers trade up in the draft for a better pick?

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If you said yes to the previous question, who would you like to see traded for a pick?

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Of these free agents, who would you like to see the Lakers sign?

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What would you like to see done with coach Mike D'Antoni?

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What coach would you rather see if the Lakers are to fire D'Antoni?

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Who should the Lakers amnesty this season?

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Will Kobe Bryant be the same player when he returns from his Achilles' tendon tear?

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Poll analysis is complete! Check it out HERE to see your answers discussed! Thanks!

 

Last night the San Antonio Spurs handed the Los Angeles Lakers their worst home playoff loss in history.  A 120-89 defeat to a dilapidated Lakers team has left fans and the team in utter disbelief.  With a season filled with such hope prior to its start, this ending is what no fan ever expected.

The injury bug would be an understatement, it was more of an injury plague, and one that affected every single Lakers starter and most of the bench.  No one managed to escape it, and this is just something that comes with being an old team and just never seeming to catch that elusive “break” everyone else seemed to get this season.

Regardless of the injuries and which teams had better luck than the Lakers, they still find themselves in an 0-3 hole against the number two seeded San Antonio Spurs.  In NBA history no team has ever come back from this kind of deficit to win the series, so the future looks bleak for this years Lakers team.  Of course anything is possible in the NBA and maybe this years team could be the first to ever come back from such a hole, or you could be in need of seeking a mental institution that could lock you up alone in a room for being delusional.

After the game on Friday night players were deflated, Lakers players that is, across the building the Spurs were massaging their hands after delivering such a spanking.  These following quotes via the Lakers NBA page:

“We respect these guys, and we’re not trying to give them any momentum whatsoever, Duncan said.”

Well that’s a nice way to talk about embarrassing a storied franchise like the Lakers, a team not used to being a seventh seeded playoff team let alone losing by 31 points at home.

Coach D’Antoni weighed in as well,

“The first half, we gave everything we had, and it obviously wasn’t enough,” Los Angeles coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I thought our guys played as hard as they can play.”

PhotoCredit:Harry How/Getty Images

PhotoCredit:Harry How/Getty Images

It’s almost sad to hear something like this, with as depleted as the Lakers were last night, and clearly they were, they still tried as hard as they could and that resulted in a 31 point defeat. Wow.

At least Howard hasn’t given up hope, even if everyone else likely has,

“It’s been a very tough year, but we’re not going to make any excuses, and we’re not going to quit,” Howard said.

Honestly, what is he supposed to say?  We’re done, we have no shot, let’s just throw in the towel and go home?  So his statement doesn’t carry much weight, but at least he said it, that’s what counts.

However Ginobili didn’t quite hold back with his statements,

“We saw the opportunity because of their injuries and the lack of length of the bench and the depth of the bench. We really punished them.”

Punished is a great word for what they did to the Lakers last night, truly couldn’t have said it any better myself.  He didn’t sugar coat his commentary and he shouldn’t have, although I’ll bet him and the rest of the Spurs are still bitter from the 2004 and 2008 playoffs, in which LA got the better end of those series’.

So, after such a loss the Lakers didn’t only lose the game and likely the series but they lost their luster and overall shine they used to produce for the Laker faithful.  I don’t remember watching a Laker playoff series quite as bad as this one, where it’s really just not competitive.  Even getting swept by Dallas in 2011 was more competitive than this, and at least it wasn’t in the first round.  The Lakers are known for putting on a show with an extremely high entertainment value, and last night that just wasn’t the case.  Even in losses the Lakers managed to fight to the end and keep it interesting with that allure that hovered over Los Angeles like a halo.

I know they’re injured but the product on the floor was just not something to be very proud of or worthy of remembrance.  The fans boo’d midway through the second quarter and by the end of the game were chanting “We want Phil”, and at this point the chance of the Lakers getting PJ back is about as good as winning this series.  The funny thing is that it’s not even all D’Antoni’s fault, the man never got a chance to have his whole team at his disposal, and that’s difficult for any coach, even Phil Jackson.

As negative as this article may sound, I’d like to point out a few bright spots or silver linings from last nights trouncing.  Andrew Goudelock deserves to be

PhotoCredit:GettyImages

PhotoCredit:GettyImages

considered for a roster spot next season, he played great last night and showed he deserves to be given a chance.  Same goes for Darius Morris as he played great as well and stepped up when his moment came. Pau Gasol also posted only the seventh Laker playoff triple double ever, congratulations to the big man for going out there and competing in every aspect of the game.  Dwight had good numbers too, putting up 25 and 11 but they could’ve been better for somebody of his caliber.  The guys went out and competed, it just wasn’t nearly enough.

Bottom line is the Lakers are done for this season, not much dispute there. Whether they fold on Sunday night or extend it back to San Antonio, the season is over and can go down as a colossal failure.  Last nights loss was but a microcosm of the entire season.  With a starting line up consisting of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard nobody anticipated it all going down this way, no one saw the team personifying the Hindenburg disaster.  Set your sights on next year Laker Nation, changes will be made, injuries will heal, and the Los Angeles Lakers will be in top form to compete for an NBA Championship, mark my words.

PhotoCredit:Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

PhotoCredit:Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Trade deadline looming, rumors heating up, players wanting out, oh the joys and familiar sounds of the second half of the season.  Days before the trade deadline tend to be the most exciting as rumors buzz around like flies and GM’s scramble to make the best deal possible to put their team in position for a deep playoff run. These rumors certainly have not evaded Los Angeles which is one of the biggest targets on the board before the deadline.

General Manager Mitch Kupchak has come out and publicly said he has no plans of trading the best center in the NBA, it’s just not a good idea.  Here’s what Kupchak said via Realgm.com:

“Dwight is our future,” Kupchak said. “He deserves to have his name on the wall and a statue in front of Staples at some point in time.”

And Howard’s response regarding whether he feels Los Angeles is his future via Realgm.com:

“I do,” Howard said about whether he feels the same way. “We talked about it plenty of times.”

“The only thing that matters is right now. Nobody can control what happens this offseason,” Howard said. “But like I said to you guys before, it’s not something I need to talk about every day. There’s no need for me to make a decision. Right now, it’s where I want to be in the future. My goal hasn’t changed. I want to win a championship and want to win one here. I’m here right now and this is our chance to get one this season. It’s been tough. But we have an opportunity to change all that.”

Considering what Laker fans have been hearing lately, that statement from Howard is a breath of fresh air.  He didn’t guarantee he’d stay here, but he didn’t rule it out either.  And from what I saw, it looks like he truly believes he can make it work here in LA.  So if Kupchak says he’s not being traded and Howard believes it can work in LA, why are we even discussing this?  Because all this talk and all these quotes can be so easily discredited with a simple phone call.

A phone call regarding a blockbuster deal that comes along to LA that makes Kupchak pull the trigger on trading Howard is always a possibility. He says he won’t trade him and is pretty adamant about that, but stranger things have occurred in the NBA, and I wouldn’t put a trade past Mitch if the right deal came along.

PhotoCredit: Sam Forencich:NBAE via Getty Images

PhotoCredit: Sam Forencich:NBAE via Getty Images

However I truly believe Howard is our future in Los Angeles and we need to do everything in our power to keep him here.  Although maybe I spoke to soon as everything can mean a lot.  One possibility floating around is that Howard won’t stay in LA as long as Kobe Bryant is there.  Here’s the quote via Realgm.com:

“I’ve heard rumblings that if Howard told Laker officials this summer that the only way he’d stay in LA is if Kobe leaves, the Lakers could end up choosing Howard over Kobe,” wrote Chad Ford. “It’s an unlikely scenario, but one worth watching.”

I want to put everything I’m made of into believing this scenario would not occur.  I just can’t see Los Angeles parting ways with their superstar and quite possibly the best Laker of all time.  Another option Los Angeles has is to use their amnesty clause on Bryant, cutting ties with the star and removing his $30.45 million contract from their books.  I still find it incredibly difficult to believe that The Lakers would do this just to keep Howard, Bryant has just meant too much to the franchise to kick him to the curb like that.

So it looks like The Lakers have options.

1.  Trade Howard, receive good pieces and throw in the towel on this season to try and rebuild.

2.  Amnesty Bryant (trading is unlikely due to his NTC) and keep Howard happy while signing him to a long term deal.

3.  Or they could manage to find a way where Bryant and Howard both stick with LA, they set aside their differences, and become best friends.

Ok, I probably took that one a bit far, but I do believe that Howard and Bryant can coexist together in Los Angeles to win a championship, in fact they need to.

PhotoCredit: MICHAEL GOULDING/ZUMAPRESS.COM

PhotoCredit: MICHAEL GOULDING/ZUMAPRESS.COM

Howard is the future of Los Angeles.  Whether fans like him, hate him, want him traded, or can’t wait to see him leave to free agency, Los Angeles needs Howard.  They need him to play his best, most powerful basketball he is capable of night in and night out.  When Kobe Bryant, the man who has brought such fame and fortune to the city of Los Angeles, sends his final goodbyes and retires from the game he loves so much, The Lakers will need to turn to Dwight Howard.  Once the trade deadline passes and (hopefully) Dwight is still member of the purple and gold, The Lakers can begin to turn their current season around and convince Howard to stay.

Not to sound like I’m giving up on this season, but I believe next season will be LA’s.  A healthy re-signed Howard, a championship hungry Kobe Bryant, and a plan to work together to win that championship will give fans of The Los Angeles Lakers a very bright future to look forward to for years to come.

So I ask you this LakerNation:

Will Dwight Howard be a Laker on February 22nd, 2013?

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PhotoCredit: BleacherReport.com

PhotoCredit: BleacherReport.com

Tired of hearing about the Dwightmare that seems to take a new turn every day?  Yeah, me too.  With the latest turn of events we see that Dwight Howard reportedly has said that he plans to play in Brooklyn next season.  This coming from a source close to ESPN basketball insider, Stephen A. Smith.  Here’s what the source said via BleacherReport:

A source close to the situation found that the Los Angeles Lakers center recently told Rudy Gay, “on the court,” that he made a mistake by getting traded to the Toronto Raptors.

D12 allegedly went on to say that the swingman “should have waited” until next year, when the two stars could have wound up in Brooklyn together.”

Notice the fact that the report says that Dwight spoke to Rudy Gay “on the court” regarding Brooklyn.  The Lakers haven’t played either The Grizzlies or The Raptors since the trade that sent Gay to Toronto went down.  This leads to questions of credibility about the source that gave out this kind of information.  Is it just another story to fire up the rumor mill? Does it have any clout in the sports world whatsoever?  These are questions that lead me to believe that these reports are highly exaggerated or fabricated entirely.

This was also taken from the BleacherReport article regarding Howard wanting to go to The Nets:

Ryan Ruocco, Smith’s co-host on the radio program, asked if Dwight was “delusional” by thinking he is still going to wind up in Brooklyn. Smith confirmed that D12 truly believes he will be a Net and that the star center thinks he can make something happen to get there in the near future.

It’s because of stories like this that make me nervous about where Dwight will be at the start of next season.  Whether or not the report is true about Dwight speaking to Gay on the court, it doesn’t cover up the fact that Dwight may very well have his sights set on Brooklyn and not Los Angeles.

PhotoCredit: BleacherReport.com

PhotoCredit: BleacherReport.com

That February 21st trade deadline is coming in hot, and who knows what moves (if any) Mitch Kupchak is going to make.  I feel if the Los Angeles front office isn’t at least 80% sure Dwight Howard will resign with The Lakers we need to trade him. The worst possible scenario would be Dwight leaving to free agency and Los Angeles getting absolutely nothing but the door shutting behind Dwight as he leaves Staples Center. However, it’s still unlikely that Mitch will make a move even if Dwight wants to leave due to the foot injury to Pau Gasol.  Gasol is still up to 7 weeks from returning to the lineup, and LA can’t afford to be without a big man until then.  The Lakers front office would have to trade Dwight for another big man such as Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets in order for a trade to work without leaving The Lakers in a situation where they lack a front court entirely.

Personally, I hope Dwight Howard stays with Los Angeles; sure he’s not been the power house Dwight Howard we all knew, but he has the potential to be. Once all this hype over The Lakers dissipates and Dwight continues to heal and move forward from his back injury last April, he’ll come back to being more of his former dominating self. One thing Dwight needs to know is that when Kobe Bryant retires (unfortunately, he has to at some point), Dwight will become the centerpiece of

PhotoCredit:Noah Graham:NBAE:Getty Images

PhotoCredit:Noah Graham:NBAE:Getty Images

Los Angeles, it will become his team.  Kobe could play a few more years should he so choose, but if The Mamba sticks to his guns he plans on calling it quits at age 35.  His 35th birthday would land right before the start of the next and possibly final season for Kobe Bryant.

Can Dwight wait that long? Does he even want to be King in LA?  More questions about the Dwightmare continue to circulate and won’t likely cease until Dwight lands somewhere and inks a long-term contract.  I want to hear what you think, where do you think Dwight will end up after this season?   I suppose only time can truly tell.

Where do you want to see Dwight Howard play next season?

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Trust Isuues

Photo Credit: In Flex We Trust

As Drake once said the number one problem with relationships today are trust issues. Usually someone has their phone locked, tweets blocked, or just do not want to tell their partner how they feel in fear of being the bad guy (or girl). On Monday, Lakers star center Dwight Howard sat down in an exclusive interview with ESPN broadcast journalist Stephen A. Smith to discuss all-things Lakers and his role in the team’s future plans:

In a one-on-one interview, Dwight Howard swore he’s committed to the Lakers — for this season. That he wants to remain a Laker — for this season. That he’s happier with Kobe Bryant now, more so than he was before, although he said there’s still room for their relationship to get better.

“I’m learning from Kobe,” Howard told me on Monday. “I’m watching how he works, how he operates, what he knows and feels about this organization. Things continue to get better every day. But there’s always room for growth.”

Let’s just say Dwight is trying not to be the bad guy in this relationship:

Howard is free to trust everyone or no one. Free to dictate his own terms. That means his own system, arguably his own coach, and definitely which franchise to choose between the Lakers, Mavs and Hawks, just to name a few.

“I’ve trusted enough people in my career,” Howard deadpanned. “Now it’s time for me to trust myself. I’ve given and given. I’ve thought about everyone else. Now it’s time for me to think about me.”

Throughout the article Stephen A. brings up the point that the Lakers do not have time to waste with Dwight. On July 1st he becomes a restricted free agent and is free to roam to any team he wants to. The problem with that scenario is that Dwight is the Lakers future: for better or for worse:

He never swore his allegiance to the Purple and Gold. He never said he wanted to be a Laker for life. Dwight Howard never displayed affection for the pantheon of Lakers big men serving as his predecessors — just that he wanted to one day be as iconic as they are.

This is the best the Los Angeles Lakers can hope for from D-Howard at the moment. That he’s great. Committed to excellence.

And so it is precisely for that reason that, as we sit here today, with the Lakers visiting the Nets in Brooklyn and an injured Howard on the sideline, GM Mitch Kupchak should make sure to visit his Nets counterpart, Billy King, for the sole purpose of attempting to trade L.A.’s resident big man.

Quick, fast and in a hurry!

Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak recently stated that:

“We will not trade Dwight Howard,” Kupchak told Newsday last month. “We have no intention of making a trade. It’s unlikely that we’ll make any trade with any of our principal players.”

Yet Smith stuck to his guns about his feelings on the statement:

Such proclamations do not make the Lakers look smart, or like an organization with a clue about what is in the heart and mind of Howard.

Trade him for some combination involving Nets center Brook Lopez. Trade him for multiple pieces involving Hawks forward Josh Smith – who desperately wants out of Atlanta — and other respectable parts.

Dwight even touched upon how he and, power forward, Pau Gasol can be effective together on the court despite what may be said:

Howard also said he believes he and Pau Gasol should play together, even though coach Mike D’Antoni has them playing apart.

What part of all this are the Lakers finding difficult to comprehend?

Somebody help me out here, please!

Stephen A. Smith makes very valid points. Losing Dwight could derail the Lakers for a number of years. They essentially gave up draft picks to bring him here as he is the present and the future of the organization.

The Lakers do need to find out what exactly Dwight’s thoughts are because there is no future if he decides to leave Los Angeles during free agency. With an aged point guard in Steve Nash, a disgruntled but valuable player in Gasol, and a hall-of-famer in the twilight of his career named Kobe Bryant the Lakers have no time to waste.

To say that this season has been been more frustrating than exciting would be an understatement. Everyone had high hopes once the trades were made however we all have been left looking confused rather than looking like Confucius. Call me crazy, but I still do believe that with Bryant’s willingness to become a play maker, rather than his usual scoring self, the Lakers can still make a title-run. Yet it will take less #countonKobe and more #countonDwight to make it there.

D12

Photo Credit | NBC Sports

When a team plays poorly there are always some options that the GM has at their disposal.  They can trade for some players, look to the free agent market for some sort of spark, or maybe the coach is to blame. In the case of the Los Angeles Lakers, Mitch Kupchak really hasn’t been left with any except to trade one of our All Star pieces.

The Lakers fired head coach Mike Brown, only 5 games into the 2012-13 NBA season, and soon after hired Mike D’Antoni, completely snubbing 11-time World Champion Phil Jackson.  So that makes it very difficult to fire D’Antoni to hire yet ANOTHER head coach. The Lakers would then have three head coaches on their payroll, with two of them at home laughing at how the Lakers can’t seem to get their act together.

D12

Ronald Martinez | Getty Images

Kupchak has been pushed to this point by the poor and lackluster play by the Lakers thus far this season.  I feel (as I know many of you feel also) that there needs to be a change; I truly wish that the Lakers organization had hired Phil when they had the chance, but that didn’t happen, and we will have to look elsewhere now.  Trading seems to be the only logical thing to do at this point and there are a few players that would be perfect center pieces, most notably Dwight Howard.

There has been the idea that Dwight isn’t truly happy here in LA, and his true home lies in Brooklyn with the Nets.  The Nets know this and have since began looking for a possible trade scenario that would land Howard in Brooklyn.  However, the Nets’ GM Billy King has been looking for a third team in which to facilitate this trade, and most recently, that team had been the Minnesota Timberwolves.  The possible trade called for Howard going to Brooklyn, Brook Lopez to Minnesota, and Kevin Love to Los Angeles, with some other smaller pieces thrown in to make the trade work.  More from that trade scenario can be read here.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets

Garrett W. Ellwood | Getty Images

Unfortunately, Kevin Love has since been sidelined for 8-10 weeks due to re-injuring his broken hand.  That kind of makes this trade impossible as Los Angeles doesn’t want an injured Kevin Love for All-Star Dwight Howard, even if his performance has been sub-par recently.  The Nets will continue to find a suitable third team for the trade, as they clearly want Dwight Howard on their roster so they can make a strong playoff push.

Personally, I feel our problem isn’t Howard or Gasol and trading them would make things worse at this point. That said, as I noted earlier, a new head coach isn’t an option.  D’Antoni is a great head coach for a team that can mesh with his system, but the Los Angeles Lakers are NOT that team.  As long as D’Antoni is head coach and Jim Buss is still running the organization, the Lakers cannot be successful with this current roster.

Trading Dwight is the best option that the Los Angeles Lakers have right now and receiving a great couple of pieces in return would be best.  After such a thrilling off season and excitement building up to this season it kills me to say that we need to trade the player the Lakers worked so hard to acquire, but it has to be done.

Image Credit: Alex Lambeth | LakerNation

Image Credit: Alex Lambeth | LakerNation

January 16th, 2013 – The 9th Annual Lakers All-Access event at STAPLES Center was a great opportunity for fans to interact with their favorite team. The night included a shoot around on the Lakers’ court, a photo opportunity with the championship trophies and Lakers girls, as well as a silent auction for autographed memorabilia.

The event concluded with two separate panels discussions, both moderated by Voice-of-the-Lakers Bill Macdonald. The first panel consisted of Laker Legends: General Manager Mitch Kupchak, Robert Horry, James Worthy and Jamaal Wilkes. The second panel consisted of present Lakers: head coach Mike D’Antoni and players Antawn Jamison and Steve Blake. The following is a brief recap of the important quotes from the panel discussions:

Robert Horry:

When Kobe’s on the weak side, he needs to start paying attention to where the ball is and not be flying around thinking he’s just some ‘stealth bomber’ and he can get steals all the time.

- Wants to see Pau Gasol continue coming off the bench for the rest of the season; says Gasol should watch tape of Manu Ginobli and James Harden to understand how to be an effective sixth man.

- Frustrates both him and his Time Warner Cable Sports Net co-host, James Worthy, to see a team with so much talent, struggle so much early on.

- Would like to see the NBA take out the zone defense: “If you can’t play man-to-man defense, then go home.”

James Worthy:

If you ever tried to block Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s hook shot, you would probably need facial reconstruction surgery when you were done from his elbows.

- Enjoys receiving feedback on Twitter from fans; helps shape direction on TWCSN telecasts.

- Wants to see Kobe Bryant get cleaner shots and not force shots as much on offense when he as such great teammates around him. Mentioned both Blake and Steve Nash as great shooters.

- Would like to see the NBA go back to just two referees; game was more fun and more up-tempo because of less calls, and players could get away with more off the ball.

- Wants to see consistency from game-to-game with Gasol being implemented back into the lineup.

Jamaal Wilkes:

If the Lakers make the playoffs, I wouldn’t want to be the team that has to play them.

- Shared the fact that he learned how to shoot in such a unique way at about 11 or 12 years old: “No one wanted to mess with it when I got to high school.”

- When Wilkes arrived at UCLA, coach John Wooden said that as long as it had good backspin, rolled off his fingertips and went in the basket, then there was nothing that needed to be changed.

- The NBA used to be more physical, but that physicality was accepted more back then, which is the main difference in the league, past and present.

- Wouldn’t count out the Lakers. They’re not panicking and seems like they’re figuring more things out now, called them “shell-shocked” initially.

Mitch Kupchak:

The Western Conference is a much tougher conference these days. We have to win 3 out of every 4 games going forward, not 2 out of every 4, and be playing well come April.

- Kupchak preached patience; thinks this season would be a much different story without the multitude of injuries the Lakers have suffered so far.

- If he had to pick one player to start a franchise with, besides Michael Jordan, it would be Kareem. Cited “The Captain’s” great skill for a big man as well as his longevity of spending 20 years in the NBA.

- One rule that the NBA has discussed implementing is the European goal-tending rule; Kupchak doesn’t like the rule personally.

Mike D’Antoni:

The fans are better here in Los Angeles than they were in New York. In New York, they’re with you until the 3rd quarter then they’re against you.

- On Steve Blake: great, smart basketball player and he’s tough as nails. Excited to coach him because he believes Blake will pick up the system quickly.

- His experience playing in Italy was wonderful; traveled everywhere with his team and it made him into a different person.

- Doesn’t know whom he’s talking to sometimes between Ron Artest and Metta World Peace; says that he tends to switch between identities often.

- Still thinks it’s early in the season, hopes they’ve turned it around now. Still have steps to go, but likes where the energy and effort are on a nightly basis.

- Defensively they’ve found a couple things that work well and they’ll run with them. Energy is not an issue as the players bring it every night.

- Kind of hit rock bottom but have learned how to get through the rough parts and turn them into positives. Did that vs. Milwaukee and Cleveland.

- Players must have great chemistry and trust each other on the court. Guys must understand their role as well, which is simply to play hard, shoot when you’re open and then run back down the floor.

- Hates when players complain about touches or about their role on the team; the “ball finds energy” and everyone has the same role on the team (to play as hard as you can and shoot when you’re in the game).

Antawn Jamison:

If I had to change my name, [like World Peace did], I would probably change it to Denzel. I looked like a young Denzel Washington back in the day.

- Loves playing in LA and has had “an unbelievable experience here.” Especially likes seeing all the Lakers fans on the road.

- Felt like he deserved to be on a historic franchise such as the Lakers after 14 years in the league. Chose the Lakers because they “value championships over everything else.”

- Determined that Mike D’Antoni and his brother, assistant coach Dan D’Antoni, can’t be related because of their polar opposite personalities; says that it makes for an interesting locker room.

- Spacing and timing are the keys to making everything come together effectively this season: “Look at the personnel, it’s almost impossible to stop us.”

- By doing the things that D’Antoni preaches, it creates more opportunities for everyone. Trusting both the system and each other has opened the players’ eyes to just how good they can be collectively.

Steve Blake:

I love playing in LA and hopefully I’ll continue to have success here. I hope to be Laker for a long time.

Injury update: Blake will receive a cortisone shot on Sunday to treat his recent groin issue. Blake has recovered from the abdominal surgery but must take care of his groin trouble before returning to the court.

- Likes seeing his teammates “buy-in” to D’Antoni’s system and trust each other on both ends of the floor; seems like they’re playing more “playoff-style basketball” of late.

- Nice to see guys stepping up when others go down with injuries. Especially likes seeing his teammates “not taking any possessions off.”

LakerNation: Be sure to be on the lookout for next year’s ‘Annual Lakers All-Access’ event sometime in January 2014. It is definitely a great opportunity for fans to gain a personal, behind-the-scenes look at your Los Angeles Lakers!

Image Credit: Harry How | Getty Images

Image Credit: Harry How | Getty Images

According to the Los Angeles Times’ Eric Pincus, the Lakers and General Manager Mitch Kupchak have sent a request to the NBA for a disabled player exception; the request was sent in just before Tuesday’s deadline. This application comes in the wake of the devastating news that F/C Jordan Hill will miss the remainder of the season with a hip injury.

According to Pincus, a disabled player exception can be awarded to a team when a player is projected to be out for the season (until at least June 15). If this request were granted (the league’s response could come sometime in the next week), the Lakers would then gain an additional $1.78 million in spending power.

The amount the Lakers can gain in additional cap space is relevant to half of Hill’s 2012-13 contract, or $1.78M. This exception can be used to sign a free agent or to acquire a player in the final year of his contract, making up to $1.88 million.

In order for the NBA to approve a disabled player exception, the league must evaluate all medical records related to the injury as well as verify that Hill’s recovery time is legitimate.

The following is a list of a few available free agents the Lakers may consider if granted the disabled player exception:

-       Kenyon Martin (PF): both the Lakers and  New York Knicks have been reported as being interested in the 34-year-old forward’s services this season. There have been reservations about Martin’s impact on the locker room and his volatile attitude, which could add even more drama to already drama-filled season for the Lakers. Martin is unique, however, in that he can defend multiple positions well, something the Lakers certainly lack off the bench.

-       Chris Andersen (C): nicknamed “Birdman”, the 34-year-old active rebounder and defender could help fill the bench void created by Hill’s injury. Andersen, like Martin, is another volatile player who might not be worth the risk for the Lakers this season.

-       Delonte West (PG/SG): another potential locker room problem here with West. After being released from the Dallas Mavericks for his behavior earlier this season, the Lakers may want to stay clear of West and his baggage. Despite this, however, West is an above average defender at the 1 and 2 positions, and he can stretch the floor with his three-point shooting ability.

-       Long shot: Derek Fisher (PG): with the report that backup point guard Steve Blake continues to experience complications with his abdominal injury, could the Lakers consider adding a familiar face in Fisher for the long haul? It’s possible and Fisher would certainly appeal to the long-time Lakers’ Fisher-fans, but it seems like a long shot at best.

-       Trade: the disabled player exception can also be used in a trade. If the Lakers continue to struggle as the trade deadline nears (Feb. 21), don’t be surprised if this exception is used in a trade to bring back a player in the final year of his contract, making up to $1.88 million.

The Lakers should receive a response from the league in less than a week. If granted, it will be yet another asset at GM Mitch Kupchak’s disposal to potentially improve the Lakers’ roster this season.

 

* The majority of the information in this article was provided from Eric Pincus’s report.

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