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Mitch Kupchak admits process of hiring Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson was ‘clumsy’

Aug 15, 2013, 10:14 PM EDT

Mitch Kupchak AP

After firing Mike Brown as head coach just five games into last season, the Lakers had conversations with Phil Jackson that led him to believe the job was his to accept.

Things changed abruptly, however, as Mike D’Antoni was hired for the gig while Jackson was deliberating over the situation.

It led to Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak having to make an awkward late night phone call to Jackson explaining to him what had happened, and obviously, the organization came away looking a bit like it didn’t know what direction the team truly wanted to take in light of the way things transpired.

Kupchak admitted in a recent radio interview (via Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times)  that the whole thing could’ve been handled much better.

“There was really no other way to get around it. In this business you don’t make announcements until you have signed contracts,” Kupchak said. “The last thing we wanted was for Phil Jackson, who we love in the organization, the city loves him, to wake in the morning or to get a phone call from somebody at 4 or 5 in the morning saying, ‘Guess what? Didn’t Mitch tell you?'”

“Really there was no other way to do it, and you could say it was clumsy,” Kupchak said.

The Lakers, for the first time in decades, seem to be undergoing an image rehabilitation process.

Jim and Jeanie Buss gave a lengthy interview for a profile of the Lakers front office this week, and now Kupchak — with nothing to gain really, considering these are the deadest of dead days in terms of the NBA news cycle — goes on national radio to discuss transgressions that are more than nine months in the past.

While the admission that things could have gone more smoothly is appreciated, what most Lakers fans would probably like to see is the senior members of the organization focusing on the future, as opposed to continuing to dissect the failures of the recent past.

  1. bendover09 - Aug 15, 2013 at 10:33 PM

    Is that you, John Malkovich ??

    • 1historian - Aug 16, 2013 at 7:18 AM

      Good one. he was hilarious in Red 2.

  2. legend30 - Aug 15, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    Jim Buss, ladies and gents… He’s the only person to blame.

  3. 23chameleons - Aug 15, 2013 at 10:52 PM

    I long for the day when the Lakers stop hammering on Dwight for making a solid/logical decision. D’Antoni’s O is suited for Kobe, not Dwight, and Dwight lobbied for Phil to be the coach. And who fires a coach 5 games into a season, honestly ? This isn’t the good Dr’s Lakers anymore …

  4. dashad5432 - Aug 15, 2013 at 11:17 PM

    Phil looks like the KFC guy

  5. ravenousmind - Aug 15, 2013 at 11:32 PM

    Phil will be the coach by All-Star break! (I hope!)

  6. duskr - Aug 15, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    so what the article is suppose to be saying is that jim buss hired mike dantoni without mitch kupchaks consent?

    • Kurt Helin - Sep 1, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      Mitch Kupchak is a good company guy who will always back his boss in public.

  7. beach305 - Aug 16, 2013 at 12:18 AM

    Phil keeps on retiring and only comes back when he has a stack deck. No doubt, he would have retired again after this season.

    • skinsfanwill - Aug 16, 2013 at 9:56 AM

      He has earned the right to do it like that.

    • zacksdad - Aug 16, 2013 at 10:02 AM

      Nope, Dwight would have played great and resigned with the Lakers. Jamison would have stayed also.

      But then if we won the Championship, Phil would have gotten the credit and Jimmie would not have made a name for himself. So now we have a crappy team and Jimmie has made his mark on owning and running a NBA team into the ground.

      Jerry RIP

    • beaniesigel13 - Aug 16, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      So, you’re calling the ’05-’06 Lakers team a “stack deck”? Interesting

  8. ejphenom - Aug 16, 2013 at 12:36 AM

    I’ve always hated when upper management in any organization won’t admit to a mistake because they have a reputation to uphold. It’s ok to be wrong sometimes. You should of hired Phil Jackson. Dwight Howard more than likely stays in LA and the Lakers don’t look like a mess this coming season.

  9. metalhead65 - Aug 16, 2013 at 12:38 AM

    I hate the lakers but that is one thing they do not have to apologize for. they needed a coach he knew the they wanted him but wanted to drag it out so he could see his name all over the news. they did not want to wait and take the chance he would say no so they did the right thing and hired somebody else. phil is just mad they called his bluff. he won’t coach again until the lakers have rebuilt and are ready to win again. same as he always does. go coach the raptors or the bobcats and make them winners if you are such a genius phil.

    • beaniesigel13 - Aug 16, 2013 at 11:36 AM

      Yet another person who clumsily accuses PJ of only signing on to coach teams that are already serious championship contenders. You also have forgotten (or perhaps, didn’t even know) that he signed on to coach the ’05-’06 Lakers, and they were far from contending that year.

    • fingerssfv - Aug 20, 2013 at 5:03 PM

      Jackson was available and when he is available, he IS THE ONLY coach the front office needs to deal with. To all of the sudden hire D’Anton…shows a sneaky side that is good for other prospects to Ponder. It showed the direction the team was heading in.

      Jackson has the proven track record, so it wasn’t meant to be. Although this past season was horrendous, it isn’t too late (it is for this season…yet.

  10. unsportsmenmic - Aug 16, 2013 at 12:38 AM

    Reblogged this on UnSportsMenMic and commented:
    Really clumsy? I could use other words like DUMB, STUPID, UNBELIEVEABLE! Those are better words for the whole situation

  11. skinsallday - Aug 16, 2013 at 12:43 AM

    Colin Cowherd gave this interview on his show The Herd

  12. 407magic - Aug 16, 2013 at 1:07 AM

    @ bendover. Not sure whats funnier. You name or your comment lmao!

  13. ranfan12 - Aug 16, 2013 at 3:23 AM

    Understatement of the century

  14. 1historian - Aug 16, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    I just want to point out here that if it hadn’t been for Jerry Krause’s having the stones to hire Phil Jackson as assistant coach for the Bulls back in the mid 80s we wouldn’t be having this conversation because Phil would have never become the emperor/hero of lalaland that he is now, especially in his absence.

  15. imakcds - Aug 17, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    The author stated his displeasure with Laker Brass addressing a subject ‘ 9 months in the past, why don’t they focus on the future’ .
    It was an interview, does the author think the Laker Mgmt provided the questions????

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