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Mitch Kupchak: Kobe won’t play a certain way to lure free agents to Lakers

Sep 26, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

kobe mitch Getty Images

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak knows Kobe Bryant professionally as well as anyone at this point, considering that he’s been in the team’s front office for every one of Bryant’s 17-year career in Los Angeles.

So while Bryant’s will to win is unparalleled in today’s NBA, Kupchak knows that he won’t change his game for anyone — especially potential stars looking to Los Angeles as a potential destination in free agency next summer.

Simply put, Bryant is not going to showcase a certain, more appealing style of play in hopes that it may entice free agents to sign up to play by his side.

From Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles:

“Kobe is not going to play to lure somebody to Los Angeles,” Kupchak said Wednesday, addressing the press in advance on Saturday’s media day. “He’s going to play to try to win games. If the way he plays helps lure players to Los Angeles, then so be it. But trust me, in January, February and March, that’s not what he’s thinking when there’s a game being played.”

The Lakers have a massive amount of cap space stored for the summer of 2014 when they figure to be major players on the free agency market.

It would seem obvious that players looking to play in a large market with the chance to win would want to team up with Bryant, but there are additional details that make the situation less simple.

The reason that this would even be a question is because of the way things unfolded last season, when Dwight Howard made it very clear that he didn’t enjoy his time playing with Bryant and the Lakers.

When L.A. is loaded with talent, there are championship expectations. Not all players thrive in that situation, and not all players want to play second fiddle to Bryant on the offensive end of the floor.

There will come a time very soon that Kobe may need to relinquish some of his offensive responsibilities for the betterment of the team, and in order to make younger free agents more readily consider the Lakers as a long-term career option.

But that time doesn’t appear to be upon us just yet, and Kupchak is aware of that perhaps more than anyone else.

“I do expect when he does come back, and if he’s thinking a certain way, and we’re down by two or three, the Kobe we all know and love is going to take the last shot,” Kupchak said. “I do know that.”

  1. bluflower010 - Sep 26, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    Thank you, captain obvious! The world already knows Kobe is a selfish ball hog, he prefers to get his own shots first and jack up 24 shots a game. Then putting trust in his teammates.. it’s the same reason he drove Shaq & Phil away, now D12 is added to that list. they couldn’t take his selfishness..

    Kobe prefers to get his points rather then what’s good for the team smh..

    • 00maltliquor - Sep 26, 2013 at 9:10 AM

      Why’s he gotta be a ballhog? He’s elite. Did you call Jordan a ballhog? Who’s your favorite team? I bet you can make a case for your teams leader as a ballhog. Kobe got 5 rings and 7 Finals apperances. You don’t just reach that level being a pointless shot-jacker AND the main star or 2nd star of a team. Educate yourself man. All this Kobe hate is ridiculous, what more does the man need to do?! Kobe knows how to win, plain and simple. What’s good for the team, foh!

    • honeyboywilson - Sep 26, 2013 at 9:36 AM

      I wouldn’t be putting D12 in the same category as Shaq and Phil. It makes you look stupid.

    • zxrated - Sep 26, 2013 at 9:42 AM

      “selfish ball hog” ?

      Did you know LeBron has a higher career field goal attempts per game average than Kobe? And Kobe averages 5 assists a game for his career? Ball hog indeed.

    • sw69ca - Sep 26, 2013 at 10:29 AM

      Hey blowflower,
      Why don’t you blow on outta here?

    • vikingferd - Sep 26, 2013 at 10:43 AM

      @honeyboywilson and @sw69ca – What part of flowers post ISN’T true? Kobe IS selfish. He’s never be an assists leader in the league. He’d rather shoot than pass the ball. Even D’Antoni admitted that he couldn’t rein in Kobe about his playing too many minutes prior to his injury. Kobe wouldn’t let him pull out of games down the stretch last season. If he’s not listening to his coach, he won’t listen to anyone.

    • asimonetti88 - Sep 26, 2013 at 11:38 AM

      I’m curious how Kobe “drove Phil away”. The guy is retired. He didn’t want to coach ANYONE.

      • badintent - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:26 AM

        Read the book. Phil’s book. The quote on page 133 is “I just can’t coach this guy.” I could coach MJ but not this kid.”
        Class dismissed

  2. 00maltliquor - Sep 26, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    Nor should he, he’s Kobe freakin’ Bryant! If certain star players can’t recognize then they need to step aside and take their primadonna butts somewhere else. Everyone tryna put Kobe in a retirment home, he’s still a top 3-5 player in this league. Deal with it.

  3. themostintrestingmanintheworld1 - Sep 26, 2013 at 9:38 AM


  4. vikingferd - Sep 26, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    Kupchak better start looking at signing Jordan Farmar, Chris Kamen, Nick Young, et al. to long term contracts then because that’s the only caliber of players that will play with Kobe. Lebron doesn’t need Kobe. Wade won’t leave South Beach. Melo absolutely HATES D’Antoni. Chris Bosh is the only potential free agent that may come over and if you think he’s the missing piece to bring more championships to LA, then you’re really delusional.

    Jim Buss will probably give Bosh a Max deal then blame Jeanie if it doesn’t work out.

  5. shockexchange - Sep 26, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    Judging by Rent-A-Center’s experience, Horry Jr won’t play a certain way to “keep” free agents either.

  6. papichulo55 - Sep 26, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    I’m sure Mitch intended to offer a vote of confidence. But it kinda sounded that Kobe has not, and will not, be held accountable for his play on the court. And yes, Mitch, EVERYBODY needs to be coached.

    • detroitbasketballfan - Sep 27, 2013 at 9:36 AM

      You know who kobe would love to have as his successor? Russell westbrook, the guy is a ball dominant pg/sg from the area with a kobe killer instict and will minus the clothes.

      Honestly with how much russell holds the ball in okc ( because KD isnt a natural distributor yet ) he’d be able to have total control and I think hed perform well. Okc should have signed harden first and allowed westbrook to play elsewhere, harden could have been their ballhandler and would definitely assist kd better than WB

  7. steve63x - Sep 26, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    Lure free agents…. They couldn’t even hang onto Dwight Howard. There’s no chance they’ll get Carmelo Anthony or Lebron James. At best, the Lakers will end up overpaying for Danny Granger or Luol Deng.

  8. thomaskouns - Sep 26, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    Kobe gets built up by the media, marketers (Nike), and NBA brass more than any other player in the league because his ‘brand persona’ most closely images Jordan which means major marketing dollars.

    But as someone who works in advertising, he is also considered one of the most overrated players in NBA history but most fans can’t or are unable to separate the ‘image’ from what ‘off the record’ scouts, GM’s and media say privately.

  9. loungefly74 - Sep 26, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    ehhh…I’m not looking too much into this. we always know/know Kobe will play the way he plays…it is what it is. i’m not worried about the FA landscape in 2014.

  10. eugenesaxe1 - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    Kobe’s not going to be around that much longer, I can’t see him having much effect on someone looking to sign for 4-5 years. His absence would be a stronger selling point.

  11. antistratfordian - Sep 26, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    Funny. Kobe won’t change his game for any reason at all that doesn’t involve further butt kissing of Kobe. He won’t even change his game to benefit his existing team unless it can result in people slobbering all over him about getting 10 assists.

    The hockey assist is the most useless play in the #KobeSystem because he will not get credit for anything.

  12. raycharlesj - Sep 26, 2013 at 8:09 PM

    Jordon, Magic, Bird, Ewing, John Stockton,Reggie Miller!!!! etc, etc, on and on and on, None of them ever took a back seat or were asked to change their roles all the way to the end of their careers, I’m curious why there is so much talk of Kobe doing something nobody mentioned his peers needing to do???? Except for Jordan all those other players stayed with their original teams and never played a secondary role, until the day they retired that was their team very few like David Robinson with Duncan coming in or Dwayne Wade with Lebron!!!voluntarily changed their games for an incoming player. At one time you played your way to the top player of a team not based on what you did on another team or your free agent contract. Like Duncan did.

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