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Mitch Kupchak: Lakers won’t consult Kobe Bryant on Mike D’Antoni decision

Apr 9, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Washington Wizards Getty Images

As the Lakers’ will they/won’t they drama with Mike D’Antoni continues, I openly wondered earlier today whether the conflicting reports about the coach’s future are a result of conflicting opinions among the team’s decision makers. Specifically, I was referring to Jim Buss, Jeanie Buss and Mitch Kupchak.

But Kobe Bryant has an opinion, too.

It just won’t matter. At least that’s what the Lakers’ general manager says.

Kupchak, in a Q&A with Sam Amick of USA Today:

Q: Will he factor in on the decision about Mike?

A: We will not consult with him. No, we won’t consult with him.

Q: Because when he was asked about Mike last week, the perception was that he didn’t go to bat for him publicly. That started the storyline of “Well, Mike’s not coming back because it doesn’t seem like Kobe wants him back.”

A: We won’t consult with him. Our decisions going forward — we’re not going to do knee-jerk stuff. We’ll let the season end, and take some time.

And as much as we’d like to be very competitive and competing for a championship next year, it may or may not happen, ok?

Q: So how’s Kobe going to handle that?

A: He’ll be fine. He’s got no choice. He’ll be fine. When we lose, he’ll rant and rave and be upset and be hot and won’t talk to anybody, but that’s the way it is. You’ve got to take the good with the bad.

The Lakers’ opened Pandora’s Box by giving Kobe a large two-year extension. There’s no way he was ever going to take that and not feel entitled to direct the franchise’s future.

He wants the Lakers to contend immediately, and he’s rallying support for his admittedly “selfish” cause. Never mind that he’s already 35, can’t stay on the court and eating into a sizable portion of the Lakers’ cap room. He’ll have his say, anyway.

I’m not sure what Kupchak and the Busses should do at this point.

They enabled Kobe, and it doesn’t seem right to shut him out now. That’s just going to lead to more problems.

But so will involving Kobe in the decision-making process.

His stature remains large in Los Angeles, as it should. Purely for what he can produce on the court, though, he no longer rises to the significance of a franchise player who can dictate terms to his bosses. His production has slipped, but more importantly, he’s too near the end of his career. Unlike Kobe, the Lakers should develop longer than a two-year plan.

The Lakers can choose not to consult Kobe, but they can’t force Kobe to keep his opinions to himself. I suspect, no matter what Kupchak wants, Kobe will still find a way to be heard.

  1. urodaddy07 - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    I’m not a Kobe apologist but its a little unfair to Kobe to say his production has slipped. He hasn’t been able to play, so we have to judge his production if and when he gets healthy.

    • zerole00 - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:31 PM

      That’s not really a solid argument, health is pretty much a default factor in production when it comes to sports because at the end of the day – their contracts still count towards the cap.

      • prismejhall - Apr 10, 2014 at 2:34 AM

        With a healthy Kobe, we can contend next year

  2. aboogy123456 - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    GM’s should not consult their players about moves they make. If it’s a star player like Kobe, then the GM should keep them informed of important decisions like this, which I’m sure they will do. I think this article is trying to stir up drama that isn’t there.

    • therealhtj - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:22 PM

      They didn’t when they traded Blake.

      • asimonetti88 - Apr 9, 2014 at 4:00 PM

        Steve Blake is a nice backup PG, but I’d hardly call that a “major move”.

      • therealhtj - Apr 9, 2014 at 5:13 PM

        Your boy was still pissed about it.

  3. zerole00 - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    “He’ll be fine. He’s got no choice. He’ll be fine. When we lose, he’ll rant and rave and be upset and be hot and won’t talk to anybody, but that’s the way it is. You’ve got to take the good with the bad.”

    Two interesting pieces of information here:

    1) Kupchak pretty much admitted Kobe’s last few years are going to be “wasted” (which is a forgone conclusion given his huge salary cap hit and the Lakers’ lack of draft picks unless another miracle trade comes along)
    2) The good – Kobe brings in far more money to the franchise than his contract takes up. The bad – they’re not going to contend with his contract.

    • unxpexted1 - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:38 PM

      I love how people always bring up Kobe contract as if that’s is the single impediment stopping the the Lakers from building a team. UMMM….Ya’ll do see the Nets right?

      • au1978 - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:26 PM

        Yeah, and the Nets’ 43-34 record would place them at no. 10 in the West behind Memphis. Just sayin.

      • unxpexted1 - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:30 PM

        they also have the 3rd best record in the league only to the clippers in the spurs since January…..just saying.

  4. El Pollo Loco - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    Give Di’Antoni a contract extension!

  5. sportsfan18 - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    There is NO need to consult Kobe as Kobe has ALREADY said he does not want to play for D’Antoni next year… the consultation is OVER.

    So eventually we’ll read the headline where the Lakers are cutting ties with D’Antoni…

  6. unxpexted1 - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    Agree with A Boog, a lot that Kobe ask is to be notified when something happens instead of finding out about on the newsire like the Steve Blake thing.

  7. unxpexted1 - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    These are the top contracts for the Nets for the next two years in numbers:



    In 2015-2016 their big three contracts will be:


    So stop acting like Kobe’s contract just gives the Lakers no room to sign anybody else of talent. Are they gonna have to pay a price, yes. But people make it seem like after the 24 mill, there is nothing else you can do when clearly you can and the nets have put a pretty legitimate eastern conference contender on the floor.

  8. joescan54 - Apr 9, 2014 at 6:54 PM

    Great. Kupchak is starting to sound like a GM who’s in charge. The Kobe signing for two years will bring in enough money for the Lakers to sign who they want over the next two or three years. This year is done The important pieces don’t want to play with Kobe. Kobe lovers have to realize he’s 35 and been hurt the last two years. Let his contract lapse, let Nash and D’Antoni have their last season, and then get serious about building a championship team. Kupchak needs to tell Jim Buss to be an owner like his father and let the professionals do their job. He’ll look a lot better than he does now.

  9. imakcds - Apr 10, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    as a long and true Laker Fan, I understand the realities these 2 trying yrs have presented, and have been most patient about it.
    However, the TOTAL LACK of DEFENSE this team has exhibited is the breaking point for me.
    D’Antoni’s got to go.
    and I think pressure from the fans will force the Lakers to just that, probably as soon as the season officially ends.

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