Friday marked the beginning of the 2014 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. Experts in the field of analytics gather each year to discuss a variety of topics in today’s sports world. Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey helped start this conference back in 2007 and has been instrumental in its development each year. Morey was again present this year and fielded questions on numerous topics including the top negotiators in the NBA.
According to Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated, Morey was asked about the top negotiators in the NBA and responded with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak:
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) February 28, 2014
Kupchak had been widely known as one of the league’s best executives ever since he took over as Lakers general manager. Prior to taking the reigns, he served as Jerry West’s Assistant GM where he learned the ropes. When West moved on from the Lakers, Kupchak took over and was able to continue the success that his predecessor had created.
Throughout his tenure as GM, Kupchak has held the reputation of pulling off trades and moves to put the Lakers into title contention. In his first year, he was able to extend Shaquille O’Neal to a contract extension that led the Lakers to titles in 2001 and 2002. He also made the tough decision to trade O’Neal in 2004 for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, and Brian Grant.
Perhaps Kupchak’s most defining deal involves the trade that acquired Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008. Kupchak was able to persuade the Grizzlies front office into taking Kwame Brown, Aaron McKie, Javaris Crittenton, and the draft rights to Marc Gasol. The addition of Pau Gasol helped the Lakers reach the NBA Finals in three consecutive years and win two championships.
In the 2012 offseason, Kupchak pulled off another blockbuster trade by landing Dwight Howard in a move that cost the Lakers Andrew Bynum and draft picks. While Dwight Howard would leave the Lakers after his lone season and end up joining Morey in Houston, Kupchak’s ability to maneuver pieces around has been well documented.
With an important offseason coming up, it will be interesting to see what Kupchak does with ample cap room and a high lottery pick in this year’s highly anticipated draft.
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