Whether it was during the end of his playing career or his introduction into the front office of the Los Angeles Lakers, Mitch Kupchak had a longstanding, successful tenure with the organization. Although his dismissal came at an unexpected time, the organization made the decision to move into a direction.
Governor Jeanie Buss and newly appointed president of basketball operations Magic Johnson sat down yesterday and presented the new direction of the franchise, wasting no time in making his first set of moves. While Kupchak was relieved of his general manager duties, Jim Buss was also stripped of his status as vice president of basketball operations.
Kupchak resided as the general manager of the Lakers from the start of the 2000-01 campaign, through five championship seasons. Often noted for his keen ability to crank out trades unexpectedly, his work provided the foundation for many historic teams in franchise history.
Alas, his tenure came to an end on Tuesday afternoon, but not before he can release some departing thoughts. As a highly respected general manager around the NBA, Kupchak gave his final thoughts on Dr. Jerry Buss, the Lakers franchise and the current state of the team, via ESPN’s Baxter Holmes:
“I would like to thank the Buss family for 36 years incredible years. In particular, I would like to acknowledge Dr. Buss who brought me here as a player in 1981. I also want to thank every Laker player, coach and staff member with whom I have worked and who supported me through the good times and the very few not so good times. I am most disappointed that I won’t have the opportunity to continue to work with Luke [Walton] and watch this young and talented team grow and eventually win in the Laker tradition. Finally, my best wishes to Earvin Johnson and the Laker organization going forward.”
The Lakers also parted ways with John Black, the team’s VP of public relations. While the decisions were tough for Jeanie Buss to make, she gave a formal apology to Lakers fans on Spectrum SportsNet Tuesday, stating that she may have waited too long to pull the trigger.
Although Earvin “Magic” Johnson seems more than capable to handle the basketball operations, at least until Rob Pelinka is possibly hired as the new general manager, it comes at a difficult time.
Johnson originally had two days until the trade deadline to handle all the phone calls Kupchak would, stating that he was in contact with a handful of other general managers in the NBA. Both he and Jeanie Buss decided to make their first move in the new ownership era, sending Louis Williams to the Houston Rockets.
Kupchak and Jim Buss apparently attempted to save their jobs with the attempt at trading for center DeMarcus Cousins, but the deal reached an impasse, as Kupchak and Jim Buss would not involve Brandon Ingram in the trade.