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Readers weigh in on what they would do if they were Mitch Kupchak for a day

July 18, 2010 | 10:14 am

Below the jump are the best answers on what they would do if they were Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak for a day.


"Mitch is the best man for the job, and I believe that whatever he does will be the best decision. I always hear a lot people saying “Get this guy!” or “Trade Bynum and Odom for this guy!” and basically trying to make a home run play. However, in this business, at least for the Lakers, we are a team that likes to build a team over the course of multiple years and secure the big pieces of the puzzle, while trying to replace the little ones when the time comes. It has worked for us so far, so why change it?" -- Sukhjinder “Suki” Thind (via e-mail) Duarte, CA

"There's a reason Mitch Kupcak is GM and I'm not. What's the greatest thing he ever did? Trade for Pau Gasol. Did I know much about Pau before he came to LA.? No. Did I know that the Memphis Grizzlies wanted to get rid of a big salary and that mattered to them way more than keeping an exceptional player? No. But Mitch did. If I were Mitch for a day, I'd use this kind of well-researched, on-top-of-things, smart insider knowledge and make a trade like that. I'd also talk Dr. Buss into shelling out the bucks to be able to do it. But I'm not Mitch and thankfully he is. -- James

"Only for a day??? Well, it has to be the day in which the Lakers are playing in the Finals, game 7, and as Mitch Kupchak, I get to have front row seats watching the fruit of my hard work, as the Lakers take the championships and I get to bask in the team glory of a job well done...You get to see Old Lakers Greats like Magic, Kareem, etc. in the locker room.. You get to be around Kobe, Ron-Ron, and all the players celebrating with champagne flowing all over the place. That's got to be the best..To be Mitch Kupchak on any other day is not as fun..." -- Christopher

The Diary of Mitch Kupchak Monday, July 20th 3:35 AM: My morning call from Trevor. A couple of heavy breaths then a hang-up. You’d think he’d have heard about caller ID. Message to self: REALLY need to figure out Call Block option for phone. 4:00 AM: To gym for AM workout. Kobe’s there already. He’s practicing left-handed half court shots. Says he’s got to develop his “Hail Mary Game.” This isn’t even his gym, but his local gym doesn’t open until 5 am, so he enrolled here, too. Actually, he hasn’t enrolled. He tells them he’s my guest, and, well he’s Kobe, who’s gonna cross him? He’s already got Caracter and Ebanks out there, guarding him and rebounding now that they’re back from Summer League. K’s been in a mood since the U.S. and Italy bombed out of the World Cup and Spain took it all. Pau won’t let him hear the end of it. After a few minutes I can tell that my dribbling is getting on his nerves—he starts that “jutting out his lower teeth like a dog-pound mongrel” thing and shooting me his “this is the glare MJ taught me” look. I wrap it up and head for the Stair Master.


4:45 AM: Stair Master, Sauna, Shower and Shave. Slip into coat and tie, and I’m on the 405 to El Segundo. 4:50 AM: Text from Shaq. He thinks a $25 million, 5-year contract is just the trick for him. Says ‘Drew needs to be taken down a notch, and he’s just the man. Think Pai Mei and Umma. 4:55 AM: Locked up in traffic on 405. A Perdue truck in a roll-over blocking three lanes. Chicken breasts and thighs all over the place. Phone call from Dr. Buss. He’s crying, out of his head, wanting to know how we screwed up that signing of the Earvin kid from Michigan. “I told you he was the one” ‘ I try to calm him down. “We did sign him, Dr. Buss. He won you five rings. Remember Showtime? He owns a share of the team. You had dinner with him last night.” He calms down, breathes a sigh of relief. “That’s right. That’s right. We did. Thank you, Jerry.” It’s Mitch, Dr. Buss. Jerry retired,”I tell him. “Thank you, Jerry,” says again and hangs up.’’

5:25: At the El Segundo offices. Jimmy Buss’ car is in my space. Bastard. He won’t be in until after 11, but he just leaves a car there to screw with me. 5:35 AM: At my desk before everyone. Except Kobe. He’s down on the gym floor, Somehow he finished at my gym, went to his, and now he’s here. He’s working with the rooks, shooting out of double teams, back to the basket, in the corner. Left-handed. Gonna get his right index finger done soon, and he’s building up his southpaw delivery. I get a couple of mongrel-mouthed MJ glares, so pull my blinds shut. 6:00 AM. Peek out on the court. Fisher’s there now, putting up 10-12 footers. He and Kobe are trash-talking already. I know how this goes. “I was working the weights when you were still drooling on your pillow,” Fish says. Kobe, spins and launches a left-handed hook from the corner. “Well, I was lifting when yo-Mamma was being talked out of naming you Jamaal.” Swish, the shot drops with nothing but net. Fish gets the rebound, sets up and drains a 12-footer. “Better’n being named after a Japanese restaurant.” Ooh. Kobe scowls.

6:00 to 9:00AM. Blissfully quiet time. Scouting reports. There’s this kid in high school in back hills Kentucky. Harrison Fire, 6’11’, 250 lbs., and still growing. He can dunk from the half court line and hit 44 % of his treys. Got a 96” wingspan, size 18 shoes, ankles like tree trunks, and is getting A’s in Algebra. I make a note to have the scout re-assigned to Alaska to keep him quiet, and sent Cleamons out to investigate.

9:10 AM. Text from Kwame Brown’s agent. $20 million for four years. “Drew needs a mentor. Think Mr. Miyagi and the Karate Kid.” Right. 9:30 AM. Feeling down, so I call Chris Wallace at the Grizzlies front office, and offer him the option of Pau’s youngest brother, Tito, plus Ebanks, in exchange for Marc Gasol. He pauses for a second then tells me where to put it. I laugh like a wild thing. 9:45 AM. Jeannie stops by. We chat, except she stops every five minutes to tweet something on her iPhone. I ask her how Phil’s doing. The guy has become unavailable as a Mandarin. She tells me how he swam naked in his lake this morning and greeted the sunrise in the lotus position on a stump, chanting from the Bhagavad Gita. That’s great, I say, but does he have an opinion on re-signing Shannon Brown? She goes all dumb-blonde on me and tweets some more.

10:00 AM. Dr. Buss stops by. He’s still calling me Jerry. He wants to deal Sasha, Blake and Fisher for Chris Paul. “It’ll be Showtime all over again!” he exults. I tell him how much more Chris would cost him vs..the three he gives up, plus filling two more roster spots, and he goes all pissy and suddenly I’m Mitch again. 10:30 A.M. Text from Shaq. He’ll take three years and $14 million. He’s heard about the Kwame bid and he’s all over it. “Kwame’s my bee-otch. I’ve been schoolin’ him since he was with the Wizards. I can really help ‘Drew develop. Think Obe-Wan and Luke.” 11:15 A.M. Jimmy Buss stops in. He read the scouting report on Fire. He’s sent Jerry West and an ESPN film crew out to investigate. Christ, so much for secrecy.

12:00 P.M. Lunch. Lettuce, cheese, tomato and sprouts on 7-grain bread at my desk, with a can of V-8. 12:30 P.M. Do yoga on my office floor with the door closed. 12:55 A.M. Throw up lettuce, cheese, tomato and sprouts on 7-grain bread while trying “Forward Facing Dog.” Damn. 1:15 P.M. All cleaned up and back at work. 1:30 P.M. Staff meeting. We need two more players to fill out the roster. Joey Buss is there and advocates that Shaq is still out there and he’s settle for three years and $10 million. Like Don Corleone said to Michael: the man who comes to you to mediate the deal is the traitor. I make a note to keep an eye on Joey. Dr. Buss sticks his head in the door and says Jason Kidd is still available. “Showtime all over again!” he says with a glint in his eye. We agree to offer Shannon a minimum contract and see if we can locate Slava Medvendenko and get him for the veteran’s minimum.


2:30. P.M. Golf with Jerry West and Rambis. You have no idea how important golf is for executives. Jerry’s a scratch golfer and Kurt and me are duffers. Jerry’s tall and tan and above it all, like some Appalachian prince. Nothing more to prove. I get Jerry to kill the trip to Kentucky for Harrison Fire and let Cleamons handle it. Kurt inquires about Phil’s health, and I try to see what it would take to get Beasley out of him, as Phil’s a whiz with problem kids like him. Jerry wipes our butts. 21st Century new-age health-nuts that we are, we all sip fruit juice and the 19th hole and talk about grandkids.

5:00 P.M. Back at the office. Pick messages. Shaq will take two years and $5 million. Says the whole team needs help with their post-up game. Think Bill Murray in “Meatballs.” 6:30 P.M. Back home on the 405. As I leave, Kobe’s still on the court, practicing left-handed hooks from the back line behind the basket. Caracter and Ebanks are hunched over on the bench, pulling at the air while Kobe talks smack to them. 7:30 P.M. Home. When I get there, Kobe’s in my driveway shooting left-handed 15 footers against my garage backboard. Caracter and Ebanks are crashed out in the backseat of his Escalade. He nods at me. I nod back. Don’t ask. It’s Kobe. 8:00 P.M. Dinner with the wife.

8;30 P.M. Dr. Buss calls, Wants to know if closed the deal with Chris Paul. I sigh. Do I explain the salary thing again? “We’re close, Dr. Buss,” I say. “Goodnight, Jerry, he says.” 8:45 P.M. My nightly call from Trevor. Three breaths. “Hey, Trevor,” I say, trying to break the ice. “[Expletive] you, man,” he says, and hangs up. At least now it’s safe to go to bed." -- drdreg

I'd pretty much do what Mitch is probably doing right now: Trying to sign back Shannon(but only in the 3 mil range). Signing Ebanks, Caracter and trying to sign Lin, three minimum-salary steals with potential who won't have a problem with limited minutes. Look for a defensive-minded big and a swingman with outside range. See if there are any suckers who'll go for Walton or Sasha. Call David Kahn in Minnesota and tell him they have Darko potential." -- Cool Guy


If I were Mitch Kupchak for a day...I would immediately go to the ticket office and issue 2 season tickets, right behind the Laker's bench, to LEWSTRS and justanothermambafan.... Then I would get Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum sign one of their jerseys for LEWSTRS and justa, so they have attire to wear for the games...(even though I would keep the autographed ones at home, and wear my unsigned ones). Then I would buy an old school bus, paint it purple and gold, with a Lakers logo, and the words "LAT Blog Bandwagon Bus" on the side...I would give it to Mamba24 so he comes back to the do what he does best... Then I would have Mamba24 fill the bus with the loyal bloggers and send them to the next player I try to recruit, when the LAT Blog figures out what player they want me to sign...That would make my job easier, for who knows best, but the LAT Bloggers..." -- LEWSTRS

Mitch for only 'one day'? Seeing as we are already Mitch 'everyday' on the LA Times blog, this actually would be a come down. But if we must 'Be like Mitch', then I have a few ideas that I have sent off to the Lakers already, and inexplicably, no one has answered back my emails?! So I'll share them with a more appreciative audience, the LA Times Lakers faithful. Now, if I'm picturing this right, we wake up, look in the mirror, and suddenly realize we are Mitch. "Oh my God! I'm Mitch Kupchak!" Been given this almost, 'almighty Lakers power' for a day is quite a responsibility. Current and future dynasties are in the balance. Mitch's current and future job is in the balance as well.

It would be imperative for me to have the latest and best information available. So as usual, a quick scan of the LA Times Lakers blog would be a must. Then to prep myself for the task of the day ahead, I would visit my favorite Starbucks, using Mitch's company credit card for an extra large-venti- triple latte. (Wouldn't it be cool to have a Lakers company card?) Not to waste any time, as one day will go by quickly. I would immediately get on my cell phone to MBenga's, Powell's, and Brown's agents, offering each the minimum for one year. Telling them I want a decision before my car pulls into the El Segundo parking lot. Then, I would offer Ebanks and Caracter a non-guarantee camp invite contract. And finally, I would call my wife, instructing her to pack enough for a three week Spanish vacation on the Costa Brava. Oh, I almost forgot. I would also place a call to Smush Parker's agent saying we were REALLY interested in Smush as our new Lakers floor leader. Giving him my office number, then never returning his phone calls. Yeah, yeah, I know I could have traded Ebanks and Caracter to Sacramanto for Cousins if they promised to take Luke, but that's just way too complicated. What would you rather do? Bicker all day with 'wanta-be-super-agents' or lay on the beach on the Costa Brava, sipping Estrella's, with topless girls all around? That's what I thought too...." Fatty

"If I were Mitch? I woulda' blown the salary cap right out of the water this year (even more than it already is) to sign the best we could get with money as a secondary consideration. My approach would be, win the Rings and Buss will probably overlook the expenditure, or fire me, but it's fun to manage OPM. Que sera sera, there's always another job out there. Maybe I've been reading too much about Yankee George lately. As someone once said, better to ask for forgiveness later than permission first. Great philosophy." -- Art - FL Laker Fan

--Mark Medina

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Photo: Readers weighed in on what they would do if they were Mitch Kupchak for a day. Credit: Richard Hartog/Los Angeles Times.

Photo: Readers credit Mitch Kupchak's off-season decisions. Credit: Alex Gallardo/Los Angeles Times

Photo: Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak, right, introduces point guard Steve Blake at the team's practice facility in El Segundo on Wednesday. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times

Photo: Kupchak has been credited for building the team into a championship contender the past two seasons. Credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times