One of the toughest jobs to perform in the NBA is being the general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers. With tremendous pressure to assemble a combination of players that can contend for an NBA title on an annual basis, GM Mitch Kupchak has been the most criticized and the most praised person in the Lakers organization during his time wheeling and dealing in L.A.
Heading into the NBA off-season this summer, Kupchak will experience that kind of overwhelming pressure once again as he’s expected to make some moves in order to get the Lakers back on track.
After conducting all the exit interviews with current Lakers players, Kupchak sat down with the media to talk about the future of the franchise and whether or not moves will be made via Mark Medina of the L.A. Times:
“There will be some change,” he said.
With the Lakers falling apart in the second-round playoff series with the Oklahoma City Thunder, it became clear that this team can no longer contend with the best of the best in the Western Conference. There’s no question that there is some promising young talent on the current squad with players like Ramon Sessions and Jordan Hill, but addressing an extremely weak bench and the futures of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in L.A. will be top priorities for Kupchak.
The immediate future of Sessions and Hill will be decided in the near future with both players potentially becoming free agents as of July 1. The consensus is that the team will re-sign both players, but nothing is set in stone at this point.
Even though dealing with free agents Matt Barnes, Devin Ebanks, Troy Murphy, Hill and Sessions will be a high priority, the real question is what the team plans to do with Gasol and Bynum.
Kupchak has said that the team will exercise Bynum’s option of $16.1 million. The Lakers’ front office indicated this intention during the regular season, but the team may exercise that option and immediately trade him for a player like the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard.
As for Gasol, the future in L.A. looks bleak to say the least. With the two-time NBA champion being the team’s best bargaining chip on the trade market, a blockbuster deal might be on the horizon if the Lakers can find some interested teams with players that intrigue Kupchak and company.
Needless to say, changes are in the immediate future for the Lakers as they attempt to surround Kobe Bryant with the right kind of talent in order to become a perennial NBA title contender in the last years of his contract.