Mitch Kupchak On Dwight Howard Leaving: ‘It Wasn’t A Surprise’
Before Dwight Howard decided to leave the Los Angeles Lakers in favor of the Houston Rockets, general manager Mitch Kupchak let it be known the team was going all out in their attempt to re-sign the perennial All-Star. Kupchak believed Dwight was the future of the franchise and stressed how crucial it was to bring him back for the long-term, but the team fell short in their attempts.
Kupchak has now broken his silence about Dwight’s departure claiming it came as no surprise the three-time Defensive Player of the Year chose Houston over Los Angeles via Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times:
“It wasn’t a surprise. I had a feeling that Houston was a frontrunner, and whenever a player is an unrestricted free agent, anything can happen,” Kupchak said. “Clearly, we wanted to keep him here in Los Angeles, and I felt we did everything we could do within reason to show we did want to keep him here.
“Until the end, I kept up hope. I think we were as persistent as we could be within reason. I wasn’t shocked but I was disappointed.”
In the weeks leading up to Dwight’s decision, there was no clear indication in terms of which way the superstar center was leaning. The Rockets were very much in the hunt and considered to be neck-and-neck with the Lakers, but ultimately Dwight felt as if his best chance to win a championship in the near future was in Houston.
As a result of the decision, Dwight became the first superstar player to ever leave the Lakers in free agency. It remains to be seen how Kupchak and the Lakers’ front office will be able to bounce back in unfamiliar territory. The next few years will be telling to say the least.
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