Posted August 05, 2013

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak not surprised by Dwight Howard’s decision to join Rockets

2013 NBA free agency, Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Mitch Kupchak, Rob Mahoney
Dwight Howard and Mitch Kupchak

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak (right) was unable to persuade Dwight Howard to re-sign with Los Angeles. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The horse-race coverage of Dwight Howard’s free agency made for an interesting spectacle, but the reported information regarding the All-Star center’s future was relatively consistent from the start of the negotiating period on July 1 until the time of his signing: Houston was, at the very least, a major player.

Some reporters went as far as to call the Rockets favorites in the Howard sweepstakes, while others reverse-engineered that outcome by systematically eliminating Atlanta, Dallas, Golden State and the Lakers from the running by way of team and league sources. The world braced for the possibility of Howard’s changing his mind, but throughout the most pertinent stages of his decision making, most every tea leaf read suggested that Houston might be his first-choice destination.

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak was apparently working from that same premise, per his comments to The Los Angeles Times:

“It wasn’t a surprise [that Howard signed in Houston]. 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.”

Kupchak’s comments are consistent with what we know of the Lakers’ approach to Howard’s free agency. After a long, tumultuous season, Kupchak and his staff knew that they had to sell the 27-year-old Howard on a possible return. His only season with the team was a disappointment, and Howard himself was regarded with intense scrutiny – as if every unfortunate turn of L.A.’s season (including his own lingering back injury and subsequent should injury) were his fault. The glamour of the purple and gold wouldn’t be enough to bring Howard back into the fold.

The Lakers started their courtship quickly and emphatically with a series of billboards imploring Howard to stay in Los Angeles. Beyond that, Kupchak refused to simply wait his turn in the scheduled meetings with Howard; according to ESPN Los Angeles, Kupchak managed to meet with Howard just as free agency began, even as the Rockets were scheduled as Howard’s first official meeting.

These are not the kinds of decisions made by a team content with its chances, but of a somewhat desperate franchise that well understood Howard’s free agency to be an open competition. That it was, though Houston quickly took the lead after selling Howard on joining an up-and-coming contender and didn’t seem to relinquish its advantage through the publicly reported turns of Howard’s process. Other organizations had their pitches with Howard and some made gains along the way, but Kupchak was right to be both mindful of the Rockets’ advantage and unsurprised when Howard ultimately committed to Houston.

39 comments
bklyn
bklyn

Dude, get over it, stop writing stories about why Dwight left LA, get a clue.

6marK6
6marK6

The Lakers fans are somewhat delusional. The team is simply not a desirable location anymore. It is makeshift and anybody hugely talented is not going to submit to the "worship Kobe" policy in place. If one fan thinks Howard has a better chance of winning in Los Angeles than Houston in the next five years, fine, but nobody does. And word of advice, as someone that follows the Mavs, don't fall back on the "it will be OK, we are going to sign some star free agents" plan, that does not  happen either. Melo does not want to play in LA and neither does James and neither is going to take the huge pay cut to do it.

JohnnyNacho
JohnnyNacho

It just didn't fit.  What more can you say about the situation?

FredFlintsone
FredFlintsone

Mitch spent months telling everyone how positive he was in resigning him. Howard remains a rebounding shot blocking 3 time def. player of the yr and great low post player on other end. He never fit in Lakers offense and you cant have 2 leaders. Either its Kobe or Howard's team, but not both. Waste on lakers part

WashJones58
WashJones58

Bottom Line; Dwight Better Get Used To All Eyes On Me. More Scruitiny, More Expectations, No Excuses, No Blame Shifting To The Other Players, No More Saying He Doesen't Have Talent Around Him. Championship Or Confirmation That The Big Punk Is An Immature  Kid That Can't/Won't Be Accountable For What He Does Or Doesen't Do.

WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

The only thing saving Kupchak is that the Lakers gave up nothing to get Howard. Had Bynum been healthy and torn it up with the 76ers Lakers fans would be demanding Mitch be fired. 


Getyourfootofftheboat
Getyourfootofftheboat

As long as Kobe keeps hanging around chewing up cap space and hogging the ball, Laker fans better get used to this treatment. And for those who think LA has a clean slate after next season....think again. Kobe has a $32 million cap hold until he signs for less, retires, or LA renounces any rights to him. So the thought of a slew of FA's flocking to play in LA ain't as easy as you think.

Big Mark
Big Mark

If he would have resigned with LA the Mitch would have said he expected him to all along.  I don't trust anything out of his mouth.

bobstacyamber
bobstacyamber

 @NeoSmith @bobstacyamber Yes I understand greatness is measured by rings and I know talent alone does not make champions. However, does that make Phil Jackson the greatest coach ever? If Spoelstra wins 6 championships with Miami does that make him a great coach? Or does having LeBron help? Look at Saban at Alabama. Most consider him one of the best coaches ever. He continually recruits the best classes in college football and has won 3 championships but put him on an even playing field like the NFL and he doesn't win crap. In my opinion, Phil Jackson is Overrated. 

mystafugee
mystafugee

For all this "they should have hired Phil" talk, Phil was making some outrageous demands such as not having to coach road games.  Also Kobe wields way too much power, you can't be sentimental in today's sports world.  Lakers should have amnestied him.

HectorBaboso
HectorBaboso

I don't blame Hoawrd for leaving. Heck I would have done the same. Old team Lakers and old man Kobe= no rings. Why on earth did the Laker organization have banners begging Howard to stay?

NeoSmith
NeoSmith

The Lakers lost Dwight Howard when they didn't hire Phil Jackson.  End of story.  The blame lies squarely at the feet of Jim Bust.  Instead of winning championships, now they are scrambling to put together a team full of over-the-hill stars.

6marK6
6marK6

IS THIS STILL A STORY!?

bobstacyamber
bobstacyamber

Jackson is NOT the best coach of all time. He is the most OVERRATED coach of all time.  I could sit on the bench and listen to my IPOD while Jordan, Pippen and Rodman win 50+ games and championships.  I could tell Kobe to shoot the ball 40 times and Shaq to dominate the boards and I would win most games.  I just don't let the sports media (ESPN) brainwash me into thinking Jackson's the best coach of all time. To prove my point, look at Eric Spoelstra of the Heat.  He's won two championships with LeBron.  First the media said Spoelstra was to young to be an effective coach but now are singing his praises. If you put Jackson or Spoelstra on a team with no superstars they would just be any coach!! 

CucamongaKing
CucamongaKing

Kupchak terrible GM

What has HE ever done?    He lives off glory of Magic, West, and Jackson making L.A. a destination spot.

HE cannot control that brain mush cocaine addict Jim Buss, so what is the point.

Let's play rocket scientist:  the best coach of all time, Jackson, wants to come back.   HE states Jim Buss cannot meddle.    Howard and Kobe want him.    Mitch screws it up.    HE should of leaked to press that BUSS was the idiott behind that collapse..  

Lakers are history: it will take a decade to recover.

quincyjones313
quincyjones313

Not a Dwight fan by any means.  That being said Dwight is the best center in the league or 2nd best at most.  With Kobe on the way out, crybaby will be dominating LA until they find the next Lakers super star player.

AnthonyHill
AnthonyHill

If you think "landing" Howard is a breath of fresh air, you either enjoy smog or don't know basketball.  He is an overrated crybaby.  

SteveS1
SteveS1

On behalf of all basketball fans, THANKS YOU DWIGHT HOWARD!  For decades, the league has conspired to get the top players onto the Lakers (Chamberlain, Abdul-Jabbar, Gasol and Howard all traded to the Laker for worthless players and the league ignored the most blatant tampering of all time for Shaq) and so having Howard not re-sign is a huge breathe of fresh air.  Go Rockets!

bklyn
bklyn

Are you morons gonna still be writing these fluff pieces in November?

me1
me1

@JohnnyNacho It is the coach's job to figure out how to make it fit. Trying to pound a square peg into a round hole will not get it. 

pm2875
pm2875

@WashJones58 That would all be true if he was in Los Angeles. I guarantee he's under little scrutiny in Houston. 

J Taylor
J Taylor

@Getyourfootofftheboat Really?

I beg to differ... You keep smoking the anti-LA crack and when you come to reality in 1 season, you will realize that you are wrong. In 1 season, LA will have a clean slate and offer any player a chance to be the face of a franchise. They get the offer of MILLIONS through endorsements, and they get the offer to play for a team committed to winning.

Like or hate kobe, no one can ignore that he's still one of the best in his position, and probably better than the SG that ANY player in the league has at the moment. If i were looking for a Championship, i'd be picking kobe. Kobe only focues on winning. Enough so that he tore his Achilles playing 45mpg in the 7 games prior. Kobe will do whatever it takes to win. Any player that does not understand that, or is intimidated by that is a player that i don't want in LA.


 

pm2875
pm2875

Phil Jackson is not overrated. He won with Jordan and Pippen (who wasn't an All Star before Jackson showed up). He won with Kobe and Shaq (something Del Harris was incapable of). He won with Kobe and Pau(something Mike Brown and D'Antoni haven't done). He figured out an strategy to winning, a method to the madness if you will, and then he executed it to perfection eleven times. That takes more than just luck and a few All Stars.

mystafugee
mystafugee

@bobstacyamber @NeoSmith It's how you define it, I would agree with your argument if Phil won in one place with the same group but he's won with three different groups.  If Phil isn't the greatest, who would you suggest is better?  And don't bring up Saban, he's an amateur coach, simple as that.  

geewhiz
geewhiz

@6marK6 sadly.  Its not like there are other teams in the NBA to cover or anything.

rluck9974
rluck9974

says the Heat fan. You don't know anything about basketball. Just because you have a bunch of stars doesn't mean your going to win. Get a clue.

NeoSmith
NeoSmith

@bobstacyamber Jackson is NOT overrated.  You might think all it takes is a great player, but MJ didn't win a damn thing until Phil got there.  Similarly in LA.  Kobe was Kobe for many years before Phil got there and started winning championships.  And how many has Kobe won since Phil left?  Just because you have the talent, doesn't mean you are automatically going to win with an average coach.

6marK6
6marK6

@bobstacyamber We live in an era that measures greatness by rings. I don't necessarily agree with that because there are other factors that enter into it, but that is the way it is,

RonHawkster
RonHawkster

@SteveS1 So did the league "conspire" to get Bird, Parish, McHale, etc to Celtics in the 80s and the big 3 to them again?  Did the league conspire to get Lebron, Wade and Bosch to Miami?  Did the league conspire to land so many biggies in NY?  Did the league conspire to keep Duncan in San Anton for 10 mil a year when he could have gotten 20+ elsewhere?


By the way, if the league conspires to get superstars to LA, how come the league reversed the trade of CP3 to the Lakers?  You sound like a child.

PaulP
PaulP

@SteveS1Marc Gasol is a worthless player?  The Grizzlies got Marc for Pau you idiot.  Pull your head out of the sand you don't know a thing about the NBA you homer. 

bklyn
bklyn

Oh no I'm sorry in November you're going to write lame speculative pieces on where melo and Lebron are going in 2015. lol @  SI  

eddie767
eddie767

@PaulP Not to side w/steves1 but M.Gasol was a nobody at time of trade. If you ask now,the Lakers would be better with him. Then they could've stayed away from D12,Superman,Rocketman,or whatever he's calling himself now. Hindsight is 20/20,but the Lakers are blind now,quadfocals and all.

Eman,MasterOfTheUniverse
Eman,MasterOfTheUniverse

@eddie767 @PaulP Just because he was a nobody at the time doesn't mean that the Grizzlies didn't do some scouting and figure out what he could be and that the Lakers didn't know he had the potential to be good.