The NBA was the first sports league I ever followed and the Lakers my first team, but with David Stern ripping Chris Paul away from us and the whole mess of the NBA lockout, I was pretty bitter about this NBA season (hence just the two NBA blog posts all season). This wasn’t helped by my recent acceptance that Game Six of the 2002 Western Conference Finals was most likely fixed.
Finally, some big news has come that has me somewhat excited about the NBA again.
After the Chris Paul trade fell through in the pre-season, GM Mitch Kupchak was left scrambling to determine the direction that the team would take. Lamar Odom (just from the Mavericks to the Clippers) was so offended by the notion of being involved in the then collapsed Chris Paul trade, that he demanded to be moved. When Kupchak traded him to Dallas for a trade exception, fans were bewildered and bothered. We expected to get more for such a big piece.
A few months later, Kupchak moved fan favorite, Derek Fisher, for a no-name big man (Jordan Hill), and Ramon Sessions was brought in for Luke Walton, which seemed like nothing more than a booby prize after failing to land Chris Paul (although I was admittedly excited).
Things didn’t look spectacular, but now the real bounty from those moves has arrived. Using the money freed up by the Odom trade, Mitch Kupchak was able to complete a sign-and-trade to bring Steve Nash to Los Angeles. Sessions’ contract has expired (and he will not return) avoiding a logjam at the point guard position. Steve Blake will back up Steve Nash to go along with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum. The dust has settled and the strange moves last year, make a lot of sense.
Without Jackson’s triangle offense, a more dynamic point guard became necessary, and Mitch Kupchak was able to bring one to L.A. and get the most out of Kobe final few spectacular seasons. Kobe Bryant knows his window for championships (at least as the center piece) is closing, and he is determined to get another one (or two) before all is set and done. He went so far as to reach out to Steve Nash and explain why he’d be a good fit for the Lakers. Now we’ll get to see Bryant and Nash on the same team, along with two star big men. At the very least, they’ll be extremely competitive and fun to watch.
General Managers in professional sports play a huge role, and sometimes it can be understated. Let Mitch Kupchak’s role with the Lakers not be so, he is potentially the best GM in professional sports, whether the Lakers win a ring with Nash or not.
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