Mitch Kupchak has spoken.
The Los Angeles Lakers general manager held his first press conference of the 2013-14 season, and as you might expect, there was no shortage of memorable quotes on all sorts of topics.
It should come as absolutely no surprise that Kupchak had to speak about Kobe Bryant's injury right off the bat. After all, that's the central focus in Tinseltown right now, as everyone waits with bated breath to see if the Mamba's Achilles will be in working order by opening night.
Mitch Kupchak on when Kobe will return: "There is no timeline"— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) September 25, 2013
"You won't be able to look at him and say he's hurt," Kupchak says of Kobe. Does expect Kobe to take last shot (as always) if down by basket— janis carr (@janiscarr) September 25, 2013
But do you seriously think that's all he said about one of the most popular players in basketball? Don't worry, there's more.
Mitch Kupchak on Kobe: "He intends to retire a Laker. ... We feel the same way."— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) September 25, 2013
Mitch wont comment whether Kobe will take pay cut next season. "Won't go there."— janis carr (@janiscarr) September 25, 2013
This is strange for the Lake Show, but the next biggest concern isn't actually the upcoming season.
Instead, it seems like everyone is looking ahead to the 2014 offseason and completely writing off 2013-14 as a lost cause. It's an afterthought compared to what could happen in the future. And further evidence for that was provided when Kupchak discussed that next fateful summer.
"Kobe's not going to play to lure somebody to Los Angeles, he's going to play to try to win games." - Kupchak #Lakers— Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner) September 25, 2013
Kupchak talking about free agency next summer - "It's going to be tough to get players to move. It really is." #Lakers— Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner) September 25, 2013
Kupchak on the 2014 draft: "It's a good year to have a (first round) pick"— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) September 25, 2013
Well, the GM certainly isn't wrong on any of those fronts.
There's no way that Kobe would ever go for a strategy that revolved around tanking. He'd greet any such suggestion with either a death stare or a derisive fit of laughter.
The 2014 draft class is also quite stacked—to a historical extent, perhaps—and there's plenty of talent beyond the No. 1 pick. While Andrew Wiggins is viewed as a generational talent, there are potential franchise studs littered throughout the lottery portion of most mock drafts.
But of course, not everything looked past the 2013-14 season in its entirety. Kupchak did spend some time analyzing the upcoming campaign, starting with a certain polarizing figure who holds a clipboard on the sideline.
"No coach has been able to control Kobe." said Kupchak. "And that's not going to change." #Lakers— Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner) September 25, 2013
Kupchak on D'Antoni: "We try to give him all the support we can ... He has to realize, and I'm sure he does, that we back him 100 percent"— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) September 25, 2013
If you're curious, that means that Del Harris, Bill Bertka, Kurt Rambis, Phil Jackson, Rudy Tomjanovich, Frank Hamblen, Phil Jackson (again), Mike Brown, Bernie Bickerstaff and Mike D'Antoni have all failed to control Kobe.
Good luck, D'Antoni.
You're going to need it if you want to survive this season, especially with so many changes looming in the not-so-distant future.
At least Kupchak is being quite supportive of his coach while recognizing that he isn't the most popular figure for much of Lakers nation.
"Players we have are excited about the kind of basketball Mike D'Antoni coaches," Kupchak said.— janis carr (@janiscarr) September 25, 2013
Mitch thinks if MDA is given a chance and training camp "people in Los Angeles will be happy. I really do." OK then— janis carr (@janiscarr) September 25, 2013
Mitch on D'Antoni's unpopularity: "We try to give him as much support as we can."— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) September 25, 2013
But it's not all about D'Antoni. Another intriguing aspect of this season will be Steve Nash.
Kupchak on Steve Nash: "We're not expecting 35 minutes a game for Steve" ... He mentioned Farmar/Blake to create PG by committee— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) September 25, 2013
Nash has been practicing at 100%, per Mitch. We want to keep it at that level. .. He might not practice 100% like younger players— janis carr (@janiscarr) September 25, 2013
The point guard didn't make a massive impact during his first season in L.A., but the Purple and Gold are hoping things will be different this year. Could they change if the veteran plays a more limited role, as Kupchak suggests?
Nash is the linchpin for this season. As he goes, so too will the team. Without a lot of established scoring talent, the onus is on him to create easy looks for his teammates and get the offense functioning at a high level to make up for the inevitably poor defensive efforts.
But he's only one aspect of the team going into what is sure to be a topsy-turvy and important year.
Kupchak didn't fail to deliver some interesting gems during his first press conference, and it's only going to get more intriguing from here.