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Mitch Kupchak Says Kobe Bryant 'Won't Weigh In' on Lakers' Coaching Decision

USA Today
Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 15, 2014

For those who think otherwise, Kobe Bryant does not control the Los Angeles Lakers

He may be paid an exorbitant sum, have an undeniably ridiculous amount of sway within Los Angeles and be a huge reason that the Lakers can rack up so much money from television broadcasts, but he doesn't have enough power to pick the team's next head coach. 

General manager Mitch Kupchak spoke to ESPN's Andy Katz while scouting collegiate prospects at the draft combine in Chicago, and here's what he had to say about the Mamba's input on the coaching search, via ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin: 

From time to time we ask his advice. He really won't weigh in on something like this. I'm not even sure that we'll talk to him prior to interviews. But from time to time, he is in our facility, I'll go downstairs and I'll talk to him about a bunch of different things.

Well that's...unexpected. 

After all, it wasn't long ago that Kobe specifically alluded to his desire to weigh in on the next coach while talking to Jimmy Kimmel: 

Mike Brown didn't work, though he was dealt a rather difficult hand. A relatively ineffective and physically limited Dwight Howard, who really didn't fit with what the Lakers were trying to do, saw to that. Injuries also reared their ugly head, as they did for Mike D'Antoni, who resigned in April after nearly two seasons with the team.

To Kobe's credit, though, he does go on to praise the organization for its willingness to take this process as seriously as necessary. 

Not seriously enough to consult him, though. 

I'd love to have seen Kobe's reaction when he heard Kupchak explain that his superstar's input wasn't necessary. Although I'd prefer for my face to stay intact, and seeing his reaction could have left me in a dangerous spot.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 16: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Western Conference All-Stars talks to the media during the 2014 NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center on February 16, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and a
David Sherman/Getty Images

Considering the team is building around Kobe for the next two years, it's almost inconceivable that it wouldn't want to hire a coach who meshes with the franchise's best player. And what better way to figure that out than consulting him?

Perhaps there's a chance this is a smokescreen, an attempt by Kupchak to prove that he does have more power than Kobe. Whatever it is, it's strange. 

"Here's an uncontroversial proposition on which we should all be able to agree," writes Bleacher Report's Stephen Babb. "Regardless of what direction the Los Angeles Lakers decide to go when selecting a new head coach, they should probably solicit some buy-in from their best player."

Apparently, it's more controversial than we thought.

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