This morning, Jeannie Buss made the announcement that Mitch Kupchak would be relieved of his GM duties for the Lakers, effective immediately. She also went on to say that Jim Buss would no longer hold his role as Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations. She's brought in Magic Johnson to take over as President of Basketball Operations for the Lakers. This can have a few different outcomes, so the Lakers really improving under Magic isn't necessarily a guarantee. But it wouldn't take much to do better than they have been the last 3 seasons.
Mitch Kupchak is not a terrible GM, but he's also not great. He is a little overrated by the city of Los Angeles based on some of the moves the team has made over the years, that haven't really been made by Mitch himself. First of all, the only asset the Lakers gained out of the Shaq trade was Lamar Odom. Then, there was the Pau Gasol trade, and everyone thought Mitch had committed highway robbery, when in fact Jerry West himself was with the Grizzlies organization and he instigated the trade, which brought back Marc Gasol and opened up cap space to sign Zach Randolph in their upcoming off-season. So the trade worked for both sides, thanks to Jerry West. Then there was the whole Dwight Howard issue, and now the Lakers are in the position they are in, near the bottom of the Western standings 3 years running.
Along with the Dwight Howard saga came the Mike D'antoni issue as well, as Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak combined to sign Mike D'antoni to coach the Lakers instead of Phil Jackson, who had made it known that he wanted to return to the Lakers bench. This was the wrong choice, by far, and it ruined any team chemistry the Lakers could have put together, because the D'antoni offense does not work well with 2 big men, which resulted in him trying to bench Pau Gasol, and that just doesn't make sense. After one failed season under D'antoni, he was let go, Dwight Howard left in free agency to sign with the Houston Rockets, and Pau Gasol left to sign with the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers 2nd championship dynasty plans were now nixed.
Jim Buss has a history of making decisions based on his stubbornness and it has negatively effected the Lakers over and over again. The decision to remove Jim and Mitch has been a long time coming, so that's a sigh of relief for Laker fans everywhere. Magic Johnson is known to have some weird opinions, so it's not guaranteed that this was a great signing, but as I said, at least they got rid of the original problem and are making an effort to rectify it.
During this past All-Star Weekend, there were many trade rumors being talked about, and the future of Demarcus Cousins was also in question. Vlade Divac went on record on Friday to say they wouldn't be trading Cousins. But Sunday night just as the All-Star Game ended, Cousins was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans for Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, Buddy Hield, and a 2017 first and second round pick. There are so many problems with this trade, and it's not a great notion that Divac admitted to having a better offer on the table 2 days prior to making this deal. It shows that he may have panicked instead of waiting until the deadline (this Thursday) to see if a more desperate team gave a better offer.
For the Kings, this was the worst deal possible. Galloway is a backup at best in the league, Tyreke Evans is a good player but is way too injury-prone, and Buddy Hield is an unproven rookie. But owner Vivek Ranadive has an infatuation with Hield, going as far as to say he has "Steph Curry potential". I don't know if he does or he doesn't, but giving up Cousins just on potential and 1 first round pick is not the way to have gone about moving the best Center in the NBA. They have been asking for more for years, and they could have gotten more if they were a better run organization. The Lakers even made an offer with much better talent, but the Kings refused because rookie Brandon Ingram was not involved. I still believe players like Lou Williams or Julius Randle would have been much better for the Kings than Tyreke Evans or Buddy Hield. So in my opinion, the Kings took 3 steps back with this trade, and they'd better hope Hield actually does develop into a star, or else this trade is going to look terrible for them, and it will also not look good for them in the eyes of free agents whom they potentially would want to sign.
On the flip side, the Pelicans now boast the best frontcourt in the league, by far. It doesn't even matter who plays the Small Forward position when you have the best PF in Anthony Davis and the best C in Demarcus Cousins playing next to each other. A lot of teams will have problems going up against these twin towers, especially in today's small ball version of the NBA. Cousins may not be the best defensive C in the league, but Davis can help with that as he has supreme shot blocking ability and can help Cousins down there. These two are going to play off of each other beautifully, as both are offensive freaks as well. I believe the Pelicans now have a great shot at making the playoffs this season, but even if they don't, they will have the roster to attract a good free agent or two and come next season, could potentially boast one of the best rosters in the NBA. I actually love this trade for the NBA as well, as it's refreshing to not see the same teams getting better players and staying at the top of the rankings. This trade could potentially shift the Western Conference as early as next season.
Recently, NBA player Glen Davis, formerly of the Magic, Celtics, and Clippers, made comments about his former coach Doc Rivers and how he was 'lucky to have won a championship'. He's absolutely right.
Doc Rivers used to coach the Orlando Magic from 1999-2003, fired in 2003 after starting the season 1-10. In 2004, he accepted the head coaching position for the Boston Celtics, where he proceeded to do nothing impressive until 2008. Local reporter Bill Simmons was calling for Doc Rivers to be fired for a long time before 2008, but this reporter is well known for being a hypocrite, so it's understandable to not take Bill Simmons that seriously. Doc failed to make anything happen in Boston, not improving the teams record or succeeding with any development of the teams younger players. Then in the summer of 2007, Danny Ainge traded for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, and indirectly saved Doc Rivers' career. The Boston "Big 3" of Garnett, Allen and Paul Pierce was one of the first super teams of the modern day NBA. They were a hard-nosed defensive team, led by then assistant coach Tom Thibodeau, who rightfully gets most of the coaching credit for this Celtic team that ultimately beat the Lakers in the Finals, becoming the 2008 NBA Champions (and back to Bill Simmons, while he was asking for Doc to be fired for 4 years, once the Celtics won the 2008 championship, Simmons himself made the mistake of calling Doc one of the greatest coaches ever). At first glance, Doc Rivers looked like a genius, but then Thibodeau left to coach the Chicago Bulls. Doc's weaknesses in coaching were exposed, and although the Celtics made the Finals again in 2010, they lost to the Lakers this time around, and people do think the lack of Thibodeau being on the staff is one of the reasons why. In my opinion, Doc Rivers is a glorified Mark Jackson, meaning he's a nice motivational speaker and that's about it. Doc Rivers cannot hold a candle to any of the great coaches in the game, and I believe there are at least 25 coaches in the league today that are much better than Doc Rivers was or ever will be.
In 2013, there were questions about Doc Rivers' future in coaching, and if he wanted to coach a rebuilding roster in the Celtics, or proceed with retiring. The Clippers ended up trading a first round pick for him to coach the Clippers, and he is still there today. Doc has managerial control over the team as well, so he has made some of the decisions like signing Austin Rivers, who wouldn't be in the NBA were it not for his last name. Again, because of Tom Thibodeau, Doc was given more respect than he deserved, and given managerial duties over the team, which was a big mistake on the Clippers' part. Doc has had Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan since 2013 and has never passed the 2nd round. People talk about Doc Rivers and how he's 'one of the greatest coaches in history' but how can one of the greatest coaches in history have the best PG in the game in Chris Paul and not be able to make anything happen? How can one of the best coaches in history be fired or on the brink of being fired at least 3 times in his coaching career before a lucky roster move changed one of his teams directions, and only for one year? Tom Thibodeau was the genius behind the Celtics 2008 championship, which is why the Bulls courted him to coach them. When you look at Doc's past, it's painfully obvious he belongs nowhere near an NBA sideline, but thanks to Tom Thibodeau, he will forever be given a pass for his many deficiencies as a coach, which far outweigh his strengths, of which there aren't many.