Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak didn’t get a single vote for NBA’s Executive of the Year Award, according to Mike Bresnehan of the Los Angeles Times.
Instead, Masai Ujiri of the Denver Nuggets will get the nod, becoming the first African-born executive to win the award. Earlier in the week, Nuggets head coach George Karl earned the NBA’s Coach of the Year honors.
The news with respect to the Lakers’ lead man comes less than a year removed from the highly-touted acquisitions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to Southern California, which fans, analysts and everyone in between considered to be moves that would put the Lakers in the mix to be legitimate NBA title contenders this season. What ensued, however, was a comedy of errors that included injuries, a systematic non-fit with head coach Mike D’Antoni and a devastating season-ender to the best player ever to put on a purple-and-gold jersey in Kobe Bryant, followed by an early and embarrassing exit from the Western Conference playoffs.
Despite the Lakers’ struggles and disappointing season, the fact that Kupchak got no votes is still surprising. To rid the team of Andrew Bynum, his balky knees and all the baggage that comes with it was a feat in itself, but the sign-and-trade that brought in Nash in addition to the Bynum-Howard swap solidified a successful summer campaign.
Earl Clark, one of the team’s lone bright spots during its darkest times this year, proved to be not only serviceable, but a major contributor, and he was effectively a throw-in on the deal. All of it makes Kupchak deserving of at least some recognition.
But it could be the firing of Mike Brown just five games into the season that caused the voters to overlook him. Brown never got a fair shake to work with the roster, and the fact that the turned around and allegedly spurned Phil Jackson before hiring the increasingly unpopular Mike D’Antoni, could also have played a role.
All of that information considered, Kupchak couldn’t get at least one nod for the NBA’s top exec? That’s absurd, and we demand a re-count.
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