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Thursday, April 19, 2012
Sources: Portland interested in Mitch Kupchak

By Brian Kamenetzky

Blazers owner Paul Allen is a rich man, and according to ESPN's Marc Stein and Chris Broussard, has his eyes and giant wallet aimed towards Mitch Kupchak to fill Portland's currently unoccupied general manager gig:
"Kupchak is one of the Blazers' top targets, sources told ESPN.com, in their quest to land an executive with experience running a franchise's basketball operations.

It remains to be seen, however, whether the Lakers would be willing to grant Portland permission to speak to Kupchak, who has spent more than 25 years in L.A.'s front office. Kupchak took over for Jerry West as the club's lead decision-maker in the basketball department in the summer of 2000 before gradually ceding that status to Jim Buss, who serves as the Lakers' executive vice president of player personnel.

Blazers president Larry Miller could not be immediately reached for comment and Kupchak did not immediately respond to messages left by ESPN.com.

Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that Kupchak's latest contract with the Lakers is a lucrative multiyear deal. But Jim Buss -- son of longtime Lakers owner Jerry Buss -- is widely perceived to have the deciding vote on basketball matters with the Lakers and is regarded as the driving force not only behind the drafting of Andrew Bynum in 2005 but also L.A.'s decision to hire Mike Brown as Phil Jackson's replacement over Rick Adelman. And that has spawned a growing belief among several of Kupchak's peers that the architect of the Pau Gasol trade in 2008 that ultimately led to two championships would have some interest in listening to outside proposals."

Two points: First, Portland showing interest in Kupchak makes sense (why wouldn't they be?) but doesn't automatically mean Kupchak showing interest in Portland. Second, In a zillion years, I can't imagine the Lakers giving Kupchak permission to interview with a conference rival, so in that regard it feels like a moot point. Still, the report isn't insignificant, because as long as Kupchak's name appears in the rumor mill it lends credence to the idea the Lakers' front office isn't a totally happy place, one where basketball personnel not named Jim Buss don't have the authority to run a department.

Whether that's fair depends on who you ask, but either way is definitely the type of narrative Buss wants to dispel.