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Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table

Video: Mitch Kupchak Talks About State of Lakers, Santa Barbara Ties

Mitch Kupchak, general manager of the L.A. Lakers, talks before a full-house at the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table’s March Madness event.
Mitch Kupchak, general manager of the L.A. Lakers, talks before a full-house at the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table’s March Madness event. (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk)

Mitch Kupchak, the general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers, was the featured speaker at the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table’s March Madness membership drive and fundraiser on Monday night at the Cabrillo Arts Pavilion.

Kupchak talked about Santa Barbara’s longtime connection with the Lakers, citing the names of former players Jamal Wilkes (Santa Barbara High), Don Ford (Santa Barbara High, UCSB) and Brian Shaw (UCSB).  He also listed coaches with Santa Barbara roots, Jim Eyen (UCSB) and Bill Bertka. Bertka, who started with the Lakers back in the 1960s, remains on the staff and has been part of 10 NBA championships.

Bertka and Wilkes were in attendance Monday.

Kupchak marveled at Kobe Bryant’s longevity, recalling that his first game with the Lakers was the same day Kupchak’s son, Maxwell, was born on Nov. 1, 1996. Maxwell is a freshman at UCSB and Bryant is still playing for the Lakers.

In looking ahead after Bryant’s retirement at the end of this season, Kupchak said the team started preparing for the transition two years ago through the draft.  He said in today’s NBA, the way to rebuild a team is through the draft, being flexible with salary cap space for free agents and through trades.

With Bryant’s retirement, the Lakers will have more cap space to go after some "young, better players to add to our young core" this summer, said Kupchak.

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