Mitch Kupchak on D’Antoni hiring, Kobe’s future

It’s been nine months since the Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni in one of the biggest surprises of last season, and after the debacle that followed, it’s hard not to wonder what might have been.

On Thursday, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak touched on the subject of his team’s coaching search and its consequent spurning of Phil Jackson in a wide-ranging radio interview.

“In this business you don’t make announcements until you have signed contracts,” Kupchak said to Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio. “The last thing we wanted was for Phil Jackson, who we love in the organization, the city loves him, to wake in the morning or to get a phone call from somebody at 4 or 5 in the morning saying, ‘Guess what? Didn’t Mitch tell you?'”

“Really there was no other way to do it, and you could say it was clumsy,” Kupchak added.

Despite Jackson’s presence seemingly lurking over the Lakers at every turn, D’Antoni will be back for next season, with a mediocre roster and a lot to prove. He may have been through the worst of the criticism, but that doesn’t mean his job going forward will be easy; even so, Kupchak doesn’t seem worried, pointing out that the coach came from New York, which is hardly a less critical market.

During the interview, Kupchak also touched upon Kobe Bryant’s recovery, saying that the shooting guard is “a big question mark” but that the team is optimistic. Kupchak added that if Bryant recovers to the extent the team hopes, there’s no reason to think that he won’t be sticking around the Lakers for a few more years. That said, no discussions have yet been had about his future beyond 2013-14.