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Dr. Buss' Health Played Role in D'Antoni Hire, Says Mitch Kupchak

Marked by multiple coaching changes, the Lakers' early season was chaotic

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Buss' Health Factored Into Coaching Change: Lakers GM

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Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, left, and coach Mike D'Antoni speak at a press conference introducing D'Antoni as the new Los Angeles Lakers head coach beneath a display of Lakers championship trophies on November 2012. Kupchak hinted that team owner Dr. Jerry Buss' failing health was a factor in making the coaching change.

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The Lakers fired Mike Brown and rushed to bring in current coach Mike D’Antoni due, in part, to the struggling health of the team’s longtime owner Dr. Jerry Buss, according to the team’s general manager Mitch Kupchak.

Kupchak told CBS Sports that the Lakers were uncharacteristically impatient in their firing of Brown because they believed that the roster assembled during the offseason offered a two to three year window to win.

"When we made the changes we made in the offseason, we really did it with a two- or maybe even a three-year window -- probably a two-year window -- to do our best and win a championship," Kupchak said.

"And clearly we knew Dr. Buss was not in great health, and we were hoping for the next year or two we could put something on the court that would result in being in the hunt at the end of the year for a championship."

Previously, Kupchak was asked whether the organization approached this season with a mindset of needing to win immediately for the longtime Lakers owner. 

"It was never presented to me that way," Kupchak told the Los Angeles media on Feb. 19, one day after Dr. Buss' death, when asked if the team was going all-in for Buss with the offseason trades for Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. "Maybe in [Jim Buss]’ mind it was something that he wanted to do. Maybe it was subconscious, but it was never presented that way."

Directly following Buss' death, Kupchak stated that the moves for Nash and Howard were not related to the long-time owner’s struggling health. However, his comments to CBS Sports paint the picture that the Lakers grew impatient once the season got underway with the slow start under Brown, and perhaps, Dr. Buss' health did play a part after all.

"And when we didn't feel we could get there after a preseason and a small number of games, we didn't feel we had the patience to wait and see if it was going to work out," Kupchak stated. "And that's really why we made the change we made so early."

Regardless of whether the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers were assembled to provide Dr. Buss one final taste of glory, the current Lakers will forever be tied to Dr. Buss because they were the last group of Lakers he assembled, watched and cheered on.

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