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Court Vision: GM Mitch Kupchak doesn't want Lakers to get 'stuck in the middle'

(Noah Graham/Getty Images)Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak doesn't want his team to get "stuck in the middle." (Noah Graham/Getty Images)

• Dave McMenamin of ESPNLA.com reports that Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak doesn't want to ride the treadmill of mediocrity.

"The Lakers and Los Angeles remains a destination place for athletes of any sport. This is a wonderfully supportive fan base in Los Angeles. It’s a vibrant city and the franchises that have been here, our franchise has been one of the best if not the best, once it came here in 1960. We’ve always figured out a way to bring players and put competitive and championship teams on the court. Those things don’t change."

...

"The worst thing you can do is be burdened with contracts that are $6-7-8 million a year that go out 3-4 years and you have just kind of average players," Kupchak said. "Then you’re really kind of stuck in the middle -- you’re not going to get a good draft choice and you’re not going to have financial flexibility. So, in our opinion, we’re set up probably as best as we can be set up for the future."

• The New York Post notes that MSG Chairman James Dolan, overseer of the Knicks, got off a heck of a one-liner Wednesday when asked about a supposed summit arranged by the NBA to smooth things over between the Knicks and Nets. The two organizations have been engaged in a heated rivalry since the Nets moved to Brooklyn.

Mikhail Prokhorov and James Dolan may never be best friends, but the Knicks owner admitted he got something out of his meeting of the minds with his Nets counterpart earlier this summer.

“Free lunch,” Dolan deadpanned as laughter erupted Wednesday afternoon at the press conference officially announcing the two New York franchises would share hosting responsibilities for the 2015 All-Star Game.

The Post’s Fred Kerber exclusively reported last month that NBA Commissioner David Stern brokered the meeting between the owners in order to help ease any tensions between the two organizations, whose representatives have sparred since Prokhorov bought the Nets back in 2010.

• Andrew Sharp of Grantland reacts to the Kevin Durant/Dwyane Wade feud over The Point Forward's Top 10 players of 2014 list.

Why is this great?

Obvious reasons: You've got Kevin Durant embracing the dark side and doubling down on his s--- talking. (#KDisNotNice). You've got Dwyane Wade lecturing young players about his place in history while he's still playing, proving once again that Dwyane Wade is the best, most insufferable villain we have in the NBA right now. And most importantly, with a month left before the regular season, we've got some hate in the air.

Hate in the air makes any sport more fun.

But especially with the Thunder. They need this.

Because the roster isn't going to change much from here. The biggest moves they've ever made were subtracting Jeff Green and then James Harden, which was horribly depressing. Beyond that, for almost five years now they've been the lovable young team full of prodigies that may or may not have what it takes to win a title. Since the team doesn't want to pay the luxury tax and there's not much flexibility, we're probably not getting any new superstar who changes this dynamic.

The way the Thunder evolve is with the players they already have. This is where they stop being the lovable young superstars and start being pissed off and disrespectful. Kevin Durant is the best scorer on the planet, and there's no close second. He's Steph Curry, but 8 inches taller. Wouldn't it be fun to see him go after the whole world all year?

Rockets coach Kevin McHale tells center Omer Asik to know his role in an entertaining interview with the Houston Chronicle. Asik was reportedly upset about his changing role following the team's trade for Dwight Howard.

Q. Are you concerned about how he reacts to all this? There were indications he was not happy about having another center coming in.

A. I didn't know Omer was the general manager. That surprises me. He's a player. His job is to come in and play. I haven't had an opportunity to talk with him about all that, but Daryl (Morey's) job is to try to improve the team. Omer's job is not to wonder how that affects him. His job is to figure out how they can play together and be effective.

• We mocked up some of the NBA's proposed "nickname jerseys" earlier this week. Paul Lukas of Uni Watch notes that NBA players actually wore their nicknames on their jerseys way back in the day.

• Speaking of jerseys, the Mavericks are having a design contest for their new duds. View the options and vote here.

• Miley Cyrus, of all people, stars in "23," a rap song that serves as a tribute to Michael Jordan, the man and the shoe. The lyrics are NSFW. Cyrus, 20, was not born until after the Bulls legend won his first two titles.

• The Associated Press reports that Thunder GM Sam Presti dodged questions about Russell Westbrook's progress from knee surgery.

"I wouldn't say that he will be (ready) and I wouldn't say that he won't be,'' Presti said. "We've got to see how the next month goes.''

Westbrook tore the lateral meniscus in his right knee when Houston guard Patrick Beverley banged knees with him while Westbrook stopped to call a timeout during Game 2 of the first-round NBA playoff series. Westbrook had surgery April 27.

"He's on pace, to this point, in the recovery process, but we're not going to put a specific timetable on his return, simply because it's just too big of a decision,'' Presti said. "His health is most important, not just for this season, but for many years to come. He's done an excellent job in showing unbelievable discipline and rigor through the process. We expect him to come back at full strength, but he's got to finish the rest of the benchmarks.''

Westbrook has had no unexpected setbacks while rehabilitating the knee, Presti said.

• Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk writes that Raptors forward/center Amir Johnson went above and beyond to support Drake's new album.

• Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com reports that no one has heard from Gerald Wallace since he was traded by the Nets to the Celtics.

Back in July, when the Boston Celtics formally introduced the players acquired from the Brooklyn Nets as part of this summer’s nine-player blockbuster swap, small forward Gerald Wallace was absent, excused from the press conference to attend the start of his youth basketball camp in his native Alabama.

Seventy-three days later, with training camp less than a week away, the former All-Star still hasn’t made an appearance at his new basketball home. So when a reporter noted to Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge on Tuesday that Wallace remains an intriguing figure because he hasn’t spoken to the media, Ainge smiled and offered, “I’m right there with you. I’m anxious to meet Gerald.”

• Amazing story from the San Antonio Express-News: Aron Baynes, Matt Bonner and Tiago Splitter of the Spurs recently played wheelchair basketball against war veterans, and got crushed.

• The Blazers trolled Raymond Felton really hard on Twitter.

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