After the NBA’s trade deadline had passed and the Los Angeles Lakers had only one minor trade to show for it, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak sat down with the media to explain his thought process and where the team stood.
First, Kupchak explained the trade that sent Steve Blake to the Golden State Warriors for two relatively unknown players: MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore.
“Steve Blake has been here almost four years, and as a person, as a player, we love him,” Kupchak explained the deal was strictly business. “Really, got to the point where we needed to free up some time in the backcourt and look at Jordan (Farmar) and give Kendall (Marshall) the time that he’s earned, and let’s review and evaluate where we are with those two players.”
Farmar is playing on a one-year contract, so the Laker are hoping the former UCLA Bruin can stay healthy, display consistency and provide cause to keep him in purple and gold past his current contract. On Friday, Farmar will play only his 25th game of the season out of a possible 55 regular season games.
As for Marshall, he is averaging 12.5 points and 12.2 assists per game as a starter. Giving the second-year point guard extra time on the floor to develop and play more minutes makes sense.
“And the other part of it is we got back two players that are developing,” Kupchak added referring to Bazemore and Brooks.
However, Kupchak and the Lakers failed to make any more moves on the day of the trade deadline. The Lakers did not dump Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill or Chris Kaman for financial relief or draft picks. After Blake was dealt, a fire-sale approach was expected with the Lakers looking for greater financial flexibility.
That never happened.
“We were more concerned with making a basketball deal,” Kupchak explained the Lakers’ mindset as the trade deadline approached. “Yea, if we make a basketball deal or two basketball deals, which means you’re getting back a player you like or you’re getting back a pick and go below the tax threshold, that’s something that we would like to have done.”
However, Kupchak contended that the Lakers were not concerned with the NBA’s Repeater Tax, which penalizes team that repeatedly go over the salary cap. He envisioned the Lakers getting under that threshold in the upcoming season or two.
“Quite frankly, we did have an opportunity to go below the tax threshold, but there were no basketball components, and that’s unacceptable at this organization. I think the expression would be a ‘salary dump.’ That’s not what this organization would do.”
Kupchak was adamant that the Lakers were never interested in simply dumping salary and saving money. For the Lakers, saving money is not the goal.
“If we could have gotten picks or players that we felt good about going forward, then we would have done that. But we did have opportunities to go below the threshold, and we wouldn’t do it.”
With the trade deadline gone, the Lakers are on course to get a high draft pick and enter the summer hoping to attract a big name free agent. For his part, Kupchak sounded confident that the Lakers still possessed enough of a shimmer to attract stars and get back on track.
“We’ll always be in the hunt because of the franchise, ownership, the legacy and the city itself. Los Angeles, our fans, our support here, that’s an advantage we always have.”