Dwight Howard (L) walks with General Manager Mitch Kupchak of the Los Angeles Lakers being introduced as the newest member of the Lakers at a news conference at the Toyota Sports Center on August 10, 2012 in El Segundo, California. The Lakers acquired Howard from Orlando Magic in a four-team trade.
Lakers’ general manager Mitch Kupchak spoke with ESPN Los Angeles on Tuesday and revealed that he and other top members of Lakers’ management have the “utmost confidence” in coach Mike D’Antoni, and they do not entirely fault the coach for the poor play.
“It's the coach's job to adjust and to make changes,” Kupchak said. “Sometimes a player is just not going to fit. Sometimes a coach has to make changes and compromise in the way he's done things and I think that's what Mike is going through right now is just the process."
Kupchak was not as understanding when it came to the players. He questioned their effort on the court without placing blame on the coach.
"I'm a little bit concerned about our effort," Kupchak said clearly. "I'd like to see better effort on the court.”
The Lakers’ GM also reminded fans that this team has been struggling since Day One of the season (or preseason, rather). They have never looked near the level most imagined when the roster was constructed. Regardless of the coach on the bench, the Lakers have just been a bit off the pace.
"I'm not sure there have been recent struggles," Kupchak said referring to the Lakers’ current three-game losing streak. "We've struggled from Day One. It's not like we played good ball and then all of the sudden the last three to four weeks, we're starting to struggle. We have struggled from Day One and it's frustrating for everybody."
Kupchak also discussed the upcoming trade deadline, but he sent a clear message that Lakers fans should not expect anything to occur until the trade deadline approaches.
“It's unusual if things heat up five or four weeks out,” Kupchak said. “Typically, as you approach the trade deadline, people get serious and they really begin to understand and know their team and they have a pretty good feel of what's out there.”
With Kupchak clearing D’Antoni of blame, backing the coach in his recent drastic changes, and lamenting in the players’ lack of effort, the message that a trade may be coming is hard to miss. At the moment, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard are the Lakers’ best trade assets.
However, the real message appears to be that fans should be patient and wait until the trade deadline because the NBA is a “deadline-oriented league,” so even if this team continues to play itself out of the playoffs, a trade in not imminent.
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