Kobe Bryant wanted Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak to make up his mind — either trade Pau Gasol or say you’re not going to. Which is completely unrealistic, but it plays well in the locker room so he said it.
That was enough to get a rare public statement from Kupchak:
“As a former player, I understand how the days leading up to the trade deadline can be nerve-wracking for an NBA player. Nonetheless, as General Manager of the Lakers, I have a responsibility to ownership, our fans and the players on this team to actively pursue opportunities to improve the team for this season and seasons to come. To say publicly that we would not do this would serve no purpose and put us at a competitive disadvantage. Taking such a course of action at this time would be a disservice to ownership, the team and our many fans.”
Mitch is spot on. It’s also complete GM speak. It’s what 29 other GMs would say in his shoes.
The Lakers as constructed are not title contenders. They need depth and a real point guard. They have two real assets other teams care about. First, the trade exception from the Lamar Odom trade to Dallas (meaning the Lakers can take on $8.9 million salary without sending any back).
The second is Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum. So they will talk to teams about those two. But note this tweet from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports on Monday:
In calling around to front offices today, there sure didn’t seem to be any on-going trade conversations involving Pau Gasol….That doesn’t mean talks aren’t happening, but teams seem convinced Lakers only want a major talent in return — not several lesser parts.
Exactly. The Lakers want to win another ring with Kobe, and Gasol is a guy who has proven valuable in the NBA finals. It’s one thing to ship him out in a deal that nets Chris Paul, it’s something else to be talking Kyle Lowry or even Rajon Rondo. The Lakers are not doing that.
But the talk will continue. And Gasol better get used to it.