Lakers GM Kupchak didn’t think Howard trade would happen, either

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You think you were frustrated during the Dwightmare…

The Lakers wanted to land Dwight Howard — it was the one guy they would move Andrew Bynum to get and see it as an upgrade, and Bynum’s value might never be higher — so they were in. They talked to Rob Hennigan (the young Orland GM) and the Magic starting July. 1

But speaking in some detail about how the trade came together to Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register, Kupchak said he was frustrated and thought all this work would be fruitless, too.

“I just never felt that there was a deal that (the Magic) thought that they would do,” Kupchak said. “Without going into great detail, I just felt the Magic were just canvassing the league, which is the job. … I didn’t think there would be a deal. It got really quiet a couple weeks ago. Before that, it was very crazy – and then it just died. So we had kind of moved on.

“We had signed Jordan Hill. We had signed Antawn Jamison. And we thought it was over.”

The Lakers were going to come back with Steve Nash at the point and the same cast of characters. And they would have been better. But they would not have instantly been better than the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Now, with Howard, they may well be. The Thunder have proved how good they can be (and they should be better, they have young improving stars). Meanwhile this new Lakers core has yet to prove they can pull it all together, yet to prove that Howard’s back (and Nash’s back and Kobe Bryant’s knees) will hold up for the campaign.

But the Lakers have to be mentioned as title contenders now. And no GM had a better summer than Mitch Kupchak. Even if he wasn’t convinced it would work out.