Nearly a week after bowing out of the Chris Paul sweepstakes and 3 full days after making the most controversial decision of his general managerial career, Mitch Kupchak stays calculated and collected as he addressed the media regarding the Lamar Odom trade and what he’s planning to do with the roster before the start of the NBA season on Christmas.
Kupchak’s attempt to trade both Odom and Pau Gasol to acquire Paul means the Lakers as a franchise is ready to make huge changes for the future. It makes perfect sense considering Kobe Bryant is entering the twilight of his career (I say “entering” since who knows when he’ll actually retire or become absolutely useless.) and that the Laker front office might not have another opportunity to snag a legitimate future franchise player while having this much bargaining chips.
After sending Odom to the Dallas Mavericks, Kupchak met with some members of the media at the Lakers training facility and firmly assured everyone that he and Jim Buss are hard at work “pursuing big deals right now“. The following day, the Lakers signed athletic guard/forward Gerald Green, forward Malcolm Thomas (San Diego State) and former Pacer forward Josh McRoberts.
Not exactly the kind of signing Laker fans wanted to hear after being teased of having another superstar to play alongside Kobe in the backcourt. But it’s clear the players involved could very well be pieces of a package to entice either Orlando or New Orleans to give up their unhappy superstar.
Trying to acquire Paul the second time could be easier since the Hornets’ (or if you prefer, Commissioner David Stern) ridiculous attempt to exchange the superstar guard for basically a starting lineup and then some from the Clippers failed. With the Clippers picking up former Knick Chauncey Billups off waivers, Stern and the Hornets have a slim to none leverage to coerce GM Neil Oshley into giving to their demands.
That’s probably the opportunity Kupchak and the Lakers have been waiting for.
Of the two prized superstars, Paul is the one who’d rather be anywhere else before he even entertains the idea to think about signing an extension at the end of the season. The Hornets know that and will do everything they can to get the best deal they can get before the start of the season. So it’s possible the Hornets would be willing to negotiate with the Lakers without the involvement of another team or so. That would be most likely Gasol, their 2 trade exemptions ($8.9 and $5.4 million), Steve Blake and/or drafted or future picks.
With the Magic giving Howard to think about his trade demands by taking him off of the trading block, Kupchak can focus on pursuing Paul once again. If the Clippers continue to give the Hornets the cold shoulder, the Lakers’ chances of landing Paul should improve tremendously.
There are, of course, never any promises in any dealings with any player, but especially the superstars. However, after hearing that the Lakers are going after Paul AND Howard and seeing Odom go to their most hated nemesis in the west for nothing, you can’t blame Laker fans to not only get excited about having a new superstar but also feel obligated to have another superstar.
Will Kupchak deliver the perfect Christmas gift to Laker fans?
With all the time he’s been taking, I really hope so.