HANG TIME, Texas — When the deal finally went down and Superman tied on his cape to fly cross country and join the Lakers, a lot of folks just nodded their heads and figured that’s what was expected all along.
Mitch Kupchak wasn’t one of them. The Lakers general manager tells our man Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register that he had all but given up hope of dressing Dwight Howard up in the purple and gold:
“I just never felt that there was a deal that they 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.”
Kupchak gives credit to Magic GM Rob Hennigan for Howard being in Lakerland. Hennigan was barely weeks on the job in Orlando, yet he developed a plan, was persistent and followed through to the point where he expanded a possible three-team trade that included Philadelphia into a four-team deal that sent Andre Iguodala to Denver to get it all done.
“Looking back on it, he did exactly what he was supposed to do,” Kupchak said. “He took his time. He looked at every opportunity, narrowed it down, negotiated, went back to a different team, negotiated some more, kept on coming back to you.
“I never thought it would be a four-team deal; I thought it might be a three-team deal. So even when I thought there might be a deal there, he went out and found a fourth team to make it a better deal.”
Count Kupchak as surprised. And satisfied.