HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Trade Dwight Howard? Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak says nope.
In an interview with Newsday, Kupchak, a Long Island native, said he’s prepared to stand pat across the board with his underachieving, but star-studded Lakers team as they prepare for the fourth of seven consecutive road games at the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night.
Asked about his remaining options to salvage this season, Kupchak said: “We will not make a trade. We will not trade Dwight Howard. We have no intention of making a trade. It’s unlikely that we’ll make any trade with any of our principal players. To make another change at this time of the year being behind the eight-ball like we are, I think that would just make it more difficult. The talent is there. We have to find our way.”
Of course, this time of year it’s not exactly healthy to take a GM at his word. But it’s not as if Kupchak has much of a choice either. Unless the Lakers are receiving undeniable signs that Howard will walk away this summer, which will be his right as a free agent, they can’t give up on the league’s most physically dominating big man who just turned 27 in December.
So trade the unhappy Pau Gasol? Kupchak has no real choice here either because just as they don’t have a definitive clue that Howard will run away this summer, they also aren’t certain the mercurial one will be back. Kupchak can’t trade Gasol now and then risk losing Howard later after having traded Andrew Bynum.
The only deck shuffling that makes sense for the Lakers is to somehow acquire a solid 3-point shooter who can fit into Mike D’Antoni‘s offense. Although at this point it’s tough to tell how much, if any, of D’Antoni’s offense is actually being implemented since Kobe Bryant changed his stripes to become Mr. Facilitator.
Kupchak is right, this team has to find its own way out of the his mess. Lest we forget, even with Howard’s ailing shoulder, a 22-26 record and sitting 3 1/2 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot, the Lakers aren’t scraping the bottom of the talent barrel.