Lakers left with mess to clean up
Updated: 2011-12-14 07:58
Lamar Odom (right) is headed to Dallas, and Kobe Bryant and the Lakers are picking up the pieces. "I don't like it," Bryant said. [Photo/Agencies]
Mitch Kupchak feels he got stuck in a quagmire created by the NBA when the Los Angeles Lakers' disallowed trade for Chris Paul forced the general manager to ship out Lamar Odom in another hasty deal.
Although Kupchak believes the Lakers can emerge from this messy start to training camp with few worries, he isn't done looking at dramatic ways to upgrade his team.
"We are pursuing big deals right now, yes," Kupchak said on Monday. "That has not changed. More than one big deal, but there could be more than one big deal that involves players other than the two you're thinking of."
Kupchak realizes Lakers fans are questioning everything from his planning skills to his sanity after he traded the versatile Odom to the rival Dallas Mavericks for not much in return on Sunday. The executive insists his decision was made to escape a rapidly deteriorating situation with Odom, saying the Sixth Man of the Year demanded a trade after learning the Lakers attempted to ship him to New Orleans in a three-team deal for Paul.
"Lamar is probably more sensitive and emotional than most people, in particular our players, and that's a plus more than it's a minus," Kupchak said of Odom, who won two championships with the Lakers. "But in this case, he couldn't get over the fact that something like that took place. We were hoping that things would change in a day or two, but his representative called me on Saturday and said it's not going to change, and requested that (Odom) be traded. We worked together to find a spot that would give us the most flexibility going forward."
Kupchak believes he made the best available moves in unprecedented circumstances during the Lakers' frenetic four days since they attempted to acquire Paul last Thursday, only to have the NBA squash the deal. Kupchak is stunned and angry about Commissioner David Stern's decision.
"Completely unexpected," Kupchak said. "I'm not sure it's ever happened before. I'm not sure if it will ever happen again. It's unique circumstances with the organization being run by the NBA, so I was completely surprised, and we did the best we can to express our displeasure."
Kobe Bryant, for one, wasn't happy with the trade.
"To be honest with you, I don't like it," Bryant said. "It's tough to lose Lamar. Pau (Gasol) is still here, and we're all thankful for that. It's hard when you've been through so many battles with players to just see them go somewhere else. It's tough."
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