It should be a fun few weeks in Lakerland as the trade deadline approaches. After the Lakers struggled through the first half, the team sits in 12th place in the Western Conference, four games out of a playoff spot. Trade rumors are already swirling around Pau Gasol and even Dwight Howard, but the club doesn't appear ready to make a major splash at the moment. General manager Mitch Kupchak spoke to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com about the team's coach, its problems, and the possibility of a trade, so let's check out the notable quotes from Kupchak….
On the job Mike D'Antoni has done with the Lakers:
"Without a doubt, we have utmost confidence in Mike as a coach. I think if you spoke to him, his vision on day one was dramatically different than it is today. It's the coach's job to adjust and to make changes. Sometimes a player is just not going to fit. Sometimes a coach has to make changes and compromise in the way he's done things and I think that's what Mike is going through right now is just the process.
"It's not like he started a week or two ago trying to figure this thing out He's been searching for combinations now for probably six to eight weeks. Understandably, I think the longer the season goes the more is at stake and the bigger hole you dig, the more dramatic your adjustments or your take on coaching has to become. I think that's what he's doing. He's grabbing every rabbit out of the hat trying to look for something that works."
On Kupchak's own concerns about the Lakers:
"I'm a little bit concerned about our effort. I'd like to see better effort on the court. When the ball is not bouncing your way, when shots aren't going in, you just can't seem to get a break, the one thing you can control on the court is your effort and loose balls and running the floor, defending, offensive rebounding. I think back to the Miami game and I have that vision of Lebron [James] diving on that ball at midcourt. That's effort. It's natural when things get tough to hesitate and be unsure, lose confidence. That's one thing that we can't let happen. We have to maintain our confidence and our effort more than anything has to be at an all-time to get through this period."
On the timeline for a possible trade:
"Typically, it's unusual, although there was a trade [Tuesday], it's unusual if things heat up five or four weeks out. Typically, as you approach the trade deadline, people get serious and they really begin to understand and know their team and they have a pretty good feel of what's out there. So, I don't think we're at the point where you say, 'It's time for a trade,' and a trade happens in three or four days. That's just not how this league works. I read somebody somewhere a week or so ago said, 'This is a deadline-oriented league,' and I think that's true even though there are exceptions. That's certainly one way to address the problem, to look into changing players."
On whether a trade is the answer:
"Part of the frustrating thing about this season to date is that I just can't, or we just can't, put our finger on the problem. We mentioned a bunch of them and even getting through the injuries and the (roster) changes and the coaching changes and you just try look at the players and how they fit together, is there something that's missing? I could look at our group and nitpick and say that we could use something here or a better shooter there, but the bottom line is that the group as whole, we have not performed to the level of our ability.
"It's not like we don't have a player at a certain position and if we added a player — an eighth guy or a ninth guy — all of the sudden our record is going to go from 17 and whatever it is to 30-11. That's not going to happen by adding a bench shooter or a defensive player. You know what I mean? That's not going to happen. We're underachieving for other reasons, not because we're missing a bench player. Certainly you can add a bench player and become a better team, or hopefully a better team, but that's not the reason why our record is what it is. We should be better than our record says we are. But there's a saying in this league, and I'm sure you've heard this saying, 'You are what your record says you are.'"