Much has been made of what the team would try to do leading into February 21st. Would the Lakers attempt to trade Pau Gasol? Dwight Howard? Everyone (kidding)?
Sitting 3.5 games outside the Western Conference playoff picture wasn’t where Los Angeles was supposed to be. And change was thought to be the only way to combat an increasingly complex dynamic.
Or maybe not.
Per Steven Marcus of Newsday, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has said the team will not be making any moves as we near the trade deadline:
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.”
If nothing else, Kupchak’s latest assertions should quell any concerns that the Lakers were contemplating trading away what was supposed to be their future in Howard. There seemed to be a growing belief that Los Angeles was no longer the lock it originally was to sign the big man and would thus try to capitalize off his departure.
But that was never going to happen. Short of Howard himself demanding a trade, he was never going anywhere.
What is interesting here is Kupchak’s generalization. Not only did he note that the Lakers wouldn’t trade Dwight, but that they had “no intention of making a trade” whatsoever. He could obviously go back on his word if the right deal presents itself, yet that doesn’t read like a man who is actively shopping Pau.
After being relegated to bench duty, Gasol has been admittedly unhappy. He’s made no attempt to hide his emotions and the unpleasantries that have become some of his postgame comments seemed to pave the way for his departure, a departure that seemed inevitable.
Barring a surprise championship run, I still see the Lakers dealing Gasol at some point. It could be this summer, in the middle of next season or we could even see Kupchak eat his words and pull the trigger on a deal this year. That Los Angeles isn’t actively shopping Gasol (or even Howard) is huge, though. It shows that its prepared to finish the season with who it has, eradicating any other teams’ hope that the Lakers would sell low and blow it up at the deadline.
Will Kupchak’s words hold true by deadline’s end? Are the Lakers destined to stand pat?
Maybe, but maybe not.
What’s important here is that there doesn’t appear to be any sense of desperation being conveyed on the the Lakers’ behalf.
That at the very least, doing nothing is actually a strong possibility.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.