NBA

Kupchak: Lakers standing strong by Pau Gasol

12/11/12 in NBA   |   IvanRogers   |   1352 respect

The Los Angeles Lakers’ season hasn’t gotten any better despite the coaching change (Mike D’Antoni is leading the Lakers 4-7), as the offense picks-up pace with the defense still miles behind. The Pau Gasol trade rumors didn’t make the injury plagued Los Angeles Lakers’ struggles any easier. But in a recent interview Mitch Kupchak sounded definitive about two aspects – Mike D’Antoni’s coaching tenure and Pau Gasol’s stint with the team – that added stability to (9-2) Los Angeles Lakers who rank 11th in the Western Conference.
 
When asked, what did he make of the Los Angeles Lakers’ season so far, Mike D’Antoni hesitated to put a stamp there but acknowledged the team’s disappointing start after a much hyped offseason.
 
“I can’t answer the question. I can’t sit here and say I’m happy with our record. I don’t think that’s a stretch for me or any Laker fan…that’s just stating the obvious,” said Mitch Kupchak. “(But) I’m not sure how you assess this team until you get key players back. I hope they’ll be back soon.”
 
With many starters injured (including point guard Steve Nash with fractured leg, and even backup Steve Blake) the Los Angeles Lakers are hoping for good times to come when they finally return, and things start working out according to plan under Mike D’Antoni’s new system.
 
“He’s not happy with the record he’s had since he’s been here. But there’s been clearly an uptick in the tempo of the game and that’s something we were looking for,” said Mitch Kupchak. “We’re very comfortable with the coach we have.”
 
Meanwhile, forward Pau Gasol is day-to-day with knee tendinitis, and many speculated whether his lineup role would be in jeopardy. But the Los Angeles Lakers have instead Pau Gasol will be given a shot back in the lineup, which is likely given how Mike D’Antoni’s itching to start him along with Steve Nash on the floor.
 
“I’m curious to see how the team gets through the next two or three weeks until Steve gets back,” Mitch Kupchak offered on a healthy Pau Gasol’s adjustment into the team “Once he gets back, then I’m curious to see how he fits in with everybody.”
 
But with the 15th December player trade deadline being lifted, the Los Angeles Lakers could be making some moves and Pau Gasol has without much doubt lost his explosiveness over the last two seasons.
 
“It’s one of several dates that general managers are aware of. It depends on your mindset,” said Mitch Kupchak. “If you’re happy with your team, then the date doesn’t mean much although you will probably get calls anyway. If you’re not happy with your team, you’ll make calls.”
 
The bigger question is whether Pau Gasol is still vital for the Los Angeles Lakers? On the short-run, Mitch Kupchak listed Pau Gasol in the safe as the Los Angeles Lakers intend to stick with the All-Star this season.
 
“That has always been the plan,” said Mike Kupchak. “Nothing has happened to change the plan.”
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