Lakers players (from left to right) Lamar Odom, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton… (Kirby Lee / U.S. Presswire )
The trade deadline came and went Thursday. The Lakers stuck with what they had all along.
Were they close to a deal?
"Nothing of significance," Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said Thursday. "You can always look at the bottom of your roster. There were a couple [minor] things that came across my desk that we considered seriously."
There have been solid victories this season (in Boston and in Portland) and also embarrassing losses (including at Cleveland), but Kupchak believes in his veteran unit that has been to the NBA Finals the last three seasons. "Yes, I do like the roster as it is and they certainly deserve a chance to defend their title," he said.
The Lakers will, however, look into adding a veteran player who is waived over the next few days. It's a speculative list, but power forward Troy Murphy and small forward Jason Kapono might be bought out by their teams by next Tuesday, the deadline for players to be waived and still be eligible for playoffs with another team.
"We're going to pay attention," Kupchak said. "Typically, the guys that get waived are veterans on bad teams in the last year of a deal and they go to their general manager and beg to be released."
Even if the Lakers don't sign a waived player, they have one coming back next week when reserve forward Matt Barnes returns from knee surgery.
"I think we miss his energy and just as importantly, he's not a player that you have to call plays for," Kupchak said. "He's just one of those guys out there creating opportunities for himself."
Kupchak liked how the Lakers came out of the All-Star break, defeating Atlanta with ease and Portland in overtime, but remained cautious.
"We've been through this before," he said. "Just when you think we've turned the corner, we hit a [bad] stretch. I've said it once, I'll say it again, I think I see light, I think I see signs of a team being a little more consistent, but it's too early."
Meanwhile, scores of trades popped up around the league in the final hours leading up to the deadline. "As long as I've been in the league, it's probably the most active trade deadline I've seen," Kobe Bryant said.
One of particular interest to the Lakers: Boston sent beefy center Kendrick Perkins and quick point guard Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for light-rebounding power forward Jeff Green and delicate center Nenad Kristic. Oklahoma City also acquired rugged backup center Nazr Mohammed from Charlotte.
"That's been something they've been talking about for a couple of years, to get some beef down there in the lane," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said of the Thunder. "They think more about defensively and rebounding-wise having a presence down there and a picker. That's what they got [with Perkins], a real body that they run off picks with."
Jackson also tweaked Boston Coach Doc Rivers, who suggested that the Celtics would have won last season's NBA Finals against the Lakers had Perkins not been injured early in Game 6.
"Doc had touted the fact that the starting five had never lost a playoff series," Jackson said, his sarcasm starting to increase. "I'm sure most everybody has heard it in the NBA, that this starting five has never lost a playoff series. Well, they go down without ever having lost a playoff series."
The Lakers play Friday against the Clippers, with the winner taking a 2-1 edge in the season series. There's definitely a different feel to the rivalry thanks to rookie Blake Griffin.
"I think it's more entertaining now," Bryant said. "They've always played us tough just because of the rivalry … but I think with him being here, it adds more energy to it because you know you might see something that you haven't seen before."