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Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak says he'd consider making a trade

The general manager says he is unhappy with two-time defending champions' play of late, especially in consecutive losses to the lowly Kings and hated Celtics. He doesn't say whether he has talked to any other teams about a possible deal.

January 31, 2011|By Broderick Turner
  • Lakers power forward Pau Gasol confers with coach Phil Jackson and guard Kobe Bryant during a break in Sunday's game against the Celtics.
Lakers power forward Pau Gasol confers with coach Phil Jackson and guard… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said Monday that he's not happy with how the team has played, and he has pondered making a trade to shake things up.

The two-time defending champions lost Sunday to the hated Boston Celtics and Friday night to the lowly Sacramento Kings, with both losses at home, leaving Kupchak in a state of uneasiness about his team.

"Yes . . . I may have to look into a trade, but I'm not saying we have" talked to other teams yet, Kupchak said. "We have not been playing up to our level and I don't know why. Maybe it's complacency. I'm not sure."

The Lakers are 1-5 against the upper-echelon NBA teams, and the way they have lost those games is unsettling to Kupchak. They lost to Boston by 13 points, to Miami by 16, to San Antonio by 15, to Dallas by nine and to Chicago by four.

Overall, the Lakers have dropped four of their last seven games, including losses to under-.500 teams such as the Clippers and Kings. The Lakers are 33-15, with the fifth-best record in the NBA and second-best in the Western Conference.

The Lakers also have a payroll of almost $91 million, the highest in the NBA. So making a trade won't be easy, but Kupchak is not opposed to doing so if he thought it would help the team.

"We do have a lot of talent and when we added [Matt] Barnes and [Steve] Blake, I thought that we had a better team," Kupchak said. "But right now we're not playing good basketball. I think we should be playing better basketball."

Earlier in the day at the Lakers' practice, Coach Phil Jackson retained his easygoing demeanor.

Jackson was asked what approach his team took in preparation for Tuesday night's game against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center.

"Suicide," Jackson joked. "We're going to commit mass suicide."

Jackson then spoke about how teams play with "more energy" against the Lakers, something Pau Gasol echoed.

"Obviously, teams are extra motivated to go against us," Gasol said. "But we have to be extra motivated to defeat everybody else, whoever comes to our home court and on the road as well.

"Everybody seems to be really excited and hungry to play us. But are we excited and hungry to play them? Obviously, you get teams coming in and they are playing the back-to-back champions. But if we want to be champions again, we have to play as champions soon."

Jackson said the Lakers must change their habits on defense and play more consistently.

He was asked when that will happen.

"Oh, I would say April 15 or 17, sometime around there," Jackson joked, referring to when the playoffs start.

The Lakers maintain it's not about turning on the "switch" when the playoffs start.

"That's a bad attitude to have to say we're just going to turn it on," Lamar Odom said. "We don't want that."

Still, Jackson remains optimistic that the Lakers will turn their ship around by the time the playoffs start.

Why?

"Well, we have two years of pretty good records in the playoffs, don't we?" Jackson said, referring to the Lakers' two consecutive NBA championships. "So that's what keeps me optimistic. We have guys that have experience and know what to do."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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