General Manager Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers are under the media glare with… (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles…)
General Manager Mitch Kupchak is never one to smash the glass and start punching the panic button. He isn’t doing it now despite the Lakers’ 1-4 start.
He recognizes the issues surrounding the team. The Lakers are dead last in the Western Conference despite the largest payroll in the NBA — $100 million in player salary plus another $30 million in projected luxury taxes.
"Expectations are high, there's no doubt. The city is impatient," Kupchak said Thursday in a phone interview with The Times. "At what point do you lose patience? Is it 1-15? Is it a higher number? A lesser number? I don't know right now. But we have a game Friday night and we're going to win it and try to build off that."
The Lakers haven't started out 1-4 since 1993. They play host Friday to Golden State, a young and quick team trying to make a statement in a road game at Staples Center.
The Lakers are neither young nor fast. They also aren't lighting up NBA stat sheets. They are 16th in the league in points per game and 19th in points allowed. They are committing 18.6 turnovers a game, third-worst in the NBA.
Their latest loss came Wednesday against Utah, 95-86. They shot 33.8%.
"We haven't put together a game on both ends of the ball yet," Kupchak said. "[Wednesday] night we had a great eight- or nine-minute defensive run but we couldn't score. So we just haven't been able to put it all together yet. You always hope through hard work and practice that the next game will start a streak. That's exactly what this team is doing. They're working hard."
Kupchak also said the Lakers had "some bumps and bruises."
Dwight Howard has played five games since undergoing back surgery last April. Steve Nash has missed three games because of a small fracture in his left leg. Kobe Bryant has managed to play through a strained right foot.
Kupchak, in his 13th season as the Lakers' head of basketball operations, said he understood the reaction of Lakers fans.
"Nothing's unfair. Everybody has an opinion and they have a right to their opinion," he said. "You’re free to decide what you think is fair and not fair.
"I think it's fair to say after five games we didn't think we'd be 1-4 but we have a lot of new players, we have some injured players and we’re introducing some new concepts. All these things get factored in. We'll continue to monitor the team and we understand expectations."
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