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Kupchak insists Lakers won't tank, gives D'Antoni vote of confidence

February 13, 2014|By Mike Bresnahan
  • The Lakers are likely headed for a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft, but General Manager Mitch Kupchak said the team will not be tanking to improve the Lakers' chance of getting a high first-round draft pick.
The Lakers are likely headed for a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft,… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

The Lakers won't try to lose games to improve their draft position, General Manager Mitch Kupchak said Thursday.

"Winning is never a bad thing," he said. "If you try to manipulate the draft, I'm not a karma guy, but if you try to manipulate this thing, it never works out the way you think it's going to work out.

"You're better off doing what you know is the right thing to do and whatever happens happened for the right reason. And that’s our approach."

The Lakers (18-34) had the NBA's fifth-worst record before playing Oklahoma City on Thursday.

Despite their record, Kupchak gave a vote of confidence to Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni, just as he did on other occasions this season.

"Under very trying circumstances, I think he's done a great job," Kupchak said. "Our players continue to play as hard as possible and compete in every game.

"After games, if we do lose, their heads go down and they're upset. There's no music playing, there's no guys walking out of the locker room with a hop in their step. It bothers them to lose."

Kupchak declined to second-guess the ill-fated Steve Nash trade with Phoenix in July 2012, saying he would "absolutely" have done it 10 times out of 10.

"No regrets," Kupchak said. "You have to recognize where you are as a franchise. We felt we had a two-year window, maybe three, to go for a championship, and that's what we did.

"Looking back on it, which nobody can do, that's a different story. But at the time, we knew exactly what we were doing."

Nash has played in only 60 of the Lakers' 135 games since being acquired for two first-round draft picks. He has one more year on his contract for $9.7 million.


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