Sports Out West

Lakers news: Mitch Kupchak says players won’t give up

Photo Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times / November 22, 2013

As the Los Angeles Lakers continue to struggle as they now have a 14-22 record, general manager Mitch Kupchak believes the players on the team will not give up on the season, according to Dave Mcmenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Los Angeles has been struggling as of late as they have lost their last nine out of 10 games and are six games back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but Kupchak feels that the team regardless of the circumstances will give it their all every game.

“I know the coaches are never, ever going to give up, and no matter who is on the court, everybody has something invested in this team — the players and the staff,” Kupchak told ESPNLosAngeles.com in a phone interview Wednesday. “The players, this is their legacy. Some of them are going for contracts. Some of them are defined by win-loss records. And I would expect them to play hard, as hard as they can possibly play, no matter what our record is.”

The Lakers’ lack of success on the court can be tied to the health problems they have had this season with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Xavier Henry, Jordan Farmar, and Steve Blake all out with injuries. This would give the team even more reason to struggle, but for Kupchak Los Angeles’ problems do not lie with their effort on the court.

“I can’t say that there’s been a game that we gave up and didn’t play hard,” Kupchak said. “For obvious reasons — travel, etc. — some days you have more energy than others, but our locker room is a good locker room and by and large, they’re diving for loose balls and they’re trying. Sometimes the mental part kicks in and you think you’re trying, but maybe you’re not because you’re tired or you’ve had back-to-backs or you’re traveling or you’re reading about yourself in the paper — and I’m not talking about Pau, I’m just talking in general.”

“Trade talk in general is not good for anybody, even if it’s not your name. But I haven’t sensed that players have thrown in the towel, and they won’t. They have too much at stake.”

Kupchak also discussed forward/center Pau Gasol’s recent trade rumors floating around about a possible swap of the big man for former Lakers center Andrew Bynum from the Cleveland Cavaliers, which did not come to fruition as Bynum was dealt to the Chicago Bulls for Luol Deng.

With the trade talk over Gasol’s head for the past two weeks, Kupchak believes the four-time All-Star handled the situation great by what he thinks is his best basketball of the season thus far.

I think he’s played some of his best basketball in the last two weeks, and I know that sinus thing set him back probably 10 days,” Kupchak said of Gasol, who was averaging 22 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 3.0 blocks in his last four games entering Wednesday. “I’m sure going through the rumor mill is not fun. It looked to me like he fought through it, and I think his best basketball is yet to come.”

So with 1o games still remaining in January that includes a seven-game road trip, Kupchak is ready to do whatever his job will require if the Lakers struggle or succeed for the remainder of the season.

“I don’t know where it’s going to end up,” Kupchak said. “I know our January schedule is not an easy schedule and I know we’re beat up, but the important message to the coaches and the players is to just give your best every game and we’ll let the chips fall as they may.”

“I’m going to do my job, whatever that is, I’ll take a lot into consideration. Jim [Buss, the Lakers vice president of player personnel] and I talk on a daily basis and we’ll just evaluate – not after every game, we’ll go through segments – and maybe we look to do something, maybe we don’t. But I just expect our players, and they will, to play hard and to compete and they’ll be fun to watch if they do that.”

Kupchak, as he has proven in the past, is going to make moves according to what is best for the organization. So with the team continuing to have a lack of success on the court, it would not be surprising if he dealt Gasol or made any additional roster moves to the team this season.

Ultimately what it comes down to is that the Lakers are a marquee franchise, and Kupchak will do what he feels is best for the team to keep them relevant.

Photo Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times / November 22, 2013

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia is a sports journalist from Southern California. He was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.

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