Thursday, June 23, 2011
Updated: June 24, 11:35 AM ET
Mitch Kupchak downplays trade talk
By Dave McMenamin
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers were mentioned in various trade scenarios in the days leading up to the NBA draft, but general manager Mitch Kupchak dismissed the speculation as nothing but rumors on Thursday.
Not only did Kupchak debunk the validity of the rumored trades that had the Lakers shopping Lamar Odom to Minnesota and Philadelphia, but he pointed the finger at why they could have surfaced.
"I think other teams have been exploring major moves with us," Kupchak said when asked if the Lakers were actively pursuing deals to shake up their roster. "I'm not exactly sure where it all came from, but prior to our exit in the playoffs a prominent member of the media suggested that we 'blow up' our team.
"I think that created an avalanche of expectations with other teams that we were looking to do things and I think we've been pretty consistent over the last month or so that it's not our goal right now to look to break up this team. Certainly we'll explore opportunities but we're not up there dialing 27, 28 teams and saying, 'What would you do for these players?' That's not what we're doing."
That prominent media member was former Lakers great and current Lakers vice president Magic Johnson, who critiqued the team while working as an ESPN analyst during a broadcast that aired a day before Los Angeles was swept out of the second round of the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks.
"You have to come back with some fresh faces," Johnson said after his "blow up" quote. "You have to pick between the two big men with which one you keep and then you trade the other one."
Kupchak also pegged the rumors on player agents pushing the agendas of their clients through the media.
"A lot of the stuff that you read in the last two days, unfortunately, is agent-driven," Kupchak said. "Nowadays, agents think a good way to consummate a trade would be to suggest publicly ideas that they come up with and I think that's a part of the problem as well.
"Based on the rumors we've heard the last week or so, I don't anticipate any of those things to take place today, tomorrow or the next day."
What Kupchak did anticipate to address with the Lakers' four second-round picks (Nos. 41, 46, 56 and 58) was some backcourt help because he expects guard Shannon Brown to opt out of his contract worth approximately $2.4 million next season and explore free agency.
"Shannon Brown has still not decided whether to opt [out] or extend his contract," Kupchak said. "My guess is, and it's only a guess, is that he will decide not to extend one more year. But, not knowing what the answer is at this time, we'll probably look to add a player to our backcourt."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.