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Mitch Kupchak: No imminent signings

LOS ANGELES -- It has been a month since Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told reporters the team was still "pursuing big deals" in the aftermath of the vetoed Chris Paul trade that resulted in Lamar Odom ultimately being shipped to Dallas as a consequence.

Things have died down since then.

"We're in a different time frame right now," Kupchak told ESPNLosAngeles.com before the Lakers hosted the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday. "You're talking about a period of time when there was free agency and everybody was scrambling to put together their rosters and sign players and deal with the issues that were out there. We're into the season now, so generally speaking, when you're into the season things slow down and people typically want to see how their team looks. So, without being specific, that's where we are."

The Lakers have a full 15-man roster at the moment and would need to release a player to add one of the veteran free agents on the market. Accomplished NBA contributors Gilbert Arenas and Joel Przybilla are still without a team and Yahoo! Sports reported Rasheed Wallace is considering coming out of retirement to sign somewhere.

"We don't expect to sign anybody any time soon," Kupchak said.

The Lakers received an $8.9 million trade exception when they traded Odom to the Mavericks. The exception is valid until Dec. 11, 2012, a year from the day Odom was dealt. Kupchak said he was not "determined" to use the exception. The Lakers received a trade exception worth about $5 million last season when they traded Sasha Vujacic to the New Jersey Nets for Joe Smith that they let expire without using.

"It's an asset that's available," Kupchak said. "When they put those new rules in 15-18 years ago where you if you had to make a trade, you had to take something back within 25 percent [of the players' salaries you were trading]. ... When they put that rule in, making a trade completely changed. Now the numbers had to work, even if you agreed on talent between the two GMs, the numbers had to work. So, to make a deal became that much more difficult.

"So, that equation is out the window [with the trade exception]. Now we have the ability to just take a player or we can give a player, we can take a pick, we can take nobody back. So it gives you flexibility, but there's no guarantee that we'll use it."

Kupchak said he spent almost 30 straight days coming into the office, many times staying for close to 17 or 18 hours, when the trade winds reached a frenzied pace before the season but things have gotten back to normal in recent weeks.

Now the top priority taking up his time is preparing for the 2012 NBA draft. The Lakers will have two first-round picks this June after receiving Dallas' first-round selection as a part of the Odom trade.

Kupchak recently returned from a scouting trip to the East coast where he saw five games in five nights, mostly featuring teams in the Big East conference.

"It's the only way to do it," Kupchak said.

On Saturday he will attend Loyola Marymount's home game against Gonzaga and follow the Lakers' game against the Los Angeles Clippers on his cell phone.

Some days, when a top prospect is playing against San Diego State or the University of San Diego, Kupchak will come into the office in El Segundo, stay until 2 p.m., drive down to San Diego to catch the game and then drive back up to Los Angeles after the game has ended.

He also regularly scouts players at UCLA and USC home games.

Kupchak said he has several more trips planned, including one in the Southeast to catch prospects playing in the ACC and the SEC as well as a trip to Europe to scope out foreign talent.

All of the extra scouting duties fell into Kupchak's lap this season in part because the Lakers laid off a cadre of employees during the lockout.

The Lakers did not renew assistant GM Ronnie Lester's contract when it expired and Lester's position has gone unfilled this season. They also cut down their scouting department significantly. Gone are Gene Tormohlen, Irving Thomas, Adam Filippi, Gary Boyson and Kevin Grevey, while Ryan West (Jerry West's son), Jesse Buss (Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss' son) and longtime team employee Bill Bertka remain. The Lakers later hired Antonio Maceiras, based in Barcelona, Spain to replace Filippi in heading up international scouting.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.