Lakers' Mitch Kupchak Needs to Hunt for New Blood
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There is nothing at all moral about a moral victory in professional sports. Maybe in college football, when an out-manned underdog from Division II loses by a point or two to a Division I power, sure they can talk about a moral victory.
But for a professional team to claim a moral victory is–well–immoral. It’s like taking your cousin to the prom and claiming that she’s your girlfriend. Okay, it’s better than taking your sister, but the truth is, you still don’t have a legitimate girlfriend.
Some local sports commentators are like that. They would like fans to believe that the 89-88 loss to the Spurs at the Staples Center is proof positive that the Lakers would extend the Spurs to a seven-game series in the playoffs. They have even claimed that the Lakers would take the series.
Seems to me somebody brought their cousin to the prom.
These same commentators were enthused by the Lakers' last-minute victory over the Hornets in New Orleans and predicted a successful 6-1 road trip.
They glossed over the fact that the Hornets had two starters out and that the Lakers should have won going away. Too many times this year the Lakers have barely won against teams they should have buried.
Whether you want to believe it or not, the Lakers are in trouble.
It was not just the recent loss to the Spurs and the blowout by the Celtics that are troubling, but the loss to the Sacramento Kings at home and two earlier losses to Memphis, one a blowout at the Staples Center, that expose the problem.
This team needs a transfusion to energize it. But there is no Red Cross to be found in the NBA. No charitable organization among the 30 NBA teams willing to give the Lakers another Pau Gasol.
Since that Gasol trade some three years ago, Mitch Kupchak has drained the Lakers of most of their young blood.
Ronny Turief not re-signed. Trevor Ariza let go in favor of a much older Ron Artest. Jordan Farmar, averaging 9.5 points for the Nets, let go in favor of an older Steve Blake, averaging 4.5 points. Sasha Vujacic, averaging 8.1 points for New Jersey, let go along with a first-round draft choice for 35-year-old Joe Smith, who isn’t even playing.
Now when the Lakers can really use some youth to infuse the team with much needed energy, there is hardly any left. Besides Shannon Brown, all the Lakers have is a center, who manages to take two months off every year and is rarely on the court in crunch time, and two late second-rounders, that are not long for the NBA.
With little at his disposal, can Count Kupchak fly through the ranks of the NBA and sink his teeth into some young blood?
No one would trade for Artest and his contract. Bynum, perhaps. He has one year left and a second year as a club option. Shannon Brown signed a one plus one contract and, therefore, has the right to reject a trade. Need I even mention Luke Walton and his two points per game.
That doesn’t leave the Count much room to deal.
He may need to hunt through the NBA graveyards where those who did not make the grade go to ply their wares. Places like the D-League, the IBL, the Euroleague and beyond.
It is a race against time. The night is short, and the sun is soon to rise. The Count needs to return with that infusion of lifeblood before the Spurs, Mavericks or Thunder drive a stake through the heart of Phil Jackson’s third three-peat.
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