A few days ago, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak looked like a hero with his efforts to put Paul in purple and gold. With another infamous Dan Gilbert letter and an obvious David Stern mistake, the NBA nixed the deal and training camp began as scheduled.
Basketball is a business, but there are times when teams completely mishandle a situation, such as the Lakers did with Lamar Odom. It is always awkward when a trade falls through, whether it be for medical reasons, or in this case, Stern not wanting the Hornets to give up their superstar quite yet.
Odom had every right to be upset. This guy did everything that was asked of him and more. He came off the bench when Bynum was healthy, consistently contributing and controlling the second unit off the bench.
He just won the Sixth Man of the Year Award. Given all of the off-the-court press his life receives, he had arguably his best season of his career. He posted 14.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game coming off the bench.
The Lakers needed to clear cap and did receive picks for Odom, but did they really need to make this deal with the Mavericks?
These are the same Dallas Mavericks who swept the Lakers in an embarrassing fashion. The same team they will be competing with all year for playoff seeding, and a possible rematch in the postseason.
There was no way the Lakers were going to hold onto Odom after the Paul trade fell through, but the situation could have been handled the right way. Odom even mentioned he was unaware he was involved in the trade and was not contacted by any team personnel. He eventually asked for a trade when he reported to camp, knowing he could not recover from the failed trade attempt.
Kobe Bryant went on a mini-tirade with the media expressing his displeasure with the trade of Odom, especially to the team he was dealt to. Bryant never referenced the Mavericks by name, commonly referring them to “that team.”
"I trust management knows what they're doing," Bryant said. "I'll let them do their jobs and I'll never get in the way of it, but, it's tough.”
Kupchak is putting all his eggs into Dwight Howard’s basket. The Magic will reportedly only trade Howard if the team takes on Hedo Turkoglu’s contract as well.
Odom being sent to the Mavs clears the space for Turkoglu’s contract, but even if the Lakers land Howard they will probably have to give up Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the process.
Even with a lineup that includes Bryant and Howard, the pieces around the two do not seem too promising. Changes needed to be made in Los Angeles, but at what cost?
David Stern not allowing the Paul trade to process was not Kupchak’s fault, but what comes next will be on the Lakers general manger, for better or for worse.
Most teams in the NBA are trying to figure out what they can throw the Magic’s way to land Howard and if the Lakers do not end up with the superstar, look for Kupchak to receive the blame for the disaster of an offseason.