Mitch Kupchak Deserves Praise for LA Lakers' Deadline Moves

Kelly Scaletta@@KellyScalettaFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2012

ARCADIA, CA - APRIL 03: General Manager Mitch Kupchak of the Los Angeles Lakers stands in the Winner's Circle before the 73rd running of the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 3, 2010 at Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia, California. (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)
Jeff Golden/Getty Images

Mitch Kupchak got hammered a lot over the last couple of months for the Lakers' struggles. After yesterday, though, he deserves to get a ton of credit. The Lakers arguably had the best trade deadline moves of any team, and Kupchak deserves 100 percent of the credit. 

The Lakers gave up Luke Walton, who had given them 65 minutes all season and was getting paid $5.7 million for doing so, as well as a point guard in Derek Fisher who had served the Lakers well but was well past his prime. As reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN, they also gave up two late first-round draft choices who were going to produce little, if anything, for the last few years of Kobe Bryant's career. 

Even if those picks did land anything close to starting material, they were going to be so late in the draft that they would take at least a year or two of development before they made major contributions to the Lakers. By that time, Kobe Bryant would be 35 or 36. 

I understand that Derek Fisher has a place in Lakers history, but he didn't have a place in the Lakers' future. He is a player that is not producing at the level of a starting NBA point guard. 

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 29: Ramon Sessions #3 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives against Iman Shumpert #21 of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on February 29, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by
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It is amazing how much Kupchak got for how little he gave. He turned what is essentially nothing into a quality starting point guard in Ramon Sessions and a backup center in Jordan Hill, who is a huge upgrade over Troy Murphy. 

Hill averages 12.4 points and 11.9 boards per 36 minutes compared to Murphy's 6.8 and 7.2. He also is younger and getting better. 

Additionally, the Lakers landed a quality point guard in Ramon Sessions, who can run the pick-and-roll and distribute the ball well. His addition to the offense means the Lakers will be able to better utilize their big men, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. 

It also means the Lakers didn't have to deal Gasol in order to acquire a point guard. 

Finally, including Walton in the deal means that the Lakers were able to free up the money to keep Sessions when he becomes a restricted free agent this offseason. 

In short, Kupchak made brilliant moves that should make the Lakers honest contenders for the NBA title this year. If there were an award for best deadline moves, Kupchak would be the clear winner.