Kupchak Blames Effort More Than D'Antoni For Lakers' Struggles
Mitch Kupchak does not put all of the blame for the Los Angeles Lakers' 17-24 record on Mike D'Antoni.
"Without a doubt, we have utmost confidence in Mike (D'Antoni) as a coach," Kupchak said in a phone interview Tuesday from Memphis. "I think if you spoke to him, his vision on Day 1 was dramatically different than it is today. It's the coach's job to adjust and to make changes. Sometimes a player is just not going to fit. Sometimes a coach has to make changes and compromise in the way he's done things and I think that's what Mike is going through right now is just the process."
Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol have struggled to find their role under D'Antoni.
"I'm a little bit concerned about our effort," Kupchak said. "I'd like to see better effort on the court. When the ball is not bouncing your way, when shots aren't going in, you just can't seem to get a break, the one thing you can control on the court is your effort and loose balls and running the floor, defending, offensive rebounding. I think back to the Miami game and I have that vision of LeBron (James) diving on that ball at midcourt. That's effort. It's natural when things get tough to hesitate and be unsure, lose confidence. That's one thing that we can't let happen. We have to maintain our confidence and our effort more than anything has to be at an all-time (high) to get through this period."
Kupchak is working against the Feb. 21 deadline on whether to make an in-season trade.
"We've got a little bit (less) than a month," Kupchak said. "Typically, it's unusual, although there was a trade today (between Memphis and Cleveland), it's unusual if things heat up five or four weeks out. Typically, as you approach the trade deadline, people get serious and they really begin to understand and know their team and they have a pretty good feel of what's out there.
"So, I don't think we're at the point where you say, 'It's time for a trade,' and a trade happens in 3-4 days. That's just not how this league works. I read somebody somewhere a week or so ago said, 'This is a deadline-oriented league,' and I think that's true even though there are exceptions. That's certainly one way to address the problem, to look into changing players."