The Los Angeles Lakers may not be winning as much as they were to start the 2016-17 season, but the team’s seven-game losing streak hasn’t set off panic in the front office. This season was never about this season, and all of the Lakers’ young players have shown flashes of the types of special players they can ultimately become.
The successes of both the team and the young roster have combined to leave Mitch Kupchak with the ability to be patient and selective about what types of offers the Lakers are discussing as head towards the NBA’s trade deadline in February.
"We're fun to watch. We're very competitive. We love our coaching staff. We love our young players. We're going to have to be a little patient," Kupchak told Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. "We're going to have to do our job which is to look at opportunities that may come up in the next month or two. And if there are none, which is fine with me, because I like the young guys on the team, then during the offseason we'll have to look at opportunities.”
Kupchak’s words should be encouraging for Lakers fans. The team isn’t a simple win-now move away from contention. The young Lakers aren’t ready to compete on the biggest stage late in the postseason just yet, and putting together a package featuring some combination of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance, Jr. wouldn’t leave the team with enough to compete alongside whatever “star” player was brought back in return.
The Lakers can afford to be patient, which Kupchak’s comments make it clear he understands. Of course the team would make an obvious move if some other team’s GM went insane and offered an easy win of a deal, but it doesn’t sound like the Lakers are going to be very proactive about putting together enticing trades featuring their young guys.