With NBA All-Star Weekend only a week away, the focus will turn to trade scenarios, buyers, sellers and everything in between. Only a month ago, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak sounded perfectly happy to make their way into that last category, but things seem little different based on one well-known voice.
Let’s start with what Kupchak said back on Jan. 6 in an interview with Spectrum SportsNet’s Mike Bresnahan. At the time, it was fairly shocking to hear him take such a hard stance, as his typical almost political (not actually political — just his ability to say a bunch of words without actually saying anything) answers almost always avoid anything resembling such a stance.
And yet, here we are only a month later (with one notable difference) and we have what will probably be the first of many reports of activity leading up to the trade deadline. Here’s what Kupchak said a month ago:
It’s actually a little active now and I know you read about it. You’ll see some names of players. You haven’t seen names of our players. We’re not actively trying to do something. I would guess that we would not end up doing anything.
Then, Friday night, ESPN’s John Ireland tweeted out this little morsel about whether or not the Lakers might make a move heading into the deadline:
Probably. I know they're talking to a lot of teams. But I've guessed wrong about this before. https://t.co/fHT1ROw5xl— John Ireland (@LAIreland) February 11, 2017
It should be noted that Ireland does a lot of hedging here. To me, the most interesting part is the directed activity Kupchak had previously said would probably not happen.
I’m obviously speculating, but I can’t help but note the very different sentiment coming shortly after Magic Johnson’s arrival. Johnson had previously stated he wants to be involved at the trade deadline, and Ireland’s tweet might be that development’s direct result.
This isn’t to say Kupchak hadn’t previously been active in on the phone, but Johnson’s arrival signaled a call for urgency to many, and if Mitch is now making calls instead of waiting for them like he originally made it seem, we’re starting to see the impact of the Johnson hire.
A potential new sense of urgency is neither a good or bad thing right now, but it’s certainly a thing to keep an eye on. We still have no idea what kind of trade Magic might push Jim Buss and Kupchak toward (or even if he’ll push them to make one), but he certainly sounded ready to make an impact when he was hired.
Ireland’s tweet might have flown under the radar to a certain degree, something Magic Johnson is legitimately incapable of.