Mitch Kupchak skeptical Lakers will be “active” before Feb. 21 trade deadline

Whenever things don’t go right for the Lakers, the first instinct involves making immediate changes.

But Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak sounded skeptical such a thing will happen before the Feb. 21 trade deadline.

“We don’t have many options, to be honest with you,” Kupchak said Wednesday at the Lakers All-Access event at Staples Center, hosted by the LA Sports & Entertainment Commission. “It’s not like we’re going to be active or overly active in the trade market.”

The Lakers (17-21) may enter tonight’s game against the Miami Heat (26-12) at Staples Center in 11th place in the Western Conference. But Kupchak believes it’s unfair to evaluate the Lakers based on the record because of extenuating circumstances.

Those involved long-term injuries to Steve Nash (fractured left leg), Dwight Howard (surgically repaired back, right shoulder), Pau Gasol (knee tendinitis, plantar fasciitis in right foot, concussion), Jordan Hill (season-ending left hip injury) and Steve Blake (surgery on lower abdominal muscle). Kupchak also touted out Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni taking over for Mike Brown only five games into the season.

“If we’d do that, what you’d be doing is making a judgement on a team without taking into consideration without the fact there’s been a coaching change, there’s been injuries, there’s been no training camp, there’s been new players in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard,” Kupchak said. “If you were to do something like that, that would not show patience.”

The Lakers didn’t exactly have the same patience when they fired Brown. One of the risks hiring D’Antoni involved this kind of instability. Though Kupchak acknowledged such a scenario unfolding, he said at his press conference announcing Brown’s firing that he feared any improvement would’ve become minimal. Hence, why Kupchak considered it better to cut his losses early.

Regardless, the Lakers have plenty of work to do.

They’re by no means mathematically out of the playoffs. Considering the eight seeds in the past five NBA seasons averaged 48 seasons, the Lakers likely would have to go somewhere around 31-13 the rest of the season in order to stay in the hunt. Don’t even think about home-court advantage. The Lakers trail by sizable margins against the Oklahoma City Thunder (31-8), Clippers (30-9), San Antonio Spurs (30-11) and Memphis Grizzlies (24-13).

Still, the Lakers trail the Houston Rockets (21-19) by three games for the eighth spot. The Lakers are benefiting from losing steaks to Houston (five), Portland (four) and Minnesota (four).

“Somebody said we have to win two out of four games. I don’t think that’s true,” Kupchak said. “We have to win three out of every four games going out to have a chance. If you look at the two conferences, the Western Conference is a tougher conference this year. We have our work cut out for us. If we can get into the playoffs, which means we are playing well, we do have to play well to make the playoffs. I don’t think there’s a team that wants to play us in a seven-game series.”

That doesn’t mean the front office will necessarily stand idle.

The Lakers applied for a disabled players exception for Jordan Hill, who has said he will have surgery on his left hip and is expected to be out at least six months. The move would give them an additional $1.78 million in spending either to sign a free agent or acquire a player making slightly more than that through a trade. Kupchak said recently he wants the exception more for flexibility than actually intending to use it.

Plus, the Lakers already have a $100 million payroll.

“If everybody had been together and Coach D’antoni had been here from day one and Steve Nash hadn’t gotten injured and our record still was what it is today, then that’d be a different story,” Kupchak said. “Then you have to look in the mirror and say the team we put together is not good enough.”

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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  • Jon K

    HIRE DEREK FISHER!!!!

    HIRE MIKE D’ANTONI!!!!!

  • phubbs

    What r u talking about Mike is already the coach

    • Jon K

      Sorry, Phubbs. I screwed up.

      FIRE MIKE D’ANTONI!!!!

  • Buzz

    Phil Jackson

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Linda-Singleton/100000221405027 Linda Singleton

    The only option Kupchak has is Phil Jackson … Phil won with a roster not as good as the one he has now … management has caused this dilemma for the Lakers … Kobe can’t do it all and D’Antoni is NOT a defensive coach and everybody knows it … the Lakers could have beat the heat last night if they had not turned the ball over and Dwight and Jamison makes their free throws … Pau played pretty good for the time he was on the floor … D’Antoni does not know how to utilize the players that he has on the roster … where was Meeks, Devin Ebanks … what is D’Antoni doing … he is playing the heck out of the same players … wake up Kupchak … The Heat was ot all that great … they just finished better down the stretch … I don’t think they are going to repeat …

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.calloway.39 Robert Calloway

    lakers need ryan anderson . now ”

  • dugger edu

    fire coach d antoni and let coach bickerstaf do the job i think bickerstaf is better than d antoni,coach bickerstaf knows the combination of lakers.

  • hookedonnews

    Sounds reasonable to me. But then you look at the comments and you see the same people advocating for Phil Jackson, Bernie Bickerstaff (really?) and trashing D’Antoni. I don’t believe any coach could have done any more with this team in the same circumstances. When it comes right down to it, the players on the court win or lose games. Injuries matter. Ask the Chicago Bulls or the T-Wolves. I would like to see the Lakers get a better backup for Nash or a really good 3 point shooter. The team is continuing to improve, and all is not lost. They were tied with the Heat with 2 minutes to go. That’s not a disgrace.

    • nlruizjr

      No, the disgrace was that no one helped out on traps, everyone just stood around the perimeter waiting for the turnover to happen, why not 2 cutters toward the basket, one to help out DH and the other to find a spot to take a shot, Dantoni is just pathetic !!!!! bring back Bernie !!!!

      • hookedonnews

        These guys have been playing basketball since they were kids. You think D’Antoni has to tell them what to do when someone is trapped? Do you think they have never been told in practice what to do in these situations? D’Antoni is not the only coach they have ever had. D’Antoni is also not responsible for the 20 turnovers.

        • Jon K

          They’re obviously not prepared and D’Antoni is clearly not bringing chemistry to this team.

          Yes. It is D’Antoni.

          • hookedonnews

            I guess the 11 games in a row that they lost at the beginning of the season were D’Antoni’s fault too,

  • nlruizjr

    BRING BACK BERNIE !!!!!!!!!

  • CALI

    IF YOUR DUMB ASS WOULN’T HAVE HIRED D’ANTONI WE WOULDN’T B IN THIS PERDICKERMENT……

  • Junior

    Mike d Antonio should be fire from the Lakers

  • kenny

    any way you look at it, the Lakers are done.

    • Ryan C.

      God, I hope not

  • CHUCK

    HEY MITCH….THEY SHOULD FIRE “YOU” …..HIRE JERRY WEST TO TAKE OVER….GET PHIL BACK AND BANDAGE THE DAMAGE THAT MITCH HAS DONE….GAE AWAY…FISHER…MATT BARNES…LAMAR ODOM…AND SHANNON BROWN…GUYS WHO HAVE PROVEN THEMSELVES AS CHAMPIONS…..GET REAL MITCH…YOU DON’T KNOW WHICH AWAY TO TURN….START BY FIRING D’ANTONI…..HIRE PHIL……AND GET THOSE OTHER GUYS BACK (IF POSSIBLE) THEN……..”RESIGN”..THE FANS ARE TIRED OF YOU AND JIM BUSS…..MAKING THE MISTAKES AFTER MISTAKES….IT’S OVER!

    • Ryan C.

      I have to agree with you. Maybe not fire Mitch, but Jim Buss has got to get out of the way. I don’t know what is up with not hiring Phil Jackson, but it sounds to me like Jim Buss wants to run things. Phil is the greatest coach in the history of professional sports and they don’t hire him? Ok D’Antoni is an offensive guru and I will give him that; however, you can’t run 2- 7 footers and an aging backcourt all game long. Phil is the master of game management and the half-court game. If he were coaching there would be no question we should keep Pau, but since we have D’Antoni now we have to trade him for youth and speed. I guess the new Laker direction is parallel to the Bobcats- lose all the time in style. God I’m sick over this

    • ForeverLakers

      Do you even know basketball?? Fisher was too old to compete with these younger point guards and needed to go. Do you honestly think he could defend Westbrook, CP3, Tony Parker or any of the other elite PG’s in the league?? Matt Barnes didn’t play the same way for us as he is doing for the Clippers so to let him go was no loss. If you can remember, Lamar Odom asked to be traded after our trade for CP3 was vetoed by David Stern & he played horribly in Dallas & Shannon Brown are you serious?? He wanted more money than the Lakers cared to offer & he’s currently a non-factor in Phoenix, not even starting. Why would we want any of them back??