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GM Kupchak uses “good on paper” to describe Lakers, too

Sep 7, 2012, 3:31 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Dwight Howard Getty Images

It is what everyone has been saying about the Los Angeles Lakers — with a starting five of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard — they are very good “on paper.” As in they still have to prove it. Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and others have said it.

You can add Mitch Kupchak to the list.

The Lakers general manager — they guy who pulled off the Howard and Nash trades — used the “on paper” line as part of an interesting Q&A with Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated.

On paper, we’ve made what we think are improvements. I think we’re going to be in the hunt. I don’t know if we’ll lead the pack or be second in the pack or be fourth in the pack or fifth, but I think that we’ll be in the hunt and we’re better than we were a year ago. Is it time to celebrate? Absolutely not. You’re going to have to wait a year and see how it all plays out.

He’s right, but he also doesn’t share the concerns of some that this group might not fit together well.

They’re going to be just fine. I mean, Dwight’s the future, and Kobe and Steve and Metta and Pau, they’re the present. There shouldn’t be any problem. Pau can play anywhere for anybody, Steve and Kobe, all they want to do is win. And Metta is completely comfortable being a complementary player. If he gets eight to 10 points a game and is a great defender and wins, he’s so happy. So I’ve got no problems thinking that these guys can work it out and play together. When the clock gets short, Kobe will end up with the ball in his hands and Steve, regardless of the offense we play, will control the pace. We’re not talking about introducing a new offense to a young, unproven team. It’s a veteran group, and they’ll figure out how to do it.

I think the veteran thing gets overlooked — these are guys with good basketball IQs who will give a little bit at this point to make it work. It’s more 2008 Celtics than 2011 Heat. It may take a little while — the March Lakers should be better than the November Lakers — but they will get there.

In the fantastic interview, Kupchak is up front that they think they should be able to keep Howard, and that while Nash’s age and chronic back issues are a concern they are not that big of one.

Chronologically, yeah, he’s one of the oldest players in the league. But we’re not concerned that he’s got two or three good years left in him. He’s figured out how to maintain his health with years of experience. He’s gotten cuts and bruises and sprains, and he’s always had the little back thing that has bothered him, but he’s figured out a way to have his maintenance get him through the season. And then I think most of all is the energy. He’ll feel rejuvenated. The last year or two it probably got tough for him to get through the season. Just the load he had to carry, and maybe feeling like they didn’t have a chance to contend — although they could probably make the playoffs, which is motivation for a lot of people. But having a chance to win a championship, mentally he’ll be fresh and that will make a difference.

It’s going to be a zoo around the team this year, even for the always zooish Lakers. And Kupchak did not shy away from talking about the 2004 Lakers with Kobe, Shaq, Payton and Malone that fell short in the finals (without the injured Malone). For the Lakers, that is a failure. For this new group of Lakers, anything but a title in the next two years will be seen as falling short of expectations. But that’s just how it is with the Lakers.

It’s going to be a zoo. But unlike a real zoo this one is going to be interesting to watch.

  1. money2long - Sep 7, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    this lakers team is so exciting, they could televise their practices and i’d watch.

    • cosanostra71 - Sep 7, 2012 at 3:56 PM

      Considering that they’re forcing everyone to switch to the expensive Time Warner if we want to watch them play, televising practices is the least they can do!

  2. waiting4asuperbowl - Sep 7, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    Cant wait till march when they come to DC!

  3. Mr. Wright 212 - Sep 7, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    I will definitely be loving this season.

  4. gmsalpha - Sep 7, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    As much as I think Dwight Howard is a punk, doesn’t he look great in purple and gold?

    On second thought, who WOULDN’T look great in a Lakers uniform.

  5. omniusprime - Sep 8, 2012 at 9:01 AM

    @gmsalpha – Jeremy Linept wouldn’t look good in Laker colors!

    The Lakers sure do look good on paper but I’ll wait until they prove they are the best team on the court by winning most every game. The Most Fabulous Five can win a championship this season but they’ll need help from a decrepit bench that didn’t improve much.

  6. ihavenonickname - Sep 8, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    “the little back thing” ?? ….. uhoh.

  7. loungefly74 - Sep 9, 2012 at 2:11 AM

    we will see….

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