Nothing doing at the trade deadline
It came down to one simple, unshakable tenet.
Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and, perhaps most important, Andrew Bynum were not available, essentially making the Lakers non-participants as the NBA trade deadline passed quietly Thursday.
Jason Kidd is still with the New Jersey Nets, there were no blockbuster trades anywhere, and what you see will be what you get the rest of the season for the Lakers, with the possible exception of adding 41-year-old free agent Scottie Pippen down the road.
It wasn’t for lack of trying -- General Manager Mitch Kupchak put together a string of late nights -- but, rather, because of a lack of quality pieces. With Odom, Bynum and Bryant labeled untouchable, the Lakers tried to make things work with players who were injured, inexperienced or underperforming.
Kupchak’s Wednesday night premonition that a trade was “very unlikely” turned out to be accurate.
“All along, it was unlikely that anything would get done, so I’m not surprised,” said Kupchak, who declined to speak specifically about Kidd.
“In general, we were very aggressive in terms of looking for a way to improve the team. We were aggressive in pursuing leads and talking to general managers. It’s hard to make a deal in this business, evidenced by the lack of trades that took place today.”
Kwame Brown, who has sat out 24 games because of a sprained ankle and has another year on his contract for $9 million, would have been a key salary piece to make the Kidd trade work. He was unavailable for comment Thursday, as was Coach Phil Jackson, who had a dental appointment immediately after practice.
With their three cornerstones pulled from consideration, the Lakers didn’t have enough to pry Kidd from the Nets. Kidd did not speak to reporters Thursday, although Nets President Rod Thorn sounded a lot like Kupchak when summing up the Nets’ point of view.
“Without divulging names or cities, we had conversations with a whole bunch of people, particularly in the last three to four days, and I can’t say we ever got close to doing anything,” Thorn told the Associated Press.
Bynum could sense that other teams had inquired about him.
“It makes me feel good to be wanted by a lot of people,” he said. “It means I’m doing something right.”
Meanwhile, the Lakers were put through a meticulous 90-minute film session a day after their sixth consecutive loss, the longest losing streak Jackson has experienced in his 16-year NBA coaching career.
Their defense was again penetrable Wednesday as Portland shot 59.7% from the field in a 112-108 victory over the Lakers.
“It becomes real glaring when we’re making the mistakes that we’re making when you watch yourself play on a videotape, where it can be stopped frame by frame, and they can be frozen, and guys can see just how ridiculous some of the things that they’re doing out there on the court appear to us,” assistant coach Kurt Rambis said. “A lot of guys sat there and watched the edit with their mouths open. They just couldn’t believe that they were making the mistakes that they were making.”
Bryant apparently had bittersweet feelings about Kidd’s not becoming a Laker.
“I think everybody was looking forward to the possibility of Jason coming out here,” he said. “Obviously, that would have been an amazing backcourt, but it didn’t happen, so we just move on from here.”
Bryant said he still had faith in the present-day Lakers.
“I don’t think anybody’s wavered from the fact -- at least I haven’t -- from the fact we could make some serious noise in the playoffs with the roster that we have,” he said.
vs. Boston, 7:30, FSN West
Site -- Staples Center.
Radio -- 570; 1330.
Records -- Lakers 30-25; Celtics 13-40.
Record vs. Celtics -- 1-0.
Update -- The Celtics have lost two consecutive games since ending a franchise-record 18-game losing streak.