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Lakers GM vows to show patience

Mitch Kupchak said he is holding off judgment on the Lakers until all the pieces of the puzzle are finally healthy enough to play with each other.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak vowed patience for his $100 million team to come together despite the losses racking up, Mark Medina of the Daily News wrote on Monday.

The Lakers were expected to be contenders for the NBA Finals after breaking the bank to acquire Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Antawn Jamison. With Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol still on the roster, few starting fives looked better on paper.

But things haven't gone according to plan. Mike Brown was relieved of coaching duties just five games into the season and the Lakers have had to deal with long-term injuries to Nash and backup Steve Blake.

Kupchak said he refuses to judge the entirety of the product when the envisioned team has had very few games together.

"I can't sit here and say I'm happy with our record. I don't think that's a stretch for me or any Laker fan to say that. That's just stating the obvious. But I'm not sure how you assess this team until you get key players back."

The new question is what will happen between Dec. 15 and Feb. 21, the day teams can trade players they signed in the offseason to the trade deadline. Assuming the Lakers continue to flounder (they reside in 11th place in the Western Conference now), it seems unlikely that all the pieces will stay together.

Kupchak remained stoic on the thought of trading Gasol, who is currently averaging a career worst 12.6 points a game. He also isn't very critical of coach Mike D'Antoni, who is 4-7 since he took over the Lakers.

"He's not happy with the record he's had since he's been here," Kupchak said. "But there's been clearly an uptick in the tempo of the game and that's something we were looking for."

It remains to be seen how long Kupchak can maintain this upbeat thought process with his team. Gasol has sat out the last four games with tendonitis in his knees, Nash still hasn't been cleared to run and Blake is expected to miss quite a while following surgery on his lower abdomen.