Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak doesn't see the results, but he still sees the talent. Kupchak said Tuesday the Lakers will not trade Dwight Howard before the Thursday NBA trade deadline -- and he does not envision any major move as the 25-29 Lakers try to push into the Western Conference playoff picture. Asked about a talent upgrade, Kupchak said: "I just don't see how that's realistic." The Lakers should get Pau Gasol (foot) back from injury in about a month, but Kupchak and Jim Buss are still waiting to see Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Howard and Gasol mesh their talents better on the court. Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni predicted the Lakers would need to go 20-8 the rest of the regular season to make the playoffs. "You aren't going to make the playoffs with less than 45 wins," D'Antoni said before the team reconvened for practice late Tuesday afternoon. D'Antoni, whom Kupchak said Jerry Buss was "very involved" in hiring in November, also said this has been "by far" his most difficult stretch as an NBA coach. D'Antoni said he will not be focusing on personality conflicts, though. "On the court is where we're having our problems with chemistry," he said. That means he simply wants better production from Howard and Bryant together or Howard and Nash together. For his part, Howard is at least trying to speak publicly more about team concepts and said the Lakers should try not to let those personality issues affect them: "Sometimes we've done that." Asked about his role with the Lakers comparing with his role in past seasons in Orlando, where he was the first option on offense, Howard said: "I have to do whatever I can to help this team win." But Howard also obliquely noted how much he is giving up when the coaches or his teammates urge him to lead on defense, saying: "Certain guys have to sacrifice more than others." Howard said Kupchak has told him "for the last month and a half, two months" that he won't be traded. The Lakers remain hopeful Howard will re-sign with them at season's end, when he can explore free agency, and regain some of the athleticism he has so far lost since April spinal surgery.
Lakers' Kupchak sees no major deal before deadline
POSTED: 10:44 AM MST Feb 20, 2013 UPDATED: 10:44 AM MST Feb 20, 2013
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