Mitch Kupchak on Wednesday’s Trades

The Western Conference just got a bit more interesting.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Phoenix Suns traded Raja Bell, Boris Diaw and Sean Singletary to the Charlotte Bobcats for Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley, immediately giving the Suns an athletic, three-point shooting, former back-to-back Slam Dunk champ to play alongside Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Shaquille O’Neal and Grant Hill.

Meanwhile, the New Orleans Hornets acquired a much-needed backup guard in Antonio Daniels, while sending Mike James to the Wizards; Washington also acquired former Lakers first round pick Javaris Crittenton in the deal from Memphis, and the Grizzlies received the first-round pick they’d previously sent to Washington.

At first glance, I thought the Charlotte trade might have been made for salary purposes, with Charlotte trying to get Richardson’s contract off the books heading into the 2010 free agent craze. But Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak told me that Diaw actually has four years on his deal, and Richardson three, meaning that the trade was strictly a basketball decision. Likewise, the three-team trade was about basketball, not cap clearing as we’ve seen in other situations this season.

Kupchak went on to share his opinion about both deals, explain how the trades might affect the Lakers and added his take on the Lakers 17-3 start: