In a conversation we had Thursday with Mitch Kupchack subsequent to the passing of the NBA trade deadline, the Lakers General Manager offered some reaction on the trade that sent center Chris Mihm to Memphis for a future second-round draft pick.
Q: On how the move was easier to make considering D.J. Mbenga’s place on the roster, Josh Powell’s solid play and Andrew Bynum’s expected to return to the team:
We had two players at that position – D.J. Mbenga and Chris Mihm – and with a healthy Andrew Bynum, neither one of those players played much at all. With Andrew getting injured, I was curious to see if Chris’s time was going to go up dramatically, and it really didn’t. He did play a lot of minutes two nights ago (vs. Atlanta, Feb. 17) in a game, but other than that Phil (Jackson) really chose to play Lamar (Odom) and Pau (Gasol), and also Josh Powell.
So here we are again, with Andrew – knock on wood – expected to return and even with the injury, neither Chris nor D.J. were getting much time. At that point you had to look at what was best for the organization and take into consideration Chris’s loyalty and his future as well. I think if you asked him, he would have preferred to stay here; I think there’s a degree of comfort that goes along with being in a certain place and I know he wanted to be a part of this. But I’ve been here for many, many years, and he really needs to go to a place where he’s going to play, get confidence – not only himself but confidence that other people who watch him play can feel. He has to be in a position where this summer he can pick a place to finish his career, because he’s still relatively young, and that’s tough sometimes for a player to understand. It was a painful thing for him; we kind of lived his frustrations here the last four years. Every time he had a surgery or went down with an injury, we felt it as well. It’s tough to part ways, but we get a roster space, we get some flexibility down the road and we get a trade exception. Chris has to go some place where he has a chance to play and set himself hopefully for next year and thereafter.
Stay tuned for more trade deadline reaction from Kupchak.