Lakers GM: No blaming Steve Nash


LOS ANGELES -- Despite Steve Nash appearing in just 60 of the Lakers' 135 games since L.A. acquired the aging point guard in July 2012, general manager Mitch Kupchak said he would not change a thing about how the team pursued the two-time league MVP.

"No regrets," Kupchak said before the Lakers played the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday. "You have to recognize where you are as a franchise and we felt we had a two-year window, maybe three, to go for a championship and that's what we did.

"Looking back on it, which nobody can do, that's a different story. But at the time, we knew exactly what we were doing."

Nash, who missed Thursday's game because of nerve root irritation in his back and hamstrings stemming from a collision with Chicago's Kirk Hinrich over the weekend, told reporters that he is not giving up on the season and hopes to play after the All-Star break.

"I feel terrible for him, I really do," Kupchak said of the 40-year-old Nash. "Nobody expected him to break his leg in the second game and it's been one thing after another since then.

"Some players would sulk and kind of get depressed and say, 'Well, I'm 38 years old -- or whatever it is -- and maybe it wasn't meant to be.' But this guy has worked harder than anybody to get back and I just feel terrible for him, I really do.

"Someone who's had that kind of career, that's worked that hard, that came here to win a championship, something that's eluded him for years. But those things are out of his control and they're out of our control."

Whether or not Nash is in the fold moving forward, Kupchak isn't simply going to concede losses the rest of the season for his struggling team.

But he's come to grips with the reality that his time is best spent considering the future of the franchise than the present state of affairs.

With that in mind, Kupchak nearly chose to scout the Colorado-UCLA game on Thursday rather than head to Staples Center for his team's 107-103 loss to the West-leading Thunder, in which the Lakers set a franchise record with their seventh consecutive loss at home. But he has a trio of other scouting trips planned in coming months.

And Kupchak is keeping that same mentality as the NBA trade deadline comes next Thursday, Feb. 20.

"Our approach to the trade deadline will be different than it's been in years past," Kupchak said. "In general, if there's a way for us to improve the franchise going forward, we'll do it. That may or may not be possible, but if there is a way to improve our positioning, our footing, the picture going forward, we'll look to do something."

Kupchak said that bringing the Lakers' $79.3 million payroll under the $71.7 million luxury-tax level through trades is not a major concern, even with the repeater tax under the new collective bargaining agreement, which penalizes teams with more punitive fees unless they get under the luxury tax twice every four years.

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