The Lakers were looking for a new defensive look off the bench that "Maybe Shannon Brown could come in and give us something we don't have." The former Michigan State standout is a solid 6-4, 211 pounds, and can body up on both shooting guards and small forwards.
To Kupchak, it didn't make any sense to keep a player "who was highly compensated on the bench and not playing at all, especially if he was not happy." So shipping Radmanovic seemed to be a good option regardless; getting two young players with potential surely sweetened the deal.
When asked if he felt the Lakers were taking a risk in making the deal in terms of chemistry, Kupchak replied that since Radmanovic wasn't playing, that shouldn't be an issue. Vladi was "well liked," but the feeling was if Vladi continued not to play, he would have been more and more unhappy: "Then maybe the chemistry side doesn't look as good."
It was obvious to GMs around the league that the Lakers had an overabundance of small forwards. In short, Radmanovic, Walton and Ariza had to duke it out for playing time, and even though Vladi played well as a starter, Jackson opted for Walton due to his understanding of the offense and ability to move the ball, while Ariza's minutes couldn't be diminished in the interest of the team. As such, Vladi became expendable, and opposing front offices knew that. It just "Took a little time to see whom Phil was going to settle on," explained Kupchak.
Neither player has previous experience with the triangle offense, but Kupchak doesn't see learning it as a problem. "We're not going to expect either player to come in and produce right away, although if they earn it, they could."
The deal started to take shape in the middle of this past week, according to Kupchak. A second conversation followed on Thursday, and the deal was done Friday.
Kupchak thinks Vladi, at worst, improves Charlotte's relatively thin bench, adding that he might in fact start with Gerald Wallace on the bench due to the injury suffered against the Lakers last Tuesday.
When asked if the Lakers were done on the trade front before the February 19 deadline, Kupchak responded in turn: "I wouldn't say that I'm making a lot of calls. We have the best record in the league right now, we just had a great road trip and hopefully we can end it really strong tomorrow. The news on Andrew (Bynum) was not good, but it looks like he'll have a better chance to return this year than he did last year, so I'm not sure we want to address anything more than continuing to win as many games as possible and hope to get Andrew back.
More pointedly: "I don't think there's a deal out there that can make this a better team than the one we have or the one we potentially have."
Kupchak doesn't think there are any big men that are better than Chris Mihm or D.J. Mbenga that wouldn't command equal value on the trade market. "I don't know why we'd do that."