Prior to the deal that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers, you couldn't blame Mitch Kupchak for failing to land the MVP-caliber center. Apparently the Lakers GM had been attempting for months, back to the midpoint of the 2011-12 season, to turn any number of Andrew Bynum-led packages into a deal for the former Orlando Magic big man, but had been rebuffed by two different GMs (and, in a way, Howard himself). And after grabbing Steve Nash for a song and retaining the team's three All-Star level starters, nobody could criticize Kupchak for going on the family vacation he had committed to during the second week of August.
To him, the Howard deal was "over," as the Magic mulled their options. Apparently the relaxed trade restrictions on rookie forward Moe Harkless sent new Orlando GM Rob Hennigan over the moon, and the Lakers were able to make a massive upgrade from the league's second to best center in time enough for Kupchak to make that family holiday. From a nice interview with Orange County Register's Kevin Ding:
Read More »from Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak on the Dwight Howard deal: “We thought it was dead”
The Lakers were always confident Howard would re-sign with them given who and where they are, besides how much more they can offer than any other club. Other teams interested in Howard were understandably worried that Howard might leave via free agency a year from now — and therefore cautious in what they offered.
Whether he's just a customer who is satisfied (Kupchak's chosen description, actually, was "ecstatic"), Kupchak praised Hennigan upon emerging so nice and dry from that waterfall of frustrating trade talks.