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Lakers GM responds to Kobe's criticism

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Lakers GM responds to Kobe's criticism

From Comcast SportsNet
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Mitch Kupchak says he must explore every opportunity to improve the Los Angeles Lakers, even if Kobe Bryant doesn't like it. The Lakers general manager issued a statement Monday night in response to Bryant's criticism of the club brass over the haze of uncertainty surrounding Pau Gasol. The 7-foot Spanish star is having the lowest-scoring season of his career amid rampant speculation about his departure in a trade ever since the Lakers attempted to move him for Chris Paul before the season. After Sunday night's loss at Phoenix, Bryant said he wanted Kupchak to decide whether Gasol would be traded or not. Kupchak responded with a terse one-paragraph statement before Monday's game against Portland. "As a former player, I understand how the days leading up to the trade deadline can be nerve-wracking for an NBA player," said Kupchak, a former Lakers center. "Nonetheless, as General Manager of the Lakers, I have a responsibility to ownership, our fans and the players on this team to actively pursue opportunities to improve the team for this season and seasons to come," Kupchak said. "To say publicly that we would not do this would serve no purpose and put us at a competitive disadvantage. Taking such a course of action at this time would be a disservice to ownership, the team and our many fans." Bryant said Sunday he hopes the Lakers won't trade Gasol, who is averaging 16.6 points and 10.7 rebounds while failing to make the All-Star team for the first time in four years. Although the Lakers were 18-13 and sitting in fifth place in the Western Conference heading into the Trail Blazers' visit, they've been inconsistent in their first season under coach Mike Brown, with a 5-11 road record and several embarrassing losses along the way. Bryant is the NBA's leading scorer with 29 points per game, but he's worried about Gasol, saying it's tough for the four-time All-Star to "immerse himself completely into games when he's hearing trade talk every other day." Gasol doesn't want to leave Los Angeles, and he acknowledged he's thinking about the March 15 trade deadline. He hasn't spoken directly to Kupchak about his future since the Lakers' preseason attempt to deal Gasol to Houston in a three-team trade for Paul was rejected by the NBA. Yet Gasol's numbers are only slightly lower than last season's averages, and Brown attributes much of that slight decline to the improvement of center Andrew Bynum, who made his first All-Star team while averaging 16.3 points and 12.5 rebounds. "I know there's been a surge from Andrew Bynum that wasn't there in the past, so Pau does not get the same amount of touches in the post that he has in the past," Brown said. While Bryant and Kupchak addressed each other through the media, Brown professed ignorance about the latest kerfuffle in Bryant's rocky relationship with the Lakers' management, saying he hadn't even read Bryant's comments. The new coach had no interest in getting involved, either. "I don't plan on going to talk to him," Brown said. "That discussion is done between Mitch and Kobe. ... It's not my place to address Kobe about trades. I don't have much to do with trades on this team." Even with this round of public sparring, the Lakers have won seven of 11 since late January. Although Bryant might be bothered by the Lakers' machinations, he was angry in previous years when the Lakers didn't make trades to improve the club, even demanding a trade himself in 2007. A few months later, the Lakers acquired Gasol and immediately made a run to three straight NBA finals and back-to-back league titles. Metta World Peace is no stranger to displeasure about trade rumors. Back when he was Ron Artest, he sparred with the Indiana Pacers' management over rumors about his eventual departure to Sacramento. "You can't really question (Kupchak), because he's looking out for the Lakers, and he does a great job," World Peace said. "That's his job, and we're supposed to go play."

Hundley still not ready to discuss future; Cain to start during final weekend

Hundley still not ready to discuss future; Cain to start during final weekend

PHOENIX — A few weeks ago, Nick Hundley said he preferred not to talk about his future until the end of the season. We’re close enough, so after hitting the go-ahead homer Monday night, Hundley was again asked about his 2018 plans. He smiled.

“How many have we got left? Five?” he said. “Ask me Sunday.”

It’s not just the media and fans seeking an answer from the popular backup who has nine homers. The Giants hope to get some feel from Hundley as they finalize offseason plans, and manager Bruce Bochy said he would talk to the veteran this week. Bochy left no doubt about what he hopes will happen.

“I think he knows what we think of him,” he said. 

Hundley, a 34-year-old who came over in the offseason, has been one of the few overachievers this season. He has 32 extra-base hits in 274 at-bats, taking advantage of increased time with Brandon Belt done for the year and Buster Posey sliding over to first base. Hundley is one of the lineup’s more potent right-handed options, and he has earned praise from the starting staff. Johnny Cueto said Hundley helped him navigate a post-clinch Diamondbacks lineup that was essentially pulled straight out of Triple-A. 

Cueto did so with ease, striking out eight in six innings. He evened his record at 8-8, and he’ll have a chance to clinch a winning season on Sunday. Bochy said Cueto will start the final game of the season, and he confirmed that Matt Cain will start either Friday or Saturday. Asked for more details, the manager kept it just as mysterious as his catcher. 

“I’ll let you know tomorrow,” he said.

Mariners club four home runs, end A's seven-game winning streak

Mariners club four home runs, end A's seven-game winning streak

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- Mitch Haniger homered twice and Felix Hernandez won for the first time in more than two months as the Seattle Mariners defeated the Oakland Athletics 7-1 on Monday night.

A day after being eliminated from playoff contention, the slumping Mariners snapped Oakland's season-high seven-game winning streak and its eight-game run at home - the team's second-longest in 11 years.

The Mariners had lost eight of nine.

Hernandez (6-5) gave up one run in six innings of two-hit ball. King Felix hadn't won since July 15, a stretch that included a stint on the disabled list from Aug. 2 to Sept. 13 with right shoulder bursitis. He was 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in his previous five starts.

Haniger hit his 15th and 16th home runs off starter Daniel Gossett (4-10). The 24-year-old Oakland rookie gave up seven runs on a career-high four homers allowed.

Mike Zunino hit a three-run shot, his 24th, that broke a scoreless tie in the second. Yonder Alonso added his 26th homer, connecting against his former team.

Marcus Semien hit a solo homer off Hernandez in the sixth.

Andrew Albers pitched three shutout innings for his first save.

MAXWELL IN THE LINEUP:
A's catcher Bruce Maxwell played his first game since becoming the first player in the majors to kneel during the national anthem Saturday, part of a national protest movement against discrimination and harsh treatment of blacks by police. He was greeted with a loud ovation along with some boos sprinkled in from the Oakland crowd of 9,329. Maxwell cleared the concussion protocol on Monday. He hadn't played since Sept. 20.

SHOW OF SUPPORT:
In an apparent show of support for Maxwell, most of the Oakland Unified School District band members took a knee as they performed the national anthem before the game.

2,500 CLUB:
The 31-year-old Hernandez became the fifth active pitcher to log more than 2,500 career innings.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Mariners: INF Jean Segura (sprained right middle finger) will likely miss the remainder of the series, manager Scott Servais said. "He wants to get in there before the season's over. It's important to him, but he's not going to be available for a couple of days," Servais said.

Athletics: 1B Matt Olson was scheduled to have an MRI to determine the severity of a hamstring injury he sustained Sunday. The 23-year-old rookie will miss the rest of the series, manager Bob Melvin said. Olson has 25 home runs in 189 at-bats. "We're hoping we can get him back in Texas, but I'm not so sure about that," Melvin said. ... LHP Sean Manaea, who missed his last scheduled start on Saturday with upper back tightness, threw a bullpen and is on track to make his next start Thursday, Melvin said.

UP NEXT:
Mariners: LHP James Paxton (12-5, 3.03 ERA) is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in two starts since coming off the DL on Sept. 14. He had been sidelined with a strained left pectoral muscle. Paxton is 3-0 with a 3.77 ERA in five career starts against Oakland.

Athletics: RHP Daniel Mengden (2-1, 3.30) is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA in his last three starts. Mengden took the loss in his only career start against Seattle last season. He struck out six and gave up two runs on five hits and two walks in five innings.