HONOLULU -- The Lakers began training camp in a dim high school gym, but tucked away in a corner, under a series of championship banners for high-school kayaking and paddling, General Manager Mitch Kupchak offered a season outlook that was comparatively bright.
A few minutes before boarding the unusual Lakers team bus -- stenciled on the side: "Polynesian Adventure Tours" -- Kupchak said that unsuccessful attempts to land a big name to go alongside Kobe Bryant were not disappointments, and, furthermore, the Lakers might be better than anticipated.
The Lakers aren't on anybody's short list to win the NBA title, which was duly, if not defensively, noted by Kupchak, entering his eighth season since taking over for Jerry West.
"We think this team, if they stay healthy, is a very talented team," he said crisply. "Expectations aren't very high. That's OK with me. All I keep on reading is that we're not a very good team. So if that's what everybody thinks, then fine. It's up to us to prove them wrong."
The roster has changed slightly since the Lakers lost in five games to Phoenix in the first round of the playoffs. Georgia Tech guard Javaris Crittenton was drafted, Chris Mihm and Luke Walton were re-signed, and Derek Fisher fell into the Lakers' laps to take the place of disgruntled Smush Parker.
There was a big push to pry Kevin Garnett from Minnesota, and there were talks with Indiana about Jermaine O'Neal, but nothing came of it, other than a series of headlines about trade discussions.
"We don't want to get into a situation where we feel there's pressure to make a deal just to make a deal, so we've been really patient in that regard," Kupchak said. "In terms of being disappointed, no, we're not disappointed."
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