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Some Pre-Draft Mitch — UPDATED, 6.27

The new stuff is down at the bottom...

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak powwowed with the media this afternoon, and just to make sure the Times doesn't think we're stealing from them, AK and I decided to stop by. We'll have more up for you ASAP, but for the time being, here's a smattering of what he had to say. As you might guess, most of the questions centered around the draft. Go figure.

On moving up:
"I think everybody wants to move up. I've talked to every GM in the league, sometimes several times. Everybody wants to move up. There's a cost associated with moving up, whether it's a player or another pick. At the end of the day it doesn't happen very frequently." 

Is it something you'll try to pursue?
"Yeah, we'd like to move up. I think every time you're in the draft, if you're at 26, you wish you were at 25. If you're 25, you wish you were at 20. You always look and say, "Wow, I wish I had a little better pick than I actually have." Last year we were at 10, and I'd have felt more comfortable if we could have gotten to eight, although we got the player we wanted at 10. So that's just the way your mind works this time of year.  You never have a great level of comfort with who you're gonna get and who you like, because you don't know what the other GMs think. You don't know exactly who is going to fall to you when draft time rolls around."

Are you thinking point guard? Big man?
"In terms of the draft, I don't think we're pinpointing a position. When you look at the draft, with a team that wants to win games... we won 45 games, we want to get to 47, get to 50, we want to get past the first round in the playoffs, it's unlikely that in this day and age that the 26th pick is going to play a lot for you next year. Although you look at our roster and you may say we need help in the backcourt, I don't think we're going to get a backcourt player that's going to play for us to help us next year. That would be great if we did, but we're not going to draft just a backcourt player. We'll see who's there, whether it's a big man, small forward or a ball handling guard, and the guy that we feel will have the best chance to play in this league for 8 to 10 years will be the guy we take."

On how having a D-League team will change things:
"...That will be a factor in developing our players. Whether it will be a factor in the draft this year is too early to say. We're limited to how many players we can carry on a roster... Once you have your roster at 15, or 13 or 14, you're limited as to what you can send down to the NBDL. So it'll be a factor, but it won't be an overriding factor."

As a team, you do seem to need guard help.
"I would agree. Laron Profit seemed to be finding a little niche for himself in January and February when he tore his Achilles tendon. And at that point, I felt we really raced through the season one guard short. We didn't have a deep backcourt to begin with. We brought on a guy who played great the whole year in Smush (Parker), but I don't think anybody had any expectation level for him. Sasha was a big unknown also. He became our third guard. So it's not a stretch to say that our backcourt is an area that needs to be addressed."

On Brandon Roy:
"He's a heck of a player. Of all the players available for the draft right now, I could name two or three that could probably play right away. Because of his maturity level, his size, his athletic ability and his skill ability, he'd probably be one of them. He's the most ready to play."

On trusting what you hear at this time of the year, when GMs aren't always telling the truth to each other:
"A lot of it is gamesmanship. We have an owner that likes to play poker, likes to play cards. And to some degree, in an odd kind of way, that's what it is. You work towards the moment of truth, which is draft day. If there are going to be deals, teams are going to play their cards close, and you're not going to really know what their feelings are until the next day or two (leading to the draft). And the closer you to a deadline, that's when you really get a feel for what teams will and won't do. Which makes sense, because you haven't seen a lot of deals made here in the last three or four weeks, even though we've been allowed to do it. Teams are assessing their hand, they're trying to get a feel for the draft. Everybody's talking to each other trying to get a feeling for what they can and can't do, and they're making lists, just like we are...."

On contingency plans as the draft day goes on:
"...I don't know what the other 25 teams in front of me will do. I have a pretty good feel for what we think will take place, and of course we know the 26 players that we would like to take.... The scenario always exists that a couple of players that you didn't think would be taken are taken, and then (conversely) you have two or three players to choose from that you didn't think would be there that are all of a sudden there."

On where Bynum might have gone in this year's draft, his progress this summer:
"Based on the number of calls I've gotten on him in the last four weeks, I'd have to believe that there's a really high demand for a player like that. A lot would have depended on what kind of year he had at Connecticut...I can't answer the question. He remains a player with an awful lot of promise. He's in here every day working. I know the teams in the NBA know about him, because every time (we) talk they ask me about him.... We're expecting some progress this summer with him on the court. He's working pretty hard, and we're looking forward towards the summer league....

...It's just so hard to get players that size that are true centers. I've got to believe he'd be selected higher than 10, which was our thought process (in last year's draft)...."

On Bynum trade rumors:
"There's no discussions of a trade. I've seen some rumors, and Andrew, I kidded with with him the other day- because there have been a couple of things written about him being traded — I kidded with him that we're not going to trade him. I said I want to see another year of play before I make that decision...but we're not going to trade Andrew. We're very happy with him. He's grown an inch, he's gotten bigger, he's in the weight room, he's gotten stronger.... We haven't measured him recently. We measured him about two months ago, and he had grown an inch. So he's over seven feet tall."

On Odom and Bynum, discussing concerns they might have as their names pop up in rumors:
"With the veteran players, we don't sit down with them. They understand this time of year, they understand what goes on before the trade deadline. I have not sat down with Chris or Lamar. I explained in a joking fashion and more serious fashion with Andrew and his representative how it all works. And nobody is guaranteed to be anywhere, so that's not to say something couldn't pop up, but we're not trying to trade any of those players....

...As a young player, Andrew Bynum doesn't really understand the whole concept of trade talks prior to the deadline, prior to the draft this time of year. I try to educate the young guys, first of all that nothing is guaranteed, and second you're going to hear a lot of rumors. That's just the nature of the business... We don't have a trade about to happen, and we're not trying to trade Lamar, Chris, or Andrew."

More to come later...

UPDATE — TUESDAY, 11:30 p.m.

Here's the rest of Kupchak's media session...

On the impact of not having high school guys in the draft this year:
"... It's a really good high school class. If you're a college basketball fan next year it's going to be an exciting year... There's going to be a lot of players next year available. I would guess that five or six of those guys if they were in the draft this year, they'd be first round picks. So that clearly would move five or six players down towards us."

People talk about this as being a weak draft (on top), but a deep draft. Would you agree with that assessment?
"I wouldn't call it a deep draft. I wouldn't call it a deep draft. We feel confident that we're going to get a good player down there, but I just get a feeling that it's getting a little bit tougher for us to get a great comfort level with 26 players right now. Whereas in years past, whether you have 20 or 22, or last year we had 10 and you know you're going to get a pretty good player. So we think we're going to get one, but I sense in the league that there are a lot of teams that are trying to move out of the first round because they don't have a great comfort level with the talent in the draft. I just get that sense."

Does that lack of consensus at the top and throughout make it harder to trade up? Trade down? Easier?
"I'm not sure it's any different than any other year in terms of making a deal. If you want to move up, there's normally an associated cost with that. You have to give up another player or give up another pick. Two firsts to move up a couple of places. But GMs don't normally want to move down. They'll move out of the draft, but they really don't want to move down. Most GMs want to move up in the draft."

How much different would it be if you still had the 21st pick (traded away in the Mihm deal):
"Well, it's five slots. For the novice, a spectator to look at it and say, "Well, it's 25 or 26 versus 21, it doesn't seem to be a whole lot." But as I mentioned earlier, you always like to have a pick one or two or three earlier. So to that degree it's significant, but it's not like 10 versus 26, or 15 versus 26. You're going to get the same quality of player."

Hypothetically, if you decided to move up, what would you do? How could that be done?
"What kind of deal could you do? You could trade this year's pick for a future pick. You could trade this year's pick for a player. We have an exception. Normally, when you trade to get a player, you have to give up a player because the salaries have to meet. You have to create room. But we have an exception for about $1.9 million, which means we can take a player without giving up a player. So that would be an option. Take a player, give up a pick."

How do you keep track of all those exceptions?
"That's what we do. It's our job. Believe me (the list) is not in my head. We have a book that's updated every day. We spend a lot of time on it, and if I ever lose the book I'm in trouble."

With all the rookies (and young players) on the roster last year, do you feel like you need another rookie?
"That's a concern. Not so much bringing in another rookie, but overloading your team with too many players of the same age window. There's something that's not really good about having a lot of talent that's really young, because they all kind of have the same mindset. They all want to play, they all want to prove themselves, they all need minutes. They're all very similar, in our opinion anyway you have to have a good mix of veteran players that play big minutes, young players that play, maybe a veteran or two that's going to play some minutes, and maybe is a little bit past his prime but he brings something to the locker room or he brings something to the huddle. And he understands that his role later on his career is not about the minutes but is being part of something. So all those things factor in. So we don't want to have a team with just young players, because number one, as I mentioned we want to have a good mix, but we also feel that we want to win games too."

You believe that the 26th pick probably won't play much. Will the pick have any impact on what you might go out and get in the free agent market? Are they separate issues?
"They're separate. Although I'd like to think that the player we pick in the draft is going to help us immediately, I know that's unrealistic. So we'll try to look to bring a young player on board through the draft if we keep our pick, which I assume we will, and we hope that player will be in the league eight to ten years. We won't, when we look at our depth chart, put that player in a position where he's going to play a lot of minutes. If he does, that's great. But we'll look to improve the team in terms of its on the court performance via a trade or free agency. That's how we're probably going to help this team."

So if you draft a guard, for example, that won't keep you from signing one?
"Correct."

 
Comments () | Archives (121)

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shady -

i like your analogy with the nfl draft, but it doesn't quite fit with the nba draft. in the nfl, you can draft for need from a much larger talent for at least 2 rounds. in the nba, your ability to draft for need at a specific position from among what is perceived to be the most "solid" group of prospects is typically reduced to the first 10-15 (in a VERY good year) picks. this is not to say that talent can't be found with later picks -- several posts above have made that point very clear. i just don't think a team in the 26th slot (like us) is in a position to bargain with our pick alone with someone below us, especially only one or two slots. but, totally, like you said -- everything that executives are saying right now is either smokescreen or too vague to read seriously into.

i also have to echo Andy B's sentiments in hoping to God that farmar doesn't end up in a laker hat tomorrow. he won't contribute anything anytime soon, and i think he's crappier than kapono... and look how that turned out (and don't give me anything about the ring he's getting, i don't think he did anything on the court to earn it).

L. Odom,

They (da Kobe nation) are kissing your you know what as of this time but...

You do know that you will be the "fall guy" IF you get knock out (again) on the first round of or worse, not even make the playoffs. Because as far as the FANS and the entire LA organization goes, KOBE is/was and always will be "FAULTLESS".

So my ADVISE to you is... RUN and get a hold of your agent or YOU, yourself start making NOISE for a TRADE!!!

RELEASE LAMAR ODOM (former HEAT star player) for MARBURY (Kobe's leadership-look alike).

So it's draft day... wouldn't it be a great day for a huge trade? Just like every other Laker fan, I like to dream up trade scenarios that play into our favor (yet work out contractually.) I'm a big Lamar fan, but let's pretend that KG wants to spend more of next winter at his Malibu home. Many fans wouldn't be willing to part with LO, but I'm one of those who would trade ALMOST anyone for KG.

I created 2 trade scenarios that involve 3 teams (Lakers, T-Wolves, and Hawks).

Scenario #1:
http://www3.realgm.com/src_checktrade.php?tradeid=3198249

Scenario #2:
http://www3.realgm.com/src_checktrade.php?tradeid=3198274


What do you think about these draft day trade scenarios? Good? Bad? It's fun to dream these things up... KG and B. Roy can happen!

Get it done Mitch!!!

Good morning bloggers...just had my first kupcake.

The Lakers should draft Thabo Sefolosha or James White today. Then, sign Marcus Banks to the full MLE. DO IT MITCH!!!!!!!!!

I hjave so much to respond to this morning that i almost don't know where to start. Let me begin with the responses to my trade scenarios. The Jason Kidd proposal seems to have sparked some strangely inconsistent responses. Most say it won't happen or shouldn't happen. However, the reasons that were listed are totally off the charts. Some say that he's one of the best in the game at his position and the Nets would never go for it. Others say he's old with bad knees and the Lakers should do it. WHICH IS IT GUYS???? Next, I see that the Peja scenario has had equally inconsistent responses. It's amazing how in only half a year, Peja has gone from being the BEST pure shooter in the game to be an old, non-defensive, useless player. When he was traded for Ron Artest, everybody said how great of a pick he was. However, now he isn't worth it. WHICH IS IT GUYS???? What amazes me (shouldn't anymore) about your reposnses for these scenarios as well as the others I have listed in the past couple of days is that most of you always pick the most ridiculous scenarios that really don't make sense, yet you greatly criticize the ones that do. You claim that it's impossible to get Jason Kidd, yet he was once traded for Marbury, who isn't worth a nickel right now. I say that you try every possibility imaginable and see if the other team will take it.

Fianlly, as it relates to Mitch and the Lakers' Managemen, I am tired of all of the negative posts on here. People always ONLY remember the positive things that people do according to what they deem positive. The praised Jerry West is praised for the championships won in LA. However, what about the 12 years in between titles? Mitch isn't given much respect because most still believe that the Shaq trade was bad and that Mitch is partly responsible as GM. First, eventhough the Heat won a title, it was the RIGHT trade. Good or bad.....it was the RIGHT trade at the right time. The Lakers have always been about building consistent program. Miami put all their eggs into 1 championship, but what next? Despite their winning this year, it was uncovered that Shaq no longer requires the most attention on a Shaq team. When the double teams start to be switched on to Dwayne Wade, we'll see how he responds.

As for the Lakers, they are heading in the right direction and this season will continue that course. I just hope all of you are there to give Mitch his proper credit when the Lakers are back on top. All of these years are setting up the next set of great years.

I did some research on James White. He might be pretty good if he were more aggressive. Seems he doesn't assert himself according to his talent. Could be him personal make-up like Elden Campbell. I would pass on him.

mike

tarugo's really a PENDEJO!!!

Brickowski
I like your trade scenarios but would prefer to do trade option #2. The problem with trade #3 is that we are giving up 3big men with LO,Kwame, and Cook. I like the idea of gettign rid of Kwame (lol) and KG would be a real good addition to the Lakers. We also get to move up to the #5 which is great. This is how our starting lineup would be.

1.FA/#5pick/Smush
2. Kobe/JJ/Sasha
3. Walton/Childress
4. KG/Cook/Turiaf
5. Mihm/Bynum

The 3,4 and 5 spot are all interchangealbe depending on whose on the field. You could have a good combo of Bynum and KG and Walton. The only weak point i see is the PF with not much experience in the triangle. I really like KG and he has as much heart as anybody in the NBA.

The only trade that would really matter to the Lakers right now would be one involving the departure of Mitch Kupchak. He has got to go. Kupchak has gone from inheriting a dynasty to destroying it to rebuilding a lackluster squad. Let's face it. The Kupchak experiment is a complete and total failure. We went from the promised land to the abyss in a matter of two years.

A competent GM with half a brain would have realized the magic created by a Shaq-Kobe tandem, and would have gone to great lengths to preserve that relationship. Instead, Kupchak just sat back and let the feud between the two stars grow to a level where they could no longer coexist. And maybe that was done on purpose because Shaq-Kobe will always be remembered as a product of Jerry West, and Kupchak wants to put his signature on the franchise.

Kupchak now has had two years to assemble a championship caliber team and the Lakers of today are nowhere near that. We are no better off now than we were two years ago, when Shaq left town. Kobe Bryant remains the lone Laker who is untouchable. And Lamar Odom is the only Laker who truly qualifies as an NBA starter. Everyone else on the Laker roster can sent to the NBDL for further development.

Some Laker fans try to argue that progress is being made and cite this year's playoff run as evidence of that. The only progress I concede is the hiring of Phil Jackson, which Kupchak played no role in. Jack Nicholson & Co. essentially demanded Jerry Buss to hire Jackson, which Buss ultimately did. Jackson is the only reason why the Lakers didn't end the season losing 20 games and wound up making the first round of the playoffs.

Ultimately, deficiency in personnel (a dept in which GM Kupchak is 100% responsible for) caught up to the Lakers and the talented yet undermanned and shorthanded Suns managed to rally and make the Lakers only the 8th team in the history of the NBA playoffs to fall after being up 3-1.

The Lakers needs are in many departments, but the most pressing needs are point and center. We'll see how Kupchak fare this summer in the draft and free agent signing. I don't expect anything spectacular as Kupchak is anything but.

A note to Jerry Buss: Get a new GM before next summer. If you entrust Kupchak with the signing spree that will take place in 2007, the Lakers will be screwed for eternity. Many more Brian Grants will get to wear a Laker jersey, warm the Laker bench, and get paid tens of millions of dollars just for doing that.

What about the Lakers dealing w/ the Warriors. Trade Mihm and D. George and our 1st round pick for T. Murphy(also find a way to snag Monta Ellis). Murphy would spread the floor and is a good rebounder. Not necessarily a great shot blocker but he can hustle. Under Phil I know he'd become a better low post player. Just a thought.

Mitch, I hope you have a chance to do some extra curricular reading today (Lord knows all GMs should read my posts). This years draft can help the Lakers in one way... gain athleticism. There should be a few good athletes left come pick 26 (i.e. James White).
Priority one; make sure the pick can defend.
Priority two; basketball IQ, does the pick understand the game (spacing, court awareness...)
Priority three; make sure the pick has good shooting form - Shot accuracy can improve. Correcting bad shooting form is almost impossible (i.e. shaq free throw)

If we acquire our friend Marcus Banks, gain athletic depth at the 3 and our bigs continue to grow in "the triangle", then we should be in pretty good shape come January.

PS Mitch... feel free to trade chris. Inconsistency kills.
(and while Divac is on the payroll, he better be in Stojakovic's ear, "come to LA.")

To piggyback off of JJ, Wade proved in the NBA Finals that you need to double team him now the same way Kobe commands a double team on a nightly basis; he's that good now. People forget that Shaq wasn't double teamed the entire series against Detroit in '04 (Big Ben played him straight up the entire series and set their defensive strategy to contain Kobe). So in terms of a Shaq team where he didn't command the most attention, that hasn't been the case since '02. But let's get back on topic: the draft. The Lakers need to draft for leverage purposes only, in order to get someone that has experience and can contribute right away and has a high basketball IQ to pick up the triangle expediently. As much as I would love to grab a player who can put the league's big men on an And1 Mixtape, the ultimate goal is winning while keeping the Buss budget in the black.

Brickowski,

Why would Atlanta give up #5 [potentially an Aldridge or Tyrus or the Italian] *and* Joe Johnson *and* Joe Smith for LO? Even Billy King wouldn't think that's a good deal for them!

Now your turn to diss my trade scenario:) - Kwame + Tim Thomas + bums to Phoenix for Marion

JJ,

I understand your frustration, and completely agree with your viewpoints about the team and management (for the most part). I believe as you do that we are heading in the right direction. However as per your trade scenarios, you have to remember that there are different people, with different viewpoints responding to it. I said I'd go for the Jason Kidd trade regardless (actually I said it's interesting), even though (like I said again) he's old and was injured for the better part of 04-05---but I'd go for it, cause above all else, he's a talent. Do you dispute that he's better than Nash, if only for completeness, as in playing D? Nevertheless that's my opinion. As for Peja, who really reminds me of JJ (except more with a bad back) I'm worried that he'd be benched and useless like JJ was, except with be paying him a whole lot. That's not to say neither are possible, cause you're right impossibles happen all the time.

But welcome back to the blog regardless, we have missed you here.

Dref-

D.George is a free agent. Can't really include him on any trades (I doubt he's the kind of player who would be involved in a sign and trade).

Faith,

I like JJ. He's from my hometown. I just ate at his restaurant a couple weeks ago. However, to say that Peja and him are the same is grossly an exaggeration. Peja is possibly the purest shooter currently in the game.

You forget that Steve Kerr had poor defense, but was excellent for the Bulls. Peja is a missing piece the Lakers could use.

They would still need a point guard, but Peja would be a great addition.

He lessens the need for another power forward to allow Lamar to focus on small forward more.

JJ,
I think youd have an easier time with this blog once you realize that it isnt actually ONE person writing all the posts.

JJ:

Thanks for your posts. I totally agree with you that the reasons and justifications given for the trades that get proposed on the blog range from incredibly naive to astonishingly brilliant.

On the other hand, that is what the blog really is all about, letting true Laker fans vent their many frustrations and unleash their unvarnished hopes about their beloved purple and gold.

The really prize that we all win by participating in the blog, however, is the fellowship of the a passionate Laker community and the opportunity to share the remarkable insights and intelligent observations posted by our fellow Laker fans.

I totally agree with you that Lakers' management has done a remarkable job since the necessary trade of Shaq 2 years ago in postitioning our team for another long string of NBA championships.

We should all be thrilled and appreciative that we have Jerry Buss as our owner, Mitch Kupchak as our GM, and Phil Jackson as our coach, not to mention the world's current greatest player, Kobe Bryant, and the world's next great center, Andrew Bynum, wearing purple and gold.

Today we will try to add another piece to the championship puzzle we are building. Meanwhile, the Knicks, Celtics, and other fabled franchises will merely try to select a player who won't elicit raw rage and more frustration from their fans.

Glad to have you back posting, JJ. Go, Lakers.

Be happy you are Laker fans fellow bloggers. Jack has to wear the shades because the sun is always shining bring on the Lakers.

There is only one move that Mitch Kupchak has to make this summer. One important move that is. I think that move is to get Kevin Garnett period. Kobe is 28yrs old and has about 6 yrs of great years left. Kevin Garnett is 30yrs old and has about 4-5 great years left. I say Mitch should find a way to put these two together while their both in their prime and make a championship run or string of championships in the next 5 yrs before their skills start diminishing.

Waiting for Bynum to develop and Lamar Odom to find himself are two big gambles and a waste of Kobe's talent and greatness. I think Mihm, Odom, Bynum, D.George are good trade baits.

Find a way Mitch. Get it done.

To add further what WiZo said that this blog was not written by ONE person, I also appreciate that there is no dictatorial policy imposed or sugarcoated by its creators AK/BK on what to say with our comments. I admire their (AK/BK) tolerance when they are addressed as stupid and negative! They are not vengeful and the blog goes on. Sometimes, we also get positive remarks on certain issues and negative on others. Eventhough we are all anonymous, we always qualify and give the reasons WHY we are in favor or against certain issues. Everybody has his own take because we all come from different backgrounds and experiences, likes or dislikes, so just take it what it is, if what you read is contrary to your own views.

What I fear MOST is when this blog has only one opinion orchestrated only by ONE person.

Shady-

If KG ever wears purple and gold, I wouldn't worry too much about him not being experienced with the triangle. As you said, the guy has huge heart... plus a pretty decent b-ball IQ. Also, don't forget that 2000 season... we had little Triangle experience for Shaq and Kobe, but we got results.

hariyahu-

It looks like Atlanta is letting Al Harrington go and it may be time for Marvin Williams to start. Shipping out Josh Smith would allow Williams more PT and Lamar Odom is a veteran forward who played like an all-star in this past year's playoffs. ATL has been living on draft picks for years... kind of like an East Coast Clips team. Now's their chance to grab some veterans who would help out their roster. B.Cook has the outside stroke to play on any team and Mckie is off the books next year. As a biased Laker fan, I think Lamar is (at least) worth Joe Johnson and a #5 pick. If I were ATL, I wouldn't think twice to nab LO for that.
BTW... I won't diss your trade. We know that the Suns want to get stuck with a Kwame "stone hands" Brown contract! *wink wink*

 
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