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Mitch Kupchak, on the Lakers and the NBA Draft

Nba draft Just wanted to pass along a summary of what came up this afternoon when Mitch Kupchak discussed tomorrow's draft.  To be honest, there's not much you didn't already know or at least likely suspected after watching his exit interview.  The closest thing to news earth-shattering was talk of Phil Jackson returning as a "road less traveled" coach put to rest.  But for those who enjoy the finer points of what could be a fairly uneventful Thursday for the Lake Show, I'm your man.

  • Hoping to keep their roster intact as possible and aware it'll cost a pretty penny, the organization is still heavily leaning towards drafting a player to stash/send overseas or simply trading the pick altogether.  I got the vibe that, all things being equal, they'd choose the latter, and assuming I'm correct, Kupchak seemed confident they'll find a partner.  "There's a lot of interest."

    Mitch declined to ballpark the odds of the 29th pick specifically getting moved, but did think there's a "better than even likelihood that we'll move one of our picks."
  • Should the first round pick be kept, whoever gets selected will likely be foreign or a red-blooded American with a valid passport, because he's looking at a season or two overseas.  Wanting no part in a player insistent on joining the squad ASAP, the Lakers would "do their homework in advance" and make sure whomever they draft is amenable to leaving a tender unsigned, taking the organization off the immediate hook for guaranteed money.   Bringing a second rounder to camp is less an issue, because no dollars become set in stone.

    Kupchak did lay out circumstances unusual enough to stray from this plan: A dude that seriously slipped.  "It would have to be a player that we had ranked in the top 18 or so, that we thought could have an impact on our team right away."  Otherwise, they're not counting on anybody taken to be on next season's club.  In a perfect world, they're hoping to bring thirteen players into camp, so if "Operation Bring Back Trevor Ariza, Shannon Brown and Lamar Odom" becomes "mission accomplished," that doesn't leave a ton of real estate available for a newbie.

    There were actually fourteen players on the 2009 roster, so I asked Kupchak if "thirteen" being thrown out reflected any disinclination to keep a specific player.  (I didn't throw out names, since Mitch wasn't about to tell me if Sun Yue is getting cut loose, but that's who I was thinking.)  Mitch said the number had more to do with recognizing how tough retaining all three unrestricted free agents will be, as opposed to ruling out a truly Xeroxed team. 

    "We won a championship, sure.  What's wrong with that? That would be great.  We're not looking to make a change.  You can nitpick and we need this and we need that.  Or we could do better in this area.  But this is a team that played well until the end.  If you could snap your fingers and bring them back, why not?" 
  • Should they keep the pick, Mitch expressed little confidence the next Tony Parker would fall into their laps.  "It doesn't appear to be a strong international draft.  There are a couple, three players that we think would be first round picks.  Everybody else falls into the second round."   This would be the exception to the current rule, and Kupchak thinks this decade's global growth will continue.   Of all places, India is beginning to make its roundball presence felt.  Who knew?
  • Should the Lakers end up drafting from their low position, the typical "best player available" approach is a safe bet to continue.  But Kupchak did provide a hint as to what position they'd be keeping particular tabs on, if there's a tie of skill to be broken. 

    "I think with Derek (Fisher) approaching 35 years old, we'd like to sort out that position going forward.  We have Jordan (Farmar) who's had moments when he looked like the guy tjat might be able assume that position and Shannon Brown came in and did a great job as well.  But that position in the future is still undetermined.  We need to figure out who is going to take over that position when Derek retires."

    Speaking of Farmar, I don't think it's out of the question he could be swapped for a future pick to clear some space.  This is just my gut talking, not a "source."  But I don't get the impression the front office is sold on him as a starter, a highly coveted backup or even an essential piece of the puzzle.  It's no secret that JF's rep doesn't feature the phrase "highly coachable" and as BK noted in his exit interview, at points during the season, the former Bruin seemed on path to complain his way out of town.

    Of course, Farmar redeemed himself nicely after his benching, obviously taking instructions to heart and displaying the most humility I've seen from him since... well, ever.  But that may not even matter, but the issue is as much pragmatic reality as a belief in Jordan.  He's the only Laker of any value that can be traded without immediately taking back salary.  If this becomes a choice between freeing up money to spend on TA and/or LO and keeping Farmar, that's a no-brainer.  Especially if they're reasonably confident Shannon- whom I'm positive they dig- can be resigned. 

    As another writer pointed out, they may want to hang onto Farmar as insurance, just in case they need to replace Ariza or Odom.  Package him with Adam Morrison and that's 7 mil in expiring contracts as bait for a better player.  That in and of itself could prevent a draft day deal. 

    Either way, the thought has crossed my mind more than once these days.  (And apparently the powers-that-be's brains as well.  Right after posting this, I caught wind of the Times' Broderick Turner mentioning that Farmar was offered to Houston, but the deal was turned down.  As I said, feelers put out makes total sense.)
  • I asked Mitch if he thought the trade winds would keep blowing through tomorrow.  I'm pretty sure Kupchak gave his "yes" before news that Jamal Crawford was heading to the ATL.  Smart cookie, that Lakers G.M.  The "key," he felt, was certain teams having multiple picks, which aren't all going to be kept.  Thus, he's expecting more action.
  • Mitch's description of draft day: In a word, chaos.  Cell phones.  5-6 hard lines.  Emails.  And in a first today, communicating with a GM by text, hardly Kupchak's typical vehicle for communication (although he does know how to do it)  Lotta balls being juggled.  Sometimes it's even tough to literally remember who you're talking to.  "It gets hectic, but there's a (also) degree of excitement."

Non-Draft items

  • As I mentioned earlier, Kupchak put the kibosh on talk about Kurt Rambis coaching an extended number of roadies.  "Phil and I had a long discussion this morning, and I guess the short of it is, what he said, he didn't mean for it to be said, or for it to sound the way it sounded.  If he comes back to coach, he will come back to coach home and away games." 

    As Mitch reminded, the scenario kicked around was just hypothetical and never put to serious discussion.  And for good reason.  "That type of scenario doesn't work and that's his opinion as well."  If medical issues required Phil to miss an isolated road game, no worries.  But as for a split even one well below 50/50, not an option.

    Mid-July would be the absolute latest Phil can give his answer.  But beyond the health, Kupchak can't anticipate any reason PJ wouldn't return.  "I think he likes our team.  He's very energized by what happened this year.  It think it solely rests on his ability medically to come back and coach.  I've gotten no indication that there's been a red flag yet."
  • Another date to mark on the ol' calender.  Kobe Bryant has until June 30th to decide if he'll opt out (probably around 9pm PT) and they don't expect an answer any sooner.  Asked what the odds are of that happening, Kupchak said he didn't know.


Comments () | Archives (25)

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[crosses fingers] aaron brook. aaron brooks. come on...what? he is too good a deal money wise for the rockets to give up? well, keep trying.

Shaq with Lebron.


You dint know India was making its basketball presence felt??

Have you ever seen my name?? :)


I'm actually kind of disappointed with Mitch's statements about the draft. I'm one of those people who likes the draft... I go through the various draft boards during the long lead up and even though we're rarely in or anywhere near the lottery, I still root for some rookie to come in, make the team and have a career. Teams are still largely grown internally. It's just a sports tradition.

I totally understand Mitch's logic... why waste time with the draft when you can bring a championship team back intact? Still, every player begins as a rook....

Wow, Shaq might actually help the Cav's. They didn't have to give up anything to get him either. Wallace & Pavlo-whatever, neither did much. I wonder if Shaq will work hard like he did in Miami or just roll over, cash his checks & complain about Cleveland?

You know what I really like as a by-product of our 2009 LA Lakers championship?

I don't have to watch the seltx on all the ESPN promos.

Bill Simmons must hate having to see the World Champion Lakers celebrating all the time. LOL.

Jim Joyce,

Thank you.



Mitch trades Farmar, Morrison, & Brown for 5th pick and Rubio falls to the Lakers, who opt to store him overseas for a year and then bring him over to succeed Fisher. How would that be? After Pau, anything is possible.


2010 Shannon Brown = 2009 Trevor Ariza

If the Lakers are going to add anything for next year, it would probably a veteran buyout at midseason. They need to maintain some flexibility for that.

Shaq goes to Lebron...


Can you guys imagine how hyped up the Lakers-Cleveland games will be? It is already hyped up with Kobe-Lebron but now imagine Kobe-Shaq as well.

I can already see the finals

Kobe vs Shaq

who will get their 5th ring? haha

Lakers all the wayyyyyyy!

If the Lakers are going to add anything for next year, it would probably a veteran buyout at midseason. They need to maintain some flexibility for that.

so true... both started as "youtube"-worthy players, both defense-first players,both extended range to 3-pointers

I like the Shaq to Cav's trade. I think it spells doom for Lebron. Now the middle is going to be clogged up by the fat arse and Lebron is going to find his favorite drive to the hoop no longer an easy feat. I don't think this is a good marriage, but who knows.


>>>Mitch trades Farmar, Morrison, & Brown for 5th pick and
>>> Rubio falls to the Lakers, who opt to store him overseas
>>> for a year and then bring him over to succeed Fisher.
>>> How would that be? After Pau, anything is possible.

That would absolutely suck. They'd have only Sun Yue as a backup
PG for next season.

Part of Cleveland's success has been that Z could step out to
20 feet and hit his shots. Then if Z's man stayed in the lane, LeBron
would kick it out to Z, but if Z's man stayed with Z, then LeBron
only had to break down his own man to get to the rim for an uncontested

That was responsible for like 1/3 of their offense, at least.

Shaq CAN'T hit the 20 foot shot. So he'll be in the lane clogging
things up and keeping another defender in there. If LeBron
drives to the hole, things won't be as easy for him.

Either Boston or Orlando will knock off Cleveland before they
even get to the finals.


No way Mitch K will trade Shannon Brown unless he is ready for 250,000 mob fans marching to his El Segundo office. Secondly, Rubio is gone on the 2nd pick. I think Mitch will sell the draft picks tomorrow for cash to pay the three musketeers and dressed the buying team with Championship regalia.

Here's the fricken problem with this fricken draft for the Lakers...

We don't know if three pieces are coming back.

If Lamar, Trevor, and Shannon are coming back, we are set to pick up a piece that will improve our team (taking the place of Sun Yue) and possibly improve our future (foreign draft pick we can sit on).

But we don't know if they're staying, so we're going to have to (to some degree) make "emergency" draft choices "just in case" one or more of our players split... which sucks.

Ideally we should...

Draft a point guard/shooting guard (who should be an underclassman) to fill Sun Yue's spot.

Draft a foreign prospect.

And trade a pick to another team for future considerations.

That's it.

Hopefully Mitch will take that risk with enough confidence from Dr. Buss that we're going to make retaining Lamar, Trevor, and Shannon happen.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


To have RIcky Rubio in our team would be amazing but I can't imagine the right formula to get the 2nd or 3rd pick without giving away something really good but like LakerTom says, after Pau Gasol's trade anything could happen...


>>>Mitch trades Farmar, Morrison, & Brown for 5th pick and
>>> Rubio falls to the Lakers, who opt to store him overseas
>>> for a year and then bring him over to succeed Fisher.
>>> How would that be? After Pau, anything is possible.

That would absolutely suck. They'd have only Sun Yue as a backup
PG for next season.

Posted by: Long Time Laker Fan | June 24, 2009 at 10:35 PM

That would suck, indeed.
But a Farmar, Morrison, & Yue for 5th pick could do it.

trade Walton, Vujacic and Mbenga for Chris Paul!!!

>>>trade Walton, Vujacic and Mbenga for Chris Paul!!!


And you'll need to back-fill the backup SF and SG spots, so
trade Morrison for Danny Granger and Sun Yue for Eric Gordon!

Make it so, Mitch.

Knicks to trade up for Ricky Rubio? ? ?

anybody getting drafter from India?


Mitch trades Farmar, Morrison, & Brown for 5th pick and Rubio falls to the Lakers, who opt to store him overseas for a year and then bring him over to succeed Fisher. How would that be? After Pau, anything is possible.


Posted by: LakerTom | June 24, 2009 at 09:48 PM

No way. Substitute Luke for Brown and DEAL.

Trade Sasha & Farmar. Sign Lamar and Artest. Sign a quick defensive oriented guard. Back to Back.



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