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NBA draft: Mitch Kupchak maintains desire to keep core roster

June 23, 2011 |  6:54 pm


With numerous trade possibilities trickling in before the NBA draft, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak expressed skepticism that any of those scenarios would happen.

"Based on the rumors we heard in the last week or so, I wouldn't anticipate any of that taking place today, tomorrow or the next day," he said.

There were plenty.'s Chad Ford and Hoopsworld's Eric Pincus both reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves hoped they could get Pau Gasol for their No. 2 draft pick. The Times' Broderick Turner reported that Minnesota rejected the Lakers' attempt to trade Lamar Odom for the Timberwolves' No. 2 pick. And Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick reported that the Lakers and 76ers had been in talks about trading Odom for Andre Iguodala. Kupchak openly suspected the reports were "agent driven,"  adding that "agents think a good way to consummate a trade is to suggest publicly ideas they come up with."

Kupchak acknowledged "other teams have been exploring major moves with us," believing the effort stems from Magic Johnson's suggestion that the Lakers' front office should "blow this team up" after they were swept in the Western Conference semifinals by the Dallas Mavericks. But Kupchak and Lakers owner Jerry Buss have maintained that they want to keep the team's "core," while making "tweaks" to the current roster.

"I think we've been pretty consistent in the last month or so that it's not our goal to break up this team," Kupchak said. "Certainly we'll explore opportunities but we're not out there dialing 27 or 28 teams, saying what would you do for these players."

Kupchak shared the same sentiment regarding the NBA draft. Many consider this year's class as inferior, pointing to the talent level and the fact that 41 early entry candidates withdrew their name because of a possible lockout. The Lakers have four second-round picks, at Nos. 41, 46, 56 and 58, leading Kupchak to say it's unlikely they'll make much of an impact next season.

"It's probably unlikely we'll draft four players that we expect to be on our roster or in training camp in the fall," Kupchak said. "We don't have that many roster spots available so we'll either look to do something with one of those picks with another team or we'll draft players that may delay their entry into the NBA."

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-- Mark Medina

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Photo: All-Star guard Kobe Bryant and power forward Pau Gasol (16) are two cornerstones for the Lakers, but versatile forward Lamar Odom (background) has been on the trade block. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times