The Lakers roster that takes the floor at Staples Center on Christmas could look a lot like the one that shows up when training camp starts a week from Friday.
General Manager Mitch Kupchak said Friday during a media conference at the team's training facility in El Segundo that he would be "very limited" as far as bringing in free agents. Depending on whether shooting guard Shannon Brown decides to re-sign with the team, the Lakers could target a guard and forward in free agency but have limited options to acquire them.
They can use the so-called mini mid-level exception of three years and $9.4 million as well as a veteran's minimum of $1 million, leaving the Lakers hoping that quality players will want to come to Los Angeles for other reasons besides money.
"We're hopeful there's a player out there who's made money in his career and is on the back end and is looking at a championship, or a player who is developing," Kupchak said. "That's harder to do."
Kupchak said he did not anticipate that Theo Ratliff or Joe Smith would be returning to the roster, but he confirmed that he had been in contact with Brown's agent. The Lakers can exercise team options on second-year players Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter and must decide whether to sign second-round draft picks Darrius Morris and Andrew Goudelock.
Kupchak almost sounded resigned to losing Brown, who has been a free agent at the end of each of his seasons with the Lakers and has explored more lucrative offers elsewhere.
"My guess is, you can only continue to do that for such a period of time where it doesn't make any more sense," Kupchak said, "so I would think this year he would look for and probably get a package that's financially much more attractive than we could offer under the present rules."
Morris, Derek Fisher and Matt Barnes were among the Lakers who stopped by the team's training facility for informal workouts Friday. Coach Mike Brown briefly hailed Fisher from across the court before smiling and putting his finger to his lips, a nod to the fact that coaches are not supposed to speak with players before the NBA lockout formally ends.
With only 16 days to hold practices before the Lakers' opener, the coach said he would try not to overwhelm his players. And what would he call Metta World Peace?
"I might just call him Metta or Met," Brown said. "I don't want to call him Peace, because he might think that's grounds for him to leave practice."
We'll have more later at www.latimes.com/sports.
-- Ben Bolch
Photo: "We believe in this group," Mitch Kupchak says of the current Lakers roster. Credit: Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times