Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak took questions Wednesday in El Segundo, ahead of Saturday's big Media Day extravaganza kickoff bash to the see-what-sticks 2013-14 season. He covered plenty of ground over the course of about 35 minutes, and we'll get some of his comments, along with some amount of pithy commentary, up as soon as possible.
In the meantime, for those who want to hear the whole thing, here's the full audio:
And now some individual clips for those who prefer their press conferences pre-sifted…
Kupchak is probably right that the book excerpt in isolation doesn't impact the way potential free agents would view the city and the franchise, but collectively with other examples of family discord or disorganization, it absolutely matters. The perception of ownership makes a difference. Say what you want about Dwight Howard, but he was reportedly unimpressed with Jim Buss during the team's presentation to him. No question, Jim has a reputation to overcome.
Without question, many of the historic advantages held by the franchise are mitigated in today's NBA, for all sorts of reasons. If as an organization the Lakers have to overcome the perception that management in the post-Dr. Buss era isn't on the same page, it'll make things that much more difficult. Going forward, whatever conflict exists as Jim and Jeanie navigate a world without their dad needs to be kept in-house.
I find this one particularly interesting. Once again, Kupchak is pushing the (totally realistic and wise) notion the rebuilding process will extend beyond this offseason. Unless the Lakers sign LeBron James — not going to happen — the idea the Lakers play out this year then emerge next summer a fully reconstructed contender is far-fetched. More likely, it takes a couple years. Kupchak's message is sound: It's more important to rebuild correctly than it is to rebuild quickly.
Maybe I'm reading too far in between the lines here… but it sounds like they'd like to get the ball back in Nash's hands a little more, and avoid the “Magic Bryant” style of play they used last year, both to protect Kobe post-injury and best utilize the rest of the roster. (Meanwhile, I'm very optimistic about what Jordan Farmar might do for this year's team, and Kupchak's comments do little to temper those feelings.)
D'Antoni has plenty of support within the organization. He's not going anywhere. (Still, he might want to win a preseason game or two, just to be safe…)
One more interesting note: I asked Kupchak how many players the Lakers plan to carry this year, and he indicated management could be more inclined to carry a 14th or even 15th player into the season. Obviously, the team's injury situation plays a role in that decision. If the vets are still a little tender, more bodies are needed to limit their minutes and facilitate effective practices. But the Lakers also have a bunch of players in on cheap deals, representing some of their best access to young, potentially useful talent. It's worth the modest investment to see if one or two might pan out over the course of the year. All in all, very good news for the make-good guys in camp, and something to watch as the preseason plays out.