SI.com's Sam Amick conducted an extensive Q&A with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak on the team's offseason moves, Dwight Howard's health status, and a handful of other topics. Kupchak had plenty to say, so let's dive right in and round up a few of his more notable quotes:
On where the Lakers stand in the West:
"On paper, we've made what we think are improvements. I think we're going to be in the hunt. I don't know if we'll lead the pack or be second in the pack or be fourth in the pack or fifth, but I think that we'll be in the hunt and we're better than we were a year ago. Is it time to celebrate? Absolutely not. You're going to have to wait a year and see how it all plays out."
On whether he's happy to stand pat with this roster:
"There's been a lot of positive publicity surrounding this team, but I know when you lose three in a row that all of a sudden it's going to be 'Break up the Lakers.' And then you start to worry about injuries, and then you look around at the league and who else has made improvements. So you're never really feeling good about anything that's taken place. You just kind of keep moving ahead and then you always try to figure out what could go wrong."
On whether he has any concerns with the roster as constructed:
"A perfect example is that a lot of people say, 'Hey, Mitch, you've got a great starting five, are you worried about anything or could you possibly wish for anything more?' And the first thing that comes to my mind is, 'Yeah, I wish they were all 25.' That's how I look at things. Yeah, it's a great group, but I wish they were younger."
On the Lakers' new-look bench:
"With trading Lamar [Odom] last year, our bench was not as good as it could have been. Adding Antawn Jamison and signing back Jordan Hill, and then in the [Howard] trade, Chris Duhon and [Earl] Clark came aboard. Then we added a shooter in Jodie Meeks, who I think can do more than just shoot the ball. But if there's one thing he can do, he's got a great knack for making shots and he has to be guarded. I think we've improved our bench in a complementary fashion. But once again, going back to how we started this conversation, it's on paper and we'll know a year from now."
On Howard's recovery from back surgery:
"We had the doctors and the back people obviously examine him and he's on track. He should recover completely. Certainly, we're not going to rush him to play in the first practice or the first preseason game or the first game. It's going to be when he feels and when our people feel he's completely recovered. But our understanding of the rehabilitation is that he's on track to a complete recovery."