Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak spoke to reporters today after the team completed the last of its exit interviews with players, and he reiterated the team’s significant interest in re-signing Pau Gasol, as Mark T. Willard of ESPN LA 710 radio notes via Twitter.
“When you look at the free agents on the board, there’s probably not a player better than Pau Gasol,” he said.
That’s quite a stretch, as Gasol doesn’t appear in our 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, which go 10 deep. We have plenty more on the Lakers, courtesy of Dave McMenamin and Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, and Mike Trudell of Lakers.com. All links go to their Twitter accounts, unless otherwise noted.
- Mike D’Antoni said he’s optimistic about returning, referencing his contract, which runs through 2015/16 with a team option in the final season. “Yeah. I’ve got one or two years left, depending on how you look at it. And I’m their coach,” D’Antoni said.
- Kupchak praised the job D’Antoni did this past season. “Under the circumstances, I’m not sure anybody could have done a better job than he did,” Kupchak said. The GM said he’s not concerned about what Kobe Bryant thinks of the coach, and says Gasol’s opinion doesn’t have any bearing, either.
- Gasol said yesterday that style of play will weigh into his decision about where to sign, indicating his frustration with D’Antoni’s small-ball attack, but the coach is confident that he and the big man can continue to work together.
- Kupchak thinks Bryant could play beyond 2015/16, the final season of his two-year extension.
- The Lakers reportedly plan to keep Kendall Marshall, whose contract is non-guaranteed for next season, and though it seems he’d probably make more on the open market, he said today he hopes the Lakers keep him. Kupchak said the team is “optimistic” about him going forward, but the GM nonetheless plans to address the point guard position in the offseason.
- Kupchak doesn’t regret staying above the tax threshold this season.
- The GM acknowledged that the Lakers might trade their first-round pick, though by rule they can’t do it until after the draft, since they’ve already traded their 2015 first-rounder.