With Kobe Bryant expected to miss nine months of action after undergoing shoulder surgery, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said that he had no regrets about signing Bryant to a two year, $48MM extension, as he told reporters, including Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter link). Kupchak said that Kobe was worth “every penny of it,” Medina adds.
Here’s more from Los Angeles:
- Kupchak also went on to defend Lakers coach Byron Scott‘s usage of Bryant. The GM said that Scott playing the veteran for more minutes than the team had anticipated had no impact on Bryant’s latest injury, Medina tweets.
- The nine month timetable given for Bryant’s surgical recovery would have the swingman returning to action toward the end of training camp. But Kupchak is anticipating that Bryant will beat prognostications and be ready to join the Lakers when training camp begins, Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times notes (Twitter link).
- Kupchak scoffs at any suggestion that the Lakers would be better served to tank for a better shot at retaining their 2015 first round draft pick, which is owed to the Suns if it falls out of the top five, Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes. “Our coaches and players have been instructed to win games,” Kupchak said. But the GM did add, “A top-five pick is always a good thing.“
- The Lakers coaching staff has been directed to focus their efforts on developing and evaluating players for the future, Holmes notes. “We want Byron [Scott] to establish and maintain a culture that he’s comfortable with,” Kupchak said. “And the players have to adhere to that culture, which [is], clearly, play hard, play to win, work before practice, work after practice, work before games, show high character under adverse conditions. That’s what we’re going to look at going forward.“
- Though the Lakers possess a number of tradeable assets, Kupchak stressed that the franchise wouldn’t sacrifice its future cap flexibility to make any trades, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register writes. “If we make a move, we have to make sure it’s the right move and not give away hard-earned flexibility,” Kupchak said. “One of the primary things in this league that you do have to protect is your flexibility. It gives you a lot of options.”