Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said the team can’t move on from its current situation until Kobe Bryant is retired, tweets Eric Pincus of The Los Angeles Times. Kupchak touched on a number of subjects during a speech today to season ticket holders. He said it’s going to be “virtually impossible” for Jordan Clarkson to leave the team in free agency next summer (Twitter link), rookie D’Angelo Russell has a chance to be an elite player but has to grow up first (Twitter link) and that he’s concerned about losing the 2016 first-round pick (which goes to the Sixers if it’s outside the top three), but players and coaches are being instructed to try to win (Twitter link). Kupchak also believes the Lakers will be in a stronger position to attract big-name free agents next summer (Twitter link).
There’s more out of Los Angeles:
- The Lakers will have three decisions to make this week on non-guaranteed contracts, Pincus writes in a separate piece. Action must be taken by Thursday to provide a 48-hour waiver period before the official cutdown date, which is January 10th. L.A. has to decide whether to keep Metta World Peace ($1.5MM), Tarik Black ($845,059) and Marcelo Huertas ($525,093).
- Bryant says age and the nearness of retirement have changed his philosophy about basketball, according to Paul Flannery of SB Nation. “I think I’ve matured quite a bit as a person,” Bryant said. “I think at the same time, I’ve lost a lot of the edge because with maturity comes a more docile approach to the game. Whereas back in the day there’s no compromise. There is no understanding. It’s this or nothing. As you get older you start to get more perspective. It’s a great thing as a person, but as a player not so much.”
- With the league’s second-worst record, the Lakers currently have a 19.9% chance at landing the top draft pick, which will likely be LSU’s Ben Simmons, writes Kevin Pelton of ESPN. Pelton analyzes the top nine contenders for Simmons and says if the Lakers stay in the No. 2 slot, they will have a 55.6% chance at remaining in the top three and keeping their pick.