Mitch Kupchak has kept relatively mum this summer, but he agreed to have an in-depth chat on his extremely eventful offseason with Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. The conversation covered the loss of Dwight Howard, using the amnesty provision on Metta World Peace, and the additions the club has made to try and fill the void as best they can. Here's a look at some of the highlights..
How disappointed were you to lose Howard in free agency to the Rockets?
It wasn't a surprise. I had a feeling that Houston was a frontrunner, and whenever a player is an unrestricted free agent, anything can happen. Clearly, we wanted to keep him here in Los Angeles, and I felt we did everything we could do within reason to show we did want to keep him here. Until the end, I kept up hope. I think we were as persistent as we could be within reason. I wasn't shocked but I was disappointed.
With Kobe Bryant coming back at an unknown date from a torn Achilles' tendon, is it time to write off next season and play for a top draft pick in 2014?
You know that's not our plan. Our plan was to bring back Dwight Howard and that would have sky-rocketed our payroll. That's never a plan here with our fan base, to throw in the towel before the season begins. We always try to win, and that's what we're going to do this year. We have challenges. There's no doubt. We don't know when Kobe's coming back, and we don't know what level he's going to come back at, although we're optimistic. Everything's good with Steve Nash. Pau Gasol should be fine. We've added some athleticism. We're hopefully putting ourselves in position where we can compete in every game.
Is a five month recovery for Kobe possible or it's really going to be eight or nine or 10?
We just don't know. When he gets back in September, we'll take another look at him, but he hasn't been on a basketball court. It's really premature to try to predict other than try to be optimistic that he'll be ready for opening night or the 15th of November or the 1st of December or the 15th of December.
On the talent-packed 2014 free agent class:
I'm not sure if you'll see that Howard type of player go from team to team, although it is possible. We do feel Los Angeles is a destination spot. We have complete confidence in the organization, the city, our fan base, that we would be considered as a destination for players in the future. So we're hopeful going forward that the flexibility that we have will be beneficial.
This off-season if we did one thing, between the small forward and wing spot and backcourt, we got quicker and more athletic, something I think we needed.