Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak participated in a radio interview with ESPN's Colin Cowherd earlier today to discuss a few topics surrounding the franchise. He acknowledged that the transition from Mike Brown to Mike D'Antoni last season was "clumsy" and admitted that there was some feeling that Phil Jackson would coach the team during 2012-13 before eventually handing over the job to D'Antoni. We'll relay more of Kupchak's noteworthy comments, and you can read them below (credit goes to ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne and Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times):
"Steve, to my understanding, is close to 100 percent, but he's not as young as he once was and Kobe's a big question mark. We're very optimistic, he's getting treatment every day, he's in the facility right now, but he hasn't been on a basketball court. Uncertainty going forward, I guess with our health status would be the biggest question mark."
Regarding any talks of a contract extension with Kobe:
"There really (have) been no discussions beyond next year for obvious reasons…You have a player who is up in age and just had a devastating injury. Obviously, we created an environment with our team where were looking to have financial flexibility a year from now, so that plays into it."
On the possibility of Pau Gasol remaining a Laker beyond this season:
"We're in a cycle…We're hopeful that within a year from now, we'll have enough flexibility. We're hopeful that Pau and Kobe can continue to play and we'll have options to rebuild the team."
Thoughts on the idea of tanking for a lottery pick in 2014:
"The ping-pong lottery thing, even if you have the very worst team in the NBA, you're not guaranteed to get the first pick…I'm not sure getting into the lottery and ending up with 10, 11, 12, 13 or 14 is going to give us a top one or two pick in the draft…We still may end up drafting 12, 13 or 14, which is not a great place to draft if you just look back on drafts in this league."
More comments about the 2014 offseason:
"We'll have a lot of financial resources a year from now…I don't know if we'll get a star player to leave his home team to come here like (Dwight Howard) did to go to Houston. He took a huge financial hit just to do that…We have a pick next year, which is going to be a very good draft. We're very comfortable with the flexibility…It just doesn't mean you get free agents you can take players [via trade]. There are a lot of things you can do with cap room."