Western Notes: Lakers, Suns, Thomas

The Lakers will keep their first-round pick only if it falls within the top five selections, but GM Mitch Kupchak says his team will never attempt to engineer a poorer record, as he tells Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com. “It’s a lottery,” Kupchak said. “It doesn’t mean anything. I mean, last year, we got the seventh pick in the draft, and to me, it felt like we lost every game. I don’t know how you lose more games to try to get a better pick. I just don’t know how you do it.”

Here’s more from out west:

  • With three starting-caliber point guards on the Suns’ roster, head coach Jeff Hornacek is forced to juggle rotations on a nightly basis, Tim Bontemps of The New York Post writes. “It hasn’t been tricky to navigate the [who is] playing part of it, because the guys that are playing well, we just keep them in,” Hornacek said. “Sometimes guys want to have their guaranteed minutes, and sometimes you can do that, but that’s where the tricky part comes.” One thing making it easier on the team is Eric Bledsoe‘s contract situation being sorted out, notes Bontemps. Now that Bledsoe is signed long-term Hornacek doesn’t need to worry about giving him extra minutes as an incentive to stay in Phoenix, Bontemps adds.
  • With the Lakers off to a 1-7 start it looks increasingly likely the franchise will get to keep its 2015 first-rounder. Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) analyzes the Lakers’ chances of not having to relinquish their much-needed draft pick to Phoenix.
  • The Thunder have unearthed a gem in the form of Lance Thomas, who made Oklahoma City’s regular season roster despite incredibly long odds, Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman writes. With all of the early season injuries the team has faced, Thomas’ versatility and work ethic have been invaluable, Mayberry adds.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

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