Kupchak On Buss, Kobe, Free Agency, Draft

The Lakers finished the season 21-61, their worst winning percentage of all-time, but GM Mitch Kupchak is just a year removed from having signed an extension that takes him through at least the 2016/17 season. Kupchak wishes last offseason had gone somewhat differently, telling reporters Thursday that he wishes the team had been able to Pau Gasol, who’s experiencing a renaissance in Chicago, notes Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Still, the GM believes the Lakers can quickly right themselves in spite of “a terrible year,” notes Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com. He confirmed the team wants to retain Ed Davis, who plans on opting out but would like to return to the Lakers, Holmes also notes, and he had plenty more to say about the months and years ahead for the purple-and-gold. Holmes, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News and Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link) relay Kupchak’s comments, and we’ll pass along a few of the GM’s most noteworthy remarks here:

On the pledge Jim Buss made last year to step down if the team didn’t make the Western Conference Finals within three years (Kupchak said he wasn’t aware of the remark):

“What’s my sense of being in the conference finals within three years? I think it’s possible. But what if you get to the conference semifinals, you lose in seven [games] and you have a great team that you know is going to get better and better? So I don’t think there is anything etched in stone that would determine any change in direction. Three years from now is forever.”

On Kobe Bryant and retirement:

“I have assumed that he has one year to go and is 36 now. That’s all I can plan on. That’s all he’s planning on. A year from now, maybe different. But right now, that’s all we’re planning on.”

On summer spending plans:

“We’re not going to use cap room just to use cap room and maybe improve. I can use the expression 20 games because we won so few games this year. We don’t want to end up using our cap room and winning 40 games. That year doesn’t get you in the playoffs. Oklahoma City won 45 games, and they still didn’t make it in the playoffs. You work hard to create a future, whether it’s draft picks or an opportunity to make a trade or free agent dollars, and you don’t want to give it away just because you have it. But you do have to weigh anticipation and your fans wanting to see some improvement. That is a challenge. That’s not to say the only player we’ll spend our money on is a max player. There may be better opportunities out there. We don’t know that right now. We do have to balance how you use that money, and two years from now there’s a dramatic change in the landscape in terms of the cap.”

On the draft:

“This would be a good draft to participate in. Two months out, I’m pleased with the players that will be in this draft.”

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