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Training Camp Talk w/ Mitch

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#1 daco_inc



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Posted September 23, 2008 - 02:28 PM

Q: What is the status of our backcourt with the variety of guys that we have brought in?
Mitch Kupchak: The guys are all going to have a pretty much equal chance to make the team. I think Coby Karl may have an advantage because he has been around for a year, but he's a young developing player and is going to have to make the team too. So you'll have Coby and our draft choice Joe Crawford. We signed Brandon Heath from San Diego State University, who played last season overseas and has had a very good showing here since we signed him. Dwayne Mitchell is here, played in the CBA (Continental Basketball Association) last year, though he's probably not really a guard. All those players will be vying for one or 2 spots, they all can't make the team. At least one will make the team and maybe 2, but they all can't make the team. And we're going to have to see something from each player that indicates to us that he's gotten better or maybe he will get better and he's worth keeping around.

HEATH Q: What does Brandon Heath bring to the Lakers?
MK: You have to have X number of players to have a training camp. I think Brandon falls into a category where he knows it's going to be tough to make the team, but he will be one of 18 and he'll get great exposure and great coaching and he gets a chance. I think that's all that players who are out of college for a year and are looking for a jump start, I think that's all they want is a chance. We know him, he's from LA and we watched him play at San Diego State and he's gotten better. He'll show well in camp.

Our games are heavily scouted in pre-season. Everybody in the NBA sends a scout and there are a lot of European teams with scouts over here as well. So he'll get great exposure for a player like that too. It can only be a good thing to get invited to an NBA camp.

Q: Is it common to have that many scouts at a pre-season game? Does that happen across the league or bit more because of the Lakers?
MK: I think the Lakers a little bit because it's in LA and you can scout the Clippers too. I think maybe there are more scouts that do come to LA, probably more than any other city than New York, where you can see the Knicks and the Nets practice. We have the shoot-out here in LA, so you can come out and see 4 teams play twice in 2 days. LA's an easy city to get to and a lot of NBA teams have scouts that either live in LA or in Southern California that they can send to the games. I think because of the city and because of the 2 NBA teams; I think we probably do get more exposure to scouts.

Q: What kind of player is CJ Giles?
MK: He's a developing player who bounced around in college. He would probably admit that he didn't manage his life as well as he should have at Kansas and even at Oregon State. I've had a couple of heart to heart talks with him and I think he understands now the opportunity that's in front of him. He's been here a couple of weeks. He's got great size and athletic ability. He's got a high enough skill level to make the team if he plays hard. I think he needs to get stronger and he needs to play and get coaching, but he's big and athletic and he's got talent. There aren't a lot of guys like that in this league. He's going to have to show well and he's going to have to beat someone out to make the team.

Q: In Summer League (in Las Vegas with Toronto) he got a fair number of blocks, is that a niche that he fills?
MK: He played well with Toronto. Ronnie Lester was kind of kidding me and saying that he reminds him of a smaller Marcus Camby and of course Marcus Camby is a great shot blocker. But he is smaller; he isn't as big as Marcus Camby. Your question matches with what Ronnie said. This kid blocked shots for Toronto. I think that’s one of the things he can do.

HEATH Q: In general, when you are signing guys to fill out a training camp roster, what do you look for?
MK: You have to examine your roster and make some judgments as to who is going to be available. We know Luke probably won't be available for all of training camp because of the surgery on his ankle. We also know Pau and Kobe played in the Olympics, so they may not go through every day, because they played through the middle of June and then they played all summer. You gotta get a break. You talk to your coach and you review the status of your players and then the coach may still want to have 3 teams of 5, so teams can go against each other. So you need 15 players and if Luke, Kobe and Pau may not play every day, then you need 18 and then if you have 3 teams you'll need 3 centers. Otherwise you'll have a 5 on 5 game where one team doesn't have a center. You have to try to find out how many people to bring to camp and then balance your roster so you have enough players at each position. It's easy to get guards; there are a lot of them out there. Big guys are at a premium. It's hard to get big guys to come to camp because at this time of year if you're big and you're good, you probably have a job in the NBA or in Europe, so it's tough to get those guys to come to camp.

Ideally you'd like to bring a guy to camp with some upside. You don’t want to bring just a body. Just because you know a guy isn't going to make the team, but you have to have 18, you'd like to bring in a younger guy with some upside. You get to look at a guy for maybe 28 days in a row. Even if he doesn’t make the team, you know him pretty well. Then you can try to get him on your D-League team or you can advise him to go to Europe and you have your scout in Europe go to watch him play. We do like to get players that have some upside, even though we know they might not make the team.

Q: How much of training camp is about learning about your fringe players and filling those last few roster slots vs. preparing your core team?
MK: The fun part for me and Ronnie and the rest of the guys that work in the basketball side is watching the young guys. I don't get much enjoyment from watching Kobe or Pau because I know what they are. I know in camp they'll try hard, but I know what they are. The enjoyment is watching the young players and seeing how they react to the adversity. As you're on a team in camp longer, week by week, the pressure increases and some guys who make shots in the first 2 weeks of camp all of a sudden realize that they have a chance to make the team and during the last cut down, all of a sudden they can't make a shot. We usually don't cut the players, they usually cut themselves. It becomes pretty easy. Every now and again you do have to make a tough choice. But to me the fun part is watching the young guys, the guys you drafted, for obvious reasons, even guys that are free agents, because you like to find someone that no one else knew about and see if he can make your team. That happens, not frequently, but it happens.

Q: What is the status of DJ Mbenga?
MK: We are in touch with his representative and we are hopeful that we can figure out a way to get him on our roster. Although that may not be possible. That's kind of where we are on that.

Q: What are the important roster dates between now and when we have the final roster set?
MK: The only date now is the cut-down date, which is the generally day before the first game of the season, so for this season, October 27th. You have to have your rosters turned in by the end of the day on the 27th. But because the waiver period is 2 days, if you turn your roster in on the 27th and it takes 2 days for a player to clear, then you'd be liable for this contract for 2 days (in the season). You'll see teams making their cuts on the Thursday preceding. Even though we have to get down to our 15 man roster by the end of business on the 27th, you'll see a lot of teams, including us, doing cuts on the 23rd. Because if you know a guy isn't going to make your team, you don’t want to keep him and have to pay him.

Q: So for the pre-season games on the 23rd and 24th, that'll pretty much be our final roster?
MK: We'll probably have to make the cut on the morning of the 23rd. That's assuming we haven't made the cut prior to then. If it comes down to 2 guys that are battling, you're going to keep them until the very end, but we may know our roster before that and we may make our cuts well before then.

#2 We Believe

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Posted September 23, 2008 - 03:31 PM

so far some good things. Hopefully Crawford shows us something and makes the team and same with Coby.


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