Courtesy of Lakers reporter Mike Trudell, an interview with Mitch Kupchak went online this morning on Lakers.com.
Kupchak provided some insight on the current state of the Lakers as well as the future of the team.
On the Lakers “tanking”:
“I’ve been here over 30 years, and it’s never something that’s been discussed or talked about.”
Kupchak noted that while expectations vary from season to season, the main goal is to win games. Kupchak put it best when saying that ownership would never say, “It’s best to lose” and that it is the worst message you can send to a franchise, coaches, players, and it’s fans.
Although, he added that there are some teams that know realistically they will be a sub-.500 team, but it’s important to realize that is different from tanking which he defined as purposely telling the coach to lose, which is “unacceptable”. Kupchak also said “rebuilding is another matter.”
Something to note, Kupchak said “coaches are defined by their record.” Very interesting to say the least.
On the repeater tax penalty impacting roster decisions this year and in the future:
“You have to be out of the luxury tax in two out of five years to avoid a repeater penalty. If we stay in the tax this season, it will be three consecutive seasons as taxpayers.”
It’s important to note that Kupchak says ownership has NEVER been afraid to be in the tax. He then goes on to explain the rules of the tax, saying if your $30 million over the tax as a repeater, the bill will around $130 million, while if you’re only $1 million over, it will be near $2.5 million so it definitely makes a difference.
On the upcoming draft:
“One through ten is as good as I’ve seen in a long time.”
When comparing it to the 2003 draft, which included LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwayne Wade, he says that going into that draft, no one knew it would be that good but when you look back on it, it was a great draft. He says that he doesn’t know if this draft will be that way, but the potential of players one through 10 is very good.
He says they are scouting all players in the draft and groups them in the top five, top 10, etc. all the way up to 70. Once May/June come around, Kupchak says they will narrow their focus on particular players because they will know their draft position at that time.
On the 2014 free agency plan:
“Several years ago, we made a conscious decision to line contracts up for this coming year of free agency.”
The only payer on the books for next year was Steve Nash, which obviously changed with the extension of Kobe Bryant but says they will still have “significant” financial flexibility this summer, as well as next summer.
On the Lakers’ next star:
Kupchak says that in meetings with the front office and scouts, they will talk about if they got a certain players just like the public and fans do. While it’s all speculation at that point, the only thing they know for certain is that the rush starts at 9 p.m. on June 30th for free agency.
On Kobe Bryant’s extension:
“One of the premier free agents this coming summer was going to be Kobe Bryant. He’ll no longer be a free agent. We have acquired him.”
He notes that when looking at free agency this summer, they will look at what’s the best basketball and business decisions.
Also, Kupchak says that they will not only look at free agency, but at adding players through trades, while also weighing the option of waiting another year for a big acquisition.
On Pau Gasol’s status and future in Los Angeles:
“I think he’s had a great year. I do.”
Also goes on to say that Gasol is playing some of his best basketball and that he probably did not expect to play with the current group of players due to injuries. Under the circumstances, he thinks Gasol has done a great job.
As for Gasol’s future, Kupchak notes that he will be a free agent this year and that he sees no reason he can’t finish the season as a Laker. Says that he’ll have options to move on to other teams and that years/money will be a factor in his decision. Kupchak adds that he loves Los Angeles and the franchise and if he wants to continue to play here, the Lakers would love to have him.
The interview is a must-read for all Lakers fans. There is more from Kupchak regarding role players such as Xavier Henry, Kendall Marshall, and Nick Young, plus more on Gasol being an asset for other teams in the league.
To read the full interview, click here.