Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak hopped on a conference call Wednesday morning to discuss getting pushed down to the seventh pick in the NBA draft. Kupchak also spoke at length about their current position in the coaching search, including how their main priority in a coach is getting the most productivity out of Kobe Bryant. Check out the full transcription of the conference call below.
Question: Danny Ainge (President of Basketball Operations for the Boston Celtics) was quoted saying he didn’t think there was anyone who could come in and change the face of the franchise. With Boston drafting one spot ahead of you do you feel the same way with the seventh pick?
Mitch Kupchak: “I wouldn’t say it was bad luck. We were hoping to get lucky but as you know we could have dropped down to number nine. You know, we were hoping to get lucky or in worst case stay where we were, but it could have been worse. And, as far as what Danny said that’s up to him. We think drafting at No. 7 there’s going to be a good player available there. Maybe Danny is talking more about a guy that changes the face of an organization from the get go. But, you know you can’t really evaluate these things until years later when you look back on it. Damian Lillard is a great example. I don’t think anybody thought you know looking through the draft he would turn into a player as quickly as he did. But looking back on it, it’s a heck of a selection. So we’ll be able to get a good player and we’re hoping that three or four years from now we can look back on it, and he’s even better player than we thought.”
Question: When you look at that field. What kind of impact do you think a player at #7 could make for you guys?
Kupchak: “Well it depends. Most of the players in the draft for the last 15 to 18 years, there have been young developing players. And, some of them make a contribution quicker than others. There’s certainly a couple guys that played more than two years. There’s some kids who played four years that might make a contribution quicker. I’m not saying he would be somebody we would consider or not consider at seven. My point is, typically we’ve kind of gotten used to it over the years that you do have to work with the younger player. Those are the guys that get drafted the highest. Whether they’re freshman or sophomore it may take a year or two.”
Question: Could such a player be a starter on your team?
Kupchak: *Laughs* “Right now. We only have four guys on contract.”
Question: How does the lottery happening effect the rest of your off-season? You kind of indicated that would be the starting point for evaluating a coach and the start of free agency?
Kupchak: “Yeah, it’s another piece of information. It doesn’t get us any further along in hiring a coach. But, it is another piece of information. And, right now the day after the lottery, it doesn’t really affect our approach to the off-season beginning July 1st.”
Question: Do you see yourself becoming more immersed in the coaching search beginning next week. Maybe early June? Or do you feel the wheels have already started turning pretty substantially?
Kupchak: “I’m sure names will come out within the next couple of days, but we started our process and we plan to continue the process in terms of talking to potential coaches whether they’re informal or formal interviews. We’ll do both and I would not anticipate hiring a coach within the next two or three weeks, but we’ll interview definitely more than three or four probably.”
Question: Could you characterize where you are in the process. Have you begun interviewing coaches or are you still in the gathering stage?
Kupchak: “Yes, we have begun.”
Question: In regards to the coaching search, when you are looking at the candidates, what variables are you considering when it comes to hiring a veteran coach or a young coach? (Click next page for the answer)