Mitch Kupchak Believes Wes Johnson Could Be Ariza, Cooper Type Reviewed by Momizat on . While Mitch Kupchak is at the Las Vegas Summer League, Lakers spokesperson John Black shared with the media a private conversation he had with Kupchak after sig While Mitch Kupchak is at the Las Vegas Summer League, Lakers spokesperson John Black shared with the media a private conversation he had with Kupchak after sig Rating:
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Mitch Kupchak Believes Wes Johnson Could Be Ariza, Cooper Type

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Wesley-Johnson-Los-Angeles-Lakers-Mike-DAntoni-While Mitch Kupchak is at the Las Vegas Summer League, Lakers spokesperson John Black shared with the media a private conversation he had with Kupchak after signing Wesley Johnson at his introductory press conference.

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Although Johnson hasn’t quite lived up to expectations as the fourth overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Kupchak is optimistic that he can develop into a Michael Cooper or Trevor Ariza type player:

“He thinks Wesley can develop into a Michael Cooper or Trevor Ariza type player. Mitch will probably be mad at me for sharing that with you guys publicly. But I think all Laker fans would be very happy if something like that were to happen, as would we.”

It’s likely a stretch, but Johnson seems at peace with himself and is committed to playing his best in the bright lights of Los Angeles. He no longer thinks about trying to live up to those expectations coming out of Syracuse and is finally free to play his game with the help of Kobe, Gasol, and Nash.

This will be the first time in Johnson’s career where he will play with a veteran team that allows him to play to his strengths. While he may never develop into Cooper or Ariza, any resemblance of those players will help the Lakers as they are desperately looking for a lock-down perimeter defender.

Johnson struggled early but came on strong near the end of last season. In the last two months of last season, Johnson averaged 13.0 points in 28.8 minutes.


Did you see Wes Johnson’s press conference? If not, check out our video below and don’t forget to click here to subscribe to our YouTube Channel!


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Dan Duangdao is the Editor-in-Chief of Lakers Nation. Follow him on Twitter: @DanDuangdao

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  • LA2013

    Im surprised they have Ariza next to Michael Cooper like that. Goes to show how valuable Ariza was to the Lakers. Hopefully we see that dedication and commitment from at least one of the players Lakers signed. I’m truly excited to watch this season. :)

    • Jim213

      I’d believe so given that many will be working for future employment…

  • Jim213

    Many have already made this comparison as WJ will definitely help given our lack of athleticism.

  • Daryl Peek

    Starting 5;
    PG Nash
    SG Young til Kobe comes back
    SF Johnson
    PF Hill or Kelly
    C Gasol

    PG Blake
    SG Meeks til Kobe comes back
    SF ? or Young
    PF Hill or Kelly
    C Kaman

    • AmnestyJimBuss

      I would not put a late drafted rookie into the starting lineup of the LOS ANGELES LAKERS are you kiddin me..i would rather start with gasol and kaman at the PF/C. Hill would be my first big man off the bench. I rather see farmar get more minutes than blake and last but not least i would like to see johnson off the bench to spark this team with energy.

      Nash,Meeks,Young,Kaman,Gasol thats my starting lineup.

      • Daryl Peek

        Hill will likely start with Gasol. Kaman and Gasol are not an option in the up tempo game together. D’Antoni is the HC and the FO is obviously building the team to fit his style.

    • Jim213

      Currently the Lakers have 11 signed players on the roster. I still believe we need more serious depth defensive wise. Looking at some remaining players – Ivan Johnson (ATL), Ronnie Brewer (OKC) would fit our need for 1 Dennis Rodman type of player who’s more defensive minded while providing us another forward.

      I would leave the other spot for Lamar if it ever makes up his mind… a y or n would be nice. Although, you’re probably thinking of a sumer leage player ain’t cha Daryl!

      • Daryl Peek

        Well, with Kelly that makes 12 on the roster. Brewer would be a good pick up, and I totally agree on another PF needed. SF is the more pressing need. I just got a feeling the FO is gonna go summer league player or trade Gasol. I look at the money as reason.

        • Jim213

          Thanks, and agree… forgot to add Farmar given he’s a signed player now..

        • Christopher F

          If we go summer league then Marcus Landry is the man. He could also play the four if Lakers go small ball and need that extra shooter.

          • Daryl Peek

            I like Landry. He is a lot like his brother as a highly skilled tween-er. I could totally see him playing that role in the D’Antoni system. There are a couple of other guys on the summer team that are intriguing also. Snare has the athleticism the team needs. Harris is a beast on the boards with high energy and a decent outside shot. CDR is the hands on Fav, I haven’t been overly impressed with him yet. He looked much better last season.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eddie.lazaro123 Eddie Lazaro

    We need a couple more big bodies in the middle, another guard with quickness and good defensive mentality and we will be complete to compete.

  • ADD2moreshooters!!

    lakers to to pickup 2 more players that can shoot the 3 ball and defend and we are good~~ how about mo williams, michael beasley, stephen jackson or sasha vujacic??or how about klay thompson, or harrison barnes? and that point guard who last played in dallas, i cant remember his name dante..something… was lebron teamate in clevland, ..and how about gibson the other shooting guard bron played with in clevland? lots of choices im giving the lakers management and i hope they observe it soon! thankyou!!
    2 more spots and we are good!!

    • Mark

      it’s Dante Cunningham

      • Laker J

        Nope, he means Delonte West. Not my choice though.

    • Jim213

      I agree, Odom needs to make up his mind though… IMO the Lakers should focus on a defensive minded player for their 13th selection. After this I’d hope that management placed Blake and Hill on the trading block. Just a speculation on this but if both can be dealt to the Bulls for Nate Robinson this would catapult us depth wise. While also giving us the opportunity of signing Vujacic. Although, this would need to be a trade and sign agreement IMO.

      Why should we consider Nate? We’ll I just started thinking about it and it’s really b/c of Kobe. If Kobe’s rehab is pushed back for some reason who would carry the team until his return? Pau?!, good luck though we’d have a solid team we’d still be missing someone to carry the team until Kobe’s return.

      This is where Nate comes in given that last year he stepped up like many know to keep the Bulls relevant aside of other players. I’d consider Nate an insurance to Kobe’s temporary comeback delay. The trade would also be a challenge to put forth but if Kobe can’t comeback on time who better to step up and hold the fort given the current limited free agent available.

      However, I believe that given last season play Nate believed that he would’ve gotten signed to a big contract by a team.Thus, he’d likely wait further down the line to sign with a team instead of signing a vet contract. Although, Hill and Blake would need to get traded for this to become a possibility.

      • Boknoy Ni

        Lakers had a lot of guards. They need players on forward position. Odom may suite up

        • Paytc

          Boknoy Ni,
          You are so right about Odom.If mentally prepared and focused he would be a great pickup.Odom.Gasol,Hill,and Kauman would make the Lakers the problem they were when Odom last played with the Laker’s championship team.Too much quality size, and length to deal with inside.Although I don’t think Kauman has the offensive talent that Bynum gave us.

          However, the Lakers biggest need outside of playing good team defense is at the PG position.Nash is not gonna be able to play at a high enough level for a full game.And Nash playing at a high level for the whole season is even less likely.I don’t think Farmar is gonna be the answer either.If Farmar were,he would have been demonstrating that in the NBA after leaving the Lakers.I do hope Farmar proves me wrong.I love players like Nate Robinson,who play with a chip on their shoulders.I don’t think Blake is as good as Farmar.So at the very least if Nash is the starter, Farmar or someone other than Blake will need to be in the second spot.Then personally I would get a better PG than Blake for the 3rd slot.I think D.Morris may have been let go?Developing a young PG like Morris who has quick feet and athletic enough to defend, makes more sense than carrying Blake at 7 million dollars?Nash’s biggest contribution at this point in his career would be his perimeter shot,and mentoring a young PG.Nash could also give us 20 or so quality minutes per game.

        • Jim213

          Yes, Odom is a part of the puzzle. But within the current roster there’s nobody that could carry the team until Kobe’s return… Aside of Nate being an Insurance policy he’d be a solid pick up to for the overall team depth.

          I wouldn’t settle for a so so team though given our latest acquisitions we’re far from that but it’s about putting the best team on the floor for the FANS and the BRAND. Nobody on our roster would carry the team IMO, big reason Kobe got injured was b/c he was trying to do too much given the bad chemistry. Aside of Nate=Kobe Insurance Policy he’d help to put us back in the conversation too. I know we have a lot of guards too but I’m looking at this from a different perspective, wins and losses not about balancing every position.

      • Paytc

        I can agree with losing Blake to get Nate Robinson.But not at Jordan Hill’s expense.
        Jordan Hill,Like Nate Robinson, is an athlete who has athletic ability ,and plays with a chip on his shoulder.You need to fill your team up with as many of those kinds of players as you can.Those types of players rarely make excuses,and give your team an emotional lift.Jordan hill has proven he will come to play consistently.

        So picking up a Nate Robinson would definitely help.
        I would love to see the Lakers pick up Rondo.if and when he becomes available.

        • Jim213

          Good view, but given last season I just don’t see anybody within the Lakers roster holding down the fort especially not the $20 mil man. My view is that although we’re not in the conversation some of these moves would help to put us back in the conversation. We ain’t tanking and given managements bad moves this past year I’d be nice if they put a solid competitive team on the floor.

          Like I said we AIN’T TANKING and Kobe should come back at the right time and not when he’d be expected. Kobe’s injury is a career ending injury especially if he happens to re-aggravate it a second time. Given that Kobe wants to play 3 to 4 more yrs he should be very cautious too. I believe management shouldn’t settle for just putting a competitive on the floor I’d put forth the best team possible (given our cap) on the floor to appease the fans and especially to shut the nay sayers up too.

      • Laker J

        While I agree that the way to get Nate Robinson to the Lakers could be a sign and trade deal with the bulls, the bulls don’t have the cap space to absorb 7M worth of salaries for Nate, and he is not worth that kind of Money. A better scenario would be Meeks for Nate. Meeks will make about 1.6M this year which is more than the vet’s minimum that Robinson would get if he signs outright.
        In my humble opinion, if Blake and Hill are to be traded, they should get Ariza from the Wiz, the salaries match and we can use that type of player. His contract will also expire after this season, so cap space for next year won’t be an issue. However, I would only do that trade if Odom and Ivan Johnson could be signed.

        Gasol, Kaman, Sacre
        Odom, Johnson, Kelly
        Ariza, Johnson
        Bryant, Young
        Nash, Robinson, Farmar

        • Jim213

          Aside of our cap forgot to check out Bulls. I would like to see Ariza too but given that M Kupcake believes that WJ will be an Ariza type of player this kind of closes the deal on that…

          I’m not saying to sign Nate for the $7 mil just to entice him to play at least for next season then come 2014 who knows though I’d prefer to keep him. It would be nice to see someone like Nate play with the Lakers given his go for broke type of play mentality that I’m sure Kobe would appreciate.

          • Laker J

            Gotcha Jim. I guess one of the reasons I would like to see Ariza on the team is so that he can mentor young Wesley. A comparison and a wish are simply that, but if he can learn from Ariza himself, he would be a very nice and affordable addition beyond this year. Do you not like my proposed roster?

          • Jim213

            Looks pretty good, another advantage to Nate is that the pieces could definitely be switched. I could imagine Nate, Nash, WJ, Odom, and Gasol on the floor in the beginning.

            Or Nash/Nate, Kobe/NY, Gasol/Kaman, Odom/ WJ, Farmar/Kelly SF man this would be a solid team. Experience but overall youth and athleticism with it… Bet you Kobe would also have a big smile on his face…

        • Daryl Peek

          The Lakers can’t do a sign and trade because they are luxury tax offenders. The CBA does not allow a team to take on non signed salary in a trade if you are above the luxury tax threshold. This is why the Lakers could not get Josh Smith or CP3 this year.

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