Kupchak & Brown: Back to Basketball
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and new Head Coach Mike Brown sat down next to one another for what turned out to be a 40-minute Q&A session with the media on Friday morning. Below are some of the finer points of the presser:
- Kupchak opened by sharing his excitement to be back to work after what had been a "pretty quiet" several months in his office: "We've gotten some very, very positive news and have ramped up here. It's exciting, and we're hopeful that all dates, training camps and games that have been rumored to take place in the next three or four weeks will take place."
- Brown's biggest concern about getting the team ready: "I enjoy practice, and I like to practice a lot, and long. But we need to make sure we're smart about everything we do, because we won't have a lot of days ... we have to make sure we don't overdo it." Bottom line for Brown is not making excuses, and shooting for the No. 1 seed in the West.
- Naturally, Kupchak declined to comment on any trade rumors regarding players under contract with other teams. He said the Lakers hoped that at the end of next week is the earliest that a trade could take place, if one is out there. He later explained that L.A. doesn't have a lot of flexibility from a trading standpoint ("we'll be very limited"), and would likely be looking for a quality veteran or two hoping to play for a championship contender for potentially less money than he could get elsewhere.
- Kupchak does not anticipate that free agents Theo Ratliff or Joe Smith will be returning for the coming season.
- Kupchak has been in touch with free agent Shannon Brown's representatives, and thinks that Brown "would get a package financially that's much more attractive" than what the Lakers can offer him under the current rules. As such, he does not expect Brown to return for 2011-12.
- As Brown alluded to in our extensive Q&A from Thursday afternoon, he wants to keep Odom with big man rotation. On Odom, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol: "Those three guys will be my bigs." This tells us that he's not likely to start at the small forward, but stay in his role off the bench, where he was the Sixth Man of the Year last season. That's not to say that Odom won't play some small forward or guard, but Brown wants to treat him as a post player.
- Brown and his staff have been developing specific plans for specific players on both ends. He described some of those plans for Kobe on offense: "We have play calls for him that will put him on the post and different areas of the floor that are named, such as what we call the Karl Malone area, a few feet off the block. We have sets and automatics that will get him to those areas, and to the elbows, and he'll have a choice in the matter."
- Soon, Brown must decide what to call Metta World Peace. He said he's leaning towards "Metta," or "Met," since he's (facetiously) concerned that if he called him "Peace," MWP might get confused and think he can leave the facility. Later on, Kupchak was asked if he has any concerns about MWP's focus heading into the season: "We've had concerns since we signed him," he said with a smile.
- When looking at the team board, Kupchak reiterated what he told us earlier this week about how the Lakers essentially need one more guard and one more big man to add to the rotation. His staff has been in almost around the clock in the past few days trying to figure out what free agents they can actually get given the limitations the team faces financially.
- In order to account for the increase in games per week due to the schedule, Brown says he expects to have less physical contact in practice, but probably more practices including mental work - such as walk throughs, shootarounds and going over plays. He added that they might even practice on game days, just with limited contact, to make sure the team is on the same page with the new system.