2015 Exit Interviews

Mitch Kupchak Exit Interview 2014-15

Official Lakers Release

General manager Mitch Kupchak reflected on the 2014-15 season, while looking forward to the upcoming draft and free agency period.

Below are highlights from his exit interview:

On the season as a whole: “It was a disappointing season. Losing 60 games is nothing to be proud about. Early on in 2015 we began to realize that we weren't going to win a bunch of games, and at that point what became important was developing young players and trying to maintain and build a culture for next season.”

On the immediate outlook: “Every year we have the same goal, which is to win a championship. We can get better quickly. … We are in a good position despite having just a terrible year, though there were good things that happened this year. Our coaches did a good job of maintaining a culture and locker room, which could splinter in a season like this.”

On how quickly he thinks a potential draft pick could contribute: “If you do well in the lottery … you’d probably look at drafting a young player. So how much do young players contribute. … Maybe in a year or two or three. Or you can trade the pick and get a veteran.”

On whether he likes the talent coming out of the upcoming draft: “This would be a good draft to participate in. I’ve seen a lot of good players. … I’m pleased with the players in this year’s draft.”

On Jordan Clarkson’s progression from draft day to now: We liked him in the Draft. We bought a pick at the last minute, and that's the way it is on draft day. He was the highest guy on our board, and our scouts did not hesitate. They said let's take this guy right here. His development was slow in summer league and training camp, but with Steve Nash and the veterans we had we paid more attention to him. When we got into 2015 and it was obvious the season wasn't going to go how we wanted to go … Byron and I had some discussions, and Byron put him in the starting line up. He got better and better as the season progressed.”

On how much the Lakers’ history has to do with the way they recruit free agents: “When we entertain or recruit free agents, we rarely sell the past and the legacy here. It’s nice, but that’s not something we feel like we need to sell. If you’re an NBA fan or an NBA player or in college, you know what the Lakers have built here since 1960.”

On the upcoming free agency period: “We have the ability to recruit and sign at least one max player this summer. … We do anticipate that we’ll be active in the free agent market.”

On the approach to building through free agency: “We don't want to use our cap room to win 40 games, which this year doesn't even get you in the playoffs. You work hard to create a future whether it's with draft picks or the opportunity to make a trade, and you don't want to give it away just because you have it. But you do have to weigh anticipation and your fans wanting to see some improvement. It's not to say the only player we'll spend our money on this summer is a max player. There may be other opportunities out there, but we don't know that. Players this offseason are going to be hard pressed to think of one way to address free agency.”

On how the team plans to build in the offseason: “There’s no way to etch a plan in stone that you know you can execute. We don’t even know who’s going to be in the draft or which free agents are going to be free agents. … The only thing you can do is set up what you can set up, and we will use the three tools available to us.”

On Ed Davis: “I thought Ed had a great year. I thought we had several guys that came here on one-year deals and played basketball the right way. … I think Ed Davis is one of them. … He’s indicated that he’d love to continue to be here. I don’t know what the market’s going to be. … He clearly helped himself by coming here this year.”

On what he expects from Kobe Bryant next season: “I don’t know. I do know that he’s gonna work as hard as anybody can work over the offseason to get his shoulder right. … The makeup of the team right now is just not clear right now to draw Kobe in and say, ’This is what we expect. Can you do it?’”

On the potential for free agents to pick the Lakers over other teams: “I think the biggest advantage that we have is the city of Los Angeles and our fans. We talked about legacy earlier, and certainly that’s a factor, but that’s not why players come here. I always feel that if we’re in a position to make an offer that matches another team’s offer, we have an advantage.”

On Julius Randle: “He's a studious, conscientious young player. I believe he's lost 18 pounds since December. We exchanged e-mails (most) every game. … We’re very impressed with his maturity. He’s clearly eager to get back on the court. We’re shooting for (him to return for) summer league, but our real goal is October. … We will not jeopardize our season for summer league, but we do feel summer league is a realistic goal.”

On the team’s plan for the offseason: “After having the season we’ve had, it would be great to be rewarded with a player in the lottery. That would be a valuable chip. … Hopefully with some foresight, we’ll be able to go into free agency and spend our money wisely.”

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