Armed with the No. 2, 27 and 34 picks in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Lakers are now preparing to select on June 25. General Manager Mitch Kupchak oversaw the first day of predraft workouts on Tuesday. Below is a full transcription of his comments.
Q: On the predraft process:
Kupchak: We’re starting a process of working out and interviewing players eligible for the draft. Some players can still withdraw. There’s a date in June when they can withdraw. We expect most of the players who put their name in will stay in. We know the picks we have. We have 2, 27 and 34, so we’ll have various workouts with various levels of talent. Obviously today’s group is not with players that we’re considering for the second pick in the draft. But there are a lot of players that we would consider at 27 and 34.
Q: On whether there is any anxiousness that comes with having the second overall pick:
Kupchak: The anxiousness disappeared when I didn’t see Philly’s number come up at (No.) seven and six at the lottery last Tuesday. At that point we realized we had a top five pick and we were going to keep it. Of course, it got better; went from five to four to three to add to the tension. And we ended up with the No. 2 pick.
Q: On what he is looking for in the predraft workouts:
Kupchak: Most of the players we’ve seen multiple times over the last three or four years. Typically the kids that are high draft choices go to school for a year or two. So you get to see them less. We’re not allowed in high school gyms anymore.
So for example, if you were to guess that this year’s top seven or eight picks in the draft are the ones that you see in mock drafts, most of those kids are 19 years old. So you’ve seen them one year in college. Bringing them in this type of venue, a lot of (these) kids have been in school three or four years because they’re players that might be drafted in the second round, might not be drafted or might be drafted late in the first round. You’ll end up looking at a lot of players that went to school for three or four years. So it’s always helpful to bring them in, get another look at them, put them through skill (drills), do our physical testing. A lot of times we do interview kids and you get to know the kids.
Q: On the value of interviews:
Kupchak: It’s a piece of the puzzle. For kids that have been (in college) for three or four years, we know them. We know their coaches. We talk to their coaches. There’s a lot about them on the internet. We talk to players who played with them. You get various levels of information, but the interview is one more piece to the puzzle.
Q: On whether the process is a bit easier when having such a high pick:
Kupchak: After the year we had, it’s nice to know what we have to work with going forward. We know we have 2, 27 and 34. That’s a good feeling. We can kind of put the season behind us and plan for the draft. Once the draft takes place, then we can continue to plan for what takes place on July 1 (free agency). So being able to put the season behind us and having something positive to show for it is a good thing.
Q: On the team’s biggest needs:
Kupchak: We have a lot of needs. We have a lot of players that were on one-year deals this year. We have players that have options, whether it’s a team option or a player option. So those questions remain unanswered. We have a lot of roster spots. Assuming we pick three players and keep them on the roster for next year, that takes up three roster spots, and that gives less opportunity to somebody else. But we don’t know if we’re going to draft three players. We don’t know if we’re going to have three picks. We may draft a player that you might have to wait a year or two for in Europe. We don’t know yet. But our roster looks better, clearly, after getting the pick in the lottery last Tuesday.
Q: On how many players he foresees bringing in for workouts that may be taken with the No. 2 pick:
Kupchak: We’ll probably bring in as many as the representatives will allow us to bring in. If the representative feels that we’re not genuine in considering that player at No. 2, they probably wouldn’t send them in. So we’d like to bring in as many as possible. There’s a conception that there are four players there (as top two candidates). I think there may be more. There are European players that might not be done playing and get time to come over here and work out. So I would say at least four; hopefully six to eight.
Q: On when he thinks those candidates will work out:
Kupchak: I don’t think those will take place this week. … Hopefully in a week or two.
Q: On what he has to consider regarding possibly trading the No. 2 pick:
Kupchak: Nothing’s really taking place in that regard. It would have to be a heck of an opportunity for us to consider doing something like that.
Q: On what would bring him to consider trading the pick:
Kupchak: You have to weigh it against who you think you’ll get with the second pick. We’re a little bit impatient, so if you came across something that would make your team better quicker — it would probably be a veterans — and that’s something you would consider. But there’s something to be said about having the No. 2 pick in terms of building going forward. You know you’re going to get a really good player. You know you’re going to get a player under a contract that you can control for at least five years for a reasonable amount before you have to consider an extension. So those are pluses in addition to getting a heck of a talent.