Kupchak Gives Take on New Players

The Lakers welcomed three new members of the purple and gold on Wednesday morning: Brandon Bass, Roy Hibbert and Lou Williams. After their introductory press conference, General Manager Mitch Kupchak spoke with the media regarding the new acquisitions and the team as a whole.

Q: On how much the Lakers can rely on Hibbert’s defensive capabilities:
It’s a question for Byron (Scott), but it all can’t fall on (Hibbert’s) plate. If you’re on the perimeter, you just can’t let your guy get past you and say, “Oh, Roy’s back there.” It doesn’t work that way. Everybody’s gonna have to buy in defensively and make a commitment defensively. But it’s nice to know that if something breaks down, there is somebody back there that can protect the rim and the paint.

Q: On what impact he thinks that Bass, Hibbert and Williams can make:
It’s a tough league. It’s a tough conference. We’ve tried to do our best to identify and create a young core, and also bring some veteran players around a young group. Not only can those veteran players hopefully contribute, but they have solid character, and they can be mentors for our young players. We’re gonna do our best to win as many games as possible, and it’s very difficult to do that with all young players. So part of what we tried to do was surround our young players with some veteran players that would be good mentors and also give us a chance to win a bunch of games.

Q: On what he thought of this year’s Summer League team:
I think it’s what you expect to see in Summer League. If you look at all the rookies that played in Summer League that were drafted this year, I’m not sure anybody jumped out at anybody. I think everybody had their moments, and I think our guys did as well.

Q: On D’Angelo Russell’s performance in Summer League:
I think he learned a lot. I met with him once or twice since Summer League ended, and he knows that to make the next jump in this league he’s going to have to work awfully hard and get in the gym every day, work on his body. I think they all understand that what happened in college is now behind them. This is the real deal. It’s great to get drafted in the first round. It’s great to get drafted (with pick No.) two. But that’s over now. Now it’s time to put that behind you and prove yourself in this league. There’s no other way to prove yourself now other than to perform.

Q: On the team’s guard rotation:
We’re talking about it internally right now. If you look at Nick Young and Kobe (Bryant) as backcourt players, then we have six. But we may look at those guys at the three spot, and then you only have four. And one of those four would be Jabari Brown, so now you’re really down to three: D’Angelo, Jordan (Clarkson) and Lou. So, depending on how you look at it, we may look to bring another guard on board. We may not.

Q: On the team’s size:
Same thing. We’re not a big team. We have Roy, clearly who’s big. Then we have Robert (Sacre), who’s 7-foot, and our next-tallest player is Ryan Kelly, who really at 6’10” or 6’11” is a stretch four. You wouldn’t expect him to block shots and get 15 rebounds and patrol the paint. So really, if you look at our team, you can make an argument that we don’t have big players.

Q: On Robert Upshaw:
It’s unlikely that Robert will contribute to the team next year to win games. I think you know Robert and how he’s bounced around at the college level. He’s a player that we looked at in Summer League, and we’re continuing to have conversations with his representative. If we did something with Robert, it would be based on potential going forward. … We’ve made commitments to some rookies because they got drafted very high. But to look at a guy that wasn’t drafted and say, “This is a guy that’s gonna be in the rotation.” That’s not realistic at all.

Q: On whether the team plans to bring in an expert to work with Hibbert:
He’s talked about Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) a little bit. Kareem worked with Andrew Bynum for a couple years. Andrew was 17, and then that kind of ran its course three or four years later. Andrew made the all-star team. Roy is pretty open to taking advice from anybody right now. Whether or not we bring in a big man’s coach (is uncertain). He’s 28; I think he knows what he needs to do. Primarily (additional coaching) would be focused on the defensive end. But that’s something that we’ll look at.