Mitch Kupchak: Draft Presser

blog_090624mitchkupchakCLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO FROM TODAY’S PRESS CONFERENCE
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak joined assembled media members at L.A.’s practice facility to discuss Thursday’s draft, in which the Lakers currently have the 29th, 42nd and 59th picks.

Here are some highlights of the presser:

- Kupchak quipped that the Lakers might take Hasheem Thabeet and Blake Griffin if they’re available at No. 29.

- As he told us in podcast form yesterday, Kupchak reiterated that the team would like to keep its roster at 13. In other words, L.A. won’t use all three of its picks: “There is a better than even likelihood that we’ll move one of our picks.”

- Kupchak did concede that at the later stages of the draft, it’s usually a “best player available” situation.

- When asked about positions, Kupchak said that point guard is the one spot that isn’t set for the future considering Derek Fisher’s age.

- On drafting an international player: “We’d draft a (first-round) player, retain his rights and tender him an offer, but there’s normally an understanding … of a guaranteed component. Typically with a first round pick, you’d do your homework in advance and see if the player would agree to go to Europe and not sign the tender. That way he plays in Europe and you retain his rights.” Kupchak explained that it’s similar in the second round, without the hindrance of the guaranteed money.

- On what it would take for the Lakers to use their first-round pick to draft a player with expectation to play: “It’d have to be a player that we had ranked in the top 18 or so that we feel like could fit in with our team, he’d have to fall.”

- Kupchak said that it “Doesn’t appear to be a strong international draft,” though the Lakers employ a full-time European scout and a full-time Asian scout, as obviously the team spends more money on scouting than it had to in the past. However, Kupchak said one positive was that they no longer have to go to high schools to watch players due to all the professional leagues, camps and the like that recruit the best players.

- The GM also addressed Phil Jackson’s comments on ESPN radio yesterday that suggested the coach and Kupchak had discussed Jackson’s not traveling as much should he return: “Yes, Phil and I had a long discussion this morning, and the short of it is, what he said he didn’t mean it to sound the way it sounded. If he comes back to coach, he will come back and coach both home and away games. I guess there was a hypothetical approach to the question, and Phil answered the question, but today my discussion with him was that type of scenario doesn’t work, and that’s his opinion as well.”

- Kupchak added that he thinks Jackson “Wants to come back, he’s excited and very energized. It solely rests on his ability medically to come back and coach.”

- I asked Kupchak how crazy things get with the multiple forms of communication these days, and he listed these conversation enablers: Multiple cell phones (between him and his assistants); computer e-mail; five or six hard telephone lines; and texting. Kupchak said that he actually answered a text from another general manager for the first time today. But during the draft, it is complete chaos, where Kupchak said he can take/make at least 15 calls in a 10-minute window.

- He added: “If I yell out, get me Pat Riley, typically it’s still done mouth-to-mouth by phone” to describe what some of his staff is up to in crunch time. Back when he first started drafting with West in the 80′s, Kupchak said there were eight rounds, and only phones were used while a rep was at the draft in New York.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO FROM TODAY’S PRESS CONFERENCE