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Kobe Bryant's future with Lakers won't alter rebuild plans, says Mitch Kupchak

The Lakers GM continues to reiterate that the Lakers plan to stick with their youth movement.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

As long as Kobe Bryant is a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, the eyes of many are going to be focused on how happy the notoriously outspoken superstar is with the state of the franchise. Mitch Kupchak understands this, but also knows the Lakers have "got to be careful that we don't do something that puts us in the middle of the pack for the next six or seven years," the Lakers general manager told Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, "Because all that does is get you the eighth seed in the playoffs and a draft pick that's not very good."

The Lakers will have a solid young core to roll out alongside Bryant for the 2015-16 season after they add whoever is selected with the second overall pick to the sophomore duo of Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, but the team is also projected to have significant cap space to add a few rotation players, or even one maximum salaried player. Kupchak recently told Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News that the Lakers are "not going to pick a player because he can play with Kobe, likes Kobe or dislikes Kobe...We're going to pick the player that can have the longest and best career," and has been reiterating that point since as early as last February.

However, Kupchak also mentioned to Mannix that the Lakers front office will listen to offers for the second overall pick but that any team interested "will have to offer something very substantial." Just how much the team values the pick will be finalized over the next week or so as the Lakers bring the top draft prospects back for second workouts, but it sounds like the Kupchak is mostly committed to rebuilding around his young core rather than mortgaging the future to give Bryant one last run at a title.

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