Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak understands that most are projecting the team will aim to fill their colossal gap at the center position when free agency begins on July 1st. However, during an appearance on Sportscenter, Kupchak made it clear that the Lakers are looking at all of their options when figuring out how to spend their league-leading $66.1 million in cap space this summer.
“You could make an argument that we only need players in the frontcourt. You could argue that 'oh they've got D'Angelo Russell, and Jordan Clarkson, who's a restricted free agent, they've just drafted Brandon Ingram, who you could say is a small forward,’ said Kupchak. “And then when you get to the front court, all we really have under contract right now is Larry Nance, Jr. and Julius Randle, so the argument would be 'well they need some help in the frontcourt right away.'
So while Kupchak acknowledges center is a position of need for the Lakers, he isn’t willing to rule out adding depth to the other parts of a roster that won just 17 games last season.
“So we do feel we need to address the frontcourt, but taking a step back I think we need help everywhere, so I wouldn't rule out signing a veteran player at any position,” Kupchak continued. “In fact, we may be aggressive in the backcourt position, even though we have backcourt players. Not because we don't like the ones we do, but because we think we can get better.”
Kupchak outlined how crowded the Lakers’ backcourt already is, with Williams, Clarkson, and Russell all poised to get the bulk of the minutes as of right now. The team will still need a backup for Ingram on the wings however, so an addition there would make sense, but the subtext of Kupchak’s comments seems to imply that the team is very aware they are lacking at the center position, something they reportedly plan to address with an “aggressive” pursuit of Hassan Whiteside to start free agency.
Also interestingly missing from Kupchak’s comments about the team’s current roster construction were second-round picks Anthony Brown and Ivica Zubac, and potentially more notably, veteran wing Nick Young. This is obviously speculative, but not mentioning Young would seem to imply confirmation that the team (understandably) does not see him as a major factor on their roster going forward.
Kupchak did what he does best and used a whole lot of words to reveal very little, but it’s always worth listening to evaluations of the Lakers’ roster from the man tasked with building it.
All quotes transcribed via Sportscenter. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.