With the first order of business out of the way, the NBA draft, Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is focusing on NBA free agency. After the additions of Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac with their second and 32nd picks in the 2016 NBA draft, the Lakers now have seven players under 25 years of age, including a couple teenagers. With over $60 million to spend this summer, Kupchak says they will be looking to add veteran leadership and he expects that to be more likely to happen in free agency than through a trade.
“History tells you that a bunch of young guys on a team is probably not a good thing,” Kupchak said after the draft on Thursday. “They look around for leadership, look around for advice from somebody who’s been through this a couple times, and if there’s nobody to talk to, then they really don’t know how to handle the situation, so I think we will look to add veteran leadership, and hopefully it’s not only guys that can add leadership but guys that can win games.”
The next question is the pitch. The Lakers have swung out on big names during free agency the past couple seasons, with reports surfacing that some of the free agents in the past were unimpressed with the Lakers pitch, which has been focused more on the opportunities in the city of Los Angles and the history of the franchise than the basketball plan and path to winning championships.
“I don’t think we’re going to have to rely on our partners as much as we have in the past,” Kupchak said of the Lakers pitch this summer. “We can focus a little bit more on the basketball side of it, because we do have more to sell. The franchise and the city have always sold themselves and I’m not sure we’ll concentrate on that as much as we did last year.”
Still, Kupchak is making no promises that things will be different in free agency this summer, though he argued that the Lakers certainly have more to sell. With a new head coach, a promising young core and Kobe Bryant off the books, Kupchak expects L.A. to be a more attractive destination spot than it’s proven to be the past couple seasons.