Mitch Kupchak

Mitch Kupchak: Lakers may try to acquire additional first round draft picks

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It’s no secret that the Lakers need help at every position, after concluding a campaign that saw them struggle to put up 27 wins, the lowest in franchise history since the team moved to Los Angeles in 1960.

By the time the season was finished, there were seemingly random players wearing the purple and gold, the majority of whom will be long gone before next season begins.

The Lakers have just three players signed to guaranteed contracts for the coming season, and this year’s draft appears to be one of the deepest to come along in quite some time. It makes sense, then, that the team may look to acquire additional picks in order to begin to rebuild its roster.

From Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:

Because of the rookie class’ potential, [Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak] said he may seek acquiring additional first-round draft picks.

“We may look to get a pick some other way because we have guys we interviewed who aren’t going to be gone before the second round, but they’ll be around after (our current pick),” Kupchak said. “You only get so many assets in this league. Draft picks are an asset. There’s cap room, draft picks and players. Those are assets you can use to rebuild a team.”

L.A. doesn’t have much to offer in the way of trade, but is slotted for the sixth overall pick in the draft, pending the outcome of Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery. There’s a 21.5 percent chance that pick could move up into the top three, or an extremely minimal chance that it could slip as low as nine.

The position of that pick will determine exactly what Kupchak has to offer, and whether or not he feels it’s in the team’s best interest to move it in exchange for multiple picks later in the draft.

The Lakers will try to attract established star-level players through free agency, both this summer and next, because patience to undergo a lengthy rebuild is nonexistent for one of the league’s most storied franchises. But the draft comes first, and it’s clear Kupchak will be very active leading up to it in doing everything he can to add talent to a depleted Lakers roster.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

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Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

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Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.