Mitch Kupchak: Lakers “don’t have time” to build through the draft

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In a little over a month, the Lakers will be selecting second overall in the NBA Draft. The player they take, whether it be Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell or someone else, is someone they will hope to be the post-Kobe Bryant face of the franchise. Beyond that, though, the word is that the Lakers are done trying to slowly acquire talent.

Here’s what GM Mitch Kupchak told Bleacher Report Radio on Sunday about the team’s mindset following two straight years missing the playoffs:

The Lakers are going to have max-level cap space this summer, which they’ll use to chase a top-tier free agent, whether that be Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge. This has been their strategy for the last year: they went hard after Carmelo Anthony last summer and attempted to reach out to LeBron James and Chris Bosh during free agency, although they didn’t get far with either one.

With the Kobe Bryant era drawing to a close (Kupckak reiterated in the same interview that the Lakers are proceeding as though 2015-16 would be Bryant’s final year), the Lakers don’t have a clear direction going forward. They’ll get Julius Randle back from the leg injury that kept him out all but one game of his rookie season, and paired with whoever they take in next month’s draft, that’s a solid young foundation.

But that won’t be enough to win in the crowded Western Conference, at least not for a while. They’ll need to add talent to put around them, and the quickest way to do that is through free agency. After missing the playoffs two years in a row, the historically dominant Lakers are anxious to get back to being relevant.

The Lakers’ hands are also sort of tied when it comes to building through the draft. They still owe next year’s pick to the Sixers, unless it falls in the top three. Even if they wanted to build through the draft, they don’t have any more first-round picks after this year until 2017.

With that said, Kupchak’s “don’t have time” wording is questionable. If it were any other franchise than the Lakers or the Knicks, it would be assumed that the road to contention would take several years of developing talent. But the Lakers pride themselves on being a consistently championship-level organization, and missing the playoffs two years in a row has been tough on them, so their mentality is not going to change.

And if the Lakers get a star free agent, that’s great. But if they don’t, they could be in for another several years of disappointment relative to expectations.

Rumor: Patrick Beverley may meet with five teams before Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers want to bring Patrick Beverley back next season, his spark was at the heart of why this team made the playoffs and impressed with their potential.

First, however, the Clippers are going big game hunting for the likes of Kawhi Leonard and/or Kevin Durant (even with the Achilles injury). Beverley isn’t just going to sit around and wait for them, reports longtime NBA reporter Sean Deveney Tweeted.

The Bulls need a point guard and Beverley — a Chicago native — has said he is interested.

The Lakers also are reportedly big game hunting, but Beverley is the kind of guard they could use around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Phoenix and other teams have been mentioned.

Beverley is going to have options, but he loved his time with the Clippers last season, and that means something.

Pelicans reportedly pick up option year on coach Alvin Gentry

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David Griffin, the guy with the hammer in New Orleans, likes Alvin Gentry. They have a relationship that goes back to Phoenix, where Gentry was the coach and Griffin was in the front office (and was eventually GM).

Gentry also has a style of play — he wants to run and be up-tempo. That should fit very well with soon-to-be No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise the Griffin and the Pelicans want to keep Gentry around, as reported by Malika Andrews of ESPN.

This is another smart, stabilizing move by Griffin. The Pelicans want to build an athletic, fast-paced team and Gentry is the right coach for that style.  Maybe it doesn’t pan out, maybe the Pelicans ultimately need to go another direction with their coach, but right now this seems a good fit.

Report: Utah “frontrunner” to land Mike Conley Jr. if Memphis trades him this week

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Utah feels like it is close — a 50-win team two seasons in a row, an elite defense, an All-NBA center in Rudy Gobert and an elite shot creator in Donovan Michell. They look at the West next season, with a depleted Warriors team, and see an opening.

Yet when Utah fell to Houston 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs this year, it was reminded of what is keeping the team from being truly elite, and another shot creator and shooter is at the top of that list.

Enter Mike Conley Jr. He averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game last season, shot 36.4 percent from three, and plays strong defense. Conley would be an upgrade over Ricky Rubio at the spot.

The almost All-Star point guard out of Memphis is available via trade. He’s the kind of veteran floor general, shooter, and shot creator Utah could use. The Jazz and Grizzlies talked but couldn’t come to an agreement at the trade deadline, but the sides are talking again and conversations are “intensifying” in the run-up to the NBA Draft Thursday, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Grizzlies are intensifying talks to potentially move franchise cornerstone Mike Conley Jr., league sources told The Athletic. Memphis has been in conversations with the Jazz and Utah is a frontrunner to acquire Conley should the Grizzlies trade the point guard during draft week, league sources said.

What would be in a trade package? Certainly the No. 23 pick in this draft, plus some young players the Grizzlies like (maybe Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neal, and even someone like Jae Crowder. Reports say Derick Favors is not part of the discussion.

While anything can happen the week of the draft — and things change quickly — don’t be surprised if some version of this trade gets done.

Kawhi Leonard wins day with last laugh — his viral laugh — at end of speech

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Kawhi Leonard just won again.

He won his second NBA title leading the Toronto Raptors to the franchise’s first crown. He earned his second Finals MVP in the process.

Then on Monday he had the last laugh and won the Raptors’ championship parade in Toronto by ending his speech with his laugh, the same one that went viral at the start of the season.

Of course, what Leonard will do on July 1 was a cloud hanging over the parade, Leonard is a free agent this summer. Kyle Lowry at one point started a “five more years” chant during the parade, which is the maximum number of years Toronto can re-sign Leonard for.

Leonard, exactly as we all should have expected, dodged the question, while praising his time in Toronto.

Unfortunately, this was a parade marred by more serious concerns.