Lakers GM talks Howard, offseason moves

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak sat down with Lakers.com to discuss the offseason and the team’s rebuilding process. The full – and extensive – interview goes over topics from the team’s financial standing to Dwight Howard’s situation, and some highlights are pulled below.

On Howard… Kupchak told Lakers.com that what he said at the end of the season, that he’s both “hopeful” and “optimistic” about Howard’s return, still holds. Both parties have been communicating, and he stressed that Howard needs to use the time until free agency begins to work on his game.

Unsurprisingly, Kupchak also discussed the team’s priorities in terms of roster-building, which are linked to what Howard decides to do.

“If there’s one thing we’re looking at this summer, it’s what Dwight is going to decide to do. That is the major moving piece. That will determine a lot about what we do. It’s the one decision we will have to wait on. Then we will try to have a plan a, plan b, plan c depending on what happens.”

On the team’s dearth of assistant coaches… Only one assistant from last season, Dan D’Antoni, remains on the Lakers staff. Coach Mike D’Antoni has said he wanted to pare down the size of his staff, but with the attrition thus far, the team will have to bring on several new names.

“It’s kind of a carousel, so to speak, and I believe there are four or five head coaching jobs in the league still to be determined. We’re monitoring that, and some of the names of guys that may be considered on some of those teams may be considered by us for assistant coaching positions.”

On whether the Lakers might use their amnesty clause, which has been widely viewed as an option for Metta World Peace’s contract should he opt in to the last year of his deal… “It’s a tool that we’re aware of. We have not decided if we will use it.”

On the best way to build going forward… The Lakers currently hold just the 48th pick in this year’s draft, so barring a trade up in the selection order, it’s hard to count on the team picking anyone who can be a major contributor. That said, the team’s roster is in sore need of help, and it doesn’t have much financial flexibility to attract bigger-name free agents.

“Assuming our team next year is similar to the team it was this year, and also understanding that we have several free agents, probably the best way to improve this team would be through free agency, and even that’s limited. Hopefully you can use your (mini mid-level exception), but most of the time it will fall towards the (veteran’s) minimum contracts, and you want to make good selections there.”