Draft picks, etc.

Here’s our story on the Lakers’ portion of the NBA Draft:

Kobe is the main subject

It’s quite a lengthy story, so there’s not much more to be said. It’s worth noting that Kupchak specifically mentioned that he drafted the two second-round guys knowing that they could end up playing in Europe this season. He’s concerned about roster-spot availability and he likes the players.

The Lakers had Crittenton ranked far higher than 19th, but some of that probably is because he ran the triangle in high school. That’s a huge factor, because it means he would be able to step in with a lot more familiarity than the average rookie. What remains to be seen is how it will impact Jordan Farmar. Perhaps not coincidentally, Farmar showed up for an on-court workout just as the draft was wrapping up. Farmar is a gym rat anyway, but the timing probably wasn’t a coincidence.

Phil Jackson was moving uncomfortably on his repaired hip, but then again, he’s still early in the recovery process. He said something interesting, which was that he wasn’t sure, at the time of the surgery, whether he would be healthy enough to coach next season. Those fears seem to have subsided but Jackson has not decided on his future beyond next season.

As usual, all the rumors were just that: rumors. Kevin Garnett hasn’t moved.

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Kwame’s surgery

Kwame Brown had successful surgery on his right shoulder and is expected to be at full strength for the start of training camp. Brown had a bursa sac, scar tissue and a bone spur removed from his shoulder in a procedure performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache that lasted just under an hour. Brown’s recovery time is expected to be 8 to 12 weeks.

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More surgery for Brown

Kwame Brown will undergo surgery Wednesday morning to remove the bursa sac and scar tissue in his right shoulder. A timetable for Brown’s return will be established after the surgery, although it is believed he will be ready for the start of training camp. Brown had been shooting free throws at the Lakers’ training facility while wearing a boot and recovering from the ankle surgery he had last month.

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Kobe to Chicago? Not likely

Kobe Bryant is still a Laker and Kevin Garnett is still a Timberwolf, and at this point a betting man would have to say that neither situation is going to change any time soon. According to Bulls GM John Paxson, it’s unlikely that Bryant would join the Bulls via trade, even if Chicago is one of the teams on his “trade me” list, Here’s the AP story:

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Although Kobe Bryant apparently would like to join the Bulls, Chicago general manager John Paxson sent a message to the Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar on Monday: Don’t count on it.

Paxson said he has had no discussions with the Lakers and a deal would be difficult to complete.

“What we would have to give up — unless that franchise would ever have a change of heart and had to do something — I don’t know how that would work,” he said. “They’ve got one of the top, maybe the top, talents in the league. What we would have to do to get there, I don’t even know what it would be. It would be significant. And then, are we better?”

“There’s nothing going on — that’s just the reality of it,” Paxson said.

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More from Kupchak

For those who haven’t seen it, I’ll attach a link to the story about Mitch Kupchak’s interview, and I thought I would also attach some of the leftover quotes that didn’t make it into the story.

It was nice to be able to sit down and talk to Mitch today, during what has been a rough month for him, but I must admit that it was weird not to be able to ask him anything about Kobe. It’s the only question anyone wants to ask, but we couldn’t. I understand the reasoning, but it still felt awkward. Hopefully, you’ll get something out of this…

Lakers: Kupchak gets his words in

On whether this is the most challenging offseason he will face:
“Every offseason is challenging. Even when you win a championship, you’re challenged to either leave things they way they are and take a chance that you can come back and win with the same team next year, or make changes, whether you win or lose, and get back there next year. So every year is challenging. We do like the makeup of the team. We’re very pleased with our start this year. We’re not going to talk about injuries, because a lot of teams have injuries, but we were 26-13, I think, through the end of January. Then the injury bug hit us. We got healthy, but then we weren’t the same team, even when we got healthy. So I can’t blame it on injuries. The team showed they were capable of winning at a high rate. During the offseason, you look for opportunities to make a change. If you’re going to make a change, you would hope that you’re going to win at a better rate than the year before. But there are no guarantees and there is no magic wand that you can wave to make it happen.”

Part of a quote about what he took away from last season:
“It’s good to know that you have the talent to win games. You have to factor in the schedule, but it is good to know that you’re talented enough to win games. I know, based on my conversations in the last three or four weeks, that we have a lot of desirable players that other teams would like to have on their teams. We felt that the team underachieved last year. … Come February, we hit the skids. So the response would be to look to see why that happened and try to right the ship. We could stick with the group we have today, but there will be changes, I’ve told you that, or we could look to be aggressive and try to get to that next level. Either way, we think we’ll be a talented team next year.”

On having his trade talks complicated by media reports, etc.:
“I’d prefer not to deal that way. There’s nothing I can do about it. The environment is what it is. I’d prefer to deal not through the media, without the media knowing what I’m doing and who I’m calling and what we’re talking about. But I can’t control the environment.It’s a part of the landscape that being a GM revolves around in this day and age. It wasn’t this way 20 years ago. It just wasn’t. There wasn’t a (salary) cap, there wasn’t the Internet, there wasn’t sports radio. I mean, the guys on radio, I don’t listen often but the callers that call in and the guys with the show, 90 percent of what’s proposed can’t take place, even if the GMs agreed on it. … The real fans can go on the Internet, and there are Internet sites where you can play GM and you can actually read rules and guidelines, but most of the people aren’t going to do that. It’s just part of the landscape of being a general manager. I think it’s good, because I think people like to talk about trades and they like to talk about teams they’re passionate about, particularly in a big city.”

On the Lakers’ possible desire to re-sign Chris Mihm:
“When he got hurt last year, he was on course to have his career-best year numbers-wise. So if he can get back to the way he played a year ago before he got hurt, I don’t know why we wouldn’t want him back.”

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Kobe website update

Now — as of 3:45 p.m. — the blog item that set off an avalanche of misinformation yesterday has totally vanished from Kobe Bryant’s website. Maybe when it reappears in two days, we can get another AP story about it! The whole thing is really disappointing. There are some really good people at the L.A. bureau of the AP, but somebody really, really messed up and there hasn’t been a retraction, which surprises me. The story put words in Kobe’s mouth that were taken COMPLETELY out of context, and it just added to the media circus.

On the other hand, putting an updated date on an old blog item only causes confusion and was a dumb idea, whether the decision belonged to Kobe or his webmaster or anyone. It only created confusion. And some of you might get a chuckle out of the latest “truth” entry, which quotes fans…but only the fans who support Kobe. Truth, huh? Fascinating.

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Kobe’s “new” message

The Associated Press has put out a story that claims to have new quotes from Kobe off his web site. Well, they’re not new at all. It’s the same comments he posted on May 30, but for some reason whoever operates his page keeps putting an updated date on the blog. If you click the post, on this blog, titled “Kobe’s lastest TRUTH,” you’ll get the exact same message that the AP is claiming to be new.

This thing couldn’t possibly be any more of a circus. The sooner everyone realizes that Kobe isn’t going to be traded, and that all of this is just good talk-radio and headline material, the happier we will all be.

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Phil’s surgery successful

Phil Jackson had surgery this morning to replace his left hip, which matched the procedure he had on his right side in October. Jackson is expected to be released from the hospital within 24 hours and will be fine for the start of training camp.

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Jeanie’s Journal

The Buss family has declined interview requests in the days since Kobe Bryant’s verbal maelstrom, preferring instead to release statements from owner Jerry Buss. Yesterday, we got a little insight into how another member of the family is feeling as Jeanie Buss, who sticks mostly to the business operations of the team, posted a diary entry on the team’s website.

Jeanie sounded devastated by the events of the last few days, calling them some of the most trying in her professional career. But she expressed the strongest statement yet that the Buss family has no intentions of trading Kobe Bryant.

“While it is clear that I have no input into basketball decisions, I have expressed my opinion to everyone I work with in this organization that Kobe Bryant CANNOT now or EVER be traded from the Lakers. Even thinking about it distresses me. My message is simple he is not going anywhere. How can you trade Kobe when there is no equal to Kobe?,” she wrote.

“The last few hours here in the office have been quiet. I missed my dads telephone call before he got on a plane for China and will be gone almost a month. I will spend the next few weeks catching up on things including reaching out to so many of our Lakers fans who have emailed and written to me. I want to thank you all for your support and keep the faith. It is a long off season but trust me Lakers executives are working aggressively to return the team to championship form.”

To read Jeanie’s Journal in its entirety, click here:

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