Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak stood next to what represented the framework surrounding all the moves he made during free agency.
Roy Hibbert stood next to Kupchak donning his Lakers jersey at an introductory press conference on Wednesday after the Lakers acquired him from Indiana for a second-round pick. Shooting guard Lou Williams and power Brandon Bass also stood their holding their Lakers jerseys after signing here as free agents.
Add in Kobe Bryant’s expected return and the Lakers crop of young draft prospects, and it appears they have most of their roster set for the 2015-16 season. Yet, Kupchak stressed afterwards that his work is hardly finished, suggesting he would look to add either a point guard or center.
The Lakers have a flooded backcourt with D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Bryant, Williams, Nick Young and Jabari Brown. But Kupchak suggested Bryant and Young could play more at small forward instead of shooting guard. Meanwhile, Brown is expected to make the team on a non-guaranteed deal, but is only a second-year player.
“Depending on how you look at it, we may look to bring another guard on board,” Kupchak said. “We may not.”
Kupchak said he views the Lakers’ frontcourt in the same way.
They have plenty of power forwards, including Bass, Julius Randle, Tarik Black, Larry Nance. Jr and Ryan Kelly. But the Lakers appear thin at the center spot. The Lakers only have two seven-footers in Hibbert and backup center Robert Sacre. Though the 6’9, 257- pound Black played some at center during summer league, Lakers coach Byron Scott prefers Black to play at the power forward position. Kelly stands at 6’11” but he would be undersized for a center at 230 pounds and is considered a stretch forward because of his potential as an outside shooter.
“We’re not a big team,” Kupchak said. “If you look at our team, you could make an argument we need another big player.”
It was reported in numerous outlets, including this one, that the Lakers agreed to a two-year deal with Robert Upshaw, who played on the team’s summer league after going undrafted. But Kupchak stressed that no deal has been signed. Kupchak also sounded skeptical about Upshaw becoming part of the rotation because of his inexperience.
“It’s unlikely Robert will contribute next year on this team to win games,” said Kupchak, who said he has continuous discussions with Upshaw’s agent, Bill Duffy. “If we did something with Robert, it would be based on potential going forward. It’s hard to look at any rookie. We made commitments to some rookies because they got drafted very high. But to look at a guy who wasn’t drafted and say this is the guy who is going to be in your rotation, that’s not realistic at all.”
How realistic it is for the Lakers to make any moves seems uncertain.
The Lakers have $2.8 million to spend via the room exception, but they may not find any players worth that price on the open market. Unsigned centers include Ryan Hollins, Justin Hamilton, Bernard James, Jerome Jordan, Ognjen Kuzmic, Henry Sims, Greg Stiemsma, Travis Wear and Jeff Whithey. Among the unsigned point guards include Dwight Buycks and Vander Blue, both of whom played for the Lakers on 10-day contracts last season.
The Lakers have 14 players signed to their roster. Although they can hold an NBA-maximum 15 players for the 2015-16 season, they can hold up to 20 players entering training camp.
Said Kupchak: “We might have one spot left.”