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Lakers News: Latest Buzz Surrounding Coaching Vacancy, Draft Plans and More

Mitch Kupchak, Los Angeles Lakers general manager, speaks to reporers about the upcoming season, Wednesday Sept. 25, 2013, in El Segundo, Calif. Kupchak says Kobe Bryant was at the NBA basketball team's training complex almost every morning this summer, working aggressively to return from surgery on his torn left Achilles' tendon. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Nick Ut/Associated Press
Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2014

While the rest of the NBA focus remains on potential trades and free agency, the Los Angeles Lakers are quietly ho-humming about in a critical rebuilding phase.

During such a trying time, mere months removed from arguably the worst campaign in franchise history, each and every nugget of info becomes critical. A snowball effect can sneak up on fans otherwise.

With no head coach, few players under contract and a rare lottery pick for one of the league's most historic franchises, things continue to move at a snail's pace.

Fans should want it no other way. Here is the latest.

 

Draft Targets Narrowed Down

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Should general manager Mitch Kupchak choose to keep the No. 7 overall pick and invest in a talented youngster to hinge a large part of the future on, it will likely turn out to be a point guard or power forward.

Which makes a ton of sense provided they happen to be the two worst slots on the roster. According to Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times, we even have the names of the prospects under surveillance by the organization:

They are pondering whether to go with a power forward or point guard. They have narrowed their focus to big men Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle and Noah Vonleh or point guards Dante Exum, Marcus Smart and Elfrid Payton.

Dante Exum
Dante ExumCharles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

While this screams smokescreen or something of the sort, it's not all that hard to discern which players are the best in class at the aforementioned positions. Any one of the above names at power forward, with Noah Vonleh having the highest ceiling but the biggest risk, would work wonders in the paint.

The same goes for any one of the guards, although Elfrid Payton is a late riser and we have yet to see Dante Exum play against top competition. By most accounts, including those gathered by ESPN's Marc Stein, the Lakers will hold onto the pick, too:

With the plan set in stone, now it just comes down to how the board falls and whether or not a team comes along with a trade offer the Lakers cannot refuse.

 

Xavier Henry Injury Update

Mar 27, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Xavier Henry (7) during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center.  Milwaukee won 108-105.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Despite a rather dark season, there were bright spots for the Lakers to build upon in the coming years, should they choose to take the chance.

One such beam of hope was the play of Kansas product Xavier Henry at times, who averaged 10 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 43 games last season. Fresh out of surgery, it sounds like Henry will be back on the court sooner rather than later, per Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News:

Henry is worth an investment for a team looking to find a young core with room to grow. Henry fits the bill after a career year in most areas, and his ability to play multiple positions will give the Lakers lineup options and a quality bench.

Depending on how the draft pans out, expect to see Henry back in Los Angeles shortly.

 

Larry Brown Ruled Out

Apr 3, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Southern Methodist Mustangs head coach Larry Brown reacts against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the second half of the 2014 NIT Tournament championship game at Madison Square Garden. The Minnesota Golden Gophers defea
USA TODAY Sports

A journeyman of sorts and legend in his own right as the lone soul to have a title at the collegiate and professional levels, it was only a matter of time before Larry Brown heard his name on the NBA rumor mill once again. 

That goes twofold for his name in the mix with a prestigious organization such as the one in Los Angeles.

Brown surely tore out the hearts of Lakers faithful when he revealed he has been in talks with Kupchak recently, just not in the way many would have hoped, as captured by ESPN's Eamonn Brennan:

I talk to Mitch all the time. But we're not talking about coaching the Lakers. I've read some of the names. They've got a long list of good people to choose from, and I'm here at SMU. I want to win a national championship.

So there goes that. Brown seems content to rebuild the SMU program, while the Lakers have flirted with plenty of other coaches since the season ended. As great as it would be to see a historic figure hook up with a franchise of similar stature, Brown in Los Angeles seems a pipe dream at best.

 

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