Only Thursday morning in El Segundo, the Los Angeles Lakers set up a dais on their practice floor and presented players on their way to summer vacation.
After each player met with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, they took questions about the disappointing season that had passed and the uncertain future that lay ahead.
In the morning session, the Lakers started out with a four-some: Nick Young, Jordan Hill, Chris Kaman and Jordan Farmar—all expected to hit free agency this summer.
First to the podium was Kaman, and the often frustrated center released some of the built up pressure regarding his role but still attempted to play the diplomatic card.
“I had my issues with coach and I think he knew I was frustrated,” Kaman said. “My situation wasn’t really controllable from my end as much as I would have liked to have had it. I tried to put in the time and just stay positive. It just drains on you over the year as it goes.”
Kaman was asked if his frustrations ever boiled over. He responded, “Not that I want to talk about, but yea.”
Next, Hill took the podium, and he was also asked about his frustrations with the coach and relating to Kaman.
“Chris was just a butt-hole sometimes,” Jordan Hill drew laughter. “He just gets out of his head sometimes from the frustrations.”
Hill was asked about his personal disagreements with the coach and his inconsistent playing time.
“We didn’t have any problems,” Hill contended he had a good relationship with D’Antoni. “We never argued. I never snapped out on him. He never snapped out on me.”
After a couple of frustrated big men, the Lakers brought out two guards that were happy with the experience even if it featured more losing than winning.
Jordan Farmar said he was not sure he would be back, but he was clear that he wished to be back. He wore his two championship rings from his first go-around with the Lakers to his exit interview with the intention to provide management a couple reminders that he played a valuable role in winning titles for the franchise.
Farmar said he believed the criticisms of D’Antoni were not “fair,” and he viewed the season as having an asterisk on it based on all the injuries the team suffered. Farmar also recounted how he helped recruit Young to the Lakers and the progress and development he saw in his fellow Angeleno.
Farmar said, "It was awesome to see Nick really blossom into something that we all know he could be."
As Young stepped to the podium, he was all smiles and jokes.
“Hopefully I can be back,” Young started out. “It’s always good to hear [Lakers GM] Mitch (Kupchak) say something positive about you.”
When asked what exactly Kupchak said to him, Young provided some color to the serious occasion: “He said he’s going to sign me for $100 million, something like that.”
Young admitted he was joking about the offer. He admitted that he wanted to be back in Los Angeles but also admitted that the financial components played an equal role in his upcoming decision. Young said that Kupchak advised him to opt in, as the player holds a player-option to return to the team.
However, Young expects to make significantly more money on the open market, so he will likely hit free agency, putting his return to the Lakers in serious jeopardy.
Young said he even saw Kupchak smiling before adding, "He don't smile too much." Perhaps for one final time, Young provided laughs and filled the Lakers’ practice facility with smiles.