On Thursday morning, Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak spoke with media gathered at their El Segundo facility for Lakers' morning shootaround. Kupchak spoke for an extended period fo time and touched on a variety of topics including Kobe Bryant's recent surgery, free agency, the trade deadline and even Steve Nash.
NBCLA.com was present and compiled the GM's most noteworthy quotes:
Kupchak on speaking with Bryant following surgery:
"In fact, we texted last night and we spoke this morning. He's in great spirits."
"The surgery went really well, and he's excited about the prognosis, which is to be ready for training camp. That's a good thing, but we've lost a great, great player for the rest of the year."
"I don't think he's retiring. I spoke to him this morning...he said he's looking forward to training camp."
Note: Kupchak said that Kobe likely will not be running for three or four months due to awkward nature of the sling.
On whether he would still have given Bryant a two-year $48.5 million extension:
"100 percent. We have no regrets at all because he's worth every penny of it."
On the difference between Nash and Bryant entering final years of respective contracts:
"The injuries are completely different. Steve's injury was related to a back and hip problem that would not go away. Kobe's injuries, although significant, have been to different body part. His Achilles is clearly 100 percent. The break in the bone in his knee last year is 100 percent. And the shoulder, they predict, will be 100 percent. So I'm not sure you can correlate Steve's isolated back injury to Kobe's injuries."
On Nash's involvement with the team:
"Oh, he's around...We have breakfast once a month. He will work with some of our players. He may have already started doing that. He's not going to go out and advertise that he's doing it. We've talked about helping the younger players. As the season progresses, I think he'll be more engaged."
"I know it didn't go over perfect...with our blessing, we said 'take the time you need to get away from the game,' but I've been engaged with Steve."
"I expect him to--whether it's during the next month or two or three or during the offseason--to help our younger players...He's more than willing and he's already agreed to say that he'd love to do it."
On whether Lakers coach Byron Scott should shoulder any blame for Bryant's injury:
"Byron is saying the right thing and doing the right thing, but I really don't think [heavy minutes] had anything to do with anything--certainly not the injury."
On failure to compete at a high level this season:
"We were as aggressive as we could be in the offseason."
"We always had concerns about Steve Nash and his ability to make it through a season. So, I was not that surprised that Steve could not make it through the season. I did expect Kobe to play a full season and I did expect Julius Randle to play a full season."
Kupchak On Tanking:
"Our coach and players have been instructed to win games."
"I don't have to instruct the players to win games and try to win games. And I don't have to instruct Byron to. That's why they're here."
"If we fall into one of the top five worst records or the lottery puts into one of the top five and we get the pick, that's terrific."
"A top five pick is always a good thing."
Kupchak on the upcoming trade deadline and the remainder of the season:
"We do have to look to the off season...If we make a move, we have to make sure it's the right more and not give away hard earned flexibility. One of the primary things in this league that you do have to protect is your financial flexibility. It gives you a lot of options."
"We want Byron to establish and maintain a culture that he's comfortable with, and the players have to adhere to that culture."
On Pau Gasol Returning to Staples Center on Thursday Night:
"Would we have been a better team with Pau Gasol on our team this year? Absolutely."