Lakers notes: Kupchak takes trip to China
Kupchak described the Chinese Basketball Association games as being “very competitive,” but said he couldn’t answer the question of whether a Chinese player might join the Lakers in the next decade. “In the next 10 years, I could see several Chinese players in the league,” Kupchak said. “I couldn’t say there’d be 30 or 40, but I can see multiple players in the league. Would one of those guys end up on a Lakers roster? I don’t know.” The Lakers took a step toward that end in hiring Gary Boyson, a Hong Kong-based scout, last season. Kupchak had not traveled to China before his January trip, although the Lakers have made two or three trips a year to Europe in the past decade. “There’s a chance that this year one of the players we went to see is going to be in the draft,” Kupchak said. “So this was the year (to go). Next year, although I can see basketball continuing to grow at a healthy rate there, the competitive nature there, I don’t know if there’ll be a draftable player next year.” Midseason review: Before the Lakers left for the All-Star break, coach Phil Jackson offered his thoughts on the first 50-plus games. Given the rash of injuries in training camp, Jackson was asked if he would have taken a 30-23 record back in October. “I told the team, `We’re not unhappy with what our record is, but we’re not happy with how we’ve played the last two weeks, the last three weeks actually,”‘ Jackson said. Jackson said he was hopeful that center Kwame Brown and forward Luke Walton could return from their respective sprained ankles soon after the break. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! One of the frustrations of the job for Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is sometimes fighting traffic to attend a college game, only to watch the player he came to see sprain an ankle or struggle with foul trouble. But Kupchak was investing more than just a couple of hours on the Southern California highways when he flew to China in late January for a six-day scouting trip. It was Kupchak’s first trip to the country and he went with a list of three or four prospects he wanted to see. Assistant general manager Ronnie Lester also made the trip, which Kupchak described Thursday as being “worthwhile.” Although Kupchak could not comment on the players he saw, 19-year-old forward Yi Jianlian is regarded as a potential first-round draft pick. Jianlian is a 7-footer who would follow Wang Zhizhi, Mengke Bateer and Yao Ming into the NBA.