Kupchak on Barnes, Brown, and serious concerns about Walton

We'll have more commentary and video from a surprisingly busy day in Lakerland, including highlights from this afternoon's press conference introducing Theo Ratliff and Derek Fisher's first comments to the media since re-signing with the team. In the meantime, Mitch Kupchak delivered a few choice nuggets Friday.

You can read my full story for ESPNLA.com here. Kupchak's main points:

  • A straight line can be drawn from the questionable health of Luke Walton to the signing of Matt Barnes Thursday evening. There is growing concern Walton's back problems will severely limit him next season, to the point he may even require additional surgery potentially forcing him to miss the year. With that in mind, the Lakers obviously had a need to shore up their depth at small forward.

  • Kupchak said the issue of potential playing time never came up during the negotiating process with Barnes and his agent. Barnes could "look at the roster" and understand who was in front of him on the depth chart, and wanted to come to L.A. A very good sign, I'd say.

  • The signing of Barnes doesn't preclude the return of Shannon Brown. “We’re still talking to Shannon. I think there’s a good chance that in the next couple of weeks we can have some resolution there with Shannon. I’m optimistic.” Brown's agent Mark Bartelstein told ESPNLA's Dave McMenamin today he is working on "different concepts" with the team.

  • Uncertainty surrounding Walton means the Lakers are far more likely to carry 14 players next season, so even if they re-sign Brown it doesn't mean one of the two second rounders (Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks) would have to go. Kupchak was pleased by the performance of both rooks at Summer League, but was careful not to read too much into it. The next step is to play well against NBA competition. Still, he's speaking to their representatives about contracts. Obviously a vote of confidence for the young 'uns.

  • He hasn't been in close contact with Kobe Bryant's camp regarding any potential procedures for 24 this summer, but said he'd let us know. Bryant, said Kupchak, tends to handle his medical issues in-house, so to speak, with his team. But there's no reason to believe he'll be limited when camp starts. Same with Andrew Bynum. The Lakers expect he'll be ready, despite bumping back the surgery date on his injured right knee because of scheduling issues with his doctor.

  • Kupchak expressed comfort with the state of the roster. “I think we’ve added depth, and I think we’ve addressed our major concern knowing that Jordan [Farmar] probably wouldn't return. That left a gaping hole in our backcourt. So to bring in a player like Steve [Blake], that gives us a great degree of comfort in that position. We’re pleased. We think we have a balanced roster, with some experience.”

More to come, but this'll keep you up to speed.