LA Lakers Notebook: Post-Kobe Bryant Era Brings Hope, Clarity for Mitch Kupchak

LOS ANGELES — The Lakers were miserable last season, slogging through Kobe Bryant's farewell campaign with a paltry 17-65 record. Since replacing the departed Byron Scott, rookie coach Luke Walton has begun a change of culture.

Collectively, the team believes it's now on the right path, but it's early October—the most optimistic time of the NBA year, when every team buys into the blank slate without a single blemish in the loss column.

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers wrapped up training camp in Santa Barbara, California. Like the 29 other NBA teams, they felt like they had a positive, productive first week.

"The music, new faces, new coaching staff—everybody is different. Everything is different," second-year guard D'Angelo Russell said. "It's a whole new vibe."

"I think it's been a good training camp, a lot of energy. The players seem to be responding," general manager Mitch Kupchak said. "Obviously, there's a new system, new coaches."

The Lakers seemed enthusiastic through last season’s training camp, before their disaster of a season. What is different this time around?

"I think we have more players that we're committed to this year than we have in the last year or two," Kupchak said. "Every year, for the last two or three years, we didn't know if Kobe was going to make it through the season. We got players on one-year deals, trying to get to a certain point.

"Here we are. We find ourselves with a completely new team with about six players that we've drafted over the last two or three years," he continued. "They are young and talented, and we've also made commitments to some free agents that we think will be with us for a while."

The Lakers are excited to see young players such as Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Ivica Zubac and Russell develop.

Kupchak is also hopeful that long-t...

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