There are indications, however, the Lakers' rebuilding effort will not be modest. Indeed, they might be parting with some beloved old friends, starting with Robert Horry and perhaps Derek Fisher.
The Lakers have until Monday to exercise a $5.3 million option on Horry. Under one scenario being considered, the Lakers could pick up the option today and then package Horry in a deal to move up in the draft and/or acquire veteran help.
In lieu of any attractive deals tonight, the Lakers could wait until the free-agent season opens Tuesday and seek to package Horry in a deal then. Teams looking to clear salary-cap space next summer might be enticed into a deal for Horry, whose contract would expire in 2004.
Whether Horry's friendly contract is enough to net the Lakers an impact player is questionable, but some NBA sources believe it might be the key to netting someone such as Gary Payton.
Payton, who finished last season with the Milwaukee Bucks, is confidently telling friends he will end up with the Lakers. But he has also made it clear he wants more than the $4.7 million mid-level exception, which is all the Lakers can offer a free agent.
That means Payton would have to agree to a sign-and-trade deal, and the Bucks would have to be willing to take some combination of Horry, Fisher or George. It's an unlikely package to get a major deal done, but it represents the kind of discussions the Lakers will be entertaining as they try to improve the cast surrounding Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal.
Laker officials say they have not made a decision regarding Horry and probably will wait until Monday's deadline. They might decline the option and try to re-sign Horry for less money, or package him in a sign-and-trade deal.
"Robert Horry can help our team," Kupchak said. "He can help our team next year and the year after, for sure."
In any case, the Lakers are not so subtly hinting that major changes could be forthcoming.
The Lakers' prime target might be 19-year-old Zaur Pachulia, a 6-foot-11 forward from the Republic of Georgia, who worked out in El Segundo on Tuesday. Pachulia, who has played professionally in Turkey since 1998, has drawn comparisons to Dallas' Eduardo Najera for his physical play.
In all, the Lakers have worked out 40 players, including eight foreign prospects. UCLA's Jason Kapono tried out Wednesday and could be targeted with the Lakers' second-round pick. They also are intrigued by Malick Badiane, a 6-11 forward from Senegal who plays in Germany.