Mitch Kupchak said it himself during his exit interview: the activity and chatter around the league beings heat up as the NBA draft in June approaches.
Officials from teams are gathering at the draft combine in Chicago right now, and naturally, the rumor mill is beginning to churn.
According to Sam Amico, the Los Angeles Lakers are among the teams looking to move up in the draft and nab a lottery pick, possibly by trading Pau Gasol:
[pullquote]The Los Angeles Lakers and Atlanta Hawks are said to be two such teams, with both supposedly exploring the idea of improving their draft position.
As for the Lakers, their lone pick doesn’t come until midway through the second round (No. 48 overall). But, as usual, they’re supposedly willing to trade big man Pau Gasol in attempt to get younger. That may mean obtaining a pick, a younger player and a contract.
Again, all of this is just speculation at the moment, and it may result in nothing at the end. And goodness knows, these are the type of discussions among GMs and execs that will take place all the way through the draft.[/pullquote]
While this is said to be a fairly weak draft, it’s always hard to gauge how good a draft class is straight away, and Amico has even said that the Cavaliers’ GM told him this group looks stronger than originally expected.
The Lakers have explored moving Gasol for younger, cheaper parts for a while now, and you can’t get much younger and cheaper than a rookie, so such a move would make sense, especially if an established player was received in the trade, too.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have obviously had interest in Pau for some time, though since they’ve changed general managers (David Kahn was replaced by Flip Saunders earlier this month) it’s unclear whether the T-Wolves still covet the Spaniard. However, big man fan Rick Adelman will be staying on as coach, so the interest in Gasol could still be there.
The Wolves are projected to have the ninth pick in the draft – plus they also have a D’Antoni-like player in Derrick Williams to dangle in a trade – so Minnesota may be a team to keep an eye on as the draft approaches next month.