On Thursday, the Phoenix Suns traded the Lakers’ 2015 first-round draft pick to the Philadelphia 76ers in a three-way trade involving Brandon Knight and Michael Carter-Williams.
The pick, which the Suns acquired in the Steve Nash sign-and-trade back in 2012, is top-five protected this year and top-three protected in 2016.
Some were surprised that the Suns gave up the Lakers’ pick seeing as they are currently going through their worst season in franchise history.
However, Phoenix’s general manager, Ryan McDonough, told Bright Side of the Sun’s Bryan Gibberman that the Lakers may improve their roster via free agency this summer, which could possibly weaken the value of L.A.’s 2016 draft pick:
With a pick like that our analysis was that we probably weren’t going to receive the pick this year. That pushes the pick into next year, the protection drops to three, but I think analyzing the Lakers situation there’s pretty high variance there as to what the pick could be. If you ask me how the Lakers are going to be a year from now i have no idea. Obviously, they’ve struggled some recently, but they’re going to have a lot of salary cap space this summer and they’re in a market that’s traditionally been one of the top draws for free agents.
We know the risks. The pick next year could be the fourth pick in the draft, it could be the 14th pick in the draft, it could be the 30th pick in the draft. We felt it was the right time to cash it in.
We knew we needed to give something good to Philadelphia in a three-team trade in order for them to part with Michael Carter-Williams. That’s what they wanted so that’s how the deal got done.
It seems like the Suns expect the Lakers to keep their top-five protected pick this year, which is probably a pretty good guess seeing as L.A. currently hold the fourth worst record in the league.
However, the interesting part is that McDonough acknowledges the Lakers’ upcoming cap space and their ability to draw free agents to Los Angeles at a time when some “insiders” will tell you that players no longer want to wear the purple and gold.
McDonough knows L.A.’s draw all too well seeing as his former player Goran Dragic put the Lakers on his shortlist after demanding a trade before the deadline last week.
And hey, maybe the Suns know something we don’t when it comes to the intentions of this year’s crop of free agents.
More realistically, Phoenix likely just parted with the Lakers’ pick because they could land a sure thing right now in Knight as opposed to a draft choice that could literally end up anywhere in the first round, as McDonough notes above.
Still, Laker fans should find it reassuring that a rival franchise acknowledges the possibility of the Lake Show returning to prominence in the not-so-distant future.