Some fans don’t want to admit it, but the Los Angeles Lakers are currently in the middle of a rebuilding phase.
Right now, there are only four players under contract with the team, and one of those players (Kendall Marshall) has an unguranteed contract. For this reason, there’s a lot of holes on the team that need filling, and that makes this year’s draft all that more important for the purple and gold.
Obviously, rebuilding teams have always welcomed talented rookies and their low salaries with open arms, though this is even more so the case these days due to the league’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Because of this, the value of draft picks are at an all-time high, though that apparently won’t deter Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak from hoping to acquire an additional first-round pick over the next few weeks.
“We may look to get a pick some other way because we have guys we interviewed who aren’t going to be gone before the second round, but they’ll be around after [our current pick],” Kupchak said, according to Mark Medina from the L.A. Daily News. “You only get so many assets in this league. Draft picks are an asset. There’s cap room, draft picks and players. Those are assets you can use to rebuild a team.”
As mentioned earlier, the Lakers currently only have four players under contract, so that obviously doesn’t help matters when it comes to trying to pull off a trade.
However, there’s a chance the Lakers could simply buy a pick with cash and a future second-rounder if they can find the right buyer.
One example of a deal such as this was pulled off by the then-New Jersey Nets in 2011 when they sent their 2013 second-round pick and cash considerations to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for the 31st overall pick in the 2011 draft.
There’s also a chance that the Lakers could look to acquire an additional pick by providing another team with substantial salary cap relief.
One situation – this isn’t a rumor, by the way, just an idea – could involve the Chicago Bulls, who are the owners of the 16th and 19th pick in this year’s draft.
Duke’s Rodney Hood, who is projected to go in the mid-to-late first-round, could be a player the Lakers have their eye on
The Bulls are expected to amnesty Carlos Boozer – which could help them free up enough cap space to sign Carmelo Anthony, though they’d still need to pay Boozer his owed salary (nearly $17 million) if he’s amnestied – however, they’d be smart to explore the trade market before doing so.
Mitch Kupchak could offer to take Boozer off Chicago’s hands in order to land another first-round pick in this draft. This kind of move would be less about acquiring Boozer (who has just one year left on his contract) and more about landing another draft pick, and a move like this is something that Kupchak has mentioned in the past. Remember: the team’s upcoming cap space can be used in trades, not just during free agency.
If the Lakers are unsuccessful in trying to land another first-rounder, picking up a second-round selection would be easier and less expensive, and while the talent level normally drops off the in the second round, the Lakers have done well in the past to find productive players in the 40s and 50s.