L.A. Lakers trade rumors have been following the team around since the opening day of the NBA season. Despite the Lakers getting linked to trades involving Carmelo Anthony, Jimmy Butler, and even Kevin Love, the team never pulled the trigger on a deal. A report by sports writer Adam Zagoria adds another interesting wrinkle to the situation, with Lakers scouts already preparing for a top selection in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Earlier on Saturday (Jan. 28), Zagoria stated that 28 NBA personnel would be in attendance for the Kansas vs. Kentucky game. He would later take down that post to indicate that there were 38 in attendance, further noting that nobody from the Brooklyn Nets or New York Knicks were there. What makes this noteworthy, in addition to the Lakers having two scouts in attendance, is that three players between Kansas and Kentucky are projected to be selected within the first 10 picks of the 2017 NBA Draft.
A recent mock draft places the L.A. Lakers as the No. 2 overall team in the draft order, with the team then selecting North Carolina State point guard Dennis Smith. The freshman guard is getting a lot of attention this year and is expected to be one of the NBA Lottery picks this summer. For that pick to even take place, the Lakers would need to continue to tank during the 2016-17 NBA season. If the Lakers don’t lose enough games to earn a top three spot in the draft order, then they lose that pick to the Philadelphia 76ers.
The control of this first-round selection goes back to the Steve Nash trade with the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers dealt the first-round pick as part of the deal, but it is protected if it remains within the top three selections. If the Lakers end up with the fourth pick in the draft, then that pick goes to the 76ers, who acquired it from the Suns in a separate deal. To have a better shot at one of the top picks, the Lakers would simply need to keep losing games this season. In the updated NBA standings, it appears that the team is doing a great job at continuously losing.
As for how this pertains to L.A. Lakers trade rumors, if the team is intent on tanking and remaining a top selector in the 2017 NBA Draft, it could mean that veteran players get dealt before the February 23 NBA trade deadline. Veterans who could help the Lakers win games and worsen their chances at a top-three selection could get traded in order to acquire more picks. It also seems to indicate that the Lakers would not want to bring on another star player mid-season, as it would help them in the win column and weaken the odds at nabbing a top lottery pick.
The attendance at the Kentucky vs. Kansas game means the Lakers are looking at some particular players. Kansas player Josh Jackson (pictured) has the ability to play both shooting guard and small forward. Jackson is a good shooter who is averaging 15.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game. He is also shooting 49.4 percent from the field this year. It is easy to see why Jackson will become a top draft selection.
Kentucky is also expected to have at least two lottery selections, with point guard De’Aaron Fox and shooting guard Malik Monk drawing a lot of attention. Other NBA rumors have indicated that the Philadelphia 76ers could target Fox with their own first-round pick. The team has scouts in attendance at the Kentucky vs. Kansas game as well, getting a good look at some of the players expected to be at the top of the draft board.
It appears very clear that the Lakers want to acquire at least one player at the top of the 2017 NBA Draft. While the team also already has roughly $95 million in salaries for the 2016-17 NBA season, it could cause the team to stand in place at the NBA trade deadline. Players like Nick Young and Lou Williams might move, but fans should expect the L.A. Lakers trade rumors to quiet down as a full effort is devoted to “tanking” for the rest of the regular season.
[Featured Image by Ed Zurga/Getty Images]