L.A. Lakers trade rumors might now reflect a mission to move up the 2017 NBA Draft order. What some Lakers fans may not realize, is that if the team doesn’t have a top-three selection, they lose that first-round draft choice. This situation is a direct result of the trade to acquire former MVP point guard Steve Nash. Now, it could lead to the franchise missing out on what some NBA analysts are calling the deepest draft in recent memory.
In the updated NBA standings, the L.A. Lakers have the third-worst record in the NBA at 19-39. The team trails the Brooklyn Nets (9-47) and Phoenix Suns (18-39) in the race to get that No. 1 pick. Other teams close to them in the overall standings include the Orlando Magic (21-37), Philadelphia 76ers (21-35), Minnesota Timberwolves (22-35), Dallas Mavericks (22-34), and New York Knicks (23-34). Each of those teams also has an incentive to “tank” the rest of the regular season to get a better draft pick.
So which L.A. Lakers trade rumors directly impact the ability of the team to “tank” games and still keep control of their main assets? Trading role players like Nick Young, Lou Williams, and Jose Calderon, while bringing back draft picks in the transactions would be the perfect way to put a worse roster on the floor. Getting rid of the salaries for Williams and Young, who are both under contract for the 2017-18 NBA season, could also help free up about $13 million next year.
Jose Calderon is also an asset that could bring back a nice second-round pick in the upcoming draft, which actually makes a lot of sense for the team. He is in the final year of his current contract and likely won’t get offered an extension. That makes him very expendable, giving the team the desired result of weakening the roster at the same time. If the franchise can also find a way to deal Nick Young, who plays heavy minutes in the current rotation, that would also take away another weapon on offense.
The Lakers have already done a great job at losing to the Phoenix Suns this season, falling short in two-of-three games against the division rival. The Lakers and Suns have another game to play on March 9 that will be huge in the race to the bottom of the NBA standings. The loser of that game will have an easier route to a top-two selection in the 2017 NBA Draft, which also holds a lot of irony as at one point the Suns actually controlled that first-round selection of the Lakers. Now it belongs with the Philadelphia 76ers, another team with every incentive to “tank” games.
If the Philadelphia 76ers figure out a way to post a worse record than the L.A. Lakers this season, the 76ers will likely end up with two lottery selections. That would be huge, especially as the team tries to put a winning roster on the court for the first time in years. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the 76ers are also trying to trade pieces, including Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. Dealing both players would certainly make the roster worse this season, giving the 76ers another great chance at dropping in the NBA standings.
Nick Young is averaging 13.8 points over 26.5 minutes per game, which would be tough for the team to “lose” before the NBA trade deadline. Taking his production out of the lineup would certainly worsen the team, making it easier to “tank” over the final two months of the regular season. Would new team advisor Magic Johnson get on board with an effort to start losing games? That could certainly lead to additional L.A. Lakers trade rumors, especially if the franchise wants to do everything possible to retain its own first-round draft pick this summer.
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