Last week, the Los Angeles Lakers were mathematically, and therefore officially eliminated from playoff contention, marking the sixth straight year the team will not be taking part in postseason action. That also means the Lakers will be participating in the upcoming draft lottery, though as of Thursday, the team only has a 3 percent chance of landing the first overall pick and a 13.9 percent chance of getting a top-four selection, per CBS Sports. But with many pundits suggesting that the Lakers might be better off trading their 2019 first-round pick for a quality veteran, Fansided’s L.A. Sports Hub listed some players whom Los Angeles could realistically acquire if they end up with the 10th overall pick, given that they currently have the NBA’s 10th-worst record.
Although the Lakers were able to get good production out of JaVale McGee at the center position, L.A. Sports Hub explained that McGee, much like his erstwhile backup, Tyson Chandler, will be a free agent in the summer of 2019 after just one season with the Lakers. Meanwhile, Ivica Zubac, who produced good numbers off the bench and ably filled in for McGee when he was injured, was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers prior to the 2018-19 trade deadline. With that in mind, the Fansided blog suggested that the Lakers might benefit from trading their presumed 10th overall pick for Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside.
According to L.A. Sports Hub, Whiteside would make more sense than a theoretical No. 10 draft pick who might not contribute much for the Lakers, as he is a good shot blocker and a “dominant presence” in the paint who could shore up the team’s weaknesses at center and improve their defense. The outlet also suggested that Whiteside could benefit from playing alongside LeBron James and post some strong scoring numbers.
“James excels at making big men better and Whiteside would be no exception,” wrote L.A. Sports Hub’s Jason Reed. “For the Heat, they would be trading just one guaranteed year of Whiteside for a 10th overall pick, which is a win. For the Lakers, they would be getting a center that they could extend long-term as well.”
Is Hassan Whiteside playing himself out of the Miami Heat rotation?https://t.co/accvcu4w1h— All U Can Heat (@AllUCanHeat1) March 25, 2019
Given the Lakers’ reported plans to surround James with a second superstar via free agency, Reed added that Whiteside’s big contract with the Heat could make it hard for Los Angeles to sign a quality free agent. Per Basketball-Reference, Whiteside, who has one year remaining on his contract, is set to earn close to $27.1 million in the 2019-20 NBA season.
Like L.A. Sports Hub’s other recommendations — Philadelphia 76ers forward/guard Jimmy Butler and Clippers guard Lou Williams — Hassan Whiteside is only a suggested trade target in the event the Lakers don’t end up with a high draft pick in this year’s lottery. As it stands, the Lakers are still expected to target an even more talented big man, as they potentially resume their quest to trade for New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis, though as Heavy noted, the team could face stiff competition from the likes of the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks.