Mar 1, 2014; Stillwater, OK, USA; Kansas Jayhawks center Joel Embiid (21) shoots a free throw during the second half against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Oklahoma State beat Kansas 72-65. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Commentary: Lakers Shouldn’t Trade Lottery Pick


Great businesses use processes to reach long-term goals.  When businesses stray away from that idea, they may in the short-term, but ultimately fail in a large way with the inability to compete against the competition.

The Lakers have done this by trading multiple 1st round picks to acquire free agents for championship hopes.  How is that working for the Lakers?  They haven’t been able to develop anyone internally.  It’s so bad, that over half of the current Laker roster are one-year, veteran minimum players.  The best players are the previous developed players, Jordan Farmar, Jodie Meeks, and Jordan Hill.  No one knows definitively, who will be on the team next season.

The idea has swirled that the Lakers should trade their lottery pick for a quality player. The latest name is Kevin Love, and while Love is one of the best players in the league, trading the pick for him may not be a great idea. Here’s why.

A lottery pick is a productive player on a rookie scale contract.  Want to create cap space to lure free agents?  Want to have an improved team with lower salary?  Having a great lottery pick gives the Lakers that flexibility. Any solid pick from #1 through #10 gives the Lakers a huge advantage.  Look through the list of names.  Andrew Wiggins, Dante Exum, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, Noah Vonleh, Willie Cauley-Stein, Tyler Ennis, Rodney Hood, and Adreian Payne would all be ascending players who can do something on the basketball floor, even if it’s off the bench.  These guys will warrant 15-20 minutes per game.  Some of them are more developed than others.  While it’s possible none of them may come out as productive as Magic Johnson or Larry Bird during their rookie years, there’s still a possibility of developing a franchise player. Kobe Bryant himself wasn’t really ready until at least two years in the league.

Did we mention that Kobe Bryant is willing to mentor the draft pick?  What if the Lakers get Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker?  What if it’s slowly developing Embiid’s strength for a year?

Now, it really matters.  Think of what would happen if those guys heed Kobe Bryant’s advice and accelerate their skill level and maturity as a player?  You get a highly productive player in year two or year three, on a rookie scale contract.

Imagine it’s 2015.  Pau Gasol may be retired.  The same goes for Kobe Bryant.  The Lakers have their lottery pick, on a rookie scale contract, productive, and there’s cap space to acquire players.  Bring in Kevin Love next to the lottery pick.  Boom, you have a solid duo of offensive power to build upon.

If the Lakers want to scare teams, it’s all about free agency in 2015 and 2016.  With the Lakers finally rid of contracts from the previous CBA agreement, there will be better team flexibility.  Is Kevin Durant not an attractive enough name?  How about Kyrie Irving? Goran Dragic? Klay Thompson?  LaMarcus Aldridge?  DeAndre Jordan?  Joakim Noah?  The point is to make a triumvirate of offensive power that can also affect the defensive side of the floor.  The Miami Heat won’t be the same.  Kevin Durant has been frustrated with previous decisions with the Oklahoma City Thunder, especially not keeping James Harden.  If the Lakers are anything, they are a team that is willing to spend the right money to build a championship caliber team.  Kobe Bryant knows that.  They proved it.

The most ideal scenario would be a healthy Joel Embiid, Kevin Love, and Kevin Durant.  Acquiring a starting back court with that front line would be easy.

The Lakers get their triumvirate.  They open the championship window with two elite players at their prime.  They have another young prospect ready to pick up with further development.  There’s a similarity here with Tim Duncan and Ginobili in their prime withTony Parker waiting in the wings.  The same goes for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce with Rajon Rondo waiting in the wings.

What’s the better long-term goal?  A two-year championship window?  Or a five-year championship window?  An extra year or two of patience goes a long way.

The Lakers need to create their own chances.

That’s what it looks like.

Tags: 2015 2016 Andrew Wiggins Draft Featured Free Agency Free Agent Jabari Parker Kevin Durant Kevin Love Kobe Bryant Kyrie Irving Lakers Lottery Popular Trade

  • Jim213

    IMO, if the Lakers don’t land a top 4 pick then a trade should be an option (not too impressed with draft). Vonleh seems like a better prospect than Randle as in the end the Lakers chances to acquire Love in 2015FA won’t increase if they wait. History (FO’s recent bad moves) don’t give many peace of mind.

    • Mike Garcia

      Part of the bad moves is going for the free agents, who then choose not to stay, and not retain the draft picks they could be using to build talent within.

      • Jim213

        True, but brought this up elsewhere too being giving up too much (draft picks) for mediocre talent ex. Sessions, and even Nash given his age. But IMO if a deal happens to get done for Love in 2014, FO would have to acquire some good starting role players this off season too. IMO, believe Love would stay in LA but there’s more appeal out there than what the Lakers have to offer him currently or by waiting until 2015FA.

        • Mike Garcia

          Disagree, in the sense that, Minnesota has had some young talent and a chance to improve.

          He has still admitted he wants to leave.

          • Jim213

            IMO, Love is more open to leaving than staying with the Wolves. They haven’t made the playoffs since he’s joined the team. But aside of that recent reports state that he wants to play in a big city.

            Likely for marketing purposes tho the two best options for him would be LA or NY if his own brand impacts his decision. But IMO it’s a matter of where they end up selecting given if they up with a TOP prospect best to keep him and wait until 2015 FA.

    • Chrmngblly

      I would trade Nash’s expiring contract and our pick to whoever gets Embiid, Vonleh, Exum or Wiggins, in that order, if we don’t get Embiid or Vonleh, etc., ourselves.