Apr 19, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) heads down court after a 3-point basket in the second half of game one of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Warriors won 109-105. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Sticking to a Plan for the Most Success, Klay Thompson

Our own Jacob Rude wrote about a draft rumor involving Klay Thompson.  The #7 pick for Klay Thompson as a stand alone trade works to the Lakers favor by itself, but is it best for the franchise?

I would argue, the answer is no.

Let’s reference back to 1996.  The Lakers were an up-and-coming team.  Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones had All-Star potential.  The team was exciting to watch.  Nick Van Exel was clutch.  Eddie Jones provided the defense with high flying dunks.  They ran in transition.  They were an underdog team that stunned playoff contenders.

Then the summer of 1996 happened.  The Lakers traded away Vlade Divac for the #13 pick.  This wasn’t just to acquire a lottery pick.  This was also to acquire cap space.

Other players were released.  Anthony Peeler, George Lynch, and Sedale Threatt were no longer on the team.  More cap room had to be added.

The Lakers drafted Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher.  They acquired free agent Shaquille O’Neal.  From there on out, the championship window was open.  It wasn’t open because of a 17-year old Kobe Bryant.  It was open because a franchise player came in to play along with two future All-Stars in Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones.  All four of them became All-Star players in one season.  The talent cupboard was full.

While it would be several more years before the Lakers won championships, the team was so overloaded with talent, they could afford to trade away players to fit team needs.  Eddie Jones and Elden Campbell were traded away for Glen Rice, J.R. Reid, and B.J. Armstrong.  Phil Jackson became head coach.  The rest is history.

Jerry West saw what he needed with the roster and worked with it.  He had Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel on rookie scale contracts.  He had two up-and-coming players who needed a finisher in the paint to balance out the roster.

Lakers

Oct 30, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson (11) celebrates with shooting guard Andre Iguodala (9) after a basket against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers are in the same situation.  They need a productive rookie.  They need a key player in free agency.  Then, the team can roll the dice on the season and watch it unfold.

Klay Thompson can’t turnover the team by himself.  His contract runs out in 2015, where he should earn a near maximum contract extension.  The Lakers would be better off with a rookie contract player and a franchise player for a bit more than the maximum contract.  Assuming the players live up to their NBA projections, Marcus Smart and Klay Thompson would be awesome.   Julius Randle and Klay Thompson would be a great duo.

At least the torch would be passed onto two players, not just one.

But, it wouldn’t hurt to have a former Laker player’s son on the team.  He understands the value of winning.

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