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.