There has been a lot of speculation about what the Los Angeles Lakers are going to do with the 17th pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. While the Lakers could land a solid prospect with the 17th pick, it seems like the team is more interested in trading the selection.
According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, there is a growing likelihood that the Lakers will trade the 17th pick in the draft. There are two routes the Lake Show can take: the team can try to trade down in the draft to accumulate more draft capital or can try to trade the pick for veteran talent.
But what if the team could do both? It takes the perfect situation for that to happen and luckily, the perfect situation may now exist. The Brooklyn Nets are reportedly very active in shopping their two late second-round picks to move up in the draft while veterans Royce O’Neale and Dorian Finney-Smith have also gained interest.
Alas, the Lakers could knock out two birds with one stone, moving back in the draft while also adding a veteran player to the rotation.
NBA Rumors: Why the Los Angeles Lakers would say yes
This is the best of both worlds for the Los Angeles Lakers. The team would be able to bring in a cost-controlled veteran that can log legitimate rotation minutes without having to sacrifice a first-round pick in the draft. With LA’s ability to scout and develop players, the difference between pick 22 and 17 may not be that large.
O’Neale is exactly what the Lakers should be looking for out of a rotation player off the bench. He gives the team the wing depth that is so desperately needed while also adding another shooting presence off the bench that the Lakers lacked.
O’Neale shot 38.9% from three last season and throughout his career, he has been incredibly consistent. He has shot 38.4% from beyond the arc while attempting 3.5 threes per game in his career.
He may not be able to do much more offensively but that is fine. His solid three-point shooting and above-average wing defense is valuable enough. Better yet, he is on an expiring deal that pays him under $10 million a year, so he does not break the bank in the slightest.
NBA Rumors: Why the Brooklyn Nets would say yes
O’Neale has value to a team like the Lakers but may not have as much value to the Nets. Brooklyn is a wing-heavy team and one year of O’Neale isn’t really moving the needle for Brooklyn. With large contracts given out to the likes of Ben Simmons and Joe Harris, the Nets may benefit from trading O’Neale for Mo Bamba for the sole purpose of waiving Bamba and his non-guaranteed contract.
Brooklyn would get to move up five spots in the draft and would get to free up just under $10 million in salary cap space in the process. The difference between the 22nd and 17th pick may not be large for the Lakers but it could allow the Nets to draft someone that they are in love with.
This kind of trade almost has to happen on draft night itself. It would take a prospect who Brooklyn is very high on falling to the 17th pick with the belief that he won’t fall to 21 (the Nets’ next pick in the draft). If that happens, this becomes an obvious no-brainer for the Nets.