At just 20-54 heading into Friday night's battle against the
The Lakers will send Philadelphia their selection, but only if it's not in the top five, as the final debt owed in the
Talented prospects such as Duke's Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow, Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein and Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell could significantly change the Lakers' fate, if the lottery balls prove favorable — and not utterly disastrous.
That pick will impact the Lakers' spending power in July, taking up between $3.1 million and $4.8 million of salary cap space this summer. The NBA projects the cap will climb from the current $63.1 million to $67.4 million for the 2015-16 season.
The second decision, which needs to be made prior to free agency in July, is
If the Lakers land the fourth pick in the draft, but let Hill go, they'll have approximately $24 million in cap room. Keep Hill, and that number drops to about $15 million, which may not be enough to land a top free agent in the $18-million to $22-million range.
Drafting an Okafor or Towns may lead to Hill's exit. The first decision is likely to weigh heavily on the second.
No pick and no Hill, the Lakers would be near $28 million in cap space.
The team will also get a first-round pick from Houston (currently 28th overall), their own second (34th) and possibly a second-rounder from the Clippers (50-26), provided the selection is in the narrow range of 51 to 55. The Clippers are presently slotted at 56th. The Lakers received both additional picks from the
The only Lakers with fully guaranteed contracts next season are
Meanwhile, the Lakers are paying out $70.4 million in player payroll. Last season, they tallied a total team salary of $77.1 million — $84.8 million with
Both seasons are a far cry from the
The Lakers signed 6-foot-3 point guard Dwight Buycks to a $48,028, 10-day contract Friday.
The Marquette product went undrafted in 2011, playing with the
With so many injuries this season, the Lakers were granted a hardship exception by the NBA to sign Buycks as the team's 16th player.
Pincus is a Times correspondent.