Phoenix Suns' Goran Dragic, reportedly looking for trade, likes Lakers

Here are the scenarios if the Lakers decide to pursue Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic

According to multiple reports, point guard Goran Dragic would like a trade from the Phoenix Suns before the Thursday's noon trade deadline.

Dragic will earn $7.5 million this season and has a player option on his next season, which also pays him $7.5 million, and he is expected to choose free agency.  Should Phoenix risk keeping him the rest of the season, he could easily move to another team without the Suns receiving  any compensation.

The Lakers are believed to be among Dragic's potential suitors in July, possibly sooner if the Suns trigger a deal before the deadline.

To match salary, the Lakers would need to send out at least $4.9 million in player salary.

As far as trade assets, the Lakers already owe their 2015 first-round pick to the Suns, as part of the Steve Nash trade.  If the Lakers (13-40) finish with a top-five pick after the NBA draft lottery, they'll keep the selection and owe Phoenix their 2016 first-rounder (top-three protected) instead.

The Lakers also owe a first-rounder to the Orlando Magic for Dwight Howard (since departed), which will convey two years after the Lakers send their pick to the Suns.

Although they don't have many of their own picks to offer in a trade, the Lakers do have the Houston Rockets' first-rounder (Jeremy Lin trade), which will likely be in the 20-30 range.

The Lakers aren't going to trade Kobe Bryant, can't deal Carlos Boozer (since he was acquired via amnesty waivers from the Chicago Bulls) and may not want to part with rookies Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle.

Nash has an expiring $9.7-million contract.  Unofficially retired, Nash has no value as a player but he might be useful as salary ballast.

The Lakers also have Jordan Hill, Ed Davis and Lin to offer. 

Hill is earning $9 million this season and has a team option for next year, also at $9 million.  Because he re-signed with the Lakers, on what could be a one-year deal, Hill can block a trade.  The Lakers can circumvent that by opting Hill into the second year of his deal, but an incoming team would be obligated to pay the forward-center his full $18-million salary.

Davis is on a minimum contract, with an opt out after the season.  Lin is earning $14.9 million but by the nature of how the Rockets lured him away from the New York Knicks, his salary cap number is $8.4 million.

The Lakers also have Nick Young, in the first season of a four-year, $21.3-million deal, but the scoring guard-forward has struggled this season

The Lakers might be able to make a reasonable offer for Dragic -- but if the price is too high, the franchise would probably wait until the summer for a chance at the veteran point guard.

One advantage to acquiring Dragic early: As a free agent with the Lakers, he would take up $11.3 million in cap room.  That could give the Lakers in the neighborhood of $13 million to spend on another high-level free agent, before re-signing Dragic to a bigger deal.

The 28-year old Slovenian, averaging 16.2 points and 4.1 assists, may be eligible for a contract starting at roughly $18million to $19 million.

The Lakers may have $23 million to $25 million in cap space this season before any trade.  If they offered Dragic $18 million or $19 million as a free agent, the Lakers would have $5 million or $6 million left to spend, instead of $13 million if he was their own free agent.

Trading for Dragic, the Lakers would be able to give him a five-year deal that could hit $105 million, otherwise the team could offer four years and $80 million.  Whether Dragic is worth that much in free agency is a different question altogether.

Although that is a large sum, the NBA's salary cap is expected to jump significantly (along with new maximum contracts), once the league's new national television deal kicks in before the 2016-17 season.

Dragic is a strong player but his impending free agency may interest in him.

The Lakers have precious few assets as the team looks to rebuild after two of the worst seasons in franchise history.

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
89°