Lakers value a deal more than a draftee
The Lakers just won the NBA championship with a deep, young and talented team that could remain that way if they sign their three free agents.
The Lakers also have three picks in today’s NBA draft, but the players available are not likely to make their roster next season, so they’d rather make a deal to have the money available to sign Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza and Shannon Brown, who become unrestricted free agents next month.
“There is a better than even likelihood that we’ll move one of our picks,” Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said Wednesday.
That means the Lakers, who have a first-round pick (No. 29) and two second-round selections (Nos. 42 and 59), could make a trade in a package with a current player or move the draft pick for cash.
At this time of the year there are always trade rumors, and one involving the Lakers has them shopping backup point guard Jordan Farmar. The Lakers contacted the Houston Rockets about acquiring Farmar or buying the Lakers’ first-round pick, but the Lakers were turned down, according to two NBA sources who are not authorized to speak publicly about their team.
If the Lakers sold their first-round pick, they would get a future pick in return, as well as cash. In today’s market a 29th pick probably would fetch $500,000 to $1 million.
Kupchak was asked whether the Lakers would consider selling their first-round choice. “Absolutely,” Kupchak said. “Sure.”
A player drafted in the first round receives guaranteed money. The No. 29 pick would get a two-year deal worth about $1.7 million, starting out at about $830,200.
Names like Nick Calathes, a guard out of Florida who signed to play for a Greek team, and Wayne Ellington, a 6-foot-4 guard from North Carolina, have been mentioned as possible draft picks for the Lakers. The Lakers could draft a player and let him play for a team in Europe and they’d still retain rights to him.
“The one thing you don’t want to happen is that you don’t want to have a roster that’s full and draft a player that you have to guarantee money but there’s no spot on the team for him,” Kupchak said.
“There are a lot of different ways to get around that, one of which is to outright sell or trade the pick for a future pick, include the pick in a deal, get something in value.”
With Lakers point guard Derek Fisher turning 35 on Aug. 9, Kupchak said the Lakers have to look at the future for their backcourt.
Kupchak said the Lakers like both Farmar and Brown. “But I think that position in the future is still undetermined,” Kupchak said. “We need to figure out who is going to take over that position when Derek retires.”
The Lakers carried 14 players on their roster last season, but Kupchak said the plan is to have 13 next season to save some money.
That’s another reason why Kupchak doesn’t see the Lakers keeping their draft picks, especially if they are to retain Odom, Ariza and Brown. “Unless it’s an unusual circumstance, the player or players that we draft would probably not be on our team,” Kupchak said.
Even though this is considered a weak draft, Kupchak said he has spent a lot of time talking to other general managers about trading the Lakers’ pick.
“Every team has their way of looking at things, how they value picks. With our situation, you don’t want to draft players that can’t make your team because your roster is full. So that’s why we may look to move or to exchange draft picks for future picks, or however we choose to do it,” Kupchak said.