Without a move, Lakers’ draft day will be pretty quiet
It’s come to this for the Lakers: If they don’t trade up in the draft Thursday, their lone pick will be the NBA equivalent of Mr. Irrelevant.
They have the 60th and final selection, the result of rapid-fire draft-pick dealing in March.
Team executive Jim Buss told The Times last week the Lakers would try to trade into the first round, but if they didn’t, they’d sit out the first 30 picks for the fifth year in a row.
Yep. Draft day has become a complete bore for Lakers fans. Their last first-rounder was Javaris Crittenton in 2007.
They might change that, however, with a phone call or two.
The Atlanta Hawks have tried to send them power forward Josh Smith for Pau Gasol, initially expressing interest in Gasol shortly after Oklahoma City eliminated the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals, The Times has learned.
Smith has been unhappy in Atlanta for more than a year, his dissatisfaction starting because he thought he was an unfair target of criticism by coaches and media members.
In separate activity leading up to the draft, the Lakers are also open to trading Gasol for a high first-round pick because they covet Kentucky freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Atlanta holds the 23rd pick and cannot help in that area.
No deals were imminent for the Lakers heading into draft day.
Last season, Smith averaged career highs in points (18.8) and rebounds (9.6) for the Hawks. He is 26, five years younger than Gasol.
He has one more year on his contract for $13.2 million. Gasol has two more years and $38.3 million. It is unclear which player would accompany Smith to the Lakers in such a scenario.
The problem with Smith is his percentages. He shot 45.8% last season and was a dreadful 63% from the free-throw line.
Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds for Kentucky, which won the NCAA championship. Kidd-Gilchrist, listed as a 6-foot-7 small forward, is projected to be one of the top five picks.
It would almost be a shock to the system to see the Lakers back in the first round.
They traded their 2008 and 2010 first-round picks to Memphis in the Gasol deal, sold their 2009 pick to New York for $3 million and gave last year’s selection to New Jersey with Sasha Vujacic to save about $8 million in salary and luxury taxes.
The Vujacic trade netted their only pick this season, the Lakers acquiring Chicago’s second-round selection in the three-team deal.
The Lakers traded this year’s first-rounder (No. 24 overall) to Cleveland in the Ramon Sessions deal in March. On the same day they sent the first-round pick they received from Dallas in the Lamar Odom trade to Houston so the Rockets would accept Derek Fisher in a salary dump.
Where’d the Lakers’ own second-round pick go? To Dallas in the Odom deal, meaning the Lakers have neither a first nor second-round pick to show for the rushed Odom trade.
Confused? You’re not alone.
The Lakers haven’t unearthed any consistent players in the second round in recent years: Sun Yue (2007), Joe Crawford (2008), Patrick Beverley and Chinemelu Elonu (2009), Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter (2010) and Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock, Chukwudiebere Maduabum and Ater Majok (2011). Some of the players were traded and only Ebanks ever started a game for the Lakers.
The one great second-round pick they made was Marc Gasol in 2007, who never played for the Lakers and was shipped to Memphis in the trade involving his brother.
Whoever the Lakers take with the last pick certainly won’t get the equivalent of the weeklong celebration for the NFL’s Mr. Irrelevant, which includes a parade in Newport Beach and a day at Disneyland. He might not even get a spot on the team.
It’s rare for the draft’s last player to make an NBA impact, but Sacramento hit a home run with Washington point guard Isaiah Thomas last season. He averaged 14.8 points and 5.4 assists in 37 games as a starter for the Kings.
Much, much more often than not, players taken that late barely have NBA careers. Since 2000, nine of 12 didn’t even play 15 NBA games. Sorry, Milovan Rakovic, Bryan Bracey, Andreas Glyniadakis, Corsley Edwards, et al.
The Lakers would be lucky to even get a guy such as Turkish center Semih Erden, who was picked last in 2008 by Boston and averaged 3.5 points for Cleveland last season.
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