The Lakers hoped to land a top-three pick in the NBA draft lottery last month. Instead, the team dropped from the sixth to seventh when the lottery order was announced.
Do the Lakers have any means to climb in the draft? If so, to what end?
The top three players in the June 26 draft are projected to be center Joel Embiid and forward Andrew Wiggins from Kansas and forward Jabari Parker from Duke. The three should land with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who select first, Milwaukee Bucks (second) and Philadelphia 76ers (third) in some order.
The Lakers can offer a first-round pick of their own for the 2019 draft. The only players the Lakers can offer in trade in June are Kobe Bryant, Robert Sacre, Steve Nash and Kendall Marshall.
Sacre and Marshall have minimum salaries and aren't huge draws in trade. Nash can barely play because of back problems, and the Lakers won't deal Bryant.
Simply put, the Lakers do not have much to offer any of the six teams ahead of them.
The closest possible match would be the Bucks, who might be willing to dump center Larry Sanders and his recent four-year, $44-million extension -- perhaps for Nash's expiring contract, while swapping the second pick with the Lakers' seventh.
Sanders missed much of the last season, starting with a bar fight that led to a thumb injury, but when healthy, he's one of the better defensive centers in the league.
If the Bucks, who are under new ownership, made such a trade, they would be acknowledging the Sanders extension was a significant mistake.
The Sixers might be interested in trading their pick at No. 10 (acquired from the New Orleans Pelicans) for the Lakers' seventh selection, but there's no obvious reason why they'd consider dealing the third pick to move down. The Lakers may be able to move down via Philadelphia but not up.
The Lakers also don't have much to entice the Cavaliers to swap picks.
The next tier of players includes Australian point guard Dante Exum, Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart, Arizona forward Aaron Gordon, Indiana forward Noah Vonleh and Kentucky forward Julius Randle (among others).
With the seventh pick, the Lakers should have their choice between two players of the listed five -- although the team may have a different ranking on its own draft board.
If the goal is to move up, the Orlando Magic (fourth), Utah Jazz (fifth) or Boston Celtics (sixth) might have minor interest in trading picks with the Lakers -- if it yields the team's 2019 first-rounder.
Other teams looking to nab a pick ahead of the Lakers may have more to offer than a future first-rounder, some five years down the line.
Additionally, the Lakers would need a compelling reason to give up yet another pick, just to move up a spot or two. The team's 2015 pick will go to the Phoenix Suns for Nash (top-five protected); the 2017 selection will go to the Magic for Dwight Howard (also top-five protected).
The Lakers' best chance to move up was the draft lottery, but the ping-pong balls didn't land favorably.