What are the odds the Lakers will be able to keep their 2016 first-round pick?
At just 3-18, the Lakers have the second-worst record in the league, ahead of just the 1-21 Philadelphia 76ers.
With 61 games left in the season, the focus for many Lakers fans will be on the 2016 NBA draft, already with a number of high-level potential prospects emerging, such as forwards Ben Simmons (Louisiana State), Brandon Ingram (Duke) and Jaylen Brown (California), guard Kris Dunn (Providence), and big men Skal Labissiere (Kentucky) and Dragan Bender (Maccabi Tel Aviv).
The catch for the Lakers, they only keep their 2016 first-round pick if it’s a top-three selection.
In 2012, the Lakers sent their 2015 selection to the Phoenix Suns for Steve Nash, with top-five protection. The Suns have since moved that pick on to the 76ers, to acquire guard Brandon Knight in a three-team trade with the Milwaukee Bucks.
When the Lakers won the 2015 second-overall pick in May’s draft lottery (taking guard D’Angelo Russell), their obligation to the Sixers shifted to 2016 with reduced protection.
If the Lakers do not get the first, second or third selection, they lose the pick altogether. Conversely, if the Lakers successfully get through the lottery on May 17, they will owe their 2017 first-rounder to Philadelphia, also with top-three protection.
In 29th place overall, the Lakers currently have a 55.8% chance of staying in the top three, with 19.9% odds at the first pick, 18.8% for second and 17.1% for third.
Should the Lakers continue to struggle, actually overtaking Philadelphia with the worst overall record, their odds would improve to 64.3% for a top-three selection (25.0%, 21.5% and 17.8%).
The New Orleans Pelicans (5-16), Brooklyn Nets (5-15) and Sacramento Kings (7-15) are closest to the Lakers in the standings.
Should the Lakers climb a spot, their odds for a top-three pick would dip to 46.9% (15.6%, 15.7% and 15.6%, respectively). Jumping two places in the standings, the Lakers’ chances sink to 37.8% -- then 29.2% and 21.5%.
From a lottery perspective, the Lakers need to stay in the bottom two with the 76ers.
Without a draft pick, the Lakers could have up to $60 million in cap room this summer. If they luck into a top-three selection, their spending power would dip to the $56-million to $57-million range.
That projection is based on an $89-million salary cap for the 2016-17 season, which may be conservative given positive growth numbers for the league. That space would also decrease if the Lakers chose to held onto free agents like Roy Hibbert, Ryan Kelly, Tarik Black, Marcelo Huertas, Metta World Peace, Robert Sacre and Brandon Bass (player option). Kobe Bryant has already announced he will retire following the season.
The $60-million cap number includes a projected $2.8-million cap hold for Jordan Clarkson, necessary to make the second-year guard a restricted free agent.
Players under contract for next season include D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Lou Williams, Nick Young, Larry Nance Jr. and Anthony Brown. If Bass choose to return, he would earn $3.1 million for 2016-17, further reducing the Lakers’ cap space maximum to roughly $57.7 million (or $53.3-$54.3 million with a top-three pick).
The big-name, unrestricted free agents next summer include Kevin Durant, Hassan Whiteside, Al Horford, DeMar DeRozan, Mike Conley, Nicolas Batum and Ryan Anderson.
In July, the maximum salary for a player of Durant’s experience could reach $25 million.
Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus
MORE LAKERS NEWS
Lakers: Predictions for Week 7
Trainer Gary Vitti is another longtime Laker who’s retiring after the season
Lakers play Wednesday night in Minnesota against the Timberwolves
All things Lakers, all the time.
Get all the Lakers news you need in Dan Woike's weekly newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.