The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to leave the NBA Draft with a potential star for the first time in several years. L.A. has the No.7 pick in Thursday’s draft, marking the first time in nine years that they have a lottery selection.
While they might not have a top three or top five pick, the Lakers have a good chance of finding a player that can make an immediate impact. The 2014 class is considered to be one of the best in over a decade, and landing a prospect like Julius Randle, Marcus Smart or Noah Vonleh could greatly improve their roster.
Still, the teams at the top of the draft are in an envious position. Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker stand out as potential All-Stars, and a healthy Joel Embiid might be the most talented player on the board.
Could the Lakers move up in the 2014 NBA Draft?
Getting a higher pick could be a major boost for Los Angeles. The team is coming off an embarrassing 27-win season, and they need multiple impact players, in order to be competitive next season. Kobe Bryant is the Lakers’ best returning player, and he’ll be entering his 19th season, coming off an injury-plagued 2013-2014 campaign.
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Trading up in the draft, however, doesn’t appear to be a likely proposition. The Lakers have almost no assets to deal, with just three players under guaranteed contracts. L.A. doesn’t have a second-round pick in this year’s draft or a first-rounder in 2015.
In addition to their No.7 pick, Steve Nash is the organization’s only potential trade piece. The point guard has an expiring contract, and L.A. is reportedly looking to move him.
It’s highly unlikely that any of the teams drafting ahead of L.A. would have any use for Nash. All six clubs are currently under the salary cap, and the veteran might not be able to help them much on the court. Nash’s two-year stint with the Lakers has been nothing short of a disaster. He’s missed 99 total games, and averaged just 6.8 points on 38.3 percent shooting last season.
Los Angeles might not have what it takes to trade up, but they could move down a few spots in the first round. L.A. wants to clear salary-cap space to open up the possibility of signing both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, and Nash is set to make $9.7 million. Nash’s contract could be appealing to a team that wants to shed payroll next summer.
Heading into the draft, Bryant, Nash and Robert Sacre are the only players on the Lakers’ roster. Kendall Marshall is owed under $1 million for the 2014-2015 season, but his contract is not guaranteed.