The Lakers have more draft picks than you’ve been led to believe

Whether you’re keen on or detest the Lakers, I believe everybody can agree that their roster as at the moment constructed just isn’t ok to win an NBA championship (which is the acknowledged purpose of each high decision-maker within the group). I’m not breaking information or providing up a sizzling take once I say this — the Lakers are at the moment 3-10 and have the second-worst file within the western convention. And whereas the pending returns of Dennis Schröder and Thomas Bryant will assist, they’re two role-players coming again to a staff in want of more than two function gamers, in the event that they’re to morph into title contenders.

This actuality, then, has led many to the conclusion that if the Lakers are going to improve their roster so as to get nearer to their targets, a commerce is required. This perception is not in any means new, both. People have been saying this since earlier than this present roster was even constructed final summer time and I’ve argued for such many instances up to now; if you’d like ideas on that, I will not bore you with rehashing all of them right here, you’ll find them within the archives of this web site or of the podcast I co-host.

A standard chorus of this dialogue concerning the Lakers making a commerce, although, rapidly devolves into whether or not or not they are going to quit the required draft compensation so as to entice a staff to truly make a deal — aka the Lakers’ draft picks in 2027 and 2029. The subsequent step in that argument is, mainly, that the choice round buying and selling these picks turns into about their relative worth not solely to the remainder of the league (who, no matter any posturing, nearly definitely covets these picks) however to the Lakers themselves.

It’s that final framing that pursuits me, largely as a result of the dialogue is nearly at all times (wrongly) contextualized as these being the Lakers’ solely draft picks. For instance, right here is The Athletic’s Shams Charania discussing the Lakers’ hesitancy to commerce these picks if the staff continues to wrestle this season (emphasis mine):

“I’m informed the group shall be cautious with their two first spherical picks accessible the remainder of the last decade… As of proper now, the group appears to be shifting in a route the place they are going to resist shifting first spherical picks if the season continues to go down this path.”

And right here is Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes saying one thing related (emphasis mine):

The query typically mentioned in Lakers’ headquarters these days is whether or not they need to go all-in expeditiously on revamping the roster round James and Anthony Davis, or are they higher served to postpone wholesale modifications till the top of the season?

Lacking youth, engaging belongings and draft capital to strengthen the roster, the The Lakers are solely armed with two first-round picks in 2027 and 2029, respectively.

At its worst, stating issues on this method is a blatant misrepresentation of the info. At greatest, it lacks full context and, deliberately or not, might be misunderstood too simply by readers/listeners. And — due to that kind of straightforward misinterpretation — is simply too typically propped up as a key motive not to commerce these picks when I’d argue different causes are literally a lot more simple and comprehensible (more on that later).

The full context of the Lakers’ draft decide scenario is that this:

  1. Between now and the top of the last decade, the Lakers are slated to have a 1st spherical decide in all however a single draft.
  2. To spell this out more clearly, in 2023, both 2024 or 2025, 2026, 2027, 2028, and 2029 the Lakers are assured to have a 1st spherical choice on draft night time. In 2023, the Pelicans can select to swap their very own 1st spherical decide with the Lakers’ decide, however, once more, this nonetheless equates to the Lakers having a decide.
  3. In both 2024 or 2025, the Lakers will ship their very own 1st spherical decide to the Pelicans as a part of the Anthony Davis commerce. The Pelicans will select which decide they need once they both determine to take the 2024 decide or defer till the following season.

Things, nevertheless, are not often mentioned on this precise method when it comes to the staff’s picks, and, as a substitute, we get language like what’s highlighted within the above quotes. Regarding the buying and selling of any of those future picks, nevertheless, is the place issues get trickier and the place it is best to dive additional into the small print so as to spell issues out more (and the place language like Haynes makes use of, particularly, is on level).

Because of collective bargaining settlement guidelines that don’t permit you to commerce future draft picks in consecutive seasons (whats up, Ted Stepien!), the swap rights that the Pelicans have in 2023, and the deferment rights the Pelicans have in 2024, the Lakers’ potential to commerce future picks is encumbered.

Essentially, regardless that the Lakers are assured to have picks in all by one draft by means of the top of the last decade, they cannot commerce picks in 2023 (swapped to NOLA), 2024 (deferment rights), 2025 (deferment rights), or 2026 (Stepien Rule in case NOLA chooses 2024). The subsequent first decide they’ll commerce, then is in 2027. And then in the event that they did commerce that decide, due to the Stepien Rule, not once more after that till 2029.

Now, I can perceive not wanting to clarify this each single time. There’s typically not quite a lot of time for nuance or context on a 60-second TV hit and even in a bigger article about one thing solely tangentially associated to this topic. But, it can be crucial to perceive that that is the reality of the scenario. Because, once you perceive that that is the case, the argument that the Lakers could be buying and selling their solely picks by means of the top of the last decade loses credulity.

Whether you continue to need to commerce the picks after contemplating these info continues to be a worthwhile dialog, after all.

Maybe you continue to worth these picks due to the potential for them to be close to the highest of the draft and giving these up now feels too dangerous. Maybe you believe that the trail in the direction of the Lakers getting their subsequent famous person participant is thru a commerce and also you believe you may want as many draft picks as doable to execute a deal. Maybe you merely worth picks more than gamers generally and also you’d want to see a famous person participant coming again to persuade you to make a commerce. These are affordable positions that affordable minds can disagree on.

Which, truthfully, I form of do. The Lakers, as at the moment constructed, have two high-level superstars who can nonetheless play All-Star caliber basketball and a very good (however not nice) forged of function gamers muddled by an unbalanced roster. The timeline of these stars and the urgency to win whilst you have them (and their potential to play to the extent they nonetheless can) is excessive. Further, the truth that the Lakers truly do have more draft capital than is mentioned, that a few of that capital truly can’t be traded artificially insulates the staff from giving freely an excessive amount of — and that it additionally offers them sufficient ammunition to truly enhance the staff — pushes me absolutely into the camp advocating {that a} deal must be made.

Now, after all, the satan is at all times within the particulars. And discerning between what is an efficient deal — and what is not — is how presidents of basketball operations make their cash. There might be numerous iterations of trades the place the “would you or will not you” might be debated and argued out advert nauseam. So, I’m not sitting right here saying to give the whole lot away simply to make a deal. Prudence is required, and I believe we will all agree on that time.

Just like we will additionally agree on what picks the Lakers have now and, more importantly, what picks they’d nonetheless have even when they did determine to deal their picks in 2027 and 2029. Because that is not in query, even when it might really feel like generally it’s.

For more Lakers speak, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can observe Darius on Twitter at @forumbluegold.

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