The Los Angeles Lakers are about to begin a crucial offseason, their first under new leadership in the front office. It starts on Tuesday night with the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery, where they will learn the fate of their top-three protected pick in this year’s draft.
Keeping the pick will have many effects on the Lakers’ plans moving forward. One possible effect could be making a run at trading for Indiana Pacers star Paul George who has been linked to LA for months now. The pick would give the Lakers an additional asset to throw in a trade, allowing them to get George one year before he hits free agency with the added benefit of then being able to offer more money than anyone else for his next deal.
If Paul George is on the team (whether via trade or free agency next year), the Lakers could then shift focus to building a contender around him. That will be a tough task for the Lakers due to their current cap situation, but according to the Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski (appearing on the Chris Mannix Show), the Lakers could find candidates to take their big contracts off of them.
“If they want to get off Luol Deng’s contract or Mozgov – Mozgov is the more likely deal – let’s say a team like Brooklyn who has lots of cap space and needs picks; Brooklyn will be out there on the market looking at teams who have a bad contract they want to get off but only if they attach a good young player or a draft pick. If LA feels they can get in there and get Paul George next year, having the pick maybe allows them to get contracts off. Because otherwise, no one’s taking Mozgov or Deng’s deals off of you.”
Woj also added that he believes teams are not willing to give up much to trade for George because they’re not sure they can keep the star in free agency. Of course, that plays in the Lakers’ favor, potentially allowing them to stay patient this year and making a run at the LA-native next July.
It’s all contingent on keeping the pick, however. If they lose the first-round pick this year (and by proxy, their 2019 pick), then it limits the Lakers’ assets and giving away anything of value to take a bad contract off the books would be a tough pill to swallow.
We’ll get a lot more clarity on the future at 5:30 PM PST on Tuesday.