I won’t lie, today is one of my favorite days of the year. The draft is a day where players’ long time dreams of going to the NBA come true and it’s also the day that all teams have that hope of finding a gem that will help them compete in the years to come.
Today is also great because it’s a day of non-stop chatter and action around the league with trades, rumors, and speculation hitting an all time high. For armchair GM’s and trade machine junkies, today is like Christmas.
And as I type this, the Lakers are in the middle of a lot of this action. Here’s what we “know”:
- Last night, rumors started circulating that the Lakers and 76ers have had discussions about a potential Lamar Odom/Andre Iguodala swap. With Iggy making more money however, a filler would be needed to make the contracts match. Sam Amick (who originally reported these conversations) cited sources saying that Ron Artest could be the additional piece the Lakers sent to Philly. Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Lakers could send Luke Walton along with LO.
- Obviously if the choice is between giving up Luke or Ron, I’d choose Luke every time. Nothing against Walton (a player I have more fondness for than others), but Ron is still a contributing player to this team and Luke has fallen out of the rotation due to injury and lack of production over the past few seasons.
- Other rumors have Mike Brown wanting the Lakers to pursue Anderson Varejao, a player Brown is very familiar with from his Cavs days. Varejao is a very good defensive presence and one of the better hustle/energy players in the entire league.
- All of these reports come on the heels of the LA Times reporting the Lakers offered Lamar Odom to the T’Wolves for the #2 overall pick in tonight’s draft. A deal the Wolves weren’t keen on.
It should be noted that in every single one of these reports, there’s nothing concrete and the Lakers are not anywhere close to actually making a deal. This can’t be said enough and should be repeated in your heads for long term absorption.
However, what these reports do tell us is that the Lakers are pretty clearly looking at options that could potentially improve their team. As I stated earlier this week, this is what good front offices do. The Lakers must look at their team with a critical eye and see if any deal makes sense for them. This isn’t that different than what the Spurs are reportedly doing in exploring options for trading Tony Parker or George Hill. Or reports that Danny Ainge would consider trading one of his key pieces. The best franchises look for ways to get better. That said, exploring deals and making deals aren’t the same thing. So, sit tight and wait for something to actually go down. The speculation is fun and we’ll monitor it closely here at FB&G, but don’t take reports for anything more than they are right now.
As for the draft, the Lakers are still sitting back with a fist full of 2nd round picks to make. Assistant GM Ronnie Lester told Mike Trudell that the Lakers are looking for back court players with their early picks and players that could go to Europe (whether they’re foreign born or not) with their later picks. Lester also says that if the team can’t take two backcourt players they like with their early selections, they’ll look to go big.
This jives with what we already know about the Lakers approach and shouldn’t be a surprise. The Lakers have aging players in their back court and lack depth behind Gasol, Bynum, and Odom. If the team can grab a guard or two that make this roster (preferably ones that can either shoot, make plays off the dribble, or defend at a high level) or a big man that can compete with Caracter as a young big to make the team, this draft would have to be considered a success.
With that said, here are who the experts have the Lakers drafting:
- Chad Ford (Insider required): #41 – Shelvin Mack, PG; #46 – Malcom Thomas, SF/PF; #56 – Brandon Wanamaker, PG; #58 – Julyan Stone, PG/SG
- Draft Express: #41 – Shelvin Mack, PG; #46 – Jon Leuer, PF; #56 – Andrew Goudelock, PG; #58 – Malcom Thomas, SF/PF
As you can see, there’s some overlap here with both mocks projecting that the Lakers select Mack and Thomas. A few other names to look out for are Malcom Lee, Justin Holiday, Ben Hansboro (one of my sleeper picks that I hope L.A. takes a flyer on), and Jordan Williams (one of the better rebounders coming out this year).
As we get closer to the draft, we’ll pass along any updates that we get and will have another post up as we get close to the start of the draft with any confirmed reports. Buckle up everyone, this should be a fun night.