Both the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns are in very unique situations headed into the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26. Los Angeles is coming off a franchise-worst season, while Phoenix is coming off an impressive season in which they missed the playoffs by one seed.
The Suns were expected to be brutally awful this season, but have established themselves as the NBA’s up and coming team. To add to the success, Phoenix still possesses three first-round picks at Nos. 14, 18 and 27, producing valuable trade chips if they are looking to move up and/or acquire an impact player. A potential deal makes sense with none other than the division rival Lakers who may put their seventh overall pick up for grabs at the right price.
Los Angeles’ general manager, Mitch Kupchak, has repeatedly stated he has not ruled out the idea of trading the pick in order to acquire either a star player, or additional draft picks in the mid-late first round. Phoenix not only fits those requirements, but can put together the perfect trade package to force Kupchak’s hand. Any deal would require at the very least the 14th and 18th pick, possibly even the 27th pick as well. The reason being for Los Angeles would be obviously to acquire young talent, but to fill out their current depleted roster of three guaranteed contracts. Los Angeles may even go as far as forcing Phoenix to take back Steve Nash for the final year of his contract, even if it means sacrificing one of the potential draft picks.
It may not be the fans’ ideal situation to move back in the draft, however, it may make the most sense to do just that, especially if the Lakers intend to retain free agents like Jordan Hill and Pau Gasol. Later draft picks call for lower salaries, creating more flexibility if Los Angeles does decide to offer a contract to a few mid-tier free agents this summer. Whatever happens, remember Kupchak has not steered us wrong yet, so we must trust his judgment.