We are only hours away from the much anticipated NBA Draft and the madness has officially begun. Arguably two “major” trades have occurred thus far with one sending Tyson Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks and the other shipping Omer Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans. As we approach to draft, I’m sure numerous additional trades will take place, possibly even by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Los Angeles is in sort of a weird situation right now. Just three players are technically under contract — Kendall Marshall will likely make it four — but the Lakers possess only one draft pick. Basically, Los Angeles has an extremely long way to go in building a competitive team whether it be through free agency or trades. This task is made much more difficult by the dead contract of Steve Nash, which is in excess of $10 million. There is no doubt Mitch Kupchak would enjoy seeing that substantial dollar figure disappear, certainly by the time free agency begins on July 1.
For a team lacking assets, though, dumping Nash will be next to impossible. Enter the highly valuable No. 7 pick in tonight’s draft. Multiple teams will be discussing ways to acquire that pick pretty much the entire day, so this would be the most opportunistic time to rid themselves of Nash’s hefty contract. Unfortunately this would also mean forfeiting a first-round draft pick in perhaps the deepest draft of the 2000s. However, if Los Angeles can trade the pick along with Nash while remaining in the lottery, Kupchak must pull the trigger.
The Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns all have ample cap space to absorb Nash’s contract, and I’m sure none of these franchises would oppose moving up from 10, 12 and 14, respectively. As for the Lakers, obviously the priority would be to target a trade with Orlando or Philadelphia, but a trade scenario with Phoenix is still enticing. We cannot ignore the fact that Phoenix also possesses two additional first-round picks possibly up for grabs. Point being that Los Angeles has options if they remain adamant about getting rid of Nash once and for all. It’s almost guaranteed that there will be a couple of very talented players remaining in the late lottery, so it will all come down to how competitive the Lakers want to be next season. Clearing up the cap space is good for the short term, while keeping the No. 7 pick is better in the long term. We will just have to wait and find out when the Lakers are on the clock.