I've received some more details about the draft-night trade of Chukwudiebere Maduabum to the Denver Nuggets. We knew the Lakers received a second-round pick in return, but it wasn't clear which year's draft the pick would be drawn from or whether any limitations were attached. This afternoon, Lakers spokesman John Black filled in the picture for me: the pick is for 2013 and is top-40 protected. If Denver's second-round pick in 2013 falls in the top 40, the Lakers will instead receive the Nuggs' second-round pick in the 2014 draft.
This news makes me feel better about the trade. Chu Chu's about as obscure as prospects come, and given that he was taken with the 56th pick, it figured that what the Lakers got back would be token consideration, at best. Instead, there's a non-trivial chance the acquired pick actually turns out to be a useful asset - or at the very least, marginally more useful than Chu Chu or anyone else the Lakers could've grabbed at his spot in the draft.
The Nuggets are a talented young team. They're already good and will be getting better the next couple years, which means their second-round pick in 2013 probably won't land in the thirties. More likely, it'll be somewhere in the high forties or low fifties - still in barrel scraping territory, but better than 56. So essentially, what the trade amounts to is the Lakers' banking a deep second-round pick for a couple years with the reasonable expectation of moving up a handful of spots. A minor play, to be sure, but a smart one. And hey, if the Nuggets unexpectedly crater between now and then, the deal has some real upside to it.