One of the constant refrains about the Lakers is that they have to get younger, more athletic, and acquire more dynamic players on the perimeter. You know, like they tried to do so with a certain Chris Paul before the league stuck its foot down and kind of killed that coup. Well, the easiest place to find those players is the draft and according to Fox Sports' Sam Amico, the Lakers are looking to trade into the first round:
Yes, I'd like Miller at 24. As an aside, Lakers trying to get into first round -- and word is, they like the Baylor guys (Miller and Perry Jones III)
This corresponds to what Jim Buss said outright to T.J. Simers yesterday about the Lakers' direction, although this in particular would constitute a "big move" that Buss claimed the Lakers would likely not be doing. Besides the fact that the latter comment was likely a smokescreen -- what else do you expect him to say? -- trading into the first round significant move for the Lakers both in the resources that likely would be involved to obtain the picks and the talent of Miller and Jones themselves. After the jump, we will review how Miller and Jones would fit into the team and run through some possible trade scenarios.
Both Miller and Jones fill the aforementioned athleticism deficit for the Lakers in a very real way: they are long, lanky forwards who can handle the ball, mix it up on the perimeter, and shoot from range. Jones in particular would be a mortal lock for the top five if his head was screwed on straight and he didn't look like he was coasting through every other game at Baylor despite his prodigious athletic gifts. Guys who are 6'11'' with a 38.5 vertical and his handle don't come along very often and his talent is plainly obvious. In many ways, he reminds you of Lamar Odom in that regard, although given that someone like Odom would be greatly helpful for the Lakers, it would behoove them to capitalize on such an opportunity. Miller, on the other hand, is much more of a three as opposed to Jones due to his thinner frame, but he brings much of the same ballhandling and shooting ability. Miller's stock, however, has sunk due to injury concerns owing to an ACL injury he suffered last season at Baylor, so while Jones projects for the late lottery or so, Miller will go in the early to mid-20s.
That brings us to the elephant in the room of how exactly the Lakers plan to get into the first round. Amico presents Houston (#14 and #16), Boston (#21 and #22), and Atlanta (#23) as possible trade partners. To get Jones, a trade with Houston would definitely be necessary, as there is little chance he is falling to Boston; Draft Express has him going fifteenth to Philadelphia and ESPN's Chad Ford projects him to Orlando at #19. Boston and Atlanta are both reasonable trade partners to land Miller per his range mentioned above. This noted, what exactly are the Lakers offering? It could be part of a larger Pau Gasol deal, which applies to all three teams, as Kyle Lowry, Rajon Rondo and Josh Smith would all be prospective targets. Atlanta's pick could possibly be had for cold hard cash due to the difficulty in selling the team and their ownership group's general cheapness, meaning about $3 million, the usual going rate for late first rounders.
Past that, it is difficult to see how this is going to work. Houston's biggest salary dead weight (Luis Scola) doesn't fit into the Lamar Odom traded player exception and Boston doesn't have any overly onerous salaries on their payroll. Marvin Williams does fit into the TPE for Atlanta, but he is very redundant with Quincy Miller, whom would be the Lakers' target at #23. None of the above parties are giving up picks for the Lakers' assorted flotsam (Andrew Goudelock, Darius Morris, Devin Ebanks, etc.) and Andrew Bynum certainly isn't going to be involved in these discussions. Perhaps we can characterize the Lakers' efforts as simply attempting to see if someone is willing to sell low on a superfluous asset, which might be true for Houston and less so for Boston given the latter's depth issues. Either way, it is an interesting wrench thrown into the mix for the draft eight days from today, and certainly something more interesting than who the Lakers can pick at #60.
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