If one is to believe the latest rumblings, then apparently the Lakers are interested in acquiring an additional first round pick. If this is true, the only plausible way the Lakers can acquire a first round draft pick were if they took back salary. Consider this article:
With that in mind, here are four realistic trades the Lakers can pull off (ranked in reverse order, by plausibility):
Why Celtics do this trade: With Amare entering the final year of his contract, Gerald Wallace has arguably the worst contract in the NBA. The Celtics would get rid of Wallace in a heartbeat. With this trade, the Celtics move back a spot and still secure one of the Elite 8 prospects. Moving back a spot, while surrendering the 17th Overall Pick, is fair compensation for taking back Wallace's contract (2 years, $20.2 million remaining). The only reason why this trade is this trade far down on the list is because it subtracts from the Lakers' buying power in 2015.
3) Bulls trade PF Carlos Boozer and 2014 1st Round Pick (16th Overall) (via Charlotte) to the Lakers for future considerations (i.e. 2015 2nd Round Pick, top 55 protected)
Why Bulls do this trade: I know the initial reaction to this trade would be, "Wait, why don't the Bulls just amnesty Boozer?" While the Bulls can and will probably amnesty Boozer, unloading his contract on a team like the Lakers would also be ideal. Why? Because this way, the Bulls don't actually have to pay him the $16.8 million they owe him for the 2014-15 season. In other words, this type of trade appeals directly to the Bulls owner, Jerry Reinsdorf. Why pay $16.8 million for a non-functioning asset when you don't have to? Of course, you can make an argument that the 19th Overall Pick might be more realistic compensation, but I think Chicago is pretty desperate to clear cap space for a run at Melo. Another possible, yet far more complicated scenario, would be to include both of Chicago's first round picks, Boozer, and Gibson (and possibly Mike Dunleavy). This move would free up the Bulls to sign Melo outright.
Why Thunder do this trade: Kendrick Perkins is possibly the worst starting player in the NBA. And he'll be making $9.4 million in 2014-15. Yikes. Trading Perkins would free up enough cap space for the Thunder to add a nice, complementary piece in the MLE range. For a contending team like the Thunder, this is a move they have to consider. Worse comes to worst, their other 1st Round Pick (29th Overall) might be fair enough compensation for taking back Perkins' contract. Either way, the Lakers would be remiss not to consider this trade because it doesn't mess with their FA plans in 2015 AND they can still sign a pretty good starter like PG Kyle Lowry.
1) Rockets trade PG Jeremy Lin and 2014 1st Round Pick (25th Overall) to the Lakers for future considerations
Why Rockets do this trade: The Rockets want to keep adding to the momentum they have created in the previous two off seasons, when they acquired Dwight Howard and James Harden. The only way they do this is by ridding themselves of Lin and/or Asik. I chose Lin because between the two, he's more likely to fetch the Lakers the first round pick. Nobody will take the $14.9 million owed to Lin without first round pick compensation. Even if it only counts as $8.4 million against the salary cap. If the Lakers really wanted to go bold, they could throw Asik into the trade. However if they did so, that would be committing $29.8 million to next season's payroll; although, it would only count as $16.8 million. Regardless, I still think the trade for Lin and Houston's first rounder is the most plausible because I think, of the four teams mentioned, they're the most committed to clearing cap space and, unlike Chicago, they don't have the amnesty clause to bail them out.