At this current moment in time, the 7th pick in the upcoming NBA draft feels like a curse. Everyone I want is expected to be gone by the time the Lakers are put on the clock. The guy who would be an ideal piece to get for the future, would be Dante Exum. However, he has been linked to the Orlando Magic since the draft order was determined, and was even linked to the Milwaukee Bucks in an article this morning. Nobody after the supposed top 4 (Dante Exum, Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins & Jabari Parker) really stand out that much to me. It feels like we are picking last and will be left with the junk that nobody else wants.
Marcus Smart, Aaron Gordon, Noah Vonleh or Julius Randle could be good players in the NBA, but I'm just unsure about all of them. Gordon, while amazing on defense, would be an issue on offense and is a horrible free throw shooter. Vonleh, while having huge potential, is a very young a raw big man. He has bust candidate written all over him. Smart just doesn't appeal to me at all. I think their are better pure point guards that will be available later in the draft. And then there's Randle, who was expected to be a top pick, but keeps falling in mock drafts and is expected to be passed over by several teams. There has got to be a reason for that, right?
So, in my eyes, the best option may be to trade the pick. Trade it for a proven player or even multiple picks in this years draft to help fill the Lakers empty roster with young talent. So, I went ahead a tried to figure out a way in which the Lakers could maximize on the deep talent in this years draft, bring in some key pieces for the future without jeopardizing any future cap space, and make us competitive right away.
So, here is one of my plausible dream scenarios: The Lakers trade their #7 overall pick to the Phoenix Suns for their #14 & #18 pick in this years draft as well as sending our 2015 1st round pick back to us. The Suns do this because they have plenty of young guys on their roster and don't need 3 more 1st rounders. The package 2 of their middle of the 1st round picks for the 7th overall pick, in which they could target local college standout Aaron Gordon. Gordon would help solidify their defense and could play either the 3 or 4, making the Suns even more versatile.
With the 14th pick, the Lakers pick a player who could fit right into the PF spot, Adreian Payne. A 6'10" senior from Michigan State who can step in right away and start if needed. He can play in the post and even has range out to the 3 point line. (If Payne is unavailable, the Lakers could look to a guy like Nick Stauskas, who would fill the void of a most-likely departing Jodie Meeks.)
With the 18th pick, assuming Nick Stauskas in no longer around (and if he is, you grab him immediately), the Lakers could snag a guy with enormous potential in Zach LaVine. An extremely athletic player who has all the tools to be a great player.
In their second draft day trade, the Lakers sign and trade Jodie Meeks to the Houston Rockets to be with his buddy Dwight Howard, in exchange for Omer Asik and the #25 pick in the draft. The Rockets are known to be wanting to shed salary in order to make a run at Carmelo. This trade, depending on how much Meeks in signed for, does just that.
With the 25th pick in the draft, the Lakers take a guy who I think could be one of the best pure point guards out of this draft class, in Elfrid Payton. At 6'3" he is a decent size. He can shoot, dish and play some pretty nice defense. A steal in my eyes. Some mocks have him going very late in the first round, and some have him going in the early 20's/late teens range. If he is unavailable, you could still nag a good point guard like Shabazz Napier.
And just as a reminder, this is my dream scenario, so Nick Young has opted in to his player option for 1.2 million. The Lakers make their only semi-large splash in free agency by bringing Trevor Ariza back home for around 6 million a year. They fill out the rest of the roster by bringing in Ryan Kelly (2 years), Emeka Okafor (1 year) & Kent Bazemore (2 years) on minimum deals, & Farmar (2 years) is re-signed for roughly 2 million a year.
In their final move in the off-season, the Lakers bid on recently amnestied Carlos Boozer for around 3.5 million. The Bulls owner, who couldn't find a trade partner and was desperate to get in on the Carmelo sweepstakes, finally bit the bullet and pulled the amnesty plug on Boozer. With this final move, the Lakers go into the season just below the salary cap with the following roster:
PG - Farmar (2), Payton (.9), Marshall (.9), Nash (9.7)
SG - Bryant (23.5), Stauskas (1.3), Bazemore (.9)
SF - Ariza (6), Young (1.2)
PF - Boozer (3.5), Payne (1.3), Kelly (.8)
C - Asik (8.3), Okafor (1.3), Sacre (.9)
Now, comes even more speculation - the following year, the Lakers have Nash, Young, Boozer, Asik & Okafor all coming off the books. That's 24 million in cap space, plenty of room for Kevin Love. You sign Love and then re-sign Asik & Young. Then, the following year when Kobe's new deal expires, you have several big name free agents to choose from: Kevin Durant, Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic, Lebron James, Al Horford, Brook Lopez, Joakim Noah...
Just Imagine this lineup going into the 2016-17 season:
PG - Payton
SG - Kobe
SF - Durant/Lebron
PF - Love
C - Asik
And of course, Kobe re-signed for the 20 year vet minimum to win more rings!