The Los Angeles Lakers will find out next Tuesday whether or not they will keep their top-three protected lottery pick in the 2016 NBA draft, but the uncertainty over if they will even have it has not stopped rumors from circulating about the team potentially trading the pick.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak laughed about those rumors last week, saying that for now the team is proceeding as though they do not have a first-round pick, but if they do want to trade it one of their options could no longer be on the market.
Last summer in the lead-up to the draft, there were endless conflicting reports over whether or not the Lakers would trade some combination of their young players for Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. The team didn't pull the trigger on any of those deals, but if they were hoping to reignite those talks this offseason, it sounds like Sacramento may not be willing to pick up the phone:
Kings GM Vlade Divac was asked about trading DeMarcus Cousins today after the presser. 'He's not going to be traded - this year for sure'— Sean Cunningham (@SeanCunningham) May 10, 2016
Such a strong stance would seem to indicate the Kings are truly unwilling to move their often disgruntled big man, but they could also be attempting to gain leverage in negotiations by making Cousins off limits. If a player is seen as off the market, prospective bidders for them may be tempted to offer more.
Still, it seems more likely that with Cousins on a team-friendly contract for the next several years and Sacramento opening up a new arena in the fall that management will (once again) try to smooth things out with their star, no matter how many Lakers fans photoshop Cousins into a purple and gold jersey this summer. Divac's phrasing does indicate that Cousins may be available in the future if things don't work out though, a scenario in which the Lakers may be tempted to jump back in on the bidding.
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