Nearly six years after the now infamous Steve Nash and Dwight Howard trades, the Los Angeles Lakers finally paid the price of trying to build a contender overnight Tuesday at the NBA draft lottery.
As part of the Nash sign-and-trade in 2012, the Lakers will convey the No. 10 overall pick to the Philadelphia 76ers, who acquired the Lakers’ pick from the Phoenix Suns in 2015. The Suns or 76ers could have conveyed the pick sooner than this year, but draft protections allowed the Lakers to keep their pick in each of the last four years.
For a team looking to add pieces to their already promising young core, missing out on a lottery pick almost certainly stings for the Lakers, especially because Nash’s brief time in Los Angeles was forgettable. However, with the exception of this year’s pick, the Lakers came out all right from two trades that could have set the franchise back a few years.
Had the Lakers conveyed their pick to the 76ers last year, they would have also conveyed this year’s pick to the Orlando Magic as part of the 2012 Dwight Howard trade. Instead, the Magic received two second-rounders, one in last year’s draft and one in this year’s draft.
In other words, the Lakers ended giving up as much for Howard as the Hornets, who Howard plays for currently, gave up for Willy Hernangomez at the trade deadline this past season. You can argue the talent gap between Hernangomez and Howard in their current iterations, but at the time Howard was considered one of the most dominant big men in the league, if not the most dominant.
Like Nash, Howard’s tenure with Los Angeles was short-lived, but in hindsight, two second round picks for a year of Howard isn’t terrible. In fact, nothing the Lakers gave up in either of the trades can be described as detrimental to the franchise.
Below is a list of assets the Lakers gave up in the Steve Nash and Dwight Howard trades. For what the Lakers ended up getting out of both players, it might seem like close to fair value, but for what the Lakers thought they were getting, it ended up being a steal.
- Andrew Bynum (retired)
- No. 30 and No. 57 picks in 2013 used to select Nemanja Nedovic and Alex Oriakhi
- No. 36 pick in 2014 used to select Johnny O’Bryant
- No. 33 pick in 2017, used to draft Wesley Iwundu
- No. 10 and No. 40 pick in 2018
Say what you will about the former front office, but without the protections placed on the first-round picks, the Lakers would be short a few players from their current team. Mitch Kupchak was a lot of things, but he wasn’t Billy King.
Following the conclusion of this year’s draft, the Lakers will own the rights to all of their future picks. While many expect at least one of those picks to be used in a trade to dump Luol Deng’s contract somewhere, having the freedom to trade their own pick after this year is a small victory for the Lakers.
There’s always a chance they tempt fate a second time and give up assets for a superstar on an expiring contract (looking at you, Kawhi Leonard), but at least they’ll have a blueprint for what it takes to survive another Dwightmare.