The Los Angeles Lakers are willing to trade their first-round (and only current) pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. As is the case with Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the Lakers have aggressively shopped their best trade asset — the No. 22 pick — around the league, and are open to moving up, down, or out of the draft entirely.
For instance: The Lakers reportedly offered Kuzma and the No. 22 pick to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for the No. 13 pick and T.J. Warren. Los Angeles has been talking to the Sacramento Kings about a Buddy Hield deal, which would feature the No. 22 pick. Ditto for any Russell Westbrook blockbuster with the Washington Wizards. The Lakers and Brooklyn Nets have discussed swapping first-rounders and sending Landry Shamet to Los Angeles.
The Lakers don’t have an easy route to improve their draft position before Thursday’s festivities — especially without including their 2021 first-rounder and/or 20-year old restricted free agent Talen Horton-Tucker (via a complex sign-and-trade).
Los Angeles could, and maybe should, use the pick. The Lakers’ recent draft track record is far more hit than miss, no matter where they’ve selected. The Lakers have found All-Stars in the lottery and quality supporting players later on. Clearly, Rob Pelinka’s administration understands how to scout and develop talent. (The Lakers have hosted at least 40 prospects for workouts at their facility in El Segundo this month.)
The Lakers are bordering the salary cap with about two-thirds of their 2020-21 roster set to hit free agency. With money tight, adding an NBA-ready contributor on a rookie deal may be the most prudent move. Plus: the Lakers are not exactly young.