Time to Tank: Lakers Must Protect Top Picks

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The L.A Lakers started the 2016-2017 NBA season well, going 10W-10L in their first 20 games of the season and recording a massive victory over the Golden State Warriors.

The Lakers fought hard through the beginning of the season and it was at that stage that people began to think that the Lakers might have a chance of making the NBA Playoffs.

Since then though, there have been wins for the young Lakers - but not many.

The Lakers are currently 19W-37L coming into the week before the All-Star break and they lie 14th in the West, just two wins ahead of bottom-placed Phoenix.

The Lakers have shown promise during the season but they still are a fair bit away from being legitimate playoff contenders.

As Eric Pincus recently wrote on Bleacher Report, the Los Angeles Lakers’ best course of action moving forward may be to tank this season. That’s because the Lakers’ 2017 first-round draft pick will go to the Philadelphia 76ers if it falls outside of the Top 3. But it doesn’t end there. If L.A. loses its 2017 first-round pick, they will also have to give their 2019 first-round pick to the Orlando Magic. That means if the Lakers fall outside of the Top 3 on lottery night, they will lose two of their next three first-rounders. Now, if the Lakers finish in the Top 3 and keep their pick, not only will they have the chance to add a talented player in this upcoming draft, they will only owe two 2019 second-rounders to Orlando. These owed picks are from the Steve Nash and Dwight Howard trades.

Via HoopsHype

These factors lead to the idea that - The L.A Lakers should consider tanking.

The Lakers currently have seven players on their roster over the age of 30 years old:

  • Timofey Mozgov (30 years old)
  • Lou Williams (30 years old)
  • Jose Calderon (35 years old)
  • Marcelo Huertas (33 years old)
  • Nick Young (31 years old)
  • Metta World Peace (37 years old)
  • Luol Deng (31 years old)

If the Lakers are going to tank they should look into trading away some of these older players in return for draft picks or young players with potential that can be worked on over the course of the next few years.

First off, the Lakers will most likely not find any team to take Timofey Mozgov in a trade as his contract is too expensive for any team to agree to take.

We can also leave out players like Metta World Peace and Marcelo Huertas as they are decent role players who can provide useful playtime for the Lakers off the bench.

We could see players like Luol Deng, Lou Williams, Jose Calderon and Nick Young being traded away for young players though so here are some situations we could see happen:

Luol Deng to Memphis Grizzlies

Luol Deng could be traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in return for a 2019 second round draft pick (from the Boston Celtics). It isn’t a lot in return for the Lakers but they really have no use for Deng so they could bring in some young talent with the Draft pick instead. 

Lou Williams to Philadelphia 76ers

Lou Williams could be moved to a team like the 76ers as he is capable of being a starting shooting guard in the League. In return, Philadelphia could offer up the young Frenchman - Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, a guy who has a lot of potential but needs time to grow. The 76ers could also throw in a player like Sergio Rodriguez as well to sweeten the deal for L.A.

Nick Young to Phoenix Suns

Nick Young could make the move to Phoenix who could offer up Tyler Ulis to the Lakers and a draft pick in return for Young. Young seems to be an integral part of the Lakers roster at the minute though so I see a Nick Young move from L.A as highly unlikely at the moment.

Jose Calderon - Trade Package

Jose Calderon is now 35 years old and I don’t see him being a major bargaining tool in any trade. The Lakers would want to trade him for a young player or pick but the thing is that not many teams will want him so he’ll probably see his timeout with the Lakers before returning to Europe to see out the rest of his playing days.

These are just some of the situations we could see happening if the Lakers were to go ahead and begin tanking this season. It really could be the best option for the Lakers if this were to happen and we’ll know whether or not they will go ahead with this plan in the next few days as the trade deadline is in just under 2 weeks and they will have to get deals done quickly before time runs out.

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