Friday, February 20, 2015

Lakers stay with what they have

Lakers fans can rest easily. Duke star Jahlil Okafor is still a possibility.

The Lakers had little incentive to make any moves by Thursday's NBA trade deadline, and they didn't.
It shouldn't be surprising. They wanted to keep their draft picks, particularly the top-five protected one they originally owed...

It shouldn't be surprising. They wanted to keep their draft picks, particularly the top-five protected one they originally owed Phoenix for Steve Nash. The Lakers' motivation to win a lot of games between now and the end of the regular season April 15 was dimmed because of the same reason.

They would have done something if it dramatically improved their team for more than just two months, but nothing materialized because of their limited trade pieces.

Nick Young, anybody? Jordan Hill? Nash's expiring contract? There were no takers.

"It didn't really seem that anything was going to happen," Lakers Coach Byron Scott said Thursday.

The Lakers (13-40) own the league's fourth-worst record and might slip even further. They've lost their last six games, 15 of their last 16, and currently hold an 11.9% chance at landing the top draft pick at the May 19 lottery.

New York has the NBA's worst record (10-43) and a 25% chance at the top pick, followed by Minnesota (11-42, 19.9%) and Philadelphia (12-41, 15.6%).

Okafor, the freshman center at Duke, is the draft's top prospect at this point. Other high picks include Kentucky big men Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein, as well as point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who has opted not to play in college.

The Lakers also own Houston's first-round pick as part of the Jeremy Lin trade. It figures to be a mid-to-late-20s pick by the time the regular season ends.

They need as many picks as possible in the June 25 draft. Free agency begins the following week in July.

"I think we need pieces at every position," Scott said. "That's obviously a question mark with Kobe [Bryant]. We're not going to be able to solve that problem in one year or one summer."

The Lakers have 29 games to see how rookie Jordan Clarkson holds up at point guard, the results not too bad so far — 13.4 points and 3.8 assists in 10 games as a starter.

They'll also continue to evaluate Hill for their future plans. They are leaning toward exercising a $9-million team option to re-sign the 27-year-old center, who practiced Thursday after missing five games because of a hip injury.

Beyond that, several players have contracts that expire at the end of June, including Carlos Boozer, Lin, Wesley Johnson, Wayne Ellington and Ronnie Price. Ed Davis probably is playing for a new contract because his player option of $1.1 million next season is low compared to the average NBA salary of almost $5.5 million.