Friday, February 13, 2015

Los Angeles Lakers Should Not Trade For Goran Dragic

Goran Dragic’s availability has been floated out there by several reporters, as his Phoenix Suns hope to acquire an asset in return before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. As usual, the Los Angeles Lakers are central to the plot line as fans hope to bring in any and all names they’ve heard.

Trading for Dragic is not only short-sighted but potentially devastating to the rebuild.
Goran Dragic’s availability has been floated out there by several reporters, as his Phoenix Suns hope to acquire an asset in...

Let’s first look at Goran Dragic, the player. He’s 28 and has averaged 12 points and 4.5 assists per game, shooting 47% from the field and 36% from three. As he spent a portion of his career coming off the bench both in Phoenix and for the Houston Rockets, a better way to define his production is by his per-36-minute numbers. For his career, he’d average 16.9 points and 6.3 assists per game.

All in all, when he gets consistent minutes in a role that fits his playing style, Dragic is an above average to good point guard. But should the Lakers trade for him before the February 19 trade deadline? My answer: no. Please no.

The Suns would reportedly trade Dragic if they got a first-round pick in return. There is no chance that the Lakers would offer their own first-rounder, which could potentially go to Phoenix anyway as part of that disastrous Steve Nash trade. If anything, the Suns might have to extend some of the protection. It’s currently only top-5 protected. The pick in question is likely Houston’s, which they sent to the Lakers as compensation for dealing with Jeremy Lin fans this year.

Here’s a doomsday sequence of events: The Lakers trade Phoenix that Houston pick for Dragic, play well enough to “slip” in the tank rankings, lose their Phoenix pick as a result and Dragic, after all that, turns around and leaves in free agency after frustrations grow with Byron Scott’s outdated coaching style. The Lakers would have given away two firsts for nothing. This would essentially impede the Lakers for the foreseeable future.

As it stands now, the Lakers are 13-40 and hurtling toward a nice number of ping pong balls. The Rockets will be without Dwight Howard for six to eight weeks and could drop far enough that their lottery-protected pick is in the mid- to low- twenties. The Lakers also have their own second-round pick and might also have the Los Angeles Clippers’ second rounder if it falls between 51 and 55. That’s plenty of opportunity to reestablish youth.

The Lakers need talent up and down the franchise and, as such, are able to acquire any and all assets without worrying about duplication. If the trade went through, the Lakers’ first priority would be to re-sign Dragic, and in part take themselves out of the running for prospects like D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay, as they’d already have point guards like Jordan Clarkson and Dragic on the team.

Teams get themselves into trouble when they draft for need instead of talent, and the trade would force the Lakers to do the former.

That’s even before we consider how he’d fit with the team. Dragic doesn’t rely on elite athleticism, so, barring injury, his game should age pretty well offensively. Defense is another thing altogether. There are legitimate questions as to how he, Kobe Bryant and Julius Randle would defend together. If they’re lucky enough to draft Jahlil Okafor, that becomes an all-around bad defensive team, especially as Dragic ages.

Finally, why give up assets for a player you can just as easily sign for nothing other than cap space? Dragic will probably garner a max contract based on his production as a lead guard, which becomes a fair deal as the salary cap rises. The Lakers will have options if and when that time comes, but that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?