According to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, the Los Angeles Lakers are looking to trade into the first round of the 2013 NBA draft. As it presently stands, the Lakers' first selection is the 48th overall draft choice.
Unfortunately, the options are slim for L.A. to trade into the first round.
It's far from surprising that the Lakers are hoping to trade up, as their No. 1 issue has been that they lack perimeter youth and athleticism. Even if they were to re-sign center Dwight Howard, that would remain a crippling issue.
An issue that has been present for at least the past three seasons.
Still, the 2013 NBA draft is one of extraordinarily weak proportions when it comes to star value. With the Lakers limited on trade pieces, that creates the potential for a first-round draft choice to be of lesser value than what L.A. would be dealing.
That's the first obstacle for L.A. to overcome in its quest to get younger.
Realistic Trade Pieces
When it comes right down to it, the Los Angeles Lakers will only be able to trade into the first round if they match their trade piece with realistic value. As it presently stands, the Lakers are short on attractive trade bait and may not be able to find the reciprocation they desire.
The question is, who are the Lakers' realistic trade pieces?
For starters, the walking rumor mill, Pau Gasol, is certain to be on the table as the Lakers look to move up. After all, Gasol is one of the most commonly mentioned names on the open market, regardless of the team we're speaking about.
The question is, could the Lakers actually land a draft choice that matches Gasol's value? More importantly, could the even come close?
It's hard to imagine they would.
The only other options appear to be Steve Nash and Metta World Peace, who remain valuable commodities. Nash may have experienced a down year statistically, but his quality of play should be unquestioned after leading a very poor Phoenix Suns team to the brink of the postseason the year prior.
World Peace is another option, but let's be honest—as great of a defender as he may be, it's hard to imagine a team trading an early first-round draft choice for his expiring contract.
Atlanta Hawks (No. 17, No. 18)
If the Los Angeles Lakers are to trade into the first round, they'll likely be looking for as much value as possible. For that reason, the Lakers have limited options, as teams with multiple first-round draft choices are scarce.
The Atlanta Hawks just so happen to have back-to-back selections and the need for a true center.
Pau Gasol just so happens to be one of the best low-post players in the NBA, even if fan perception suggests otherwise. General managers likely recognize that, and a team like the Hawks is in prime position to use Gasol's world-class abilities.
New head coach Mike Budenholzer won his titles with Tim Duncan and David Robinson, so who's to say he couldn't do the same with a two-time NBA champion in Gasol and Al Horford as his core?
For the Lakers, picking at No. 17 and No. 18 overall—a stretch, but still an outside possibility—would present them with their best opportunity to land value. They could find two athletic players for the perimeter, and potentially find a stretch 4.
Regardless of what route they take with these picks, exploring this possibility is the most realistic option for a Lakers team that is desperate for youth but short on trade pieces.