As the 2014 NBA draft draws closer, it appears that the Los Angeles Lakers are working hard to make something happen, and rumors are continuing to grow about what they could do before or during the draft.
The Lakers are coming off another disappointing season, losing Kobe Bryant once again and going just 27-55. Fortunately for Lakers fans, there is hope. Kobe will likely be healthy next season, and the team has a ton of cap space to work with as they try to rebuild for the future.
Along with plenty of cap space, the Lakers also have the No. 7 overall pick, which they could use on one of the many talented prospects in this draft or trade away to add some other key pieces. Below are some of the latest rumors regarding what the Lakers could do ahead of draft day.
Lakers Talks To Acquire Klay Thompson May Be Dead
As the Lakers continue to try and find new playmakers, one name that has recently come up has been Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, although the chances of acquiring him are now apparently slim.
The Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan wrote that the Lakers were in discussions as part of a three-way deal to acquire Thompson and give away the No. 7 overall pick in order for Kevin Love to move to the Warriors. However, according to the report, the Warriors were split on the possibility of giving up Thompson for Love.
Now, according to Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher, that deal may very well be dead, with Love unlikely to be traded before the draft:
Depending on how the draft plays out early, there's a possibility that this trade could happen, even if it's slim. If the Lakers decide that they don't like whoever is available with the No. 7 pick, they could try to push harder with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Warriors to make the deal happen.
Still, considering the other rumors surrounding the No. 7 pick, it's more likely that the Lakers make a different trade rather than trying to acquire Thompson.
Lakers Exploring Options to Trade No. 7 Pick
If the talks over Thompson truly are dead, there's still hope for the Lakers to add some key pieces while clearing up some cap space. However, it will still mean trading away one of the top picks in a draft filled with exciting talent.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Lakers have been exploring options to trade the No. 7 overall selection, either by itself or as a package with 40-year-old point guard Steve Nash:
There are likely plenty of teams interested in acquiring the draft pick, but only for the right price. The Lakers want to add young talent to rebuild around or even try to add another All-Star to play alongside Kobe, which is where a potential deal with Nash comes in.
According to HoopsHype.com, the Lakers have just over $35.3 million in payroll for next season, which means that they have plenty of cap space to work with. The team would have even more cap space, however, if they traded Nash, who is set to make $9.7 million next season. In fact, if Nash was gone, Kobe would be the only player currently on the roster to make more than $2 million.
As ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne points out, that could be enough to sign a couple of free agents:
That's enough so that if two of this year's superstar free agents -- LeBron, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, etc. -- each took a little less ($15-16 million each) and wanted to play together and alongside Kobe Bryant, they could form a pretty hellacious threesome. It's also plenty of money with which to woo one superstar on a max deal and a player in the $10-12 million range, like Luol Deng, or re-sign Pau Gasol.
There are a few possibilities that could happen, but with so much cap space, don't be surprised if the Lakers push hard for another superstar to come to Los Angeles.
Michael Carter-Williams a Possible Option For Lakers
One of the bigger concerns for the Lakers heading into next season is who the starting point guard will be to play the back with Kobe. While they very well could draft a point guard, there are now rumors that the team could acquire Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams.
ESPN's Ryen Russillo tweeted that the Lakers could move both Nash and the No. 7 selection to the Philadelphia 76ers for Carter-Williams and Thaddeus Young:
The move could be a promising one for both sides. Carter-Williams had an encouraging rookie season with a struggling franchise, averaging 16.7 points, 6.3 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game. Young could also provide a scoring option down low, as he averaged 17.9 points per game while shooting 45.4 percent from the floor.
Financially, the move works out for the Lakers as well. With Carter-Williams on his rookie deal, he'll be making just $2.3 million this season, and while Young will be a bit more expensive, the Lakers have the cap room to make to it work while still potentially adding a superstar.
For the Sixers, they'd be giving away their promising young point guard in Carter-Williams, but as Russillo pointed out, they could add another talented one in international prospect Dante Exum. Meanwhile, the Sixers would also have two other top-10 selections to work with, and along with having a healthy Nerlens Noel, they could have a bright, young group of players the franchise could rebuild around.
Of all the trade rumors surrounding the Lakers, this one is the most interesting, as it would be mutually beneficial for both sides and could help both start to turn things around.