Lakers Rumors: LAL Exploring Trading Down from No. 22 Pick in 2021 NBA DraftJuly 26, 2021
ESPN's Jonathan Givony reported Sunday that "with a big group of combo/scoring guards bunched together in the early 20s through early 30s, NBA executives say the Lakers have explored the option of moving down a few slots from the No. 22 pick while acquiring one or more second-round picks."
For the Lakers, the move could scratch a few itches. For one, they may be able to move back and get a contributing player, all while adding more draft assets in the second round. But the No. 22 pick also comes with a $2.4 million cap hold, whereas moving back could trim that figure (or depending on the trade and what they receive in return, eliminate it altogether).
For a Lakers team already over the cap, shedding any amount of money, however small, could be impactful. They currently have active roster obligations of $116.9 million, about $4.5 million over the cap, and all before potentially re-signing players like Dennis Schroder, Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker, among others.
If Montrezl Harrell declines his $9.7 million player option, the Lakers will have a bit more wiggle room come free agency. But not much.
The Lakers don't have the cap flexibility or assets to make a major splash in free agency, even in sign-and-trade scenarios.
They'll try to get creative to add another dynamic playmaker next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but unless a trade package of Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope really moves the needle for a team—ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported they've offered both to almost every team around the league this offseason—the Lakers are going to be operating around the margins this offseason and retaining their players.
For that reason, Woj reported he believes there's a deal for Schroder to remain with the Lakers. If that happens, the Lakers would likely turn to ready-to-contribute players in the upcoming draft, as Givony noted.
More than likely, they'd focus on wings with three-and-D potential or perhaps another playmaking point guard for the bench minutes. It's shaping up to be a fascinating offseason for the Lakers, even if they likely won't make the splash their fans are hoping to see.