How rights to Lakers first round pick is now Sixers most important asset

USATSI_9826430_168382939_lowres

One of the best remaining assets acquired under the Sam Hinkie regime was the rights to the Lakers first round pick, assuming it falls outside the top three in this draft. The Sixers look to get the draft pick this year in what looks like could be one of the best draft classes this decade. Should Los Angeles retain the pick this year, Philadelphia would automatically get LA’s first round pick next year regardless of where it lands.

At the trade deadline in February 2015, Philadelphia agreed to a three-team trade that resulted in Philly’s reigning rookie of the year, Michael Carter-Williams being shipped to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks also got Miles Plumlee and Tyler Ennis. The Suns received Brandon Knight and Kendall Marshall who was then waived. Again, the Sixers received the Lakers first round pick from Phoenix.

When this trade took place, the draft pick was protected through the top five. With the Lakers playing so poorly there was little doubt in everyone’s mind that the Lakers would hold onto this pick. They ended up retaining the pick and selecting D’Angelo Russell. Russell has proven to be a core player of the Lakers’ rebuild, so being bad enough to keep the pick was essential.

Then, this is where Ryan McDonough, General Manager of the Suns and Sam Hinkie, GM of the Sixers, disagreed. According to an article on businessinsider.com, McDonough anticipated the Lakers signing multiple high profile free agents so that the 2016 pick would fall into the teens. So, in the eyes of the Suns’ General Manager, getting Knight would be worth more than a mid-first round draft pick. Hinkie however expected the Lakers to remain in the bottom quarter of the league meaning the pick would be in the top ten. Hinkie was correct; the Lakers remained in the basement of the NBA but they kept their pick. They ended up choosing Brandon Ingram second overall.

The Lakers draft pick, like last year, is only top three protected. Going into the season everyone expected the Sixers to be able to use it this year. They went out and signed Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov in the offseason. The Lakers young core of Jordan Clarkson, Russell, and Julius Randle would have another season to develop and they hired Luke Walton who was expected to pull this team out of the basement. Many expected this to be the season for LA to turn it around.

Through fifty-three games this season, Los Angeles is 18-36 and have the third-worst record in the NBA. On November 30th, the Lakers beat the Bulls to bring their record to 10-10. Since then, LA is 8-26. Los Angeles has been decimated by injury though. They are finally getting some starters back, although that has not led them to play better yet.

If the Lakers end up picking in the top three than they’ll keep the pick. LA would obviously love to see that happen in such a deep draft. But the implications are far more serious for Los Angeles. If they don’t give up their pick this year, then their 2018 first round pick automatically goes to Philly. Since a team is not allowed to trade consecutive first round picks, if they keep this year’s pick, next year’s goes to Philly and then they’d only have to sacrifice a 2017 and 2018 second round pick to Orlando from a different trade. But if Philadelphia gets the pick this year, then the Magic will get LA’s first round pick in 2019. So, there are two possibilities: LA giving up their 2017 first round pick to Philadelphia and 2019 to Orlando OR Philadelphia getting an unprotected 2018 first round pick and the Lakers losing a second round pick in 2017 and 2018.

Even after two years, this is Philadelphia’s most important asset and it’s all thanks to Sam Hinkie’s foresight.

 

Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

More from our Sister Sites