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Monday, May 19, 2014
Should Lakers trade lottery pick for Love?

By Ryan Feldman


Tom Dahlin/NBAE/Getty ImagesHow would Kevin Love look in Lakers purple and gold next season?

Kevin Love reportedly made it clear to the Minnesota Timberwolves that he intends to become an unrestricted free agent next year and doesn’t want a contract extension with Minnesota, leaving the door open for a potential trade this offseason.

The Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks are reportedly among the potential trade destinations for Love.

Why do the Lakers make the most sense?

They’re the only one of these four teams under the projected salary cap this offseason, meaning they could provide salary cap relief for the Timberwolves without trading back equal salaries.

The Lakers also have a lottery pick currently slotted at No. 6, with a 21.5 percent chance to move into the top 3. The Warriors, Bulls and Knicks don’t have any draft picks this year currently slotted in the top 12.

The Lakers have only $34.1 million in guaranteed salary under contract next season as of now. The salary cap is expected to be $63.2 million next season.

Since the Lakers are so far under the cap, they could potentially trade for Love by just offering their lottery pick.

The Lakers have a 6.3 percent chance to win the NBA Draft Lottery and get the No. 1 pick. They have a 21.5 percent chance to get a top-3 pick. If they get a top-3 pick, they would then likely decide between Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Dante Exum and Julius Randle.

The Lakers have a short window to win with Kobe Bryant nearing the end of his career and having just two seasons left on his contract. Even if Wiggins, Parker, Embiid, Exum, or Randle make an immediate impact, trading for Love will likely give the Lakers a better chance to win right away.

Love had 14.3 win shares this season, easily a career high. He also set career highs in points per game, assists per game, 3-pointers made and player efficiency rating.

The most win shares by any rookie in the last 20 seasons was 12.8 by Tim Duncan in 1997-98. The most by any second-year player in the last 20 seasons was 14.3 by LeBron James in 2004-05.

Therefore, assuming Love is at least as productive as he was this season in each of the next two seasons, it would take a LeBron James-like player to even compare to Love in his first two seasons in the league.

Of course, there is also the money issue. Love will make $15.7 million next season and will likely make even more when he signs a new contract. The No. 1 pick will make no more than $5.5 million next season.

If the Lakers trade their lottery pick for Love, they would still be more than $13 million under the projected salary cap. However, with only three other players under contract as of now, that doesn’t mean they’ll have that much money to spend to fill out the roster and stay within the cap.