The Lakers have had conversations with the Phoenix Suns, contemplating a trade that could send Pau Gasol to the Arizona desert for the expiring contract of Emeka Okafor and a 2014 first-round pick.
The Suns are in a unique position heading into the NBA draft on June 26. They could have four of the 30 first-round picks.
In addition to their own pick, which would be 23rd as of Monday's standings, the Suns have the Indiana's selection. The Pacers have the NBA's best record at 36-10.
Phoenix (29-18) could also have the Minnesota Timberwolves' first-round pick, although it is heavily protected.
If the Wolves (23-24) finish with a top-13 selection, they keep their pick. The selection is also top-12 protected in 2015 and 2016. If Minnesota's first-round obligation isn't met by 2016, the Timberwolves instead will send Phoenix a pair of second-round picks (2016 and 2017).
If the season ended Monday, Minnesota would hit the NBA draft lottery at 13, and would keep the pick.
Finally, the Suns are also owed a protected first-round pick from the Washington Wizards.
The Wizards (23-23) keep their pick if it lands in the top 12. That protection dips to top-10 in 2015, and all the way to 2019. It becomes completely unprotected in 2020.
Washington is currently tied with the Chicago Bulls for fifth place in the Eastern Conference, four games ahead of the ninth-place Detroit Pistons. As of Monday's standings, the Wizards would have either the 17th or 18th overall pick in the draft.
Phoenix is loaded with draft assets, which would likely appeal to the rebuilding Lakers. Do the Suns have enough to pry away Gasol?
That remains unclear, but then so does the status of the Suns' picks from both the Timberwolves and Wizards.
ALSO:Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun