As the NBA draft gets closer, the Lakers aren't so certain they'll hang on to the seventh overall pick. There are many questions between now and Thursday.
Will the Lakers try harder to acquire Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson for the seventh pick? Will they keep it and hope Joel Embiid falls to them? Or go for a youthful point guard to pair with the aging Kobe Bryant?
First things first: The Lakers were in discussions with the Warriors for the ever-improving Thompson, part of a larger three-way trade that would send Minnesota All-Star Kevin Love to the Warriors.
The Lakers were interested, but the deal was put on hold because of a difference in opinion within the Warriors' organization whether to keep Thompson while trying to obtain Love.
Thompson, 24, averaged 18.4 points this season for the Warriors and became one of the league's most potent three-point shooters. He is under contract for $4.5 million next season before becoming a restricted free agent.
Thompson increased his scoring average by almost two points last season and improved his shooting percentage from 42.2% to 44.4%. He made 41.7% of his three-point attempts last season.
If the Lakers hang on to the pick, they are debating what to do with it.
It's an important decision: they have sold or traded every first-round pick they've had since 2007 and do not have one next season because of the Steve Nash trade. Nor do they have a second-round pick this season (Nash trade) or next season (Dwight Howard trade).
If they keep the pick, the Lakers are pondering whether to go with a power forward or point guard. They have narrowed their focus to big men Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle and Noah Vonleh or point guards Dante Exum, Marcus Smart and Elfrid Payton.
The Lakers, though, are also interested to see whether Embiid falls to them with the seventh pick. The Kansas 7-footer had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot Friday and could miss part or all of next season.
He was a top-three pick for sure, and perhaps the top overall pick, before the surgery was announced. Embiid has become injury-prone this year, sitting out the Jayhawks' only two NCAA tournament games because of a stress fracture in his back.
A player on the rise such as Thompson would obviously provide more immediate return than an amateur player with no NBA experience.
Whether the Lakers draft a player or make a deal with Thompson, they will have only three other players making guaranteed money next season when free agency starts July 1 — Bryant, Nash and Robert Sacre.
Point guard Kendall Marshall has one year left on a nonguaranteed contract.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun