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2021 NBA Draft rumors: Lakers looking to trade down from No. 22

lakers trey murphy bones hyland tre mann josh christopher chris duarte

The Los Angles Lakers hold the No. 22 overall pick and zero second-rounders in the 2021 NBA Draft. GM Rob Pelinka may be open to trading down in order to change that.

Here’s the latest buzz, via ESPN’s Jonathan Givony:

“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.”

The Lakers have hosted numerous pre-draft workouts with draft hopefuls, among them, projected first- and second-rounders (or later). On Friday, they hosted six more:

In total, Los Angeles has (publicly) worked out 38 prospects, including Trey Murphy III, Bones Hyland, and Jaden Springer, all of whom could be selected in the back half of the first round.

The Lakers have also been linked to former Oregon Ducks guard Chris Duarte — an NBA-ready sharpshooter.  However, Duarte is rapidly rising up boards. He could be in play for the New York Knicks at either No. 17 or No. 19, or New York may trade up to nab him.

FWIW, Givony has Duarte going at No. 14 to the Golden State Warriors, and Murphy III heading to the Washington Wizards one pick later. He has the Lakers taking 20-year old Baylor wing Jared Butler, fresh off winning a national championship and the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

Butler would help the Lakers fill a play-making and shooting void, and his solid defensive skills would fight right in with Frank Vogel’s culture.

The ’21 class is considered to be extremely deep, and it’s plausible the Lakers have intel that Murphy, Duarte, etc. won’t make it to No. 22.

Plus, in the aftermath of the Anthony Davis trade, the Lakers have limited draft capital should they want to trade up on draft night or become more flexible in other transactions. The Lakers’ next tradeable first-rounder is in 2027.

Money is also extremely tight for the Lakers as they re-tool their roster this summer, so a cheaper pick later in the draft has fiscal appeal. As we discussed last week, acquiring a player via sign-and-trade (or using the non-taxpayer portion of the midlevel exception) triggers the hard cap, which Los Angeles wants to avoid at all costs. Every dollar counts, even for the LakeShow.

Givony’s scoop comes on the heels of Sunday reports from The Athletic’s Shams Charania and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that revealed just how active Pelinka is on the trade wire ahead of the draft and free agent. According to Charania, the Lakers are discussing a potential Kyle Kuzma-Buddy Hield swap with the Sacramento Kings, while Woj said that “literally” every team he’s contacted has told him the Lakers have offered some combination of Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

All that said, Los Angeles moving back a few slots and/or adding a second-round pick makes sense. After all: maybe they can find the next Talen Horton-Tucker (drafted No. 46 in 2019).

See you on July 29 for what should be an eventful evening at Barclays Center.