The Phoenix Suns were the most active team at the NBA trade deadline.
They lost Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, and the Los Angeles Lakers’ 1st-round pick. They acquired Brandon Knight, two future Miami Heat 1st-round picks, and Marcus Thornton.
Getting rid of that Lakers pick in a three-team trade that brought them Knight was one of the most criticised trades of the deadline.
The pick is top-five protected in 2015 — meaning the Lakers keep it if it’s pick No. 1 through No. 5.
If the Lakers keep it this year, then it rolls over to 2016, when it’s only top-three protected.
It’s a great asset, and the Suns gave it up for Knight, a middle-tier point guard who’s a restricted free agent this summer.
In a Q&A with Bryan Gibberman of SB Nation’s Bright Side Of The Sun, Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough explained why he traded the pick.
His basic reasoning: The pick isn’t going to transfer this year because the Lakers are so bad, and it might not be that valuable in 2016 because there’s a decent chance the Lakers sign a bunch of free agents and start to get good again.
Here’s what he told Gibberman:
“With a pick like that our analysis was that we probably weren’t going to receive the pick this year. That pushes the pick into next year, the protection drops to three, but I think analysing the Lakers situation there’s pretty high variance there as to what the pick could be. If you ask me how the Lakers are going to be a year from now I have no idea. Obviously, they have struggled some recently, but they’re going to have a lot of salary cap space this summer and they’re in a market that’s traditionally been one of the top draws for free agents.
“We know the risks. The pick next year could be the fourth pick in the draft, it could be the 14th pick in the draft, it could be the 30th pick in the draft. We felt it was the right time to cash it in.”
That Lakers pick ended up going to the Philadelphia 76ers in the trade. Interestingly, Sixers GM Sam Hinkie also said the Lakers are probably going to keep that pick this year.
“My guess is the Lakers pick is very unlikely to convey this year for a whole host of reasons,” he said at a press conference.
However, he seems to be more bullish than McDonough about it being a high pick in 2016, when the Lakers can only keep it if they’re one of the three worst teams in the league.
“Those picks do not move around very much,” Hinkie said in explaining why he gave away Michael Carter-Williams in the trade. “It is almost impossibly hard to get your hands on a pick that at least has a chance to be a high lottery pick. It’s very rare that they move.”
The Lakers have the fourth-worst record in the NBA right now. If they stay in that position, they will likely keep their 2015 first-round pick. According to a draft odds table that was published for the first time on Celtics.com last year, the team with the fourth-worst record has an 81% chance of getting a top-five pick.
Unless the Lakers get ridiculously hot and a few other teams collapse, the Sixers would need to get really lucky to get that pick in 2015.
2016 is a different story. As bad as L.A. is this year, the Lakers aren’t the type of franchise that goes into a prolonged rebuilding mode. They’re going to use their salary cap money this summer one way or another.
Hinkie is betting that they will still be bad next year, and that pick will be between No. 4 and No. 10. McDonough is betting that they improve enough to bring that pick into the teens.
NOW WATCH: Cristiano Ronaldo, wearing a wig and glasses, surprised a young fan on the streets of Madrid
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.