What will happen to the Lakers’ draft pick this summer?

There are still lots of questions floating around about the Lakers’ upcoming first round draft pick, so let’s review.

This story starts with Cleveland. They were involved in a number of trades which included 2013 first round picks. As a result, they have (or potentially have) the following picks — not including the Lakers trade:

  • Their own.
  • Miami’s from the LeBron James sign-and-trade in 2010.
  • Sacramento’s, as a result of the Omri Casspi/J.J. Hickson trade in 2011. Sacramento sends the Cavs a #1 pick, which was top-14 protected in 2012 (and not conveyed) and top-13 protected this year. If the pick falls 1-13 then the Kings keep it and the Cavs wait until next year (the pick protection continues all the way to 2017).

The Cavs then made a deal with the Lakers in March 2012 (the 2011-12 season’s trade deadline) which sent Ramon Sessions (who later left as a free agent), Christian Eyenga (sent to Orlando in the Dwight Howard trade) and draft considerations for Luke Walton, Jason Kapono, a conditional first round pick (which became the 24th pick in 2012 and used to select Jared Cunningham), and cash.

The draft considerations the Cavs received was the right to swap the least favorable of the two or three picks (depending on whether they have the Kings’ pick) for the Lakers’ pick. They only get this right if the Lakers’ pick is not a lottery pick — i.e., if it falls 15-30. If the Lakers’ pick is in the lottery, then the Cavs keep the picks they have. Technically the Cavs just have the “right” to swap, but that’s just to cover the contingency of the Lakers’ pick being the worst of the four. Since the Heat’s pick is now certain to be the worst of the four, you can be sure they will send it to LA if the Lakers’ pick falls 15-30.

The Lakers went on to trade whatever pick they end up with — i.e., their own pick if it falls 1-14, or the pick they end up with from Cleveland if their pick falls 15-30 — to the Suns as part of the Steve Nash deal.

At this point in the season, here’s how things look like they will shake out. On the basis of current standings alone (i.e., not considering what might happen in the lottery), here are the pick each team will end up with:

  • Lakers: pick 15
  • Cavs: pick 4
  • Kings: 6
  • Heat: pick 30

If this is how the draft ends up, then the Kings would keep their pick, and the Cavs would swap the Heat’s #30 pick with the Lakers’ #15 pick. The Cavs would end up with picks 4 and 15. The Lakers would then send the Heat’s #30 pick to the Suns.

Now let’s bring the lottery into play. The Kings will keep their own pick regardless, so they are out of the picture whether or not they advance in the lottery. Likewise, the Cavs would keep their own pick no matter what, since it’d be in the top 4. And forget the Heat as well — their pick is guaranteed to be out of the lottery, and guaranteed to be the worst pick of the four.

That leaves the Lakers — if they miss the playoffs, end up in the lottery and receive one of the top three picks, that pick goes directly to Phoenix. Cleveland just loses the first crack at the Lakers’ pick because it’s in the top 14.

So the bottom line is that the Lakers’ own pick goes to either Phoenix or Cleveland, and if they get a pick back from Cleveland, it goes to Phoenix. The Lakers won’t have a first round pick this summer, unless they trade for one sometime before the draft.