Lakers’ Need to Prepare for Future Robs Them of Chance to Gain Big Piece of It

LOS ANGELES — Any Lakers fan who wanted the club to acquire Goran Dragic at Thursday's NBA trade deadline doesn't get it.

The Lakers' path back to relevance, because of how few assets they have, requires them to get pieces for the future without giving up pieces for the future.

Yes, it was a downer for the Lakers that the Phoenix Suns accepted the Miami Heat's offer of two first-round picks to rent Dragic for the rest of this season, as reported by The Lakers' best bet to land Dragic or Rajon Rondo as their next point guard via offseason free agency was not to see them move this season to new locales they might adore.

Obviously, to give up so much for him, the Heat expect to re-sign Dragic after he opts out this summer. The Dallas Mavericks were thinking the same thing in surrendering draft picks and young talent to Boston for free-agent-to-be Rondo in December.

The Lakers weren't in position to do that sort of thing after already trying that to get Dwight Howard temporarily from  Orlando to team with Steve Nash. The Lakers still owe the Magic a conditional 2017 first-rounder to go with the 2013 and potentially 2015 first-rounders they agreed to give Phoenix for Nash.

So the Lakers have to value what precious picks they have all the more—they do also have Houston's first-rounder in 2015 for taking on Jeremy Lin's salary in trade—whether they want to build through the draft or trade the assets to get better quicker.

In any case, the Lakers will still be counting primarily on free agency—where you can add talent without yielding anything but money. They'll be watching to see if Dragic or Rondo wants to bolt anyway, along with indulging Jim Buss' ongoing hope that Kevin Love leaves Cleveland to be a free agent, too.

Dragic's sticking this summer with Miami, where there is a better core of players in place (including a Dwy...

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