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NBA DRAFT

Once again, draft means little to Lakers

Having traded their first-round pick, the Lakers will select 48th out of 60 spots Thursday. Their key off-season decision involves Dwight Howard.

June 26, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan
  • The Lakers don't own a first-round draft pick, so their biggest move this offseason could involved center Dwight Howard.
The Lakers don't own a first-round draft pick, so their biggest move… (Damian Dovarganes / Associated…)

What an incredible summer it turned out to be in 2007, and not just because Kobe Bryant went on a "trade-me" rant, which led to the Lakers acquiring Pau Gasol the following season, which led to NBA championships in 2009 and 2010.

That summer also marked the Lakers' last significant participation in that thing known as the NBA draft.

They had a first-round pick six years ago and actually used it, selecting Javaris Crittenton with the 19th overall selection. His career didn't turn out so well, though he was eventually used as a piece in the 2008 trade to acquire Gasol.

The Lakers again will essentially sit out Thursday's draft, selecting 48th out of 60 and continuing their strategy of punting when it comes to amateur players, the franchise long ago deciding to focus almost entirely on veteran free agents as their impact players.

The Lakers' first-round pick (19th overall) was traded to Cleveland last year as part of the Ramon Sessions deal. So the team again will look at the bottom one-fourth of all draft-eligible players.

Since the Lakers started ignoring the first round, their second-round draft picks haven't been overly remarkable.

A quick glance:

2008: Joe Crawford

2009: Patrick Beverley, Chinemelu Elonu

2010: Devin Ebanks, Derrick Caracter

2011: Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock, Chukwudiebere Maduabum, Ater Majok

2012: Robert Sacre

Some of them were traded on draft day, some became borderline rotation players and some were busted for getting in fights at IHOP during trips to New Orleans.

This year's draft is considered one of the worst in recent memory, so the Lakers aren't missing out on much. And they currently have their first-round pick for next year's draft, which is projected to be very strong. So there's that.

Thursday, though, is simply a mild precursor to free agency, which begins Sunday at 9:01 p.m. Pacific time.

The real question isn't whom the Lakers get in the draft. What happens in the following few weeks with free agent Dwight Howard is what matters.

Etc.

The Lakers picked up the option Wednesday for reserve guard Jodie Meeks, keeping him under contract through next season for $1.6 million. Meeks, 25, averaged 7.9 points in 78 games last season. The Lakers also gave reserve center Sacre a qualifying offer of $989,000, making him a restricted free agent. The Lakers can match any offer sheet he signs with another team. Sacre averaged 1.3 points and 1.1 rebounds in 32 games.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter:  @Mike_Bresnahan

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