Lakers guard Kobe Bryant shoots over Cavaliers forward Luke Walton, his… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
The Cleveland Cavaliers are midway through a difficult 21-42 season. The team has one of the brightest young players in the league in point guard Kyrie Irving, but a shoulder injury may keep him out for the rest of the year.
Last season, the Lakers and Cavaliers made a deal that sent point guard Ramon Sessions to Los Angeles for Luke Walton, Jason Kapono and draft considerations. As part of the deal, Cleveland gained the right to swap their lowest 2013 first-round pick with the Lakers -- lottery protected.
The Cavaliers own the rights to the Miami Heat's first-round pick, which projects to be in the 27-30 range. If the Lakers make the playoffs, the Heat pick would go to the Phoenix Suns as part of the Steve Nash trade. The Cavs would then get the Lakers' pick, which would be significantly higher (15-20) than Miami's.
If the Lakers do not make the playoffs, their pick goes to the Suns and the Cavaliers keep the Miami pick.
According to John Petkovic of the Plain Dealer, "the collapse of the Lakers gave Cavs fans another team to root for."
With no playoff hopes of their own this season, "losing suddenly becomes winning" for the Cavs by virtue of improved draft position.
Allegiances were tested recently when the Cavaliers visited the team closest to the Lakers in the standings.
"When the Cavs defeated the Utah Jazz," wrote Petkovic, the fans "were weighing the importance of losing (to gain the higher draft pick the Cavs own) vs. beating the Jazz, who stand between the Lakers and the playoffs -- and between the Cavs and that Lakers pick."
With Irving sidelined, the Cavaliers will undoubtedly fall in the standings/climb in the draft.
As the Lakers make continue to make their push to the postseason, they'll have the Cavs' fans right behind them.
"Such is the life of a Cleveland fan amid another season -- where you can win for losing," wrote Petkovic.
Lakers: Week 20 predictions
Lakers to let Jordan Hill exception expire
Bryant named Western Conference Player of the Week
Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.