Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio heard some speculation at today's NBA Draft Combine that the Lakers and Hawks are two teams trying to find their way into the lottery. With both teams headed for a summer centered on free agent decisions, Atlanta has two first-rounders – picks 17 and 18 – to dangle in an attempt to move up in the draft, whereas Los Angeles – equipped with only the 48th overall pick – would plausibly have to shop Pau Gasol and be willing to take on another contract in hopes of landing a higher draft pick along with another young piece.
Amico provides a reminder that this is still pure speculation as of right now, and that rumors such as these could just be as commonplace with other miscellaneous rumblings heading into the draft. With that being said, it's easy to imagine the Lakers exploring their options on this front considering that Jodie Meeks (who holds a team option for next year) and Jordan Hill are currently the only players under the age of 30 that are technically under contract for next season. Re-signing Dwight Howard and Earl Clark, who we've heard would be willing to stay in L.A. on a discount, would add to that list, though with other key pieces in their starting rotation getting older, pursuing efforts to become younger and develop some talent makes sense.
Considering that this year's draft class isn't arguably as strong as in previous years, it isn't out of the question to think that Atlanta could find themselves in talks to acquire a lottery pick, especially if one of the lottery teams misses out on a top target. Hawks GM Danny Ferry will have plenty of salary flexibility to work with this summer, and adding a lottery talent on a rookie-scale contract beforehand would make for an auspicious start to the team's offseason.