Each week, ESPN.com Lakers beat writer Baxter Holmes, along with ESPN.com NBA writers Ramona Shelburne and Arash Markazi, will weigh in on three questions that are on the minds of Los Angeles Lakers followers.
1. Will the Lakers keep the first-round pick the Houston Rockets owe them in hopes of finding a contributor or dangle it as a trade asset?
Holmes: The Lakers would do well to keep that pick, draft one of this year's top prospects -- say Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor, if they're available -- and build for the future, especially since they already have Julius Randle as a key part of that future anyway. Now, if the Lakers can use that pick to acquire a top player, then by all means do it, because proven NBA talent is better than potential talent almost every day of the week, but I'm not sure I see that happening.
Shelburne: I think they'll keep the pick. There might be some interesting trades out there, but the Lakers need a new franchise cornerstone, and the best way to find one of those is through the draft. It's also the most economical play for a franchise that has put a lot of stock in preserving its salary-cap space for the right players.
Markazi: I think everything is in play with the Lakers and their draft picks. I think if there's a player on the draft board they believe will be able to help them out, they will draft him, but I also think they would be open to a trade for established players. It's hard to say what they'll do with a late first right now, but I assume they'll draft a player since they have plenty of needs.
2. Which marginal Laker has the best chance to make the roster and contribute in 2015-16?
Holmes: This is a tough one, because so many players have been in and out of the lineup, so let's just go with the most impressive player lately: Jordan Clarkson. The rookie guard out of Missouri has been very impressive lately, clearly earning a chance at more substantial minutes next season.
Shelburne: Robert Sacre has established himself as a solid backup big man. He's not flashy, but he's become a stout defender who should have a place in the league for years to come.
Markazi: Ed Davis is a player who would benefit from another season with the Lakers. He's not a starter but could develop into a solid role player for a contender, whether that's in Los Angeles in the future or elsewhere.
3. Is the resurfacing of Steve Nash into a mentorship role aiding the growth of L.A.’s young guards and improving perceptions of his involvement with the team?
Holmes: Let's remember that Nash is being paid $9.7 million this season, so he at least owes the Lakers something in return since he hasn't played at all. The fact that he's helping the younger players is helpful, sure, but his absence in general and at games specifically still doesn't look good.
Shelburne: I don't think anything Nash is doing with the young guards this season will ever be enough to change the narrative of his years in L.A. They were a disaster. He was never healthy, and the trade which brought him to L.A. is looking like one of the worst in Lakers history.
Markazi: It's certainly aiding the growth of Clarkson. It's hard not to improve when you're learning from one of the greatest point guards of all time. That being said, I don't think this will improve his perception among Lakers fans, unfortunately. That perception has been pretty well established after his injuries prevented him from playing, not to mention the trade that brought him to L A., which cost the Lakers two first-round picks and two second-round picks.