Last year Danny raised eyebrows by helping the Pistons get Rasheed in exchange for a draft pick. This year we hear that it will take a draft pick to get Payton. The news about Rudy T stepping down has us wondering about the conditional draft pick from the Lakers. Draft picks are a big deal, and Danny seems to understand this.
Free agents are very expensive. Trades are difficult and costly. But the draft is a gold mine. Sure, some of it is fools gold (Forte, Moiso, etc), but you can build a solid team using the draft effectively (see this last year's draft).
We already know that our own pick isn't likely to be much lower than 16 and could end up being as high as 9 or 10. Considering what we got at 15 and lower last year, that alone might be worth some enthusiasm.
There is a common theory that if the Lakers miss the playoffs, that is a good thing for us because the pick would have less protection the next year. People point to the Kedrick Brown pick that could have been rolled over to the next year that ended up being Carmelo Anthony. The Lakers, however, are not the Nuggets of a few years ago. Kobe hasn't forgotten how to play, and the Lakers will likely buy him some talent sooner or later that can at least make them steady playoff players. If that is the case, then rolling over the pick only delays the payoff (which delays the precious time you need to develop talent).
Another misconception is that we are young enough and don't need any more rookies. First of all, it depends on the rookie. If you land an impact player, it doesn't matter how old he is. The Baby Bulls didn't get better by adding vets. They got better by drafting the right rookies (Hinrich, Deng, Gordon, etc).
In addition, draft picks are assets. If we were to trade GP at the deadline for a 1st rounder and the Lakers make the playoffs, that gives us 3 draft picks for the second year in a row. That gives you a lot of options. Of course you can use all the picks and save money on roster spots that you normally would have to use on high-paid vets. Or you can trade up in the draft for an impact player. Finally, you can trade the picks for a vet. Denver got Kenyon Martin for 3 picks and a trade exception. Not bad.
So I'm hoping that Danny can continue to horde draft picks. I think it puts us in the best position to add talent for future runs at #17.