Monday , Jun , 14 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Los Angeles Lakers 2004 Draft Preview

(Sports Network) – The Los Angeles Lakers have a lot of questions that are
going to be answered as the offseason progresses.

All-Star Kobe Bryant, point guard Gary Payton and 40-year-old forward Karl
Malone all can opt out of their contracts and become a free agents. Bryant is
expected to test free agency, while Malone is rumored to be contemplating
retirement. Payton has not been happy with his role with the Lakers and could
be headed out of town.

The Lakers still have the force in the middle, as All-Star Shaquille O’Neal is
still the top center in the NBA. If vacancies are created, than LA management
will act accordingly and bring in the talent that will keep them in the elite
in the league.

Twenty-six-year-old forward Devean George is an athletic player, while 23-
year-old guard shooting guard Kareem Rush has a future in the league. Forward
Luke Walton, who was a rookie in 2003-04, showed that he can also contribute
off the bench.

LA has the 27th overall selection and will pick the best player available. Any
impact moves that the Lakers make in the offseason will come through trade or
free agency.

Key Player(s): Kobe Bryant (guard), Derek Fisher (guard), Devean George
(forward), Karl Malone (forward), Shaquille O’Neal (center), Gary Payton
(guard), Kareem Rush (guard), Luke Walton (forward).

Team Needs: A power forward.

Draft picks: 1st round (27th overall), 2nd round (56th overall).