It could be said that the Los Angeles Lakers, despite securing the second overall pick and not number one, were the big winners from the NBA Draft Lottery in New York.
Yes, the Philadelphia 76ers secured the number one overall pick for the NBA Draft on June 23 at the Barclays Center, also in New York, and they will likely have to choose between the projected top picks of Brandon Ingram and Ben Simmons.
But, the Lakers lie in second place to mop up whichever player the Sixers pass on. If the player they select ends up being not as good as the top pick, they can't be faulted. The pressure is off the Lakers in that regard, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the Purple and Gold front office are going to take easy street on this one.
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According to a report from Bleacher Report's L.A Lakers writer Kevin Ding, general manager Mitch Kupchak is exploring any and all possibilities in relation to their pick. The report reads:
"Still, the Lakers will actively explore trading the pick. They want to get better as soon as possible-in part to make sure Philadelphia doesn't get too good of a pick next year when the Lakers' first-rounder conveys to the 76ers if it's outside the top three. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is also seeking a better blend of youth and experience on the roster.
"But it's an open question if the Lakers can find a star another club is willing to send away. Trading away the likes of Paul George or Jimmy Butler would be hard-to-explain steps back for the Pacers or Bulls. And with George Karl gone and a new arena to open, the Kings aren't likely to move DeMarcus Cousins.
"It's also valid to wonder why the Lakers would want to give up young assets they have under cost-controlled contracts that would fit perfectly with massive incoming free-agent deals."
Ding makes some crucial points in that report. What the Lakers do with their pick is totally their vocation, but given the various permutations at play with a draft lottery and the team's dramatic slide over the past three years, one could see an argument for trading away their pick and adding a cornerstone to their roster.
But who? As Ding stated, had Karl remained in charge at Sacramento than perhaps Cousins might have been moved, but now that's not the case. Why on earth would the Pacers trade Paul George? For that matter, why would the Bulls want to see the back of Jimmy Butler? At this point, the injury-prone Derrick Rose would be the first to move out of the backcourt pair.
There's not enough attainable building blocks for the Lakers to truly pursue. They would perhaps be better off trying to tempt the likes of DeMar DeRozan and Hassan Whiteside aboard in free agency, add one of Simmons or Ingram while persisting with their talented young core.
That's the most likely scenario, anyway.