Right after the Los Angeles Lakers secured the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA Draft Lottery last month, newly-signed general manager Rob Pelinka made it clear that he’s open to hearing any offers that include the pick.
While the Lakers are clearly in rebuilding mode and would likely benefit from drafting another young, elite talent for their future, if they could land a bonafide star in return, it might be tempting.
Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times noted that a number of teams have been in contact with the organization about the second pick.
“The Lakers have been taking and making calls about trading the pick, said a source who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. Teams have presented trade scenarios to them, and they have offered their own,” she wrote.
The Lakers also have the 28th pick in the first round of the draft.
Markelle Fultz, who is expected to be the top pick by the Boston Celtics, met with the Lakers on Thursday in advance of a Friday workout that the team planned featuring six more players. Los Angeles has also worked out former UCLA star Lonzo Ball once (with another on the way) and former University of Kansas star Josh Jackson twice in addition to former University of Kentucky standout De’Aaron Fox.
While the long road towards building a powerful roster through the draft is one path that the Lakers can take, entering the free agent market or trading young players for established veterans remain possibilities.
After Magic Johnson was hired as a special advisor to Jeanie Buss in February, he included the following thoughts in his official statement:
“Everyone knows my love for the Lakers,” said Johnson. “Over the years, I have considered other management opportunities, however my devotion to the game and Los Angeles make the Lakers my first and only choice. I will do everything in my power to help return the Lakers to their rightful place among the elite teams of the NBA.”
Since Magic will advise the front office in nearly every aspect of running the organization, it remains to be seen what impact he makes when it comes to team building.
Before the ping pong balls fell their way at the draft lottery, Johnson gave some insight into his thinking on an ESPN2 interview at the Draft Combine in Chicago:
“We have the 28th pick. Always trades can be made. We do have cap space as well, so we can sign a free agent if we wanted to. But I’m really looking to keep the cap space we have and really try to play into next year’s free agent class and not really this free agent class,” he said.
It’s important to remember that this was before he knew the Lakers had the No. 2 pick, but it does provide some indication that he might advise L.A. to use the draft picks and look forward to the 2018 free agency period next summer.
However, he also indicated that Paul George might be a target of his during an interview on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”.
George, and other superstars like LeBron James, become free agents next summer.
Since the draft is on June 22, we will soon find out what Magic and the Lakers decide to do with the second pick. Until then, it’ll remain a mystery and one of the most important storylines in the entire draft and offseason as a whole.