The Draft Lottery turned out better than expected for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Not only did the team get to keep its pick (which wouldn’t have happened had it landed outside the top five), but the ping pong balls bounced L.A.’s way, and they moved up to grab the No. 2 overall selection.
Conventional wisdom says that will translate into either Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns, whoever is passed over by the Timberwolves. But there is potentially another option, which could involve dealing the pick — either to trade down in exchange for additional assets, or to just give up on it entirely should a team come calling with a tempting enough package.
The plan for now, though, is to use the pick this season.
In radio appearances Thursday, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak discussed the draft pick and what the Lakers might do with it, although he pointed out that it’s still early, that they’re still fielding calls from teams interested in the pick and that they still must work out and interview draft prospects in the coming weeks.
“It looks as though we’ll use our pick this year,” Kupchak said during a radio appearance with ESPN’s Colin Cowherd. …
“Let’s just say there was a team that had the fifth or sixth or seventh pick, and they wanted to go to No. 2,” Kupchak told SiriusXM NBA Radio. “In that area of the draft, just to move up two or three or four slots, normally, it’s hard to do. And the price that that team would pay would be high, because they’ve targeted a player that they really want. Obviously the other team would know that, and they would have to pay for that.”
The Lakers would be smart to keep the pick. There is almost no scenario where a trade would provide a quick fix to get the team back to contending for a title next season, and while there are very few sure things in terms of future franchise cornerstones available through the draft, the chance at getting a potential future All-Star on a rookie scale deal isn’t something a rebuilding franchise should be eager to pass up.