The Magic Johnson-era kicked off with a subtle move to tank for the 2017 draft. The Los Angeles Lakers traded their top scorer Lou Williams to the Houston Rockets for Corey Brewer and a first-round pick.
Before Thursday’s draft, the Lakers made a bigger splash in an exchange with the Brooklyn Nets. The team acquired Brook Lopez and the No. 27 pick and sent D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the East Coast.
The move frees a starting spot in the backcourt and suggests Lonzo Ball will officially become a Laker on Thursday night. In addition, Los Angeles scrubs the 30-year-old center’s four-year, $64 million contract off the books, per Spotrac.
Currently, the Lakers have selections at Nos. 2, 27 and 28. As general manager Rob Pelinka and Magic sculpt this roster for the future, Los Angeles could be involved in more deals before, during or immediately after the draft.
No Interest in Trading Brandon Ingram or No. 2 Pick
There’s still slight suspense about whom the Lakers select with the No. 2 pick.
ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein reported the Lakers will almost certainly make a selection at their current spot and Brandon Ingram remains off-limits in trade talks, noting: “One team source went as far Tuesday as saying there’s ‘zero chance’ they’d surrender Thursday night’s No. 2 pick or Ingram.”
Los Angeles has been consistent about its reluctance to discuss Ingram as a movable asset. Clearly, the new regime sees the 19-year-old as a building block for the future.
Recently, reports have emerged about the Lakers’ dissatisfaction with Lonzo Ball’s conditioning, per Orange County Register reporter Mark Medina.
The UCLA product went through a second workout with the team, which focused on his daily routine, per Shelburne:
While everyone thinks Ball goes to the Lakers at No. 2, it doesn’t seem like a foregone conclusion. Then again, it’s possible the Lakers have thrown out a huge smokescreen only to select the UCLA product with the second overall pick.
Lakers and Kings Discussed Trade for Picks
Contrary to the report above, NBA.com reporter David Aldridge’s sources unveiled a trade offer involving the No. 2 pick that never gained steam:
Apparently, the Lakers attempted to cluster picks together to acquire Paul George. The entire league knows the four-time All-Star prefers to play in a purple-and-gold uniform, per The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Since George revealed his intentions to suit up for the Lakers, the Cleveland Cavaliers have licked their chops in hopes to acquire him as a one-year rental, per Stein. Nonetheless, winning could encourage a change of plans.
The Lakers don’t want to risk missing out on the 6’9″ forward if he’s intrigued with a run to the NBA Finals. As a result, the front office will make attempts to add him to the roster a year before he could become a free agent.
Los Angeles view the No. 2 pick as another building block for its future, but if moving the draft pick increases the probability of landing George, the front office will change its tune on hard stances against trading the selection.
A Potential Package Deal for Paul George
Since George made his intentions known, the Pacers should move the 27-year-old forward as soon as possible. Unfortunately, when naming a specific destination, the team loses leverage in trade talks. Regardless of season outcomes, most executives likely see the California native joining the Lakers during free agency in 2018.
Indiana must move on quickly while there’s still high value for a definite game-changer on a playoff roster. Medina’s sources foresee a pre-draft move involving George:
According to Stein, the Lakers have an offer on the table that requires future tweaks to the starting lineup:
The Pacers would acquire a starting piece in Julius Randle and sixth man in Jordan Clarkson. Indiana would also start the draft with three first-round picks. It’s an attractive outlook when considering a roster reset. Expect the team to accept the best offer hours before or during the draft on Thursday.
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