The 2014 NBA offseason was a huge one for the Los Angeles Lakers as for the first time in nine seasons, they found themselves out of the NBA playoffs and in the NBA Draft Lottery where they landed the No. 7 pick.
As the college season went on and followed by some pre-draft workouts, it became clear that Embiid was the prize of this draft and on pace to be the No. 1 pick. Unfortunately for Embiid, he would suffer a stress fracture in his foot during workouts and his draft placement was more unclear.
For Embiid himself, it was absolutely clear, however. According to Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report, if Embiid wasn’t going to be taken first, he wanted to drop to the Lakers:
What he really wanted was to fall to the Lakers at No. 7. He’d been living in Los Angeles and grown comfortable in the city. “Work your magic,” he told Tellem.
Despite Embiid’s wishes, his agents Arn Tellem and Francois Nyam knew that wasn’t feasible, and thus began selling him on the idea of playing for the Philadelphia 76ers:
Tellem knew there was no chance of Embiid plunging that far, so instead he and Nyam sold Embiid on Philadelphia. Tellem had grown up there. Nyam had moved there to play high school basketball. It took a bit, but Embiid bought in.
The idea of the Lakers winding up with Embiid is amazing and surely would’ve changed a lot of things around the league but even with his injury, that was never going to happen. Had the league known that Embiid would miss the first two seasons of his career, then perhaps he could’ve dropped, but there was no way to predict that at the time.
Of course Embiid did wind up with Philadelphia and has become one of the best big men in the entire league. The Lakers would take Julius Randle with the No. 7 pick who coincidentally also missed his entire first season after breaking his leg in the 2014-15 NBA season opener before going on to become a very good player.
Even still, it is worth noting that following an awful season for the Lakers at the time, one of the draft’s top prospects was hoping to wind up there more than any place else.