After a month of uncertainty following the end 2015-16 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers finally learned their fate in the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday.
Fortunately for Los Angeles, the storied franchise was able to hold onto their first-round draft pick securing the second overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft. Now that the Lakers brass knows they have the second pick in the upcoming draft, the team can decide what direction they want to go in moving forward.
There’s been a lot of speculation over the last few weeks about the team’s intentions with their lottery pick if able to retain it. Although talk of a potential trade has circulated, longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak claims the team hasn’t talked about whether they’ll be trading their draft pick, via Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times:
Kupchak: "Do we keep the pick? Do we trade the pick? That's something we haven't discussed."
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) May 18, 2016
A trade rumor surfaced recently suggesting the Lakers’ desire to trade their lottery pick if it ended up being third overall. If this rumor turns out to have some truth to it, Los Angeles doesn’t value players in the draft beyond LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram. Even though the Lakers have the second pick in the draft, a trade is still a plausible scenario.
At this point, Ingram is expected to go second on June 23 with many different NBA mock drafts having Simmons as this year’s top prospect. Although Simmons may be atop multiple mock drafts for the time being, that stance could easily change in the weeks ahead once teams start working out top-tier prospects.
It isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that Simmons won’t work out for teams leading up to the draft next month. Ingram may also sit out of workouts with certain teams, but he could also lock down the top spot if he turns in an impressive performance.
As for the Lakers trading the second overall pick, anything is possible with the team’s front office potentially gauging interest in the draft choice moving forward. All-Star-caliber players like Paul George, Jimmy Butler, and DeMarcus Cousins have been mentioned as potential targets for the Lakers, but it remains to be seen whether any scenario involving these players is realistic.