Leading into the 2015 NBA Draft, many believed the Los Angeles Lakers would likely take Duke center Jahlil Okafor. A polished post player, Okafor seemed like a perfect fit for a Lakers franchise with a history of great centers.
After workouts however, the team came to the decision that the best option was to select point guard D’Angelo Russell, whom they believed had the higher ceiling. Russell has had his ups and downs with the Lakers as has Okafor who has seen his playing time fluctuate with the abundance of centers in Philadelphia.
It is no secret to anyone that Okafor will be dealt before the trade deadline and in an interview on NBA TV, David Aldridge mentioned the Lakers as a potential destination (H/T Jonathan Tannenwald of the Philadelphia Inquirer):
“But he will get moved, I can tell you that. They are not going to go into next season with him on the roster, and they are not going to finish out this season with him on the roster.
So it could be — the Lakers were one such opportunity and they may be in play. I’m not ruling out other teams like Sacramento, maybe, as well, who now can offer more minutes and more opportunities for more big men now that Cousins is gone.”
This is an interesting possibility and Okafor’s value is likely lower than it would be normally as he is not having a great year and all teams know the Sixers are desperate to move him. There is also the question of what would the Lakers give up in order to acquire him.
President of basketball operations Magic Johnson has said that the Lakers’ young players are untouchable. There have also been reports that the Lakers players most likely to be moved before the deadline would be veterans Nick Young and Jose Calderon. Either one of them would seemingly not be enough to get Okafor unless a draft pick were attached.
Despite a down year, Okafor still holds some potential as a offensive weapon in the post. His rebounding and defense are lacking, but he averaged 17.5 points as a rookie. If the right deal came along and the Lakers could add him to their young core they would have to consider it.