When I talked with Sam Vecenie about the Lakers’ offseason, he asked me to make one bold prediction for this summer. I asked Sam if it was bold to say the Lakers would sign Hassan Whiteside in free agency. After all, there have been murmurs of the Lakers’ interest in the Heat big man and he fills an obvious need.

Fast forward a few weeks and Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne are reporting the Lakers interest is quite real and they plan to target Whiteside when free agency opens on July 1st:

The Los Angeles Lakers plan to aggressively pursue Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside when NBA free agency starts, according to league sources.

With rim protection and perimeter shooting ranking as the Lakers’ foremost areas of concern heading into the open market, sources told ESPN that Whiteside has emerged as a priority target.

The report further notes that Whiteside is expected to command a maximum salary and, while not spelled out directly, the expectation is the Lakers would be willing to offer that amount. With a projected $94 million dollar cap, the starting salary for Whiteside earning the max would be $22.2 million in year one and would total nearly $95 million over a 4 year deal.

That, my friends, is a lot of coin.

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The Lakers (and their fans) have always viewed this summer as one where they would be able to retool and grab talent in free agency. It is no coincidence Kobe Bryant’s contract expired this year or that when the Lakers did not sign top flight free agents the past two summers they did not throw long contracts at mid-tier talent. They instead signed or traded for players on short term deals which would keep their cap relatively clean this summer.

They have preached flexibility for years and this summer was a major part of that. Or, more accurately, Kevin Durant was a part of that. Getting a chance to pitch Durant on the merits of being a Laker and, potentially, bringing whoever else he wanted with him was an opportunity this franchise wanted to have. It may have been one they were even counting on. It seems, though, they may not get it.

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It’s been quite a whirlwind for D’Angelo Russell, I would imagine. Almost a year ago to the day I write this, he was drafted with the #2 overall selection by the Lakers. He seemed genuinely ecstatic about the development, going a spot higher than most projected him to go, and avoiding being part of “the process” in Philly which just produced a 10 win season and the #1 overall pick in this draft.

Fast-forward to today and he’s gone through an up and down rookie campaign and saw an off-court issue with a teammate become national news, branding him a “snitch”, “rat”, or worse in the process. His image has taken a hit that to the point that the flashes he had as a rookie might as well have never happened.

In the shows leading into and during the actual draft itself on Thursday, no less than 4 analysts found ways to either trade, give away, or discredit Russell’s basketball playing ability. Arguments were made that there was no place for him on the team and that the Lakers should voluntarily draft Kris Dunn over Brandon Ingram just to be able to trade Russell.

This was silly. More than that really, but I’ll keep this PG rated.

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Brandon Ingram is a 6’9″ long and lean all-court basketball playing dude. He combines guard skills with the height and length of a big man. Watch any highlight reel of him playing the game — be it in high school or in his lone year at Duke — and there’s a smooth, almost regal way to how he plays the game. After the selection was made, Mitch Kupchak said Ingram “has no ceiling” as a player.

This sort of high praise paired with what we see on the court, plus the stories of his work ethic and character, inspire a level of excitement that is not often felt. Allowing for a brief tangent, I love D’Angelo Russell and think he has the ability to be a truly fantastic player. During Thursday’s draft coverage when analyst after analyst tried to find ways to trade or discard Russell as if he wasn’t good…I found it comical. Ingram, and the total package he possesses, might excite me even more than Russell. Which is saying something.

A balance must be struck, though.

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Okay, I’m going to be honest. I know very little about Ivica Zubac. In the lead up to the draft I took a cursory look at the big man, but did not see him lasting to the Lakers’ selection at #32. After all, he was the #19 prospect in Draft Express’ top 100 and #25 on Chad Ford’s Big Board. There was a chance he’d be there, but I imagined some team with multiple first round picks (Celtics, 76ers) would take him and leave him in Europe to season a bit more.

But with the overall supply of big men being too big compared to the needs of the teams in the draft, Zubac was there at pick #32 and the Lakers snatched him up. So, what do we know about the young Croatian?

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Just as has been reported would happen, the Lakers selected Brandon Ingram #2 overall in the NBA Draft. The 6’9″ Duke product can instantly be penciled in at SF and joins a lineup of other young Lakers and Luke Walton to be a key piece of the team’s future.

We’ve already discussed Ingram’s game plenty, so there’s no need to cover that ground again right now. We’ll have more up in the coming days about his fit, strengths and weaknesses, and what to expect for this upcoming year and beyond.

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The NBA Draft is finally here. And while there’s not a lot of intrigue about who the Lakers have in their sights with the #2 pick, there is plenty surrounding how they’ll use pick #32 and whether any other moves will occur. Our guy Caleb has profiled multiple prospects for that pick and there are yet still other candidates for that spot.

But this is just the start of the action.

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Okay, so maybe that headline is misleading. The Lakers are very likely to pick whoever the 76ers do not pick from the Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram duo. But with the 76ers reportedly telling Simmons he will go #1, the Lakers have reportedly made up their minds that Ingram will be their guy.

Ramona Shelburne and Chad Ford have the intel:

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