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It’s Draft Day!

Darius Soriano —  June 22, 2017 — 43 Comments

It’s NBA draft day and honestly, my head is spinning. While Wednesday was a bit calmer on the NBA news front, several deals have already been made and there are so many rumors about potential deals it’s impossible to keep track. To recap, this is what has happened and what people are reporting will (or in some cases, won’t) happen:

Real

Rumors

This isn’t even a comprehensive list, either. But it shows how active this period is, turning the week of the draft into a mini free agency all its own.

The question I think most of us have, though, is what will the Lakers do next? I shudder to make a prediction, honestly. We simply have too little data on this front office to even guess. Logically speaking, though, I would imagine that:

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The Lakers traded D’Angelo Russell. And while I’ve tried to make sense of it, both in long form and with our buddy Pete Zayas in our latest podcast, the fact is that there’s actually little to try to actually analyze here.

The Lakers traded a highly talented young player who, for reasons that will likely leak over the next several weeks and months, the team no longer believed in to be a long term piece for the franchise. We can debate those reasons all we want or, more precisely, debate how much those reasons should matter considering the return value netted, but I’ll save you that for now. My cliff-notes opinion is pretty straight forward: I think the Lakers sold low and if this was the best you could do in a trade right now the Lakers would have been better off not dealing him even if the ultimate goal was to actually deal him.

What’s done is done, though. Oh, I’ll surely wring my hands over how the team managed this situation and Russell as a player — not to mention his own faults which impacted the approach they took — but to worry about that now is somewhat secondary.

The more pressing question is what do the Lakers actually do now?

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So, the Lakers traded D’Angelo Russell for Brook Lopez and a late 1st round pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft. Typing that still feels weird. Probably because I don’t really like this deal, even if I understand it is likely a precursor to future moves (or, at least, it needs to be).

In order to try to figure out what the Lakers just did, Pete and I got to podcasting to discuss this thing. Be warned, we’re not happy. Click through to listen to our latest Laker Film Room pod:

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Okay…so this just happened.

As I pick my jaw up off the ground, here are a few scattered¬†thoughts that probably won’t do the gravity of what just happened justice. But I will try to anyway…

I am a D’Angelo Russell fan. I believe his talent is fantastic and that, as a just turned 21 year old playing the hardest position in the league to adjust to, he was making real strides as a player. I see his trajectory going upwards and expected, if not this next season, than at some point in the next 18 months, we were going to see his full potential come into focus as an elite scoring guard who also possesses the type of court vision and passing acumen which can be the hub of a really good offense.

And now the Lakers have traded him as, basically, the grease to dump the salary of Timofey Mozgov. Read that sentence again. Did you do that? Now please do it again. Thank you.

Now to the nuts and bolts of this.

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When it was reported that Paul George had informed the Pacers he planned to depart in free agency in the summer of 2018 and that his preferred destination would be the Lakers, it was only a matter of time before the Pacers cut out the middle man and tried to receive compensation from the team George (reportedly) said he wanted to go to. It seems that day is today.

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If you’ve been having daydreams about the Lakers and Paul George, that’s understandable. If you’ve been thinking about ways for the Lakers to try to get their hands on a second lottery pick this draft, I also would not blame you (even though that’s not very likely). But as we inch closer to Thursday’s NBA Draft, the focus will start to narrow on who the Lakers will select with their number 2 overall pick.

According to ESPN’s Chad Ford, it’s looking more and more likely Lonzo Ball will be that player. From Ford’s latest mock draft:

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While the latest round of Paul George rumors turn into a blazing inferno, the Lakers continue to work angles related to this week’s NBA Draft. The latest report has them looking to add another pick to their coffers, preferably in the lottery. From ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne:

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Before today, the Paul George to the Lakers’ rumors were a case of “where there’s smoke there’s fire”. Multiple reports of George “wanting” to play for the Lakers and “strongly considering” returning to his southern California roots when he hit free agency in the summer of 2018.

On Sunday, however, the George rumors became a case of “look at that fire over there!” That’s because the innuendo and suspicion has been replaced with a hard statement from George to Pacers’ management. Well, at least that’s what Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting:

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