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.
Barring a last-minute blockbuster trade offer, the Los Angeles Lakers intend to select Duke freshman Brandon Ingram with the second pick in the 2016 NBA draft Thursday night, league sources told ESPN.
The Lakers spent three hours huddled with new coach Luke Walton on Tuesday night before signaling to multiple league sources that Ingram would be their choice if the Sixers select Ben Simmons with the No. 1 pick.
As for their reasoning, it’s pretty straight forward. More from ESPN:
Sources say Lakers officials believe Ingram is a great fit for the organization and a potential All-Star player down the road. His shooting and ability to defend multiple positions fit a huge need for them. Ingram has been ranked No. 2 on ESPN’s Big Board since December and is widely considered the consensus No. 2 pick in the draft by rival general managers.
As Shelburne and Ford note, the only thing that could derail the Lakers’ plans of taking Ingram is if they are offered a young All-Star caliber player in a blockbuster trade. That, of course, is unlikely at this point. Danny Ainge has already tried to use the #3 pick and other assets to pry several players who fit that profile from their teams (Gordon Hayward, Jimmy Butler), but has been rebuffed.
Yes, the #2 pick in a “two player” draft has more value than the Celtics’ #3 pick, but the tea leaves are saying teams with established, young-ish, all-star level players are still trying to add to their own cores to build teams who can make a deep playoff run, not trade their best player for the potential of a draft pick.
In a way, this was always expected. Rumors in the past week or so have had the Lakers considering alternatives or hinting the 76ers could decide to take Ingram, but those whispers seemed more about instigating intrigue where there was little to be had. So, the Lakers will, seemingly, get the player who offers the best of both worlds for them. Tonight can’t get here fast enough.