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:
Sources in L.A. say that the Lakers have been moving closer and closer to selecting Ball in the past 48 hours. More than ever, he’s the heavy favorite to get his wish to play for his hometown team.
And then there’s this:
Sources: Lakers front office and Lonzo Ball's agent, Harrison Gaines, remain in discussions, but no guarantees made yet for No. 2 pick.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 19, 2017
For what it’s worth, I have also heard that while the Lakers selecting Ball is not a lock, they are leaning his way; that he is in the lead over other candidates in that spot with the main competition being Josh Jackson. This is information that has been reported elsewhere so I do not think I am breaking any news there, but I do find it interesting that in many ways the messaging behind the scenes is starting to provide clarity.
Also, from Ball’s side, it remains clear he’s angling to get to the Lakers. Beyond his public statements (and his father’s) about wanting to play for the Lakers his pre-draft process has been totally focused on LA:
Also: Lonzo Ball has yet to schedule any talks or meetings with other teams. Lakers remain the only team he's worked out for.
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 19, 2017
Whether that’s the smart move by Ball remains to be seen. Even though Ford’s sources tell him the Lakers are leaning towards Ball, he also previously went on record saying Ball should at least meet with other teams for no other reason than to avoid him slipping too far in the draft. It seems Ford is implying that without meeting with Ball and getting his medical information, teams may not have a good enough feel for him. Considering Ball’s status as one of the best prospects in this draft, I don’t know if I buy that fully, but it’s worth noting this opinion — which is an informed one — exists.
Lastly, what I find totally interesting about this entire process is how the Lakers have managed to 1. maintain that Ball is not a lock for their pick and 2. keep fans and media alike guessing as to what their intentions are in general — and doing both all while the noise surrounding Ball and push for them to simply select him has been thunderous. As SB Nation’s Tom Ziller wrote, I think we should appreciate how well the Lakers’ FO has handled it all.
In any event, we’re nearing the point where the Lakers will make their selection and, despite the windy road to get where we are now, it’s looking more and more like Ball will be the selection. Until we know for sure, though, I’ll go back to monitoring what happens with Paul George.
Darius, any thoughts on trading for PG now and preserving cap space for a FA in 2018, like Demarcus Cousins? I know the Lakers will be able to get PG “for free” next year, but why not use this as an opportunity to be strategic about future cap space/free agents?
Tar Baby says
Not Darius, but that would mean giving up a player and a pick at least. Indy isn’t likely to take Deng/Mozgov off the Lakers’ hands, so they would have to give up one or more of the kids and I’m not totally sure that’s worth it – especially since PG will be in his 30s by the time the Lakers are serious contenders.
I think a more realistic FA target offseason is 2019/20 – they only have $56m guaranteed now and probably $25-30 in priority signees. If they stretch either Deng or Moz, they should be able to create $25-30m in cap space for an impact FA.
Alan Pinho says
At this point, select Ball in the draft. Imagine Ball, Paul George, Ingram, Russell and a center playing for the Lakers. What about #28, a shooter or rim protector?
Next items would be possible trades prior to season, a free agent who can defend and or shoot.
Next year there are more free agents that can really help the team, clearing expensive contracts is in order.
Woj says that the Lakers wont give up the #2 pick or Ingram for PG13. Looks like they are signaling that they are willing to trade other assets…
Woj is also reporting that no matter where PG13 gets traded he will play the season out as a rental and that he will join the Lakers in 2018. His camp is telling teams “no matter who you are you are getting a rental” This is gonna happen folks…
Ball was always the choice, as in he was always the second best prospect. The rest of the noise was due diligence; exploring trade options to move down and still get him or a combination of two good prospects instead of one really good one.
I feel most of the rumor mill was a combination of smoke and truth. Ball not working out for any team allowed the Lakers to overplay the “eh he’s not that good” card while they explore scenarios and not show their hand. Didn’t seem like other GMs fell for it, because it’s common knowledge that Ball is better than Fox and Jackson. Sure Fultz checks the scouting boxes a little better, but I feel Ball’s strengths are elite and he has more potential to be “special”.
And he just happens to fit perfectly with the Lakers. Increase in talent level and fit into system.
Here is an interesting article which goes along Darius’s fine post.
I agree that if I were Lebron and George, I would see Ball as a more important piece, than Josh Jackson.
If we trade D’lo for Kennard or Collins, I will lose my mind.
Paris Borovilos says
No kidding. That makes no sense. Trading a 20 year old PG that but up better numbers than Devin Booker across the board….for a top 12 pick???
LT Mitchell says
During Kobe’s prime, when he was generally considered the best player in the league, Magic stated in an interview that he thought Jason Kidd was the best player. That was a telling statement on what specific attributes Magic admired most in a player. There is plenty of Jason Kidd in Lonzo, and it was a foregone conclusion from the get go that Magic would select Lonzo, even if the Lakers had the first pick.
This is an exciting time to be a Laker fan. It’s been a while but happy times are here again! I’ve been saying this since Magic arrived, but by next summer, this team will be an elite team. Slow rebuild my a$$.
They’ve been talking on the radio about trading Randle AND Russell for top-10, top-12 picks! That’s INSANE. Maybe for a top 3-4 guy if you’re fairly certain you’ve got a stud at one of those picks, but all indications are that after Fultz, Ball, and Jackson, there’s potentially a big dropoff. And hell – Fultz, Ball, and Jackson could potentially be busts, too! While Randle and Russell may not be all-time greats, they certainly don’t have the bust potential of the unknowns in this draft!
I said this FO was being agressive didn’t i?But i dont believe that Dlo for the 12th pick crap. Clarkson made more sense. You have to give a shot to a Ball-Dlo backcourt. If it doesn’t work out then maybe make a move.
Just a remote possibility to ponder: The rumor is that the Lakers and other top team execs, believe that Ball will turn out to be much better than Fultz.
So what if Philly decides – partially in revenge for us snatching D’Angelo from their clutches & for Bynum – to snag Ball from us?
A Horse With No Name says
Unlikely as I seems, Philly *might* do it for basketball reasons; If they decide that Ball has a greater ceiling (revenge moves not a thing). But Philly really needs Fultz’s shooting to open the floor.
Harsh revenge indeed – “forcing” the Lakers to take M. Fultz. Ha.
The Key word was: ‘partially’ and under the all too real possibility, that Ball, is in fact, the smartest choice in the draft.
As for Fultz, Boston trading rights to him for Jackson, would tend to support the – under the radar – belief, that Fultz is Not the transformative player, that we are led to believe.
Besides, it was simply a remote consideration, not fodder for insults.
I agree with Horse. And there’s another team that needs shooting to open the floor, the Lakers. I think FO would be happy to bring in Fultz if Ball goes #2. No panic there. Maybe a bit less storybook, which could be a good thing.
Interestingly, the Celtics/76ers swap gives the Lakers added leverage with the #2. General public translation of Ainge’s statement “the player we would have selected at 1 will likely be available at 3”, has been that they want Josh Jackson. If philly selects Ball. That #2 is a Diamond quality asset if another team will pay the house to get their hands on Fultz/Jackson before the Celts do.
Aside (I’m not so sure that the Celtics aren’t looking beyond the “top 3” prospects for their pick. Maybe Ntiliki)
Well, Lakers and Pacers are talking…