NBA Draft week has arrived and it's just days until Barclays Center is filled with the incoming rookie class. The Los Angeles Lakers have continued processing information, bringing in targeted talent through the last month and will have to make a choice on what the fate of the No. 7 pick will be in Los Angeles.
Julius Randle went into the Lakers' workout and ferociously tried to end any doubt about where he belongs in the draft. After facing numerous questions about foot surgery this summer, Randle was dominant in the workout.
Yes, Randle will likely have to have a minor procedure to clean up a rogue screw in his foot. But the Lakers reportedly aren't as concerned as other teams. Marcus Smart seems to be the other strong contender for this pick. He came in for a second workout this weekend and had a strong one, but it looks like Randle has moved into the lead if the Lakers keep the pick.
LeBron's free agency
LeBron's free agency
Randle's NBA-readiness makes him a sensible pick for Los Angeles if he remains available at the seventh-overall spot. Ford projects Embiid falling to the Boston Celtics at No. 6, just one selection ahead of Los Angeles. DraftExpress also projects Randle to the Lakers but has Embiid's slide stopping at No. 4 with the Orlando Magic.
The Lakers will be open to drafting the injured big man if he's still on the board, according to a report from Los Angeles Daily News' Mark Medina. Making things a bit more interesting is how Embiid's agent Arn Tellem is managing his client's medical information, according to ESPN's Jeff Goodman:
Joel Embiid's agent, Arn Tellem, is controlling which teams get medical info on his client in order to steer Embiid to certain teams.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) June 23, 2014
As many will note, Tellem admittedly pulled strings to direct Kobe Bryant to the Lakers in 1996. Here's Tellem explaining how he operated, via a Sports Illustrated profile on him that ran in 2002:
One of Tellem's most masterful manipulations was his circumvention of the '96 NBA draft to maneuver the 18-year-old Bryant to the Lakers. "Basically, I kept teams from picking Kobe by not giving their coaches access to him," says Tellem, who learned the backstage moves of NBA front offices during six years as general counsel for the LA. Clippers, from 1983 to '89. "I knew teams would be reluctant to take a chance on a high schooler without first talking to him and working him out."
CBS Sports' Gary Parish updated his mock draft Monday and continues projecting Marcus Smart to the Lakers. Noah Vonleh received the nod from SB Nation NBA's mock update, though it seems many other mock drafts project the big man out of Indiana to be off the board by No. 7. SB Nation NBA compiled a mock draft across all 30 team blogs over the weekend and began posting the first 15 picks. Silver Screen and Roll selected Vonleh with the seventh-overall pick. You can check out a pick-by-pick stream here.
As a parting note, the Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves are reportedly pulling talks on a Kevin Love trade. It could be leverage from either side, but the Lakers involvement in facilitating the trade with the No. 7 pick is unclear.