The Los Angeles Lakers still have to wait an agonizing few more days before finding out if they will get to keep or retain their pick in the 2016 NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday. The Lakers have a 55.8 percent chance to keep the pick, but if it falls out of the top-three selections in the lottery it will be conveyed to the Philadelphia 76ers.
This is getting a little ahead of ourselves, but I (Harrison Faigen) decided to ask our motley crew of writers what they think the Lakers should do if the team is fortunate enough to keep the pick as a reward for their worst season ever. Their thoughts varied.
If the Lakers keep their pick, would you keep it or trade it? Why?
The Great Mambino: SCREW YOU FAIGEN (Editor's Note: Mambino is not happy this roundtable might jinx the pick and also doesn't like me.)
Chinmay Vaidya: That depends on the pick. If the Lakers get the top pick, then there might be more value in taking Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram instead of trying to trade it (and other assets) to get a proven player back. Simmons and Ingram can be franchise players and the Lakers have a core in place to grow with another young talent.
If the Lakers don't get the top pick, then I would try to unload it for a second-tier player. There simply is too much guesswork (and a drop in talent) after the top two selections and the Lakers can't have any uncertainty. Even if it's the second overall pick, I would trade it because the Lakers don't control who they draft even at that spot.
Craig DePriester: I'm honestly inclined to keep it, although it totally depends on what assets we get back in return. I would really hate to trade it for a veteran player that doesn't match our core's timeline to pad our short term win total just so that we can meet Jim Buss's ridiculous win-now edict.
Getting Brandon Ingram or Ben Simmons and growing organically makes the most sense to me. Similar to what happened to the Thunder, the Lakers could hope that 3/4 blue chippers will grow into keepers and build from there with maximum flexibility.
Sabreena Merchant: I would absolutely keep the pick. A top-3 pick is the kind of asset that doesn't come around every offseason - and yes, I remember that the Lakers drafted no. 2 last year, but let's hope it doesn't become a pattern.
It makes no sense to try to accelerate the Lakers' rebuild when the young core is relatively all on the same timeline, and the team just hired a young coach who should grow with the team. I also worry that the Lakers tend to pursue big fish, so a trade would likely involve not only the pick, but also one of the team's other pieces.
Bryant Freese: If the Lakers are able to keep their top-three protected pick, I think they should keep it and draft another young player. Getting more young talent to grow and develop with Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and D'Angelo Russell will only build the core of the Lakers young roster. Top free agents aren't switching teams like they used to, especially to Los Angeles as we have seen. The way to build a successful team is through the draft.
If the Lakers do attempt to trade for a proven talent this summer, who would you support them pursuing? What is the most you would be willing to (reasonably) give up?
Chinmay: Paul George or Jimmy Butler make the most sense. Both are under long-term contracts and with the salary cap going up, those contracts will look really nice. Trading for George will likely take the draft pick, a future first-rounder and one of the Russell/Clarkson/Randle trio. Take out the future first-rounder and you have Butler's trade value.
I don't support undoing the process to get a quick rebuild and fulfill some front office deadline that doesn't make sense. Parting with Russell, Randle or Clarkson makes no sense in my opinion as all three can be valuable contributors for a long time.
Craig: If I'm the Lakers, I'm only targeting home runs and I'm not offering a lot. If Boogie Cousins were available, for instance, I would only a fraction of the package that the Kings were asking for last summer. I'd offer this year's pick and either Clarkson or Randle, but only one of the young core and not Russell. I'd offer the same package, but maybe with another asset for someone like Paul George. However, I don't want to mortgage the future for one player and anyone I'd trade for would have to be well south of 30.
Sabreena:: I would support trading for a piece that complements the players already on the team, particularly Julius Randle and D'Angelo Russell. Therefore, a strong perimeter player who can competently defend wings seems like the right fit, a.k.a. someone like Paul George or Jimmy Butler.
DeMarcus Cousins, even if he's theoretically off the market, isn't high on my wish list because he doesn't seem like a good defensive complement to Randle. I'd be willing to move Jordan Clarkson, because he's about four years older than Randle and Russell and has a lower ceiling, and I really worry that he'll never be even an average defender.
Bryant: If the Lakers front office does decide to trade the pick for proven talent, there are a few players that I would support them pursuing. The best choice, I believe, would be Paul George. George is the most diverse player and most talented of those that have been involved with the Lakers trade rumors.
The other rumored candidates, Demarcus Cousins and Jimmy Butler, are great players in their own right, however, I would still prefer Paul George, but not if it costs the Lakers too much to get him. Obviously they would have to give up the top-three pick, but if they were asked to throw in someone like Julius Randle or D'Angelo Russell they should call off the trade. The Lakers can't trade away the farm to get a proven player when they are so far from competitiveness.
What do you think the Lakers should do with the pick? Vote in the poll, and let us know in the comments?