The Los Angeles Lakers "only" have a 55.8 percent chance to keep their top-three protected first round pick in the NBA Draft lottery on Tuesday night. The draft is widely considered to have a steep drop off after the first two picks are made, which most assume will be Ben Simmons out of LSU and Brandon Ingram from Duke.
The Lakers will still have their pick even if it is third overall, though, meaning that the front office would be choosing between players like international man of mystery Dragan Bender, the University of California's Jaylen Brown, Kris Dunn out of Providence, and Kentucky's freshman guard Jamal Murray . According to Chad Ford of ESPN, the Lakers are also considering their options outside of drafting a player. (h/t Lakers Ousiders).
"Multiple sources said at the combine this week that they expect the pick to be in play if it's No. 3," writes Ford, "with the Lakers looking for a young veteran in return."
This is not the first time the Lakers have been rumored to be interested in trading their pick for a veteran player. Colin Cowherd (so take this rumor with an entire shaker of salt) reported that the team would look to trade the pick even if it was first overall, and Bill Simmons (up your sodium intake to "past medically advisable levels") said that the team was eying a deal for Indiana Pacers forward Paul George with the pick.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak laughed at those rumors, but the team will surely consider their trade options should they be fortunate enough to walk out of Tuesday's lottery with a top-three pick in hand. However, common sense would suggest that they may not find appropriate value in return for it because the Lakers are hardly the only team aware that this is a two-player draft at the very top.
The team could very well try and trade the pick for a young veteran, but what would that even mean? Is that George? Does DeMarcus Cousins come into play even though the Sacramento Kings have said they are not trading him? Could the team make a run at Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler?
Unless Kupchak pulls a Jedi mind trick on one of their general managers, all of those players would require more in return than just the third overall pick, and there lies the Lakers dilemma. How much is too much to give up for an immediate contributor if the rest of the Lakers' roster is so far from competing for a playoff spot, much less a title?
The team will certainly look at all of their options, but it seems unlikely that the Lakers would be able to get enough back for the third overall pick without attaching other pieces of their rebuild to it to make trading it a more valuable proposition than adding another developing young player that fits the team's timeline for growth.
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