The Los Angeles Lakers are officially locked and loaded for a huge summer. Capturing the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft — a draft that many feels comes down to Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram as the clear-cut best prospects — was the final piece the Lakers needed to sprint forward into the future. Losing the pick would have been the final catastrophe left behind from the Byron Scott era, but keeping it? It almost makes the pain and suffering of watching what was at times a downright embarrassing basketball team through 82 games worth it.
This is the Scottshank Redemption. The Lakers crawled through 500 yards of sewage for their freedom. Let the pouring rain cleanse the stench away. Let the salvation rinse over you.
It's about far more than picking one of those two elite prospects, though. It's about the kind of asset the No. 2 selection becomes for the Lakers outside of being a drafted player, something we've already begun hearing whispers about. Perhaps they trade the pick to find an established star who can make an immediate impact. Perhaps this pick clears the way for the Lakers to trade one of their young players because another prospect — one they feel is a better bet in the now and later — is on the way. Lakers vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss recently alluded to the roster having just the right number of young players already, and finding a leader for these young men that new head coach Luke Walton can center the team around is certainly a viable option.
Perhaps it means the Lakers do both of those things, packaging the No. 2 pick and one of their young players to land the kind of elite player they'll absolutely have their sights on. The front office has the means to make godfather offer to any team they choose, even more-so than last time around. The kind of dish they can put on the table in front of any team is more than enough to whet the appetite of any basketball operations team. How many front offices can resist the mouth-watering opportunity to hit reset on a losing situation with not one, but two lottery players?
Maybe a few, but the locked-and-loaded Lakers have even more tricks up their sleeve to own the summer. Need to clear cap space in the process? Done. L.A. will have approximately $68 million in cap space at their disposal to use, and absorbing even two horrible contracts is something they can do while still having space to make a maximum-level contract offer to a top-tier free agent.
Or the Lakers can play it cool heading into free agency. Taking whoever's left between Simmons and Ingram with the No. 2 is an incredibly safe position for the franchise to be in, and there's absolutely no need for them to toss that opportunity aside in the now. Make the pick on June 23, then hit free agency in full stride on July 1. Talk to the Kevin Durants of the world, if allowed the chance, and get a feel for what means the most to them. Keep every option on the table, explore every possibility and strike like lightning when it all lines up.
The possibilities are endless, exciting and electrifying. The draft can finally come into focus, the future is finally unquestionably brighter, and the Lakers are primed for the kind of summer fans and those within the organization have been dreaming of.
Long live the Lakers.