The Los Angeles Lakers are moving toward a new future with head coach Luke Walton, but that might not include a lottery pick to add to the core should the ping pong balls fall their way on May 17. The Lakers will reportedly shop their top-three protected 2016 lottery pick, even if they land the first-overall pick, according to Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports 1.
"I've now been told by two separate sources, even if the Lakers get the No. 1 pick they're trading it," Cowherd said during The Herd. "They don't want to rebuild anymore. They want to get a star NBA player. They will call teams if they get the No. 1 pick and shop it around the league. "
Rumors are going to swirl about the fate of the pick for the time being, so it's best to take any and all reports with enough salt to cause your doctor to warn you about the onset of hypertension. It's worth considering what that could mean for the Lakers, though. Should they fall their way up into the top pick of the draft and land the opportunity to take Ben Simmons, who's widely-considered the top prospect joining the NBA, he'd be an enticing trade chip for any franchise looking to go in a new direction.
Add that with the fact that there's going to be clear challenges integrating Simmons alongside Julius Randle, who the Lakers have reportedly been very high on based on previous reports, and it's hard to imagine a scenario where the Lakers don't at least make a handful of calls exploring the kind of options they'll have. It'd be more surprising if a rumor leaked that the Lakers have absolutely no interested in mapping out a few trade avenues.
Drafting with the pick would allow the franchise to add a cost-controlled high-potential youngster to their core, though, leaving them with more than enough salary space to make a big splash or two in free agency. If they have their eyes set on an All-Star-level player under contract elsewhere, there are few trade assets more enticing than a top-three talent if it's time for a team to reset.
The lottery is two weeks out and how the night pans out for the Lakers will help clarify what comes next. There's a 55.8 percent chance the Lakers will retain their pick, currently owned by the Philadelphia 76ers, and a 19.9 percent chance they get the No. 1 draw.