Los Angeles Lakers quotes and tidbits are coming in droves since the front office fired head coach Byron Scott, hoping to turn things around after hitting franchise-low after franchise-low through the last three seasons. Executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss has the task of steering the Lakers back toward contention immediately, and Eric Pincus provided a great interview with him over at Basketball Insiders.
Buss shared his hope that Luke Walton will help cultivate a fresh culture for a growing team, similar to what Brad Stevens has done for the Boston Celtics. How many young players they want in that mix has become the source of rumors spreading that the Lakers will explore trading their lottery pick should they retain it. Jim's choice of words on the roster's construction during his interview with Pincus may have hinted at that being the case.
Here's the quote up for dissection, courtesy of Pincus at Basketball Insiders:
The next milestone for the Lakers will be on May 17, when the NBA holds its draft lottery. The team has a 55.8 percent chance at a top-three pick, otherwise their selection will convey to the Philadelphia 76ers to close out the Steve Nash trade.
Walton may get help in the draft, perhaps with a forward like Ben Simmons of LSU or Brandon Ingram of Duke.
"Right now, I think our young guys are the perfect number and we will add solid veterans," said Buss.
That can be taken a few different ways, and all of them could be accurate interpretations for how many options the front office will weigh. The Lakers have to be confident with the "number" of young players they have now because the fate of the pick is slightly better than a coin-flip at this point. Another angle would be shuffling of the roster outside of moving the draft pick, instead moving one of Larry Nance, Jr., D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson or Julius Randle. Anthony Brown can be rolled into that number as well, though moving him after he played limited minutes and ended the season injured might be a stretch. Clarkson is a restricted free agent and is easily retainable and affordable for the Lakers. but what if his destiny is elsewhere?
Perhaps trading the pick really is the intention, confident with the young core already on hand and ready to find an established All-Star to let the youth grow around. Maybe it's just something Jim said, is a completely arbitrary "number," and he'll be thrilled to add an elite prospect with a draft pick the Lakers hit the lotto to keep.
The entire interview is must-read material with the franchise moving in a new direction, shining some light as to what's going on at the very top of the Lakers' chain, so be sure to check out Pincus' entire interview with Jim Buss.