With less than a week to go until the 2016 NBA Draft, everyone wants to know what the Los Angeles Lakers are going to do. Could the team trade their draft pick or one of their young players? Would they really select anyone other than Brandon Ingram or Ben Simmons with the second overall pick? What if they [generic third thing to complete the rule of threes]?
The Lakers certainly "could" do just about anything they are legally permitted to do under the NBA's collective bargaining agreement over the next few days. If they actually "would" do any of these possibilities (ranging from "that's plausible" to "drafting Buddy Hield second overall" levels of crazy) is a very different question.
The latest comments to make waves came from Lakers fan's favorite reporter, Chad Ford of ESPN, during a Sportscenter appearance. The issue at hand today is whether these comments about the Lakers considering drafting Marquese Chriss or trading D'Angelo Russell were a report, or just Ford's opinion. Read for yourself, but after parsing them, I think it's the latter (comments transcribed by James Herbert of CBS Sports, but the emphasis is mine):
"I think we all assume that Ingram's going to be the guy at No. 2, but they've brought in Marquese Chriss, they've taken a long look at him," Ford said in a SportsCenter appearance. "They've brought in Dragan Bender, Jaylen Brown, and while I still believe that it will be Ingram at No. 2, the Lakers have explored other options. And again I think the concern with Ingram is his lack of strength and how NBA-ready he's going to be because of that. I think more likely the Lakers are trying to pick up another pick in this draft in the top five and the guy that they have that they can shop is D'Angelo Russell, a guy who was their No. 2 pick in the draft last year but burned some bridges in the locker room."
Let's go through this line by line.
"They've brought in Marquese Chriss, they've taken a long look at him..."
Judging by Ford's phrasing, the above is a report.
"They've brought in Dragan Bender, Jaylen Brown... the Lakers have explored other options."
These are all players the Lakers have reportedly looked at, which is the definition of "exploring other options."
However, the reason teams like the Lakers look at those options is to make sure they are making the right choice. Taking "a long look" at Marquese Chriss does not equal "the Lakers are drafting Marquese Chriss," which to be fair, is not what Ford is reporting. He even said he still believes the Lakers are going to take Ingram.
The only report is that the Lakers are looking at other players, which is true. That doesn't necessarily mean they aren't taking Ingram, they just want to do their due diligence and make sure they are making the right choice.
Now on to the part of Ford's comments that, at least judging by my Twitter timeline, made a lot more people less than pleased:
"I think more likely the Lakers are trying to pick up another pick in this draft."
Okay, so just like any team, the Lakers would love another high pick. Seems pretty straight forward.
"The guy that they have that they can shop is D'Angelo Russell, a guy who was their No. 2 pick in the draft last year but burned some bridges in the locker room."
Notice the phrasing there. The Lakers certainly "can" shop D'Angelo Russell, but judging by Ford's phrasing, it doesn't sound like he's saying that's what they "are" doing. Did Russell burn bridges in the locker room last year following "Snapchatgate" or whatever we are calling it? Probably. Are those bridges unmendable? I don't know that anyone knows that for certain right now.
The more important question is whether or not those burnt bridges will lead to the Lakers trading Russell for a top-five pick. Again, Ford doesn't seem to be reporting that, just saying that Russell is the asset the Lakers have that would seem to be most likely to return such a pick. That's true, but it doesn't mean the Lakers are exploring that possibility or would even consider it if another team proposed it to them.
If we want to sit here and list all the things the Lakers could do, it would be a much longer post than this. The list of things the Lakers will do is far shorter, and we won't know what's on it until those intentions are either actually reported or when they happen. These comments are not either of those occurrences.
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