Update: a reporter much closer to the Lakers, Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily New, says he's "sensed skepticism Chicago's Jimmy Butler is getting traded to Lakers in a deal involving No. 2 pick." This deal seems even more unlikely now, but our original story follows.
The Los Angeles Lakers have had a mostly quiet pre-draft preparation process, at least compared to normal years for a team with the second overall pick. While coverage of other teams has been a flurry of trade rumors and leaks, the Lakers pretty much seem set to just make the simple choice and draft Duke forward Brandon Ingram with their first rounder and call it a night.
However, yesterday's report from Ramona Shelburne and Chad Ford of ESPN did note that while the Lakers "don't want to trade the pick and are bullish on Ingram," they could be swayed to move the selection if they get a "chance to get a proven young All-Star."
There aren't a lot of players of such ilk available, but Chicago's Jimmy Butler does fit that description. According to Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times, there are some around the league who believe the Bulls could be making him available in a move for the second overall pick:
You'd think the Chicago Bulls are done wheelin' and dealin' after trading Rose. But maybe not. With Rose already gone and Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah ready to relocate during free agency next month, the Bulls could be in a full-fledged rebuilding mode. And that's why some NBA officials contend Bulls star Jimmy Butler could be on his way out of the Windy City as well. Some believe the Bulls are quite intrigued about possibly obtaining the Lakers' No. 2 pick for Butler.
This is obviously pretty loose sourcing, and it's fairly clear this info isn't coming from the Bulls or the Lakers, making its veracity dubious at best. Still, it's somewhat worth addressing if league insiders think this is a move that might be going down.
If the trade is just the second overall pick for Butler, it's hard not to call that a win for the Lakers on its face. Ingram has a ton of potential, but Butler is a sure thing signed to an affordable contract, not to mention the type of established player the Lakers can market to free agents in offseason pitch meetings.
If the Bulls want more than that, the move starts to look a little dicier, and more like the Lakers are mortgaging their future rather than building towards a sustainable one. If this trade is on the table (no sure thing given it isn't coming from anyone embedded with the Lakers or the Bulls), Los Angeles should certainly kick the tires, but if the price gets too high they should fold and walk away.
And there is a good chance of the Bulls driving a hard bargain for Butler, because if the Lakers aren't the only team in this (possible) bidding war:
Orlando is one of several teams pursuing Jimmy Butler. Also, Houston is trying to get into the 1st round and is offering Patrick Beverley— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) June 23, 2016
Butler is a really good player, but Los Angeles has to be careful about giving up too many of their currently limited assets in any theoretical trade for him. This doesn't seem particularly likely to happen in any case, and fans should continue to prepare themselves for the more certain scenario that the Lakers draft Ingram and move on with their offseason.
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