The NBA is fully in the midst of smoke-blowing season, when every team likes every players and all assets are available, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the various situations, as relayed by your favorite local and national reporters.
The point is everyone knows everything and nothing at all, sometimes all at the same time, because nearly every single leak has a motive behind it.
It’s a rarely discussed but important reality that Chad Ford of ESPN brought to light in the wake of all of the different reports of the Lakers’ varying levels of interest in taking Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox or Josh Jackson with the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Ford writes that while the Lakers do have interest in all of those players, they also have another motivation for wanting teams and the media to never be exactly sure who they’ll select when the draft rolls around on June 22:
The Lakers have made a concerted effort to dissuade other teams, agents and the media from believing that Ball to L.A. is a done deal. It's a good strategy for several reasons, but it doesn't necessarily mean they aren't taking Ball,.
The Lakers want to control the narrative, which is that they -- not LaVar Ball, Lonzo's father -- are running the process. They have new management and need to project strength. They also don't want teams that might be looking to trade up for a player like Jackson and Fox to assume that they don't have to deal with the Lakers.
This is interesting insight into the mind of the Lakers new front office, and it’s rare to see a reporter report what narrative a team is trying to feed the media so openly. And while Lakers head coach Luke Walton recently spoke about the need for the team to show patience as it rebuilds, it sounds like they’re also open to a win-now path:
A trade is still very much an option for the Lakers. They'd prefer to start winning again sooner than later.
A trade being an “option” for the Lakers isn’t quite as flashy if one thinks about it as it seems at first glance.
Of course the Lakers are not saying there is literally nothing that they wouldn’t trade the pick for. It doesn’t make a trade likely, it just means it’s theoretically possible. Ford doesn’t even really come particularly close to suggesting the Lakers are shopping the pick around, just that they wouldn’t say no if the right offer came along.
He also offered some further added context on the varying rumors of players the Lakers are interested in, writing that “it reflects a genuine split within the organization about whom the best long-term candidate is” to be selected with the No. 2 pick.
So what does this all mean? Not a whole lot, at least until the draft actually takes place, but it does reinforce that as much as it seems likely the Lakers will just take Ball with the No. 2 pick, it also shouldn’t be a surprise to a see a few fireworks on the night of the draft, and that the new front office is open to all kinds of new possibilities.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.