With the 2018 NBA Draft just a week away, there’s a “growing belief” around the league that the Los Angeles Lakers have made a first-round promise to Maryland star Kevin Huerter, according to Jeremy Woo of The Crossover.
The 19-year-old sharpshooter worked out for the Lakers on May 25 and following the workout, Huerter cancelled his remaining workouts, including a workout with the Utah Jazz, the team Woo originally thought extended the first-round promise to Huerter. Here’s the original report from Woo in May:
As we reported last week, the belief around the league is that Huerter obtained the first-round promise he was seeking at the combine before opting to remain in the draft. Based on our conversations with teams, signs point to Utah having offered the guarantee.
Chronologically, it makes sense that the Lakers would have been the team to offer him a first-round promise, however, even if the front office did make him a promise, there’s no guarantee Huerter falls to No. 25. According to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic, Huerter also had a strong workout with the Atlanta Hawks, who have three first-round picks including the No. 19 pick.
There has been speculation that he received a promise somewhere in that range, with multiple teams being rumored to have done it … Heurter had a strong workout with the Hawks, and general manager Travis Schlenk — who comes from Golden State — possibly sees the outline of a Klay Thompson clone in Huerter.”
However, Huerter’s stock might have taken a slip this week. On Wednesday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Huerter underwent surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right hand and is expected to be out two months. While that implies he’d be healthy by training camp, teams might be wary of taking a player without a squeaky clean medical report.
If the reports are true, the Lakers could be the team willing to take a chance on Huerter, but it‘s worth keeping in mind that this is only the latest rumor coming out of Los Angeles leading up to the draft. For a while, there were rumors that the Lakers had made a first-round promise to former McDonald’s All-American Mitchell Robinson, but that report has since been refuted by multiple reporters now, including Woo.
There have also been rumors of the Lakers wanting to trade up in the first round, with Zhaire Smith of Texas Tech as their person of interest. It certainly appears as though the team is trying to use misinformation to obfuscate their true draft intentions, and this may be the latest misdirection.
Until Adam Silver announces the Lakers’ selection on draft night on June 21, these rumors will remain just rumors. Luckily, the wait is getting shorter and shorter and we’ll find out who the Lakers are hoping will be their next late-draft gem.