One of the reasons many people expected the Lakers to trade for Anthony Davis before the draft, or at least agree to the terms of said trade, was that the Lakers had the No. 4 pick but weren’t acting like a team that was drafting in the lottery. The team only worked out one player projected to go in the top five, Jarrett Culver. The Lakers also met with Cam Reddish, but the bulk of their draft workouts were with players on the fringes of the ESPN top-100.
Maybe it’s just me, but it would seem that if the Lakers were intent on having the fourth pick play for the team this season, they would put a little more effort into scouting players for that draft selection.
As it turned out, the Lakers did trade that draft pick, along with several others, to the Pelicans for Davis, but they did a little more due diligence than previously reported with regards to the upcoming NBA Draft. Dave McMenamin of ESPN is reporting that the Lakers worked out Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland in private before making the trade:
After Garland pulled out of the NBA draft combine in Chicago last month and sat out his agency’s (Klutch Sports) pro day in Los Angeles, draft pundits wondered whether he had received a promise from a lottery team. Garland and his agent, Rich Paul, lifted the smoke screen this week, however, as the guard granted private workouts to both the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers in L.A., sources told ESPN.
Both workouts occurred prior to the Lakers’ blockbuster trade Saturday for New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis, which included Los Angeles sending the No. 4 overall pick to the Pelicans, sources said.
Garland, who is projected to go fifth to Cleveland in ESPN’s latest mock draft, has been linked to the Lakers for some time now, and it was somewhat surprising that he hadn’t worked out for the team yet. Garland is represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, and he has worked out with fellow Klutch client LeBron James during the offseason.
And according to McMenamin, Garland did well in his audition for the Lakers, which is good work from Paul to make sure that Garland retains interest in the top part of the draft despite the Lakers no longer owning a pick:
Garland impressed with his shot-making ability and deep range, according to sources present for the Lakers’ workout.
Knowing that Los Angeles worked out Garland doesn’t really do us any good now, but it does suggest that the team wasn’t putting all of its eggs in the Anthony Davis basket, and at least preparing for an alternate timeline in which they’d draft another young player.
However, given the events of the past week, it appears that draft workouts are the only time when young players will be donning the purple and gold for the foreseeable future. And even then, they have to do it in secret.