The NBA Draft Lottery is on May 17, which means Los Angeles Lakers fans are two weeks away from being on pins and needles as they wait to see the NBA Draft order.
The ping pong balls will determine the Lakers’ fate once again this year. Last year, their first round pick was top-five protected, and they had about an 83 percent chance to retain it by entering the lottery in the fourth spot. This year, it is only top-three protected, which gives the Lakers a 55.8 percent chance to keep it because they will enter with the second-most lottery combinations.
So two weeks from today, Los Angeles will know if they have a first round pick this year or not. Many people have pondered their options if they are so fortunate to keep it. Could they draft Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram or Dragan Bender?
Well, according to two of Colin Cowherd’s sources, the Lakers have already made up their mind, even if they land the No. 1 overall pick.
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) May 3, 2016
Obviously, Cowherd’s past suggests he is not the most reliable person when it comes to inside information with the Lakers, a team that generally never leaks anything publicly until it is already done (See: Luke Walton hiring).
But there is some logic behind the idea of trading the pick, if they don’t have to convey it to the Philadelphia 76ers. Los Angeles already has four promising young pieces in place. Would they be patient enough to add a fifth and give them time to develop? With Jim Buss’ self-proposed deadline rapidly approaching, they could look to utilize that pick to try and bring in some established talent via trade, thus giving them a better chance at landing free agents this summer.
As Cowherd mentions, Sacramento Kings star DeMarcus Cousins could be a target, as they have reportedly made him available for a trade. The only issue with trading for a player of Cousins’ caliber is the fact that it would probably require shipping out additional assets with the pick, such as D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle or Jordan Clarkson.
Despite this year’s draft class lacking depth, a top-three selection still has a lot of value. It nets you a fantastic young prospect at the top of the draft on a controllable, cheap contract for at least the first four or five years. Then that player would likely become a restricted free agent at the end of his rookie deal, giving the team full control on whether they want the player to stay or go. The only question would be: Who would be willing to pay the price for one in a trade?
Before the Lakers can even truly start to ponder their options with the pick, they need to know if it will belong to them or Philadelphia. Will the ping pong balls bounce the Lakers’ way again? Two weeks from today, there will be two very nervous fan bases anxiously waiting to find out.