The NBA Draft seemed to be coming towards us at a slow crawl. Now it’s only five days away, approaching more rapidly than a car being driven by Dom Toretto. With the Draft come rumors, smokescreens, and mock drafts. Some rumors will end up proving true, while others will remain fickle. Any pre-draft rumor should be taken with a grain of salt, with the possibility that the ‘rumor’ in question may just be an idea or suggestion.
With that said, ESPN’s Chad Ford made waves today when he said the possibility remains that the Lakers could trade D’Angelo Russell for another pick in the top five of the draft. Ford offered this sentiment during an appearance on SportsCenter, which was transcribed by CBS Sports’ James Herbert.
“I think we all assume that Ingram’s going to be the guy at No. 2, but they’ve brought in Marquese Chriss, they’ve taken a long look at him,” Ford said in a SportsCenter appearance. “They’ve brought in Dragan Bender, Jaylen Brown, and while I still believe that it will be Ingram at No. 2, the Lakers have explored other options. And again I think the concern with Ingram is his lack of strength and how NBA-ready he’s going to be because of that. I think more likely the Lakers are trying to pick up another pick in this draft in the top five and the guy that they have that they can shop is D’Angelo Russell, a guy who was their No. 2 pick in the draft last year but burned some bridges in the locker room.”
Many, myself included, jumped to the conclusion that Ford was suggesting this was something he had heard. But with second looks and Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen and Roll’s insight, it seems Ford was merely putting the idea out there. Using words phrases such as “I think” and “they can”. Still, the thought was not well-received by Lakers fans.
There have been a couple guard related ideas involving the Lakers, both laughable. The Lakers ‘could’ end up selecting Buddy Hield with the second overall pick. The Lakers ‘could’ trade D’Angelo Russell. I ‘could’ watch Colin Cowherd’s show, just for the hilarity that would ensue. Those are actual words that came out of an actual person’s mouth. And in no moment along the way they thought “Hey, you know what? Maybe this isn’t a good idea.”. Which is concerning, but not the point.
D’Angelo Russell, despite a turbulent rookie campaign, showed the makings of a potential star player. He is arguably the Lakers best player in a talented young core, and at just 20 years old, he still has much more room to grow.
Russell displayed traits that are uncommon in NBA rookies, performing jaw-dropping passes, taking over games (and subsequently being benched for it), and breaking all sorts of rookie records. When you factor in that Byron Scott was his coach, possibly the biggest detriment to his development, his numbers are even more impressive. Trading away Russell after just one Scott coached season would be a fireable offense, along with drafting Buddy Hield over Brandon Ingram, who is a perfect fit with the Lakers.
We can hope the front office will prove those ideas to be nonsense, but we won’t know for sure until the events of June 23rd have transpired. Rumors, or in this case, ideas, will be a thorn in our collective sides until draft night has passed. Until then, we’ll have to soldier on through all that is leading up to that moment. Hopefully on June 24th, we’ll be looking at pictures of Brandon Ingram wearing a Lakers hat, analyzing his fit with teammate D’Angelo Russell.