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Since the moment the NBA Draft Lottery ended, speculation surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers mindset with regards to the No. 2 pick has been running rampant.
Depending on whom you may believe, the Lakers are either heavily leaning toward Ball or taking long, hard looks at Josh Jackson and De’Aaron Fox.
However, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford, this all may have been a smokescreen by the Lakers. Ford, alongside Kevin Pelton, discussed the fit of Ball, Jackson and Fox with the Lakers’ current roster in a new ESPN Insider piece.
Before jumping into the fit, however, Ford dropped some information regarding the smokescreen put up by the Lakers.
“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.
It makes sense for the Lakers to offer the appearance of being undecided about their pick. Most importantly, it keeps trade options for the second pick on the table for teams who may be high on Jackson or Fox, something Ford also talked about.
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. A trade is still very much an option for the Lakers. They’d prefer to start winning again sooner than later.”
Briefly disregarding the last sentence, the stance taken by the Lakers is a smart one. The team won’t be limiting its options both in terms of the prospect they may take or what they may do with the pick itself.
Now, the last sentence might raise some eyes, but it also contradicts many things said by the front office as well as Luke Walton in recent days and weeks.
What is clear is the Lakers are still focused on maintaining their leverage with the number two pick. With Boston selection of Markelle Fultz number one overall nearly a foregone conclusion, the Lakers could hold the keys to the draft.