On Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers will have both the No. 17 and No. 47 picks in the NBA draft, and there are a number of intriguing players they have recently worked out who could be candidates to be selected with those picks.
However, there is also the chance they trade the No. 17 pick to get help right now, and according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, that chance is increasing as the draft nears.
“Assuming the Lakers keep their pick — there is an increasing likelihood they trade it Thursday — landing a lottery-level talent like [Dereck] Lively would be the best-case scenario,” wrote Buha.
The Lakers have historically been a franchise that looks for quick fixes by landing a star or a big name. That has especially been true in recent years, as it was in 2021 when they made their ill-fated trade for Russell Westbrook.
Although Westbrook to this day is still a very viable NBA player, he was a wretched fit on a team that was built around the talents of LeBron James and Anthony Davis and simply couldn’t be fully bent to his whims.
After L.A. was mired in Westbrook-induced purgatory for a year and a half, it traded him in February for D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley, and that deal turned almost everything around. The Lakers instantly went from a team that most expected to miss the playoffs to one that some were picking to reach the NBA Finals.
They didn’t fall too short of that bar, as they got swept by the eventual NBA champion Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.
But it is still clear that the Lakers need some type of infusion to get over the hump and earn another Larry O’Brien Trophy. It is even more true now that the Phoenix Suns have Bradley Beal, a three-time All-Star guard, for this season.
The speculation is that L.A. wants to sign Chris Paul, who is reportedly part of the salary ballast that will allow Phoenix to land Beal, if he becomes a free agent and agrees to a veteran’s minimum contract. However, the Los Angeles Clippers loom as a team that could snag Paul before the Lakers can.