The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off their worst season since moving from Minnesota over a half century ago.
They will now be led by a 36-year-old head coach in Luke Walton that’s looking to duplicate what he helped build with the Golden State Warriors.
With Kobe Bryant now fully into retirement, the goal this summer is going to be to find that star power to help move this team forward.
In this, reports are suggesting that Los Angeles is open to moving the second overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. If so, what might said deal look like?
Here are five possibilities.
1. Second overall pick to the Chicago Bulls
Would the Lakers yield the second overall pick for enigmatic Bulls guard Jimmy Butler? If so, is this the type of forward-thinking move the usually win-now Bulls franchise might consider making?
We already know that Butler flirted with the idea of signing with the Lakers. He likes Los Angeles and probably wouldn’t have an issue being the new face of the franchise. There have also been reports that the Bulls might consider moving Butler during the summer.
Teaming him up with D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle could give the Lakers a strong young core. Add in a big-name free-agent signing, and Luke Walton would have something nice to work with in his first season as the team’s head coach.
The idea for Chicago would be to find a potential big in Brandon Ingram to replace two players in Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol who may depart in free agency this summer. It wouldn’t make the team a true contender back east, but it would give the Bulls something to look forward to.
2. Sign-and-trade with the Washington Wizards
Unlike trading for Butler, this move would likely require the other team to throw in a piece or two in order to make it worthwhile for the Lakers. The primary bait heading to Los Angeles would be restricted free agent Bradley Beal.
It makes little sense for the Lakers to give up the second pick for an often-injured guard, so Washington would have to add something to this deal. That could come in the form of say Otto Porter or future draft considerations.
Still, the Lakers could start the Walton era with a nice back-court tandem of their own in Beal and Russell. While not rivaling what the Warriors have, it’s a nice little start in Los Angeles.
3. Sign-and-trade with the Golden State Warriors
This one gets rather interesting. Golden State has assets. That’s what would make this a rather interesting move for the two teams. Though, it would have to involve a few different moving parts.
The first domino to fall would be restricted free agents Festus Ezeli and Harrison Barnes heading to the Lakers in sign-and-trade deals. Both would fit seamlessly into what Walton wants to do with the Lakers.
Both present tremendous upside and are upgrades over what Los Angeles has on its roster.
The second domino that would have to fall into place here would be some team being willing to take on the second overall pick and reigning NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala or center Andrew Bogut for another key piece going the Lakers way.
This wouldn’t necessarily be too hard in the grand scheme of things. A team like the Denver Nuggets might be willing to re-acquire Iggy and the second pick in exchange for either Kenneth Faried or Danilo Gallinari and the seventh pick.
That scenario would give the Lakers three building blocks and a decent veteran starter to build around moving forward. Oh, and they’d still have a top-10 pick.
You might ask what would go to the Warriors in this deal? Well, that’s rather simple. By virtue of removing one of those big contracts from their cap, the defending champs could work out a deal with free-agent forward Kevin Durant, who has reportedly expressed interest in coming to Oakland.
Yeah, it’s a long shot. It would also require many different things coming to fruition. Besides, sign-and-trade deals are tricky propositions in the NBA. But originality and a sense of urgency makes anything possible during the summer months.
4. Second overall pick to the Indiana Pacers
Would the Pacers consider moving their franchise player for a younger potentially elite-level player? That might seem a bit ridiculous with just how important Paul George has been to Indiana over the years.
Though, there’s something else we have to look at here. Even with George in the fold, new head coach Nate McMillan doesn’t have the roster to be able to contend back east. This was obvious during a 2015-16 that culminated in Indiana being knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.
Short of a complete overhaul of the supporting cast in Indiana, a Paul George team isn’t going to contend for a conference title.
The idea here would be to pick up either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram and team that guy up with a star free agent as well as young big man Myles Turner. There might be more upside to that roster than what the Pacers currently have.
For the Lakers, this would be an easy decision. Add George to the mix with Russell and Randle, and see what else the team might be able to do during the summer to build a potential bottom-rung playoff contender in 2016-17.
5. Second overall pick to the Sacramento Kings
A trade of this magnitude rarely happens within the same division. But we also know that DeMarcus Cousins’ tenure in Sacramento has been nothing less than a drama made for day-time television.
If the Kings could potentially turn him into the No. 2 overall pick, the team might have to think about it.
Not only would this give Sacramento a potential franchise cornerstone with the second pick, it would enable the fledgling franchise to come away with two top-10 picks in the upcoming draft.
As it relates to the Lakers, this deal would give them a solid young inside-out threat with Russell and Cousins. Why not consider it?