NBA Draft: Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak intends to keep all options open with No. 2 pick NBA Draft: Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak intends to keep all options open with No. 2 pick
Lakers look for a star but will mostly likely take Brandon Ingram or Ben Simmons The Lakers were the biggest “winners” of the NBA... NBA Draft: Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak intends to keep all options open with No. 2 pick

NBA Draft: Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak intends to keep all options open with No. 2 pick

The Lakers were the biggest “winners” of the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday, even more so than the Philadelphia 76ers. They managed to avoid giving their pick to the Sixers (if it fell past No. 3) and landed the sweet spot with the No. 2 selection. They don’t have to choose between the two consensus top picks in Brandon Ingram and Ben Simmons. They can just take whoever the Sixers don’t take and if the player they don’t get winds up better, they can’t be blamed.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll have the pick. From Bleacher Report’s L.A.-based Kevin Ding:

Still, the Lakers will actively explore trading the pick. They want to get better as soon as possible-in part to make sure Philadelphia doesn’t get too good of a pick next year when the Lakers’ first-rounder conveys to the 76ers if it’s outside the top three. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is also seeking a better blend of youth and experience on the roster.

But it’s an open question if the Lakers can find a star another club is willing to send away. Trading away the likes of Paul George or Jimmy Butler would be hard-to-explain steps back for the Pacers or Bulls. And with George Karl gone and a new arena to open, the Kings aren’t likely to move DeMarcus Cousins.

It’s also valid to wonder why the Lakers would want to give up young assets they have under cost-controlled contracts that would fit perfectly with massive incoming free-agent deals.

Source: NBA Draft to See Simmons Go to Sixers, Say Sources, Leaving Ingram to Lakers | Bleacher Report.

To “explore” trading a pick is one thing, actually trading it is another, however. Here’s what GM Mitch Kupchak said Thursday on AM 570 in L.A. with CBS Sports’ Bill Reiter:

So to try and piece this together: the Lakers would trade the pick but only for a top-ten/top-five player. Is DeMarcus Cousins that kind of player? Jimmy Butler? Carmelo Anthony? Paul Millsap (if Al Horford says he’s leaving)?

The problem is that there are very few stars who are in any way available, and the Lakers have to get a deal that would make it worth it for them to pass on Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram. What it does tell us is that teams that might be looking to move up, like the Celtics and Nuggets, are not going to be able to move to the 2-spot with a cache of great assets because they don’t have a star.

The most likely scenario remains that the Lakers keep the pick and add another key player. The question is going to be this: if they build with the core of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Julius Randle, and Ingram/Simmons, will they win enough games to get the heat off of Jim Buss, or will the expectations for tangible results be enough to force Jeanie Buss to make a move?

This is what the pick means for the future.

Mitch Kupchak says he doesn’t see the Lakers trading their No. 2 pick
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