While Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak previously said they would be open to trading their first-round pick, the team now looks likely to keep the No. 7 selection in the 2014 NBA Draft, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin:
Whether the Lakers end up picking Smart, Randle, or somebody else, the team is leaning towards keeping their No. 7 pick rather than trading down in order to acquire multiple picks, according to a source with knowledge of their thinking.
While it's widely believed that there is a gap in the talent available after Kansas' Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins and Duke's Jabari Parker go off the board, the Lakers feel there is another gap between the player they have rated 10th versus who they have at 11th and below, so it's not like they could flip their pick for say Phoenix's No. 14 and No. 18 picks and still come out in with a player they are totally sold on.
Kentucky's Julius Randle reportedly impressed the Lakers in a solo workout on Tuesday, and it's possible he'll be available for them. CBSSports.com's Matt Moore wrote that picking him would be a "no-brainer" if Dante Exum is not on the board. Trading down never made much sense for the talent-starved team, and it seems unlikely that Los Angeles would be available to package the pick in a deal for an established star.
The Lakers are in a weird spot. They do not have a coach, and they do have an aging legend who badly wants to prove his doubters wrong. Simply adding Kobe Bryant -- and even a healthier Steve Nash -- to the roster they had last season will not be enough to be competitive in the West, so Kupchak will probably try to get creative. When it comes to the draft, though, the smartest thing to do is probably to keep it simple. They should just take the best player.