There has been a lot of discussion of late about what the Lakers will do with the No. 2 overall pick in Thursday's NBA Draft. The Lakers taking Southern California native Lonzo Ball has long been the most-likely scenario, and despite reports that the team was less than pleased with Ball's initial workout, it appears this is still the case.
From Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding:
Hotshot UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball desperately wants to be drafted by his hometown team, and the Lakers are nearing a final decision to select him with the No. 2 overall pick, according to league sources.
Some final planning and discussion remains to be done before the draft Thursday, per team sources, but Ball logged quality time with Lakers president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka in a second predraft meeting Friday.
The Lakers, especially Pelinka, have tried to keep an open mind throughout workouts and interviews to settle on the best player available to them. But an appreciation for Ball's all-around upside has emerged that transcends the local fanfare over him and the constant publicity his father generates.
OK, so the Lakers appear to be pretty set on Ball as their future point guard. What that means for D'Angelo Russell and/or Jordan Clarkson is up in the air, but after Paul George informed the Pacers he's going to leave in 2018, and the rumors -- though tepid at this point -- that LeBron James is quietly considering leaving the Cavs, specifically for one of the L.A. teams, let's start connecting the dots.
George is the big play here. Without just coming out and saying it, he has given every indication that he wants to join the Lakers. The question is whether the Lakers make a trade for him now, or wait for free agency in 2018. On the surface, it would seem foolish to give up assets you can get for nothing in a year, but there is likely going to be a hot rental market for George this year. He's already been linked to the Cavs. The Clippers have also shown interest.
If you're the Lakers, it's a risk to let George go to Cleveland, and perhaps they get over the hump and beat Golden State, and now you're trying to convince George and James to either split up or leave a championship team together. Tough sell. If he ends up on the Clippers, that gets him to L.A., and if they figure the salaries right, that team could look pretty enticing as well.
So back to Clarkson and Russell. As Ding points out, if the Lakers end up with George and LeBron, they're going to have to trim salary anyway. So why not get ahead of it and put Clarkson and a few other assets on the table? This remains a big leap to make, but again, the dots can be reasonably connected. At the very least, it appears LaVar Ball is going to get his wish to see his son suit up for the Lakers.