On Thursday June 23, 2016 the fate of a lot of NBA franchises changes, some for the best, some for the worst. You have the Philadelphia 76ers apparently telling Ben Simmons that they will draft him #1 overall, probably the smartest decision they’ve made since they started this tank mission.
With that being pushed out-of-the-way, what happens next?
We all knew this was going to happen, @RealBallInsider, published a piece where myself and a couple of RBI Insiders gave a First Round Mock preview.
It all REALLY begins with what happens with the Los Angeles Lakers #2 pick. They have two options, trade the pick and try to work a monumental trade that only they can pull off, or, they make the logical choice and draft Brandon Ingram out of Duke. If you really have followed the Lakers you know that adding Ingram alongside Russell, Clarkson and Randle would be ideal. You have the 1-4 positions filled with a nucleus of athletic-skilled players that you can build around for the next 10 years.
I wanted to break down the best and worst possible scenarios for the Los Angeles Lakers after the draft and headed into Free Agency. Will this be the year that the franchise begins to ascend back to the top of the Western Conference? Or is this the year that they hand over the keys to the wrong guy and set back the team another five years?
Worst Case Scenario-
I contemplated this scenario many of times in my head before I actually started to pen any of this piece out. Could the Lakers front office really trade that #2 pick for god knows who? Listen, this Brandon Ingram kid is going to be a stud. Los Angeles would be downright foolish to pass up the opportunity to draft this guy, I think if it wasn’t for Ben Simmons and his other world abilities, Ingram would be the 1st pick in the draft. All he needs to do is put on some muscle further down in his career and the rest should come naturally if his time at Duke was any indication.
What I fear the most is the Lakers trying to trade this pick for some veteran who won’t fit the new run n gun style that the young core, and new Head Coach Luke Walton will try to implement. I fear that they will try and go for say a Kevin Love or someone of that sorts. There is no one I feel besides Kevin Durant in this Free Agent period that Lakers would willingly give that coveted pick up for. Also, I don’t think most teams would give up their superstar for just the #2 pick, the Lakers would have to add one of the young three in the trade, and THAT move would be the ultimate worst case scenario.
Best Case Scenario-
This was the relatively easy one of the two choices, there was only a couple of scenarios that I could really see happening. Obviously the best case scenario for any team this Free Agency period is Kevin Durant. BUT, for some odd reason my gut is telling me one of two things is going to stay in Oklahoma City or head to Golden State. The next plausible scenario is the Lakers show up to Hassan Whiteside’s house with as many Brink’s trucks necessary to fit a max contract in. I can actually see this happening, if they’re smart.
And with reports already coming out today from Chad Ford and Ramona Shelburne that if the Tankers select Ben Simmons #1, then LA will indeed select Ingram at #2. Now you have half of the best case scenario taken care of.
Now, with that being said, what does that mean for the Lakers if they do add both players in the off-season? It means that your starting line-up will include no player over the age of 27. It also means that you don’t have to go out and over pay a player like Demar Derozan, who isn’t worth the $17 million a year he is asking for. It puts the Lakers in a great position financially, and for the future, what else could you ask for in one-off season?
A win-win if you ask me, but, we all know the Lakers haven’t been the gold standard for hitting it big in Free Agency, but this year may be a bit different. With Kobe’s contract off the books they have MAJOR cap space to throw around. Throw in new Coach Luke Walton, mixed in with Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell, plus Brandon Ingram, Los Angeles has everything it needs to lure potential big names to the City of Angels.
The only question is going to be whether they have the guts to pay Whiteside every single dime that he is asking for, and undoubtedly deserves. Boy, oh, boy, July 1st can’t come soon enough.