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According to Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers have been “taking and making calls” about trading the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
The Lakers met with projected No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz Thursday, as they mull over their options with roughly one week left to prepare for the franchise-changing night on June 22.
The Lakers also will attend a second meeting with UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball Friday at a location of his choosing, near his home in Chino Hills. It’s no secret Ball hopes to join the Lakers, but it’s a bit unclear if the interest is mutual.
The Lakers also met with Kansas forward Josh Jackson and Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox twice.
In a draft where there hasn’t exactly been a consensus No. 2 pick, Los Angeles can set the tone for how the rest of the top of the draft goes and has the luxury of weighing the pros and cons of some diverse options with more control over their own destiny than all but one team.
Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson went on record on ESPN Radio last month, indicating that 2016 No. 2 overall pick Brandon Ingram was his only “untouchable” player.
The Lakers could look to add some of their “bad contract” veterans in with the No. 2 pick in a trade to try to clear cap space for next summer, when more free-agents (like Paul George) hit the market.
Luol Deng is under contract for three more seasons at roughly $18 Mil. per year.
Timofey Mozgov is slated to make roughly $49 Mil. total over the next three seasons, as well.
It’s no secret that the former Lakers’ regime’s decisions to hand out big contracts to veterans in the middle of a rebuild was part of what got them fired in the first place, but this draft could be an opportunity for the franchise to possibly get out from under one of those contracts and still end up with a meaningful contributor in what’s considered a deep draft class.
The question is how badly would a trade partner want to move up to No. 2 and how far down would it drop the Lakers, who also have the 28th overall pick in the draft.
There’s also been some speculation that if the Lakers hold on to the pick and select a point guard (Ball or Fox), they could look to move point guard D’Angelo Russell.
Anyone wearing purple and gold other than Ingram is likely aware of the possibility they could be moved, as it’s a fluid situation for a franchise trying to build from the ground up with a new front office.