The 76ers weren’t the only team with their sights set on Markelle Fultz, the highly regarded option for the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA draft.
Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers were after him too. In fact, Johnson was so impressed after Fultz’s workout with the Lakers earlier this week, it was reported that the Lakers President was “in love” with Fultz. The feeling was apparently mutual, as Fultz was definitely interested in the Lakers as well.
The Sixers ultimately were able to get the deal done with the Celtics, sending their No. 3 pick in the 2017 draft, as well as the 2018 Lakers pick with protections. If that pick doesn’t convey, the 76ers will send the 2019 Kings pick. No matter how bad the Lakers wanted Fultz, they couldn’t compete with the deal that the Sixers were able to offer.
What makes it even more painful for the Lakers is that the Sixers were able to use the Lakers own 2018 first-round pick in the trade. Since the Lakers don’t have their own 2018 pick, they weren’t exactly at a place to throw around assets like the Sixers could, without giving away core pieces of their roster.
Who will the Lakers draft now?
It has seemed as if the Lakers have been trying to move away from the inevitable Lonzo Ball for a while now. There were even rumors that Ball was out of shape at his Lakers workout. Then it was that the Lakers made a promise to Josh Jackson. And lastly it was that LA wanted Fultz badly.
The Lakers did work out Josh Jackson twice in an attempt to make sense of what to do with their No. 2 pick in the draft. But Jackson’s second workout reportedly did not leave a good taste in the mouth of Lakers brass.
After Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress reported the Lakers’ high level of interest in Fultz, he reported that Jackson’s second workout with the Lakers “did not go well at all.” According to Givony, Jackson “brought high energy but struggled with his shooting and handle,” both of which are knocks on him as a prospect.
If Jackson isn’t an option for the Lakers anymore, that brings the Lakers back to square one, which was Lonzo Ball. But truthfully, it’s probably always been Lonzo Ball.
The Lakers could still trade back in the draft
Since the Lakers do not own their own pick in the 2018 draft, the possibility of trading back to the Suns at No. 4 is still a possibility. There is thought within the Lakers camp that they could still get a quality player with the No. 4 pick in the draft. The options of Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, or even De’Aaron Fox could still be available at that point. If the Suns were to make a deal with the Lakers and include their 2018 pick, it could make sense for the Lakers future to move back and pick at No. 4. — especially if they think they can add a player like Paul George next summer.
The Lakers still have several options remaining, but the draft is just around the corner and they’ll need to make a decision quickly on what to do with their pick. Above all, it seems as if the Lonzo Ball to the Lakers destiny will come true on June 22. It’s a good choice for them and this has likely all just been a good PR plan for the Lakers from the start.