We all know the Lakers are looking to be active in the free agent market come July 1st, but with the NBA Draft only a day away they’ve already begun to make moves to improve their asset base. In a Wednesday evening deal, they have acquired a 2nd round pick from the Philadelphia 76ers, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
As Woj notes, this isn’t the Lakers own 2nd rounder, it is the Bulls pick they received from Chicago when they absorbed Jose Calderon’s contract into salary cap space nearly two years ago.
That pick, just like the one they just acquired from Philly, will likely be in the top 40 since the Bulls are rebuilding. So, if you’re looking for why the 76ers would make this deal, them getting essentially the same value back in next year’s draft when they already had 4 second round picks in this year’s draft makes a lot of sense.
From the Lakers side, this deal feels like a small move that could easily be a part of something bigger. Typically a team would not trade for a pick at that point in the draft the day before. Typically a team would want to see who is available when that pick comes up on the board and would look to make a deal for the pick knowing someone they are interested in is there for the taking. Remember when the Lakers traded for the right’s to Jordan Clarkson with the Wizards? They did that right when the pick was made, not the day before.
So, yeah, this feels different. It feels like the Lakers are stacking picks, upping their total to 3 in Thursday’s draft. And considering the Lakers already have a slew of young players under contract for next season, one would wonder why they’d actually look to add an additional one to the two they already could have selected before making this trade.
If I had to guess — and this is only a guess — I’d venture the Lakers think they can package some, if not all, of their now 3 picks in tomorrow’s draft to make a bigger move. Maybe they think they can use them as ammo to move up in the draft. Or, maybe they think they can use them to grease a trade of Luol Deng. The latter would fall in line more with what we know of the team’s long term plans and what they hope to accomplish this summer, though, again, this is just me spitballing ideas.
In any event, the Lakers now have a third pick in Thursday’s draft. If they use it themselves, they’ve shown they can nab talent in this area of the draft and could be looking to fill needs or target specific skills they currently lack. Or, you know, maybe this is the first domino in a larger scheme. As Kyle Kuzma said, it’s going to be an interesting 36 hours.