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Lakers slowly eliminating one possibility before the draft

Lakers slowly eliminating one possibility before the draft
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak has a big decision tonight at the NBA draft. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

It's never easy to predict the NBA draft, especially which players will be around when the Lakers pick tonight.

But one thing looks slightly more certain — they won't trade the seventh overall selection before the draft.

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As of early this afternoon, the Lakers weren't sensing any momentum toward a trade, meaning they will likely choose from an assortment of amateur players when it's their turn to pick about 5 p.m. PDT.

Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins are expected to be the top two picks. Two more intriguing names will probably be gone by the time the Lakers are up — point guard Dante Exum and power forward Noah Vonleh.

But there's a chance injured Kansas center Joel Embiid slides down to them.

Embiid was the apparent No. 1 pick in the draft a little more than a week ago until requiring surgery on a stress fracture in his foot that could sideline him part of next season ... if not longer.

If he's there when it's the Lakers' turn, they have a dilemma.

If Embiid's already taken, the Lakers might be looking at a pool of four people — power forwards Julius Randle of Kentucky and Aaron Gordon of Arizona, and point guards Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State and Elfrid Payton of Louisiana-Lafayette.

One of the above might be gone, narrowing the pool slightly.

Regardless, it would be the Lakers' highest pick since taking James Worthy with the No. 1 selection in 1982.

They had talks with Golden State last weekend to trade the pick for Klay Thompson, but the negotiations fell through when the Warriors couldn't reach a consensus on whether to keep or trade the up-and-coming shooting guard.

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