Lakers wrapping up research on top picks while keeping trade options open

The Los Angeles Times’ Broderick Turner has the Los Angeles Lakers taking Lonzo Ball with the second pick. (June 15, 2017) (Sign up for our free video newsletter here


In New York, just after the Lakers secured the second overall pick in this year’s NBA draft through the lottery, general manager Rob Pelinka made it clear he’ll listen if teams want to talk about trades. He also noted it’s unlikely the second pick in the draft gets moved.

In the month since then, the Lakers have been taking and making calls about trading the pick, said a source who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. Teams have presented trade scenarios to them, and they have offered their own.

While considering their options, the Lakers are wrapping up their draft workouts. In addition to the second overall pick, the Lakers have the 28th pick in the first round.


Thursday, they met with Washington guard Markelle Fultz, widely expected to be taken first overall by the Boston Celtics.

“They saw that I worked hard,” Fultz said. “They saw that I had the mechanics to shoot the ball right and everything like that. So that’s all that really matters.”

Fultz’s first workout was with Boston, and he said doing a second workout with the Lakers was a “family decision.” He also said that while he would love to be drafted first overall, he hasn’t closed the door on working out for any other team.

“I think my biggest strength is just playmaking ability, on or off the ball, scoring the ball, getting assists, rebounding,” said Fultz, who averaged 23.2 points in his one season with the Huskies. “Doing pretty much anything to impact the game. I think the stuff I need to work on is more on the defensive end. Just team defense, being locked in every possession. I wouldn’t say I’m a terrible defender, it’s just being locked in.”

Friday the Lakers will conduct draft workouts with six players and also visit UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball at a location of his choosing for a second meeting and workout. They’ll spend several hours with Ball, getting to know his regimen better.

The Lakers have also worked out Kansas forward Josh Jackson twice. The first workout was in Sacramento and the second at the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo. They’ve also spent significant time around Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox. The Lakers saw Fox at his Pro Day in Thousand Oaks, at the NBA draft combine in Chicago and in for a workout at the Lakers facility this week.

Ball, whom Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson compared to himself in a radio interview last month, will work out near his home in Chino Hills. The former UCLA star helped lead the Bruins to a 31-5 record a year after they went 15-17.

Fox had an impressive showing in the NCAA Sweet 16 against Ball’s Bruins, in a game that Johnson and Pelinka attended.

And Jackson has recently been receiving greater attention from the Lakers.

History shows it’s more likely the Lakers will choose one of those players than trade the pick. A trade in the top three of the draft after the draft order has been set is unusual.

The Portland Trail Blazers were involved in such trades in 2005 and 2006. In 2005 they traded away the No. 3 pick, the rights to Deron Williams, to the Utah Jazz. In 2006, they acquired the draft rights to Lamarcus Aldridge at No. 2.

Memphis traded for the rights to Pau Gasol at No. 3 in 2001, and the same year, Chicago traded with the Clippers for the rights to Tyson Chandler at No. 2. Memphis also made such a trade to acquire O.J. Mayo at No. 3 in 2008.

Perhaps the most significant trade of top-three picks came in 1993, when Orlando acquired the rights to Penny Hardaway at No. 3 and sent the rights to Chris Webber at No. 1 to the Golden State Warriors.

What could the Lakers offer in trade in addition to their picks? They’ve talked about not giving up their future in order to address their present. But Johnson recently appeared on ESPN Radio and identified Brandon Ingram, the second overall pick last year, as probably their only untouchable player.

The potential for trades could alter Fultz’s destination. While the Celtics are expected to take Fultz, they haven’t made clear that they will. That’s part of why Fultz is keeping an open mind about pre-draft workouts.

“Wherever I go, I’ll be the same guy,” Fultz said. “I’m going to be humble. Of course coming here, like you said, the Hollywood life, it’s going to be great publicity. I’d get my brand out there and just building myself.”

Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli