The Los Angeles Lakers got some lottery luck on Tuesday night, as they landed the fourth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
It wasn’t the headline news, of course, as the New Orleans Pelicans won the lottery with the number one pick and the chance to select Duke sensation Zion Williamson. For the Lakers, though, this was a victory after a season of disappointments.
With LeBron James heading into his 17th season in the NBA, the Lakers are in ultra-win-now mode. This offseason, with salary cap space and assets aplenty, is about constructing a competitive roster around the four-time MVP.
Attaining the fourth pick gives Rob Pelinka, who has remained as general manager despite the organisation’s chaos, plenty of options. Here are a few things he could do with the pick…
Trade down, collect more assets
This option won’t be grabbing any headlines, and it’s by far the least likely path that Pelinka could take.
In a shallow draft, the Lakers have little to lose by trading down, and it could help them land extra assets for a trade push elsewhere. They’re not going to get a haul for the fourth pick, but every little helps as they look to add star power around LeBron.
Holding onto the pick only works if they are going to take someone considerably better than they could get several picks later or use it in a trade before the draft.
Acquiring a future pick or two and moving down in the draft – or maybe leaving this first-round altogether – should be considered by Pelinka.
Trade for Anthony Davis
Davis was the headline non-Williamson story on lottery night. The Knicks could have moved the number one pick to get Davis or the Celtics could have got lucky and enhanced their trade package.
The Lakers were the real winners. While it’s unknown how interested New Orleans would be in the Knicks’ third overall pick, missing out on Zion makes a trade harder for James Dolan’s team. Boston kept Memphis’ future pick, which is getting less protected by the year, but they didn’t move into the top four.
Relations between the Pelicans and Lakers weren’t great when a trade was discussed earlier this year. With David Griffin hired and the Lakers possessing the fourth pick, the situation could be very different when they reignite talks this offseason.
The fourth pick, and any or all of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram are the starting point for the Lakers. There’s no doubt they are in a better position to land Davis after Tuesday night’s lottery.
Trade for another star
The Davis situation is chaotic, with circumstances changing by the day and so many teams involved.
The Lakers could opt to steer clear of Pelicans negotiations and focus on other moves. Bradley Beal is the name that comes to mind, and seems an ideal secondary ball-handler, perimeter shooting fit next to LeBron.
With Memphis likely to pick Ja Morant at number two, it’s a near certainty that Mike Conley will be traded this summer. Conley is a reliable shooter from deep and still a very good defender. With a bloated contract, the Lakers could acquire the should-have-been-All-Star without giving up too many assets.
Is it possible that the Lakers have enough to trade for Beal and Conley, saving them from the riskiness of free agency?
Blake Griffin could be another option for the Lakers, though it doesn’t have to be a big name. Adding All-Star level talent is the priority, of course, but getting players who fit with LeBron is just as important after the mistakes of last offseason.
This won’t get the column inches of other possibilities. It may sound far-fetched, but the Lakers could just pick someone with the fourth overall selection.
Considering the ‘success’ of recent draft picks, Laker fans might be hesitant about that, and who could blame them.
Cheap shooting is invaluable, though. The fourth overall selection, while unlikely to hand them a star, is an opportunity to pick up a knockdown shooter, something they so desperately lacked in 2018/19.
Point guard Darius Garland, wing De’Andre Hunter and Duke small forward Cam Reddish are all good options.
Reddish and Hunter both have wingspans over seven foot. They are the prototypical NBA wing in 2019 and would be a natural fit alongside LeBron. Garland is more a ball-handler and makes more sense if the Lakers are going to move Ball.