Despite finishing with the 10th worst record in the NBA in the 2018-19 regular season, the Los Angeles Lakers still lucked out in Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery, ending up with the No. 4 overall pick. But even with this high draft pick likely to be traded as the Lakers try to acquire a proven veteran superstar like the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis, CBS Sports recently speculated that Los Angeles could also use a first-round selection as part of a package for Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons, along with the three players who make up the bulk of the Lakers’ young core.
In a report published on Tuesday, CBS Sports’ Brad Botkin wrote that the strong possibility of the Pelicans using their No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft on Zion Williamson could give them “new leverage” as they hope to convince Davis to reconsider his trade request. He added, however, that the Lakers might have a chance to acquire Davis after their failed attempt prior to the February trade deadline, given the resources they now have in the aftermath of the 2019 Draft Lottery.
In addition to Davis, Botkin noted that the Lakers could also use their No. 4 overall pick as trade bait for other tried-and-true stars such as Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards. He also mentioned the possibility of trading for Simmons, who made headlines earlier this week after NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Tom Haberstroh suggested that the 76ers could trade him to the Lakers for four-time MVP LeBron James.
“The LeBron James-for-Ben Simmons trade rumor is never going to happen, but a Simmons-centric package for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and a first-round pick would be worth considering for both sides.”
Quite notably, Botkin did not specify if the first-round pick would be this year’s No. 4 overall selection or a future first-rounder from upcoming drafts.
While it would be an intriguing possibility to have Simmons partner with James on the same Lakers team instead of the two being traded for each other, CBS Sports’ Botkin stressed that all of the trade ideas he brought up would require the organization to show a semblance of stability. As pointed out, the Lakers made several questionable personnel decisions in recent years, including the hiring of Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who stepped down as president of basketball operations last month.
Los Angeles’ recent draft history was also brought up, as the team drafted Ball as their point guard of the future in 2017, choosing him over current Boston Celtics standout Jayson Tatum and trading D’Angelo Russell to the Brooklyn Nets to make way for the former UCLA star.
In addition to the Lakers’ organizational issues serving as a potential deterrent to would-be free agent signees or high-profile trade acquisitions, Simmons’ fit with the Lakers as a theoretical trade acquisition has also been questioned. Earlier this week, Silver Screen and Roll commented on Haberstroh’s Simmons-for-James trade rumor, writing that Simmons’ poor shooting stroke makes him an awkward fit alongside Ball and Ingram. The outlet added that the two Lakers youngsters, who were mentioned by Botkin in Tuesday’s report, might have lost some trade value due to the health issues they dealt with toward the end of the 2018-19 season.