During the 2015 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers surprised a good number of basketball pundits when they selected D’Angelo Russell over consensus No. 2 prospect Jahlil Okafor. With the league only one game away from an interesting offseason, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and company are once again on the verge of defying conventional wisdom.
The Lakers picked Russell, hoping he would blossom into the team’s star point guard. In his rookie campaign, the 6-foot-5 Kentucky native did not disappoint. Despite nagging questions about his immaturity, Russell averaged decent numbers for the Lakers while showing off his impeccable court vision and smooth shooting stroke.
Heading into the offseason, many expect the Lakers to keep its young core of Russell, Clarkson and Randle. However, recent Lakers trade rumors suggest that the team’s youth movement may look differently once the 2016-17 season begins.
According to ESPN’s Chad Ford, the Lakers could trade one of the aforementioned players for a top-5 pick in this year’s NBA Draft. The player with the most trade value would definitely be Russell.
“I think more likely the Lakers are trying to pick up another pick in this draft in the top 5,” Ford told CBS Sports. “The guy that they have that they can shop is D’Angelo Russell, a guy who was their No. 2 pick in the draft last year but burned some bridges in the locker room.”
The Lakers currently holds this year’s 2nd overall pick, which the team will likely use on Duke forward Brandon Ingram. The lanky 6-foot-9 wingman might not possess the same passing abilities as Russell, but he can surely put the ball in the hole with little to no effort. It could be argued that Ingram’s star potential, or Ben Simmons’ for that matter, has made Russell an expendable asset for the Lakers.
Ford said the team have already staged close-door workouts with top prospects such as Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and Jaylen Brown. In addition, shooting ace Buddy Hield was at the Lakers practice facility Saturday for his 2nd pre-draft workout with the team, as per Lakers Nation.
What do you think? Should the Lakers trade Russell for the chance to draft Buddy Hield? Feel free to comment below.