Lakers Trade Rumors: Rounding Up Top Buzz Entering 2017 NBA Draft Lottery

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2017

Magic Johnson, left, listens as Rob Pelinka talks during a news conference introducing him as the new general manager for the Los Angeles Lakers, in El Segundo, Calif., Friday, March 10, 2017. The Lakers introduced Pelinka, Kobe Bryant's longtime agent, as their new general manager. Pelinka will work with Johnson to rebuild the 16-time NBA champions from the worst four-year stretch in team history. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Nick Ut/Associated Press

The vibes surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers seem overly positive for a 26-win team. 

So it goes in the offseason, though, and this time it's hard not to notice those vibes are both infectious and deserved.

The Lakers have a bit of a new direction with Magic Johnson at the controls. He inherits what could be a top-two selection in the upcoming draft and a budding roster featuring prospects like D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram which are the result of the Lakers sticking to a traditional rebuild as opposed to the instant-gratification ways of the past.

As it stands, the Lakers can likely add another top-tier talent via the draft or flip draft assets for a superstar who actually wants to come to town. Or, given the trajectory of the rebuild, maybe a combination of the two is possible.

Ahead of Tuesday's lottery, where the Lakers will secure a slot in the top three or be required to give up the pick to the Philadelphia 76ers thanks to the Steve Nash trade, let's take a look at the top rumblings surrounding the franchise.

           

Lakers Thinking Ball

Young Kwak/Associated Press

The Lakers and UCLA guard Lonzo Ball are the perfect match.

This applies in almost unlimited ways. Ball would come to town with his dad, LaVar, and the headline-grabbing Big Baller Brand, home of expensive shoes and even bigger quotes.

On his own, Lonzo is a California kid who perhaps wants to stick with the franchise he grew up watching. But there's something all too alluring, if not fitting, about watching LaVar run roughshod in L.A. among the stars.

But the fit makes even more sense on the court. Lonzo checks in at 6'5" and 195 pounds and is a pass-first point who acts as a court general perhaps better than any prospect in the class. Pair him with Russell and the Lakers suddenly have one of the league's best young backcourts.

No shock then, to hear the Lakers have a strong interest in Ball, according to ESPN.com's Chad Ford.

"The Lakers appear to be enamored with Ball, a local product who could add star power to a team desperately in search of it. But they'll likely have to land in the top two to get him," Ford wrote.

The idea of this picturesque union relies on the lottery going well for the Lakers Tuesday night. Ball is in contention to come off the board at No. 1, though guys like Markelle Fultz and Josh Jackson are also serious contenders for the same honor, which may hinge on where the lottery teams end up in the order.

       

A Paul George Trade...

Chris Szagola/Associated Press

...seems like a growing possibility.

The Indiana Pacers didn't do themselves any favors bowing out of the playoffs in embarrassing fashion. Larry Bird stepped down as president, but it's hard not to think George might be over getting whipped around by LeBron James in the Eastern Conference on a team that hasn't been able to surround him with contending pieces.

And while we're talking about guys who want to play for their hometown team, it seems George classifies, as recently noted by Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News.

In that same writeup, Lawrence penned "So it’s no surprise that Johnson will probably pursue George and set out to build a title team around him, according to multiple sources who have known Johnson over the years."

Let's add to this with a small, albeit large comment written by ESPN.com's Zach Lowe: "The Lakers will dangle prospects for Paul George."

Aaron Gash/Associated Press

Given the mentioned young roster the Lakers have in place, shipping Indiana a pick and a prospect or two capable of helping a small-market rebuilder trend in the right direction after losing a superstar isn't the hardest thing to do.

But whether the Lakers fully commit to this route under Magic's direction is hard to say. Teams like the Boston Celtics have stuck to their guns via lengthy rebuilds and made deep playoff runs. The Lakers might be in a position to do the same given a little more patience.

On top of that, if the rumblings around George are true about his hometown ambitions, waiting another year and giving up nothing at all except cap space to bring him to town is probably something worth waiting for—and a strategy that would mesh well with how the Lakers have chosen to build over the last few years.

Either way, it's clear the Lakers have more options than usual and this offseason is a turning point for the franchise based on the way those in charge choose to steer the ship.

       

All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.