Lakers need to trade No. 4 pick for superstar

Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Ahead of Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery, the Lakers kept their fingers crossed hoping the ping-pong balls bounce in their favor for some good luck. Entering the lottery with only a two percent chance of getting the No. 1 overall pick, the Lakers lucked into the fourth overall pick in June’s NBA draft.

Nothing good had happened for them until the Lakers were lucky enough to move all the way up from No. 11 to the No. 4 spot. The one thing the Lakers and their fans should be thankful for is getting lucky in the lottery after jumping seven spots.

The reality is, they put themselves in a position to be lucky, despite their long odds. The feeling around the Lakers is almost as if they won an NBA championship. The night’s biggest winners masterfully pulled off a stunning victory that could shape their future. Perhaps surprisingly, the Lakers have plenty of options and control of their own fate.

Now they can either select one of the draft’s top talents in a top-notch class, or they can swap the pick to the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis. Trade it. Or, at least, they should consider it. On draft night, the Lakers know they have to go big or go bust, explore options of trading their selection and pull off a blockbuster deal that would change the team’s fortune.

That’s exactly the kind of win-now move they should make to shake off a stench of losing and cultivate a winning environment that solidifies the team’s future. In what would be viewed as an astronomical upgrade, the Lakers will be glad to re-open discussions back up with the Pelicans about a potential AD trade. This has become a main talking point for fans who are hoping  for the Lakers to land the superstar big man.

Whatever they decide to do this summer with their draft selection, whether it is to go after the best talent available or reach out to the Pelicans, then create a package to acquire Davis, Rob Pelinka will have to take a major step towards the progress of a full rebuild.

If you want to win now, you give up the lottery pick with some young assets for a big-name player. If you’re all in for a bona fide All-Star who would embody the team’s rising power, you’re not eyeing an “incredibly talented, impact player” in this year’s draft.

The Lakers have left it up to him to set the course for their future and construct the perfect roster around his main star LeBron James. It’s Pelinka’s job to make important decisions in this franchise’s history. It’s on him to lay out a plan of action and successful execute his rebuilding project to the best of his ability, though he has no previous experience in an NBA front office.

Whatever happens for the Lakers this offseason, Pelinka will have the most powerful voice in basketball operations when he hasn’t proven himself as someone who can refashion the team into a serious title contender and allow its brand to flourish.

The current situation seems to suggest that they could use this pick as trade bait and not worry about being average. Six years after missing the playoffs, the Lakers need to undergone a massive number of changes. This rampant trend has continued and shows no signs of abatement. From top to bottom, the Lakers are an utter mess, and if Pelinka can’t turn things around, it could only get messier.

It comes down to how well Pelinka plays his cards this summer. Jeanie Buss, his boss, evidently, entrusts him to get the Lakers back to championship form. They will come around one day, win again, then will reign supreme. For that to happen, though, Pelinka can’t afford to mess up. The widely disliked general manager was thrown into the fire with little training, if any at all.

They have a star player, but an unproven team executive and a headstrong owner. In the early part of April, they lost their team president who stunningly stepped down, then Pelinka stepped into a new role and took Magic Johnson’s place.

The road, from here on out, might be difficult now for them, and Pelinka needs to figure out how to perform on a daily basis. There’s no telling what the future might bring for them, but earning the fourth pick is a consolation prize.

While the Lakers should be buyers for a chance to win now, they’ll most likely be builders, hold on to the No. 4 pick and select a player with it. But by drawing the fourth overall selection, which was a steal for them, they still don’t have a shot at three transcendent players in this draft.

Nonetheless, despite not getting a top-three pick, they can grab somebody good. It’s unclear if they’ll be smart and trade the future for the present because it’s their best bet. If the Lakers keep the treasured gift they received from basketball gods, they’ll go with Cam Reddish.

In adding a streaky outside shooter like Reddish, his presence on the perimeter could help them become more efficient shooting from outside. The demand for three-point shooters is high, but after a long spell in the doldrums, a trade would be a smart move for the Lakers.

The Pelicans earned the No. 1 overall pick and will get a shot to draft Zion Williamson, the most hyped NBA prospect since James. The Memphis Grizzlies are slated to take Ja Morant with the No. 2 pick. The New York Knicks, in all likelihood, select RJ Barrett at No. 3.

The Lakers are being led by an unqualified executive, Buss’ close friends Kurt and Linda Rambis. There are a lot of decisions to be made and options to be weighed carefully. The thought process is that giving away a top-four pick for an already proven superstar will transform a mediocre Lakers team into a winner.

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Jonathan Mathis as known as The Sports Judge is the founder of SoCalChronicle. He is a professional Sports writer, contributor, Youtuber, podcaster @ ASAP Network, and co-host of Gonzo & The Judge Sports Talk. Follow the SportsJudge@


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