With the NBA draft less than a week away (starting Thursday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN), the rumors have been getting louder and louder.
One team central to a great deal of these rumors is the L.A. Lakers, for whom the 2016 offseason and draft wil be a defining moment as the Kobe-less era begins.
Last year they selected D'Angelo Russell No. 2 overall. But after averaging just over 13 points and three assists per game in a very inconsistent rookie campaign, the point guard could be on the outs in L.A.
Here's what ESPN's Chad Ford had to say:
"They've brought in Dragan Bender, Jaylen Brown, and while I still believe that it will be [Brandon] Ingram at No. 2, the Lakers have explored other options. And again I think the concern with Ingram is his lack of strength and how NBA-ready he's going to be because of that. I think more likely the Lakers are trying to pick up another pick in this draft in the top five and 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."
It is likely the Lakers, as reported above, will want a top five pick in return, narrowing their trade partners to the 76ers, Celtics, Suns and Timberwolves.
The Sixers are an interesting destination, because while they will likely be unwilling to surrender their No. 1 overall pick (and Ben Simmons), they might consider sending last year's No. 3 overall pick, Jahlil Okafor, out West. They could beef the trade up by also sending the Lakers back their protected first round pick next year, and Nos. 25 and 27 overall this year.
The other three squads have a bevy of assets as well, with the Celtics boasting a ridiculous eight draft picks this year and the Wolves a lot of young talent across the roster.
The rumors will continue to reach a fevered pitch — particularly in the front offices of the NBA's three most historic franchises (L.A., Boston and Philly) as the top three picks approach.