EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers have a 55.8 percent chance of keeping their top-three-protected first-round draft pick at the May 17 NBA draft lottery in New York.
If the pick falls out of the first three slots, it goes to the Philadelphia 76ers (who have since acquired the selection Los Angeles originally dealt to the Phoenix Suns for Steve Nash in 2012), and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is preparing as if that will happen.
“That’s how you have to plan, yes,” Kupchak said Friday at the team’s practice facility. “And I’m fine either way. I would love to have the pick. I want to keep the 32nd pick. But you have to look at it both ways, and if it doesn’t work out where we get the pick, we get the pick next year and we still have the ability to improve the team this summer.”
The Lakers finished the 2015-16 season a franchise-worst 17-65, the second-worst record in the NBA, but the reality is they risk not having a top-five pick to show for it.
Still, the team will at least have a second-round pick, 32nd overall.
If the Lakers have both picks, they could potentially add two more young players to a team that already has four such athletes as the core of the franchise’s future -- D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr., all of whom were drafted within the past two years.
But Kupchak, who will be representing the Lakers at the lottery, isn’t ready to talk about that possibility.
Why? He’s superstitious.
“Well right now, all we have is the 32nd pick, and I’m not really going to talk about the other pick because we don’t have it,” Kupchak said. “I mentioned earlier that I’m superstitious. I don’t like the whole ‘karma’ part of that. [I’m] not nearly as superstitious as my predecessor, Jerry West. There’s a traffic light at the Forum that he would never drive underneath. I’m not that superstitious. But I’m superstitious enough not to want to talk about a pick that we don’t have.”