EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- May 16 could be disastrous for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Or it could be the best day of their year, by far.
On that day, the NBA will hold its annual draft lottery in New York City to determine the order of the June draft. The Lakers hold a top-three protected pick, which will go to the Philadelphia 76ers if it falls outside the first three spots.
According to ESPN's Basketball Power Index, the Lakers have about a 47 percent chance of their pick falling among the first three slots, allowing them to keep it.
The Lakers would've had as much as a 56 percent chance of keeping their pick had they finished with the NBA's second-worst record, which they were on pace to do until they won five of their final six games to end the season, meaning they finished with the third-worst record instead.
"Listen, I think you have to be prepared for whatever scenario when you're looking at a random event like the lottery," Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said Thursday during exit interviews at the team's practice facility.
"People are asking, 'Do you guys have to have to that pick?' That's something that I get asked at every single game. I think we're prepared to have it, and we also have a plan if we don't."
He added, "I think for us, if we get the lottery balls to bounce our way, yes, we have a great attack-plan for the draft. But if we don't, just like [many famous] sports moments, we have to find a way, and we do have a plan, to still get to where our ultimate destination is without the draft pick."
When asked about the team's plans regarding the pick, Pelinka referenced a trade the team made earlier this season, receiving a first-round pick from the Houston Rockets in exchange for a deal that included high-scoring Lakers reserve guard Lou Williams.
"I think the beauty of what [Lakers president of basketball operations] Earvin [Johnson] was able to pull off before I accepted the position of general manager [is] we have, no matter what, we have a first-round pick this year," Pelinka said. "So we're already in a position of strength. And then if that top-three ping-pong ball enters our way, we have a number of contingencies of how that can play out.
"And if it doesn't, then again, we have our fallback position of a first-round pick already, and then we would have our pick in 2018. I think I had said to someone the other day the destination of getting to a championship might be like a Rubik's Cube. You're looking at this thing and it's got all these different colors and you've got to get them to all line up. There's 1,000 different ways to turn the cube and to get it so it all lines up, but you're going to eventually do. Maybe you have the pick; maybe you don't.
"But you have to continue to make moves and turn it until you have that complete perfect picture, and that's what we're doing every day, and that's what we're analyzing and looking at."