It will be Kupchak who has the fi­nal say on whom Lak­ers will take, if they keep the pick.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Mike Bres­na­han

The lottery luck of a month ago has led to some­thing so pre­dictable, so Lak­er­s­like, that it’s pretty much in­grained in their brand — in­trigue.

What the Lak­ers will do with the No. 2 pick in Thurs­day’s NBA draft is a closely held se­cret.

They could make the safe move, tak­ing Duke cen­ter Jahlil Okafor and his Tim Dun­can- like skills. Or they could draft Ohio State point guard D’An­gelo Rus­sell and be keeper of all the “taller Chris Paul” whis­pers.

Less likely, they’ll take Lat­vian big man Kristaps Porzingis or end up trad­ing the pick to the Sacra­mento Kings as part of a block­buster deal for All- Star cen­ter DeMar­cus Cousins.

One thing is cer­tain. Gen­eral Man­ager Mitch Kupchak will have the fi­nal say on what the Lak­ers do with the pick, as­sum­ing they keep it.

He will re­ceive in­put from team ex­ec­u­tive Jim Buss and Lak­ers scout­ing di­rec­tor Jesse Buss, not to men­tion other scouts’ opin­ions, but the last call will be Kupchak’s, ac­cord­ing to a per­son fa­mil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion.

The Lak­ers also own the 27th pick ( af­ter Jeremy Lin was ac­quired from Hous­ton last July) and their own sec­ond- round se­lec­tion, 34th over­all.

The im­por­tant pick is ob­vi­ously at No. 2, the Lak­ers’ high­est since tak­ing James Wor­thy first over­all in 1982.

Okafor be­came the f irst fresh­man to win ACC player of the year hon­ors while lead­ing Duke to the NCAA cham­pi­onship and av­er­ag­ing 17.3 points and 8.5 re­bounds. He showed the most pol­ished post game in col­lege, com­plete with quick spin moves and a face- up jumper, while tal­ent eval­u­a­tors drooled over the size of his hands.

The main ques­tion marks are his free- throw shoot­ing ( 51% at Duke) and shot- block­ing skills, but his sup­port­ers in­clude one of the best col­lege coaches of all time.

“I don’t think I’ll f ind another Okafor be­cause I’ve never had a guy like him,” Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski told The Times. “I think he’s the best player in the draft. There’s no­body like him.”

Rus­sell’s dy­namic per­son­al­ity is matched only by his play­mak­ing abil­ity, mak­ing him an eye- catch­ing pos­si­bil­ity.

He didn’t al­ways shoot well when the Lak­ers at­tended his Ohio State games but his in- per­son work­outs eased that con­cern. The Lak­ers would have to do some reshuf­fling if they ac­quired him, mov­ing Jor­dan Clark­son from point guard to his more nat­u­ral po­si­tion of shoot­ing guard.

Porzingis has less of a chance to be drafted by the Lak­ers, but he in­trigued them with his work­outs and unique blend of tal­ent as a 7- foot cen­ter with three- point touch.

And if Ken­tucky cen­ter Karl- An­thony Towns fell to them, the Lak­ers would snap him up quickly, though there was only an ex­tremely slim chance the Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves would pass him up with the No. 1 se­lec­tion.

De­spite the round- the- clock hand- wring­ing of which player to take, the Lak­ers should be thank­ful they even own such a high pick.

They f in­ished with the NBA’s fourth- worst record ( 21- 61) but jumped two spots in the draft thanks to a lucky lottery night last month. Had they fallen two spots, of which there was a 17.3% chance, they would have for­feited the top- f ive pro­tected pick as part of the Steve Nash trade, but the plas­tic drum spat out ping- pong balls num­bered 6- 8- 4- 11, and the Lak­ers were awarded the sec­ond spot af­ter the worst sea­son in the team’s 67- year history.

Mean­while, the team con­tin­ued to in­quire about Cousins with an of­fer cen­tered on that No. 2 pick, which might be “the best of­fer the Kings can get” at this point, ac­cord­ing to a per­son fa­mil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion, although the Kings have pub­licly stated they are not in­ter­ested in trad­ing Cousins.

The Lak­ers would prob­a­bly have to add Julius Ran­dle to com­plete the deal, among other salary con­sid­er­a­tions. Ran­dle sus­tained a sea­so­nend­ing bro­ken leg on open­ing night last sea­son af­ter be­ing drafted sev­enth over­all.

Cousins, 24, av­er­aged 24.1 points, 12.7 re­bounds and 3.6 as­sists last sea­son, his fifth in the NBA. He is one of the game’s top cen­ters and ac­tive de­fen­sively, av­er­ag­ing 1.7 blocked shots and 1.5 steals last sea­son.

Kings Vice Pres­i­dent Vlade Di­vac was “very ir­ri­tated” to read re­ports of the Kings’ de­sire to trade Cousins, ac­cord­ing to the Sacra­mento Bee.

Di­vac also de­nied that Sacra­mento Coach Ge­orge Karl was push­ing for a deal in­volv­ing Cousins. A Ya­hoo Sports re­port said Karl and Cousins had a ten­u­ous re­la­tion­ship at best. Karl be­came the Kings’ head coach in Fe­bru­ary af­ter Mike Malone was f ired. Cousins has three more years and $ 50.9 mil­lion re­main­ing on his con­tract. He was the fifth over­all pick in 2010.

Gerald Herbert As­so­ci­ated Press

JAHLIL OKAFOR of Duke could wind up a Laker if the team holds onto the No. 2 se­lec­tion in the draft. But the Lak­ers could use that pick in a deal to land Sacra­mento’s DeMar­cus Cousins.

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