The Los Angeles Lakers have had a great offseason thus far. Kickstarting the great offseason was the 2023 NBA Draft, which proved to be a solid outing for the purple and gold. Los Angeles took Jalen Hood-Schifino with the team’s first pick in the first round since 2018. JHS may take time to develop but the traits for him to be a solid rotation player are there.
The better value pick arguably came in the second round with Maxwell Lewis, who at one point was viewed to be a first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Not only did the Lakers land a steal in the second round with Lewis but the team learned from past mistakes and was able to sign Lewis to a four-year deal.
It has all worked out greatly for the Lake Show and the crazy thing is that it almost never happened. Before the Lakers took Lewis with the 40th overall pick, it looked like he was instead going to go to LA’s bitter rivals, the Boston Celtics. Lewis’ father, Robert, told Dan Woike of the L.A. Times about the craziness that was draft night and how his son almost became a Celtic.
"“They got a call early in the second round that was a mix of good and bad news. A team wanted Maxwell on a two-way deal. That team, though, was the Boston Celtics.“What flashed through my mind is ‘I don’t know if I can wear a Boston jersey … but I’ll take it,’” Robert said.Then the phone call came from Pelinka — a roster spot, not a two-way deal, was what the Lakers planned on offering. Soon after, the Lakers made the pick at No. 40.”"
Celtics nearly stole Maxwell Lewis from the Lakers
Not only was this a better outcome for Maxwell Lewis but it was also a better outcome for his father, who is a Lakers fan and didn’t have to stoop down a level and put on Celtics green.
What is the most interesting thing about this situation is the fact that Boston still held the cards and could have taken Lewis. Boston had the 38th pick in the draft and ultimately took another forward in Jordan Walsh. Lewis had no real choice in the matter.
There is a world in which Lewis’ agent leveraged the desire from the Lakers to essentially convince the Celtics not to take him. That does happen all the time in the NBA Draft, especially in the second round. Teams are typically willing to do the agent a favor knowing that it would come back around in favor of them if they are on the other side of a similar situation.
But the thing is that the Celtics didn’t sign Walsh to a two-way contract. Walsh signed a standard four-year deal with the team. That indicates that Boston wasn’t expecting Walsh to fall to the team with the 38th pick. Boston may have been ready to trade Lewis and only changed course once Walsh became available.
The two players are pretty similar but Lewis is a bit older, which means that he (theoretically) will be more NBA-ready than Walsh. So why sign him to a two-way deal but sign Walsh to a standard deal? That logic seems backward.
Regardless, the Lakers ended up with Maxwell Lewis who, for our money, is the better player of the two second-round forwards.