Lakers receive intriguing update about 2024 first-round draft pick

The Los Angeles Lakers are entering an offseason in which help is needed from every angle. Help could be on the way from the 2024 NBA Draft.
Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers
Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

In an offseason of overwhelming uncertainty, the first domino of clarity is soon to fall. The Los Angeles Lakers will learn no later than the deadline of June 1 whether the New Orleans Pelicans will opt to retain the rights to L.A.'s 2024 first-round draft pick or defer the selection to 2025.

While nothing has been decided ahead of the June 1 deadline, it appears as though the Pelicans are leaning in a direction that could ultimately benefit the win-now mentality in Los Angeles.

According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Pelicans are expected to allow the Lakers to retain the rights to the No. 17 overall selection in the 2024 NBA Draft. The thought process is that the Pelicans are gambling on Los Angeles being worse in 2024-25 than it was in 2023-24.

Jason Lloyd of The Athletic has reported similarly, which only adds to the intrigue surrounding the possibility that Los Angeles could end up retaining its 2024 first-round draft pick.

"The Lakers currently hold the 17th pick in the first round, three spots ahead of the Cavs. The New Orleans Pelicans and old Cavs general manager David Griffin could pluck the Lakers’ pick this year as final payment for the Anthony Davis trade, but all indications at this point are that New Orleans will let Los Angeles keep its pick and defer the selection to next year, as is its right under the terms of the deal."

This is an encouraging rumor for a Lakers team that is limited in its financial flexibility and in serious need of an influx of talent.

For the second straight year, the Lakers could be drafting at No. 17 overall

Los Angeles finished the 2023-24 regular season at 47-35 and ultimately fell in five games to the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs. Only six Lakers averaged upwards of 20 minutes per game during the postseason, with that list including 39-year-old LeBron James and potential free agent D'Angelo Russell.

As such, the Lakers would undoubtedly benefit from being able to add a potential first-round draft pick to their roster on a rookie-scale deal.

As for New Orleans, deferring the rights is an understandable approach for the organization to consider. After all, the Lakers ended up with the 17th pick in the draft in a season that saw Anthony Davis, James, and Austin Reaves all play upwards of 70 games.

With Russell potentially leaving in free agency, a new coach soon to be hired, and the constant threat of injuries with players over 30, New Orleans could take a calculated risk.

With that being said, New Orleans also knows what kind of quality can be found at No. 17 overall. It landed current swingman Trey Murphy III with that very pick in 2021. Murphy has since gone on to establish himself as one of the most promising young wings in the NBA.

The Lakers remain optimistic that Jalen Hood-Schifino, selected by the team at No. 17 in 2023, could develop in a similar capacity.

Other noteworthy active players drafted at No. 17 include Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Donte DiVincenzo, Jrue Holiday, and former Lakers guard Dennis Schröder. If the reports hold true, then the Lakers will have a chance to add to that list of quality players selected with the 17th pick in 2024.

Much could change between now and June 1, but it looks like the chance for Los Angeles to potentially find another hidden gem is stronger than ever.