With new coach JJ Redick at the helm, the Lakers’ draft strategy beginning to take shape

JJ Redick, right, shares a stage with Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, left, after being introduced as the the new head coach of the Lakers NBA basketball team Monday, June 24, 2024, in El Segundo, Calif. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
JJ Redick, right, shares a stage with Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, left, after being introduced as the the new head coach of the Lakers on Monday, June 24, 2024, in El Segundo, Calif. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

The Los Angeles Lakers introduced JJ Redick as the franchise’s newest head coach Monday afternoon. Redick spent the weekend connecting with players up and down the Lakers’ roster over the phone, league sources told Yahoo Sports, explaining his vision for some of their specific roles. Redick left various players and their representatives with the impression the first-time head coach is going to value positional versatility, 3-point shooting and playmaking for lineups that can optimize LeBron James off the ball, sources said.

As the Lakers embark on the rest of a critical offseason, the idea of Los Angeles targeting centers to slot next to Anthony Davis has once again circulated among league personnel. There have since been several centers linked to the Lakers at No. 17 in Wednesday’s NBA Draft, most recently Baylor freshman Yves Missi as well as Indiana sophomore Ke’lel Ware. Pelicans center Jonas Valančiūnas, who’s approaching unrestricted free agency, has been another big man often mentioned by NBA figures as a potential Lakers frontcourt addition this summer.

Los Angeles has also made that No. 17 selection available via trade, sources said, as the Lakers have evaluated the market for a significant contributor alongside James and Davis. The Lakers, remember, held serious talks with Atlanta about acquiring Dejounte Murray in the lead-up to February’s trade deadline. Jerami Grant, a client of Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, is believed to be another potential addition on the Lakers’ wishlist, according to league sources.

There remains a simpler scenario in which the Lakers move down from the No. 17 pick. The New York Knicks and Utah Jazz have made advances about combining their last first-round pick and second-round draft capital to slide up into the teens of this draft, rival executives told Yahoo Sports. Would Utah’s Nos. 29 and 32 picks be enough to entice the Lakers to fall back from their original slot? Both selections would afford Los Angeles an earlier chance to draft Bronny James, as compared to the Lakers’ current second-round pick at No. 55.

The Jazz also hold the No. 10 pick Wednesday, before those selections at Nos. 29 and 32, plus a bounty of future draft capital from Utah’s previous Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell blockbusters. The Jazz will also hold roughly $40 million in cap space before Utah will have to consider extension conversations with All-Star forward Lauri Markkanen. This Utah regime under CEO Danny Ainge and general manager Justin Zanik has long been considered creative and advantageous, as the Jazz attempted to trade up from No. 9 in last June’s draft, sources said. Utah also contemplated runs at both Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday last fall.

So, what could be the next big swing on the Jazz’s radar? Brooklyn Nets swingman Mikal Bridges, according to league sources, is a player to monitor among Utah’s most aggressive aspirations. The Jazz are said to be right in the mix with Houston, holding the No. 3 pick, and New York, where three of Bridges’ college teammates currently play, among the teams that continue to check with Brooklyn about the availability of its 27-year-old swingman. The Jazz have substantial salaries for veterans John Collins ($26.5 million) and Jordan Clarkson ($14 million) to send out in any possible deal, in addition to trading into their own cap room.

Teams picking behind Houston maintain the team is motivated to move its No. 3 selection for win-now upgrades, as the team is expected to pick up the team option for Jae’Sean Tate and guarantee the salaries of Jeff Green and Jock Landale, sources said, as potential outgoing money in trade packages.

The Nets have been active in attempts to try to trade into this week’s draft, according to league sources, as Brooklyn does not currently own a selection. The Nets have called front offices with selections as early as the 20s, sources said, as many teams appear to be open for business to move out of the first entirely, down a flew slots or into the second round.

Phoenix at No. 22, New York at No. 25, Minnesota at No. 27, Utah at No. 29, and Boston with No. 30 are weighing various trade scenarios, sources said, in both directions along the draft board.