Magic Johnson lived up to his name on Tuesday, as the Lakers jumped up a spot and came away with a much-desired result from the NBA Draft Lottery.
For the third straight year, the Lakers will have an opportunity to add another piece to their young core with the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft.
Los Angeles had just a 15.7 percent shot of drafting second overall, which was up against a 53.1 percent chance of losing the pick altogether if it fell out of the top three.
Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka said they had contingencies in place for all outcomes, but the President of Basketball Operations was thrilled on stage when NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum announced that the team will keep its pick.
“We’re just happy tonight’s over, because now our strategy and the plan we have for the Laker organization we can put in place now,” Johnson told Lakers.com. “We can start to execute a plan. We had a Plan A and a Plan B. Now we can go to Plan A because we know where we’re gonna be.”
Philadelphia will now receive L.A.’s first round-pick in next year’s 2018 Draft. But the Lakers will have the option to immediately better their team by drafting a high-profile player or trading the pick to another club.
“We have a winning plan in place and it wasn’t contingent around tonight,” Pelinka said. “What this does is just kind of establishes what our assets are in the short term, and now we can start making all the chess moves we want to affect the winning plan that we have.”
Pelinka said that the Lakers are in “an extraordinary position of strength” now that they own the second and 28th picks in this draft.
He and Johnson — who have only been on the job for a few months — are excited about their first major opportunity as leaders of the front office.
“We’ve been in New York all speaking to agents and you could feel the enthusiasm in the player community and the agent community of just the direction and the vision and where things are headed,” Pelinka said.
The Lakers’ fortunes also saved them their first-round pick in 2019, which would have been sent to Orlando if they had fallen out of the top three. Instead the Magic will received L.A.’s second-round selections this year and next.
Instead, the Lakers can pick second overall for the fifth time in franchise history. Johnson and Pelinka are already relishing the opportunity.
“Rob has been working the phones,” Johnson said. “He’s been doing an excellent job already. So I can imagine it’s gonna happen now. We’re both working really well together. It’s gonna be exciting for both of us to get to work now. Roll our sleeves up and get to work.”