The Orlando Magic are on the clock and the Los Angeles Lakers are on the couch.
Thursday is the 2022 NBA Draft starting at 4:30 p.m. local time from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. ESPN and ABC will show the first round, the second round – which is the important one – will just be on ESPN.
After finishing 22-60 last year, the Magic won the Lottery and have the first pick. It looks like Auburn wing Jabari Smith Jr. is the first pick, but the Magic have planted stories in the press that they are ‘considering all deals’ trying to get some team to make a stupid trade.
There are almost always trades the day of the NBA Draft.
Remember when Kobe Bryant was a member of the Charlotte Hornets for about 45 minutes? In Laker history, this is the greatest Draft Day trade of them all.
The NBA Draft also features 75 different variations of the word “upside” used in the broadcast. There’s always grainy footage of some skinny point guard playing in Estonia and way too much talk about wingspan.
The Lakers don’t have a pick in either round, trading them both away.
So what’s a Laker basketball fan to do Thursday night? You can’t watch the Draft. We got you covered with some better options.
Dream of a new superstar coming to LA
Last week it was Bradley Beal interested in coming over to play for the Lakers. Then Monday, NBA uber-insider Shams Charania said – big shock – that Kyrie Irving and the Nets were at an impasse on a contract and the Lakers would certainly be interested in acquiring him.
Irving would be a superstar in a Lakers jersey, perhaps the bridge from the LeBron James Era to the next one, but every possible free agent that the Lakers – and Laker fans – want, encounters the same problem.
The Lakers don’t have the means to get him. By virtue of the trade for Anthony Davis, the Lakers’ draft picks are all spoken for the next few years. The Russell Westbrook contract is a huge stone weighing everything down.
Gone are the days when the Lakers and Celtics could fleece just about every other GM in the league and stockpile good players and picks.
It’s fun to dream though.
Relive Lakers history with a book
Confession time, I just finished re-reading Kareem, the book Abdul-Jabbar wrote during his last season in Los Angeles. It was the 1988-1989 season, the year after The Repeat.
Abdul-Jabbar has since become an award-winning writer, and the book is not your usual ‘athlete biography.’ Abdul-Jabbar talks about music, racism, social justice. He goes on a rant about Wilt Chamberlain (I forgot they feuded).
Basketball is almost an afterthought. The Lakers season is uneven, Kareem only plays about half the time, but they make it to the Finals to meet the Pistons. Just before the finals, Byron Scott gets hurt, then Magic gets hurt. The Pistons sweep the Lakers. Just like that Abdul-Jabbar’s career is over.
There are other great Laker books out there. Showtime by Pat Riley (the original Showtime, not the one written by Jeff Pearlman), Three Ring Circus by Pearlman and Golden Days by Jack McCallum. I’m still waiting for the definitive 1,000-page Kobe book.
HBO and Showtime
The year is 1979. There are drugs everywhere and the Lakers are a literal soap opera.
So HBO turned them into one.
If you haven’t watched it yet, spend a few hours checking out the HBO series: ‘Winning Time’ that is – ahem – loosely based on real-life events surrounding the Lakers in 1979 and beyond.
Were things really that wild? Did Jerry Buss really dress that way?
Heck, Jerry West is suing over his depiction in the show, saying he will take it all the way to the Supreme Court. Don’t diss the logo.
It’s a wild show. They’d never make a show like this about the Celtics.
Spoiler Alert: The Lakers win the 1980 NBA title.
In Ham we trust
Laker fans can also spend the time not watching the NBA Draft learning more about new coach Darvin Ham. Did you know he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated once? Did you know one of his nicknames was “Ham Slamwich?”
I want that nickname to come back so bad it hurts.
Ham has said and done all the right things so far in his short tenure. He looks engaged. He appears to have the confidence of his team. Hollywood honeymoons (heck, marriages) don’t last for long, so let’s enjoy the Ham-eymoon while we can.
He’s been given a team with lots of question marks and no easy fixes, but if he can get the Lakers to play a little bit of perimeter defense and stay healthy, they can get back in the playoffs.
Check out the Clippers Draft
While the Lakers don’t have a pick, their tenants in the Crypto.com Arena the Clippers do have one pick in the second round.
Drafts are always great signs for fans because it shows the general audience what the team really thinks about their team, meaning they’ve identified a weakness and taken someone to fill it. Have the Clips given up on Kawhi Leonard? Who they pick will be a big tell.
All right, I know Laker fans really don’t care, but it’s a Thursday night, what else are you going to do? What’s your wingspan?