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Luke Walton's future lies with the Los Angeles Lakers as the storied franchise's next head coach, but for now he remains an employee of the Golden State Warriors as they attempt to win back-to-back championships. Tuesday was therefore an important day for Walton for two reasons — the Warriors had to make adjustments ahead of Wednesday's Game 2 with the Oklahoma City Thunder following a Game 1 loss, and the Lakers were set to find out if they would keep their top-three protected first-round draft pick or ship it to the Philadelphia 76ers.
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We do not yet know if the Warriors bounce back against the Thunder, but the Lakers got great news Tuesday when it was revealed that they had held onto the No. 2 overall pick in June's draft as the lottery matched its odds for the first time in history. Walton got a bit of a scare, though, because one of his current colleagues and future adversaries played a trick on him shortly before the official announcement (via Silver Screen and Roll):
Before lottery, Warriors PR czar Raymond Ridder texted Luke Walton that Lakers got 4th pick. Luke fell for the prank, now has last laugh.
— Bill Oram (@billoram) May 18, 2016
Wow, that's really not very nice. That Lakers pick looked like the difference between another iffy season and a chance at a real rebuilding process, and perhaps even an accelerated one if the Lakers obtained a high-impact prospect good enough to convince a top free agent that the risk of joining a lottery team was worth it. The Lakers held a 44 percent chance of losing it to the Sixers, too, so it's not as if that negative turn would have been especially shocking.
On the other hand, I'm not sure Walton got the last laugh in this situation. The Lakers are still a team in need of a lot of help, and they're likely to remain well behind the Warriors in 2016-17 no matter who comes via that second pick. Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are terrific prospects, but they're not going to come in and be as effective as Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, or Draymond Green right away.
If Walton is laughing, it's probably from a sense of relief.
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