Playing both sides: Fultz happy to land with Lakers, Celtics
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) Markelle Fultz wants to be the first player chosen in the NBA draft next week, either by the Boston Celtics or whatever team ends up with their No. 1 pick.
Just in case he isn't, he also wants the Los Angeles Lakers to know what they can get at No. 2.
Fultz went through an hour-long private workout for the Lakers on Thursday before meeting with the team's top brass at their training complex. The Maryland-born University of Washington product is generally expected to be the top pick, but he has stayed in close contact with the Lakers since the draft combine.
''It was a family decision,'' Fultz said of his willingness to work out for Los Angeles. ''Giving everybody the opportunity. Never know where I might land, so I just wanted to see how it is out here.''
Fultz didn't have to work out for anyone at all, and some consensus No. 1 picks choose to work out only for the top team. The Celtics already hosted Fultz, but the slick scorer said he isn't afraid of a little extra scrutiny.
''I'm blessed to play the game,'' Fultz said, still wearing his gray Lakers workout gear. ''I'd like to go (No.) 1, but wherever I land is where I go.''
Fultz's talent has put him in a unique position between two of the NBA's most iconic franchises, but he welcomes the possibility of ending up on either side of the famed Celtics-Lakers rivalry.
''Really, to me, it doesn't matter,'' Fultz said. ''Wherever I go, I'm going to be the same guy. I'm going to be humble. Of course, coming here with the Hollywood lights, it's going to be great publicity. I'll get my brand out there and just build it myself.''
With his mother, agent and personal trainer in attendance, Fultz went through numerous offensive drills while Magic Johnson and Luke Walton looked on. Fultz said the Lakers were interested in his ability off pick-and-roll sets and his shooting mechanics.
The 6-foot-4 guard believes he would fit well alongside D'Angelo Russell, the Lakers' similarly sized third-year guard.
''Basketball players who are pretty good at what they do learn how to play with each other,'' Fultz said.
After lunch, Fultz planned to visit the Lakers' new training complex under construction just down the street from the current building.
He hasn't decided whether to work out for even more teams in the final days before the draft, but he'll discuss it with his family.
With the No. 2 pick for the third consecutive season, the Lakers know they'll be able to choose either Fultz or Lonzo Ball, the UCLA playmaker widely considered the second-biggest talent in the draft. Ball is eager to stay home with the Lakers, and he went through an extensive workout in El Segundo last week.
Ball is meeting with the Lakers again Friday in a private setting as Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka hone in on their strategy for next week.
Fultz acknowledges he is developing a personal rivalry with Ball through the draft process. He wouldn't mind if they ended up on opposite sides of the NBA's most storied team rivalry, either.
''I'm a competitor, so anybody that's in front of me, I'm going to try and take them out,'' Fultz said. ''Lonzo is a great guard, so we're both competing for the same position. Stepping on the court, I'm going to try and beat him in everything I do, if that's tying my shoe faster or anything.''
The two famous franchises with the top two picks have one major current difference: While the Celtics were the Eastern Conference's top playoff seed last season, the Lakers are coming out of the worst four-year stretch in franchise history. Fultz is intrigued by the chance for immediate postseason contention, but the Lakers' promising young core presents its own intrigue.
''I thought about both,'' Fultz said. ''Being a young team would pretty much feel like college again. But either/or. Coming to a young team or an old team, I'm just blessed to play the game.''
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