Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated
Brandon Ingram is a professional basketball player. I’m sure he has dealt with much worse from fans, from his time in high school, to his year at Duke, to his brief time so far with the Lakers. However, for an entire crowd to be chanting that the best player on his team is actively trying to move him to another team simply has to do something to his psyche, if not on the court, in the locker room.
When LeBron joined the Lakers this summer, NBA fans warned the Laker fan community that him coming to town would mean drastic changes within the franchise- whenever LeBron is added to a team, win now expectations are added, and this means that younger players without much experience become baggage, and specialists who can perform one specific task on a championship level- or max-level players who are already in their prime- become a priority. We have seen this happen with the Miami Heat, as players like Ray Allen, Chris Andersen, James Jones, Rashard Lewis, and Mike Miller were brought in during their championship run, leaving the roster as one of the oldest in the league. We have also seen this happen with the Cavs, specifically the second time he was in Cleveland, with players like Mike Dunleavy, Richard Jefferson, Kyle Korver, Jose Calderon, and Channing Frye increasing the age of the Cavs by a number of years from when LeBron came back to Cleveland.
But when LeBron made it to LA, he promised this would be a different look. The Lakers were looking like a young and promising team, with pieces like Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and Ivica Zubac all under 25 years old and with plenty of potential. And LeBron, for his part, played it differently than he had before, saying that he was excited to work with this young core of players and develop them while the team developed together as well.
“We all can pick, you know, a guy a day. ‘Hey, I got you today, Kuz, or Zo, I got you, or Rondo, he got you, or BI.” So, we have a great mixture. And that’s what Earvin did, or that’s what Rob did, or Jeanie. They put together a … great mix of young guys, older guys, veterans, champions, guys that want to learn from … So, it’s exciting for sure.”
The above is a quote from Lakers media day of Lebron basically saying him and the other veterans on the team, Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley, and JaVale McGee, would split time and be excited about helping the young players on the team.
He also stressed the word “patience” quite a bit when talking about the team’s expectations for the season and trying to temper those to be realistic for this season. After all, he did sign a 4-year contract so this seems to be a long-term marriage- he would help the young players along and once they were ready to win, he would still be good enough to shoulder the majority of the burden to lead them. And yet, after all that, here we are in February, and LeBron (via the front office) just essentially attempted to trade the entire young core he has for Anthony Davis.
As a veteran player who has essentially seen all there is to see in the league, LeBron should know by now how to manage young players, and especially ones who have never been to the playoffs. If he is going to sign a 4-year deal, and stress how much he is looking forward to working with the young players and how they will fit his game, attempting to then flip them is not a good look.
We all know about Anthony Davis and his talent, he is undeniably a top-5 player in this league today. But LeBron, after saying repeatedly that he is here to help along the young players and work with them, can’t try to trade them all just a few months later, especially when it would have left the Lakers with little to no support from the bench, and left them still a team that would not be able to compete for Western Conference titles.
So after all this, the Lakers sit at 28-28, 2.5 games behind the last seed in the Western Conference playoff picture. And now that their team chemistry seems to have taken a hit, is it fair to call them a lock to get in? LeBron James has lived in the playoffs for almost his entire career. But now, it looks like he will have to perform one of his toughest feats to get these Lakers into the postseason this year.