It’s odd to think about now, but as little as two years ago, the Los Angeles Lakers were not having a good time.
A blueprint of LeBron James surrounded by the Lakers’ accrued collection of young talent — including Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart — seemed promising, but the end result for James’ first year in Los Angeles was a 37-45 record. And rampant trade rumors.
Chatter about a deal for Anthony Davis dominated the second half of the Lakers’ season, with Davis’ (and James’) agent Rich Paul publicly declaring the star big man wanted out of New Orleans and L.A. reported to top his list of destinations. Trade talks eventually broke down during the season, with bad blood clearly left on both sides before a new set of executives pushed the trade through.
As Ingram remembers it, the Lakers’ young players didn’t enjoy the environment.
How some young Lakers handled it, per Ingram:
“I know other guys around me, it killed them every day. When you wake up and you see your name on Twitter. The guys around me, they love Twitter. They love searching, putting in their names … The energy was totally off. It didn’t seem like anybody wanted to play, anything. It was a whirlwind.
Ingram noted that he also struggled with frustrations that year, admitting the noise got to him during one game.
There had been indications that the Lakers’ young players were struggling with the rumors at the time. They were reported to no longer trust James after it became very clear he was ready to see many of them traded away, and one NBA executive speculated that the dynamic killed the Lakers’ chemistry.
Of course, it obviously all worked out for James. He eventually got his co-star in Davis and fourth championship ring and all the adulation that comes with it. It even worked out for Ingram, who immediately thrived in New Orleans, earning an All-Star nod and a five-year, $158 million deal in restricted free agency.
As for some other players on the Pelicans now, who knows.
They’re fine now, but the Lakers’ LeBron James era got off to an awkward start. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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