Prior to the Los Angeles Lakers completing a blockbuster trade for Anthony Davis, they attempted to make a playoff run with LeBron James leading a young core of Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart.
Things were going well with the Lakers in the No. 4 seed on Christmas Day of the 2018-19 season, but an injury to James set the team back significantly and eventually knocked them out of the postseason permanently.
In the middle of James’ injury recovery, Davis requested a trade away from the New Orleans Pelicans, with the Lakers as his top choice. Instantly, Ingram, Ball, Hart and Kuzma became some of the most talked about players in the NBA.
They were touted as likely going to be heading to the Pelicans in a trade for Davis. A deal never materialized before the trade deadline, but the damage had been done.
These rumors did permanent damage to the locker room chemistry and Ingram admitted it affected the mental state of the entire Lakers young core, via “The Old Man And The Three” podcast:
“For me, I had one game where I think I let the outside get to me because it’s a lot. It’s a lot. I never let outside noise or anything get to me because I’m so prepared for anything, but there was one game where I was like, ‘This is more than basketball. This is an action movie that we’re in right now. Like everybody is posing for the camera, everybody knows the camera is on.’ So it was important for me to lockdown all the negativity and everything that wasn’t going into basketball. It was tough for me. … I know other guys around me, it killed them.
“Every day when you wake up and you see your name on Twitter, and the guys around me, they love Twitter. They love searching, putting in their names. We’d come to the gym for practice and the energy is totally off. It doesn’t seem like anybody wants to play or anything. It was a whirlwind, for sure.”
It was clear in the moment that trade rumors were taking a toll on the locker room. However, the extent of that was not revealed until after Ingram, Ball and Hart left L.A. However, the trade has since proven to be a win for both sides.
The Lakers received an elite player and a championship, while the Pelicans got a talented young core that included a first year All-Star in Ingram.
Davis’ criticism sparks Lakers
The Lakers got off to a 2-2 start this season but began to find their footing as they went on a four-game winning streak. It was snapped in a home loss to the San Antonio Spurs, which was accompanied by Davis criticizing the Lakers’ defense.
The message was well-received as Davis and the Lakers have picked up their play on that end in the time since. Head coach Frank Vogel and James both supported Davis voicing his opinion, in large part because he also held himself accountable.
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