While the Los Angeles Lakers resisted temptations to tap into their young core in potential trades for Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, the front office was seemingly willing to do so if it meant acquiring Anthony Davis at the deadline.
After five initial proposals were not particularly enticing to the New Orleans Pelicans, the Lakers reportedly revised their offer to include Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Ivica Zubac.
Veterans Michael Beasley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson were also mentioned as potential trade chips throughout reported talks with the Pelicans. Ultimately, New Orleans rebuffed all offers and kept Davis at the deadline.
As speculation reached a fever pitch earlier this week, the Lakers had a listless performance in a 42-point loss to an Indiana Pacers team that was without All-Star Victor Oladipo and playing the second night of a back-to-back.
Prior to that, there was a reported heated exchange between head coach Luke Walton and Beasley and JaVale McGee. Despite the locker room seemingly being affected by the trade rumors, general manager Rob Pelinka explained to Mike Bresnahan on “Access SportsNet: Lakers,” why he didn’t believe it was necessary to address the team over attempts to trade for Davis, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“I think at the end of the day all of us have jobs that are being publicly discussed. The wins and losses and front office are being publicly discussed. Good trade, bad trade. Same for players. … I think it’s important to recognize that’s part of the business. Hopefully, with the trade deadline over, the group will just stay together. We have a mission to try to make a playoff push, get in the playoffs and make some noise.”
It can be reasoned Pelinka and the front office indirectly sent a message to the players by trading Beasley to the Clippers.
The Lakers played with improved focus and energy in their first game after the trade deadline, resulting in a win over the Boston Celtics thanks to Rondo’s buzzer-beater. LeBron James recorded a triple-double, while Ingram and Kuzma bounced back with all-around efforts.
With the deadline passing, speculation should shift to the buyout market (Lakers have one open roster spot) but otherwise cease for at least the next two months. That presumably will allow the team to get their sights back on a playoff push.
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