One of the questions many posed after the Los Angeles Lakers signed LeBron James in free agency was who from the team’s young core would emerge as the second star. Most identified Brandon Ingram, both for his tantalizing upside and the fact he was entering his third season.
Lakers president of basketball operations named Ingram as the player on the roster who he expected to benefit most from playing alongside James. Johnson joked he would go to great lengths to ensure the two remain attached at the hip throughout the season.
Not only has Ingram failed to meet expectations, he’s statistically been worse when sharing the court with James than times they are separated. That’s factored into the Lakers’ youngest player with the highest upside being bandied about as a potential trade chip.
During an appearance on “Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective,” ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said the Lakers to some degree included Ingram when having Jimmy Butler trade talks with the Minnesota Timberwolves:
“The question is this, is Brandon Ingram more valuable for the Lakers as LeBron’s teammate or as a trade chip? … I know that they were floating him in at least one trade for — I’ll just go ahead and say it, that he was brought up in the Jimmy Butler stuff.”
Ingram was also included in trade speculation when the San Antonio Spurs were working to resolve the saga with Kawhi Leonard. Though, a trade with the Lakers always appeared to be unlikely. It’s believed their package to pry Leonard away from the Spurs needed to be built around Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart.
If looking back further, the Lakers reportedly rebuffed the Oklahoma City Thunder when they asked for Ingram in a potential Paul George trade. Still in the early stages of his career, Ingram can already assemble an impressive list of stars he was not traded for.