Luke Walton piqued some Lakers fans' interest recently when he mentioned Brandon Ingram's probable role at the start of this season. A Lakers coach saying a rookie would not start simply because of where he was drafted seems like the kind of thing that might throw fans into a PTSD-induced rage, but, really, it makes sense. Luol Deng (who will be starting in Ingram's place) is not Ronnie Price (who was somehow taking minutes away from Jordan Clarkson two years ago).
That should be the end of this story, but this wouldn't be Los Angeles if people didn't dig in the hopes of unearthing some headline-worthy quote from Ingram, questioning the coach months before any of this can come to fruition. In this case, it would be Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd who wields the shovel, as he had Ingram on his show Monday morning. Serena Winters of LakersNation grabbed the quotes.
Brandon Ingram on Luke Walton saying he probably won’t start him right away: "Hearing that gives me motivation to work hard."— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) September 19, 2016
As I alluded to earlier in the piece, Walton is positing about roles well in advance of the actual NBA season, which gives plenty of time for anyone to earn more minutes should they put in the work. Ingram's response would, then, be perfect given Walton's intentions. If Walton says the opposite, and gives Ingram the starting job even before training camp opens, there goes this motivation, and Deng -- a veteran whose respect Walton will absolutely need throughout their time together -- enters training camp with questions about why he came to L.A. in the first place.
Long story short: All of this played out pretty much exactly as anyone would've hoped.
Ingram also spoke about his reception into the fraternity that is the NBA. Walton would probably be pleased to hear about this.
Brandon Ingram (on @TheHerd) said all the NBA veterans he’s been around so far, have always tried to help, one of which is Andre Iguodala.— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) September 19, 2016
Brandon Ingram said he even texts w/ Iguodala, who’s told him he has the chance to be special on both offense and defense (via @TheHerd).— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) September 19, 2016
Why would Walton be so pleased? Well, Walton has mentioned previously how he hoped Ingram saw Iguodala accepting and thriving in a bench role, so the fact Ingram and Iggy are speaking regularly is probably a great sign. That the latter is singing the former's praises is a great sign for everyone involved. If I were to put by speculation goggles on, it probably isn't a giant leap to wonder if Luke put Ingram in contact with Iguodala given the relationship they built in Golden State and Walton/Iggy's University of Arizona ties.
So, in summation: Walton tries to motivate Ingram with talks of a bench role; it works; Ingram speaks to Iggy, for whom a move to the bench led to at least one championship; that works; and everyone is happy, unlike, well, you know. No need to live in the past.
If you want to watch the entire interview, you can do so below: