2017 is closing out in less-than-ideal fashion for the Los Angeles Lakers, in the midst of a four-game losing streak, feeling battered and bruised, and now they’ve held the dreaded “air it out” meeting. Reporters gathered in Los Angeles ahead of the Lakers’ third meeting against the LA Clippers of the season were informed that the players, and coaching staff, held a meeting to air out their on and off-court “grievances” on Thursday.
Frustration has been boiling internally recently, perhaps most-easily traced back to Andrew Bogut’s comments to reporters that it’s obvious players are frustrated with their situation following the Lakers’ loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Since then, the iron seems to be burning hotter around the Lakers’ front office wanting to find a suitable trade for Julius Randle, while Jordan Clarkson has emerged as another name that’s reportedly being floated in discussions.
That “basketball business” noise, along with injuries to much of the starting lineup, and the losing that’s begun piling up, has finally led to the team holding a meeting in an attempt to get everyone on the same page.
The Lakers’ players and head coach Luke Walton didn’t go into the specifics of what everyone had to say, but you can piece the puzzle together through the various details reported on following morning shootaround:
The Lakers had a team meeting yesterday instead of practice. Luke Walton gave players the floor to discuss whatever was on their mind. Lots of talk about frustrations guy were feeling, both on the court and with the business of the organization.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) December 29, 2017
Lakers also had a heart to heart team meeting yesterday. Think of it as a festivus, airing of grievances...everybody pretty mum on what was said, but Luke said he considered burning sage.— Shahan Ahmed (@shahanLA) December 29, 2017
Lakers had a team meeting yesterday where players aired grievances about what’s happening on the court and, per Brandon Ingram, “the business of the organization.”— Bill Oram (@billoram) December 29, 2017
“Everybody on the team said something on how they feel,” Kyle Kuzma said.— Bill Oram (@billoram) December 29, 2017
Ingram: "Hopefully we think about what we said to each other, what we said to the coaches, and that the coaches have listened to what we said."— Bill Oram (@billoram) December 29, 2017
It’s troubling that the “business of the organization,” as Brandon Ingram called it, is one of the bullet points offered up by the players. It may be unavoidable, but the Lakers have also done as poor a job as possible of at least keeping some silence around the kinds of “business of the organization” decisions they’re making.
Randle being stuck in the in-between certainly seems like the biggest bone anyone on the roster would have to pick, though we also know that Luol Deng isn’t happy about being left to collect dust — and a hefty paycheck.
Hopefully the team is feeling better after getting some of the weight they’ve been lugging around off of their chests. Losing seven of their last eight games has obviously taken a toll on the vibes around the team, and while these grievance meetings are a bad sign of where things currently are, perhaps some progress can be made with open lines of communication and a better understanding within the group.