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Magic Johnson says Brandon Ingram is the only untouchable player on the Lakers

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Quite the vote of confidence.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Evaluating talent is already a difficult enough task in the in the best circumstances. Doing so with players whom the Los Angeles Lakers’ front office didn’t draft and only a few years of sample size to work with leads to some awkward questions for everyone involved.

For Magic Johnson, though, Brandon Ingram has shown him enough that those awkward questions can fall by the wayside. He believes in the soon-to-be sophomore wing from Duke.

Wednesday, Magic very specifically announced what he expects various parts of the Lakers’ young core to work on, which could be a good sign that he hasn’t given up on any of the kids he mentioned.

Why spend time thinking about and then publicly addressing those needs if he sees those guys as trade fodder anyway?

Thursday morning, Magic once again jumped on ESPN Los Angeles and the topic of potential trade value came up. He wasn’t hearing it with Ingram, though.

Here’s where fans can drive themselves crazy by trying to get into Johnson’s head.

First and most obviously, Johnson could legitimately feel this way about Ingram, who seriously picked his game up in after the All-Star break.

He could also be taking such a strong stance so as to raise Ingram’s trade value.

Paul George’s interest in the Lakers is one of the worst-kept secrets in the NBA. He plays small forward. Ingram plays small forward. So long as Indiana keeps hearing the Lakers would never move Ingram, the less the Lakers could have to offer alongside him in a wing-for-wing trade.

Some have pointed out that these quotes are few and far between in regards to D’Angelo Russell, which is a pretty perfect example of the dichotomous thinking that goes on there. Compliment one player, and you’re automatically trashing another. Call one player untouchable, well that obviously means the other guy has been told to pack his bags already.

All there is to do now is take this on its face and move on from there. By all accounts, the Lakers love Ingram’s potential, work ethic and attitude, and for good reason.

Moving him after a single season is a pretty great way to potentially look really dumb down the line. That, more than anything else, feels like what’s at work in Magic’s strong statement.