The Los Angeles Lakers have held steadfast in their belief in Brandon Ingram when it comes to trade inquiries, but another piece of the core that’s garnering interest around the league is also on the no-go list for the purple and gold.
President of basketball operations Magic Johnson joined ESPN’s First Take Tuesday morning, discussing what he envisions going forward for the franchise. As he was going down the Lakers’ roster, what he said once he arrived at Larry Nance, Jr. was certainly intriguing.
“Our secret weapon is Larry Nance [Jr.], because Larry... we’ve gotten calls from a lot of teams that want to trade for him and Brandon Ingram. We said no. But Larry is such a fundamentally sound basketball player,” Johnson said.
Every report that’s come out in the past several months points to the Lakers refusing to include Ingram in any trade discussion. The same was clearly not the case for D’Angelo Russell, but it looks like Nance, Jr. has earned a spot in the safe house for now.
Teams being interested in a young power forward like Leaping Larry, who first made a name for himself for his ridiculous dunks before proving himself as a hustling role player, isn’t all that surprising. He’s under contract for at least two more seasons at a bargain of $3.8 million over that span, along with ability to retain him as a restricted free agent in 2019. He’s a valuable young player for a variety of reasons.
The Lakers also have Julius Randle in the mix, still projected to hold down the starting role while Nance, Jr. contributes as a sixth man off the bench. Randle’s contract situation isn’t nearly as pleasant, with the former No. 7 pick on track to command a lucrative contract as a free agent next summer.
The Lakers will have the ability to match an offer on Randle, but the franchise has also been angling to save as much salary cap space as possible with their eyes on landing superstars. With that in mind, holding onto a player like Larry in the rotation has a great deal of long-term value.
Magic had plenty to say about the team, and the bit about Nance, Jr. and Ingram being untouchable starts at the 3:18 mark: