As has become tradition after Los Angeles Lakers losses, the conversation almost immediately turned to how the front office could find more immediate help to surround LeBron James. Seeing as the Washington Wizards are having the fire sale of all fire sales, speculation has often been centered on a Brandon Ingram-for-Bradley Beal swap.
The thing those who push for that kind of trade seem to forget is that this was always going to be a multi-year process of surrounding James with NBA Finals-capable talent. The Lakers seem invested in really finding out what they have in their third-year forward, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.
“It’s too early to tell for Ingram,” a Lakers executive said. “Where was [Beal] at the same age?”
Well, to answer the question, Beal was averaging 15.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Compare that to Ingram’s 15.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists and you can kind of see why the Lakers want to remain patient for as long as they possibly can.
One concern remains Ingram’s fit alongside LeBron. Ingram is a legitimately different player with LeBron on the court versus without him (a trend that’s continued since the two came together) and while the Lakers can stagger the two’s minutes, at some point, you need the two best players on the roster to be able to function together.
Brandon Ingram Per 36 minutes— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) November 26, 2018
LeBron Off the Court = 28.5 pts, 4.6 assts, 2.9 tovs, 61.8 TS%
LeBron On the Court = 15.4 pts, 1.9 assts, 2.8 tovs, 49.1 TS%
h/t to @DeleteThisPost for his help w/this.
This should go without saying, but something to keep in mind was the timeline in which this roster came together.
“Getting LeBron ... makes it interesting,” the executive said. “Obviously, we didn’t draft the guys [we have on the roster] knowing we would get him.”
Ingram was drafted by a completely different front office. If we really want to go full galaxy brain here and you are skeptical that the front office just happened to draft a few guys who do fit quite naturally with LeBron (Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball fit in basically that order), that’s fine and quite fun to think about. But there was simply no way when they drafted Ingram that they thought LeBron was coming — and their fit together speaks very loudly to that point.
Still, the larger, overriding point here is that the Lakers recognize the patience they have to display if they want the LeBron James-Lakers era to reach its full potential. Beal would be a great quick fix, but would severely hamper what the Lakers could do this summer. Seeing as everyone knew this was a multi-year project, it just makes more sense to stick to the plan — which involves waiting to see what Ingram is capable of with a full year of playing next to LeBron.