Going into this season, all the buzz surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers was about LeBron James, and rightfully so. However, there was also a great deal of excitement for Brandon Ingram and his potential to be the No. 2 option to James.
Ingram, a former second-overall pick, had shown flashes in his first two seasons with the Lakers. Fans were also hopeful that 21-year-old would start to put it all together this season because of an offseason of weights and skills training with Micah Lancaster, who worked with Victor Oladipo before his breakout season with the Indiana Pacers.
While Ingram hasn’t been bad, he also hasn’t shown he’s on the cusp of breaking out, and the front office has reportedly made the 21-year-old available in trade talks as a result.
In an appearance on “Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective,” Tim MacMahon of ESPN revealed that Ingram’s name was thrown around in trade talks for Jimmy Butler.
“Look, the question is this: is Brandon Ingram more valuable for the Lakers as LeBron’s teammate or as a trade chip?”
“I know that they were floating him in at least one trade for ... I’ll just go ahead and say it, I heard that he was brought up in the Jimmy Butler stuff.”
Butler was reportedly open to such a deal at the time, but the Lakers didn’t have contracts that made sense for the Timberwolves in a trade.
While Butler was eventually dealt to the Philadelphia 76ers for a trade package headlined by Robert Covington and Dario Saric, this report indicates a shift in tone between the front office and Ingram.
There was a time Ingram was considered untouchable by the organization. The previous front office refused to include him in a trade package for DeMarcus Cousins at the trade deadline in 2017, and the current front office didn’t include him in their offer for Paul George last summer.
With Ingram struggling to fit in with the new-look Lakers, it’s possible that the front office will look to deal him for a player that is a more natural fit alongside James as soon as the trade deadline.
It’s not that Ingram is a bad player, he’s just been a clunkier fit next to James than his peers like Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma. That could change if he buys into a different role, but if Ingram wants to be the primary creator, the Lakers might not be the team for him.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.