By this time next week, the Los Angeles Lakers could look a lot different. After reports surfaced that Anthony Davis requested a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, the Lakers have reportedly been preparing their package for the 25-year-old superstar.
According to Dave McNemamin of ESPN, the seemingly imminent danger being a trade is “weighing heavily” on the Lakers’ young core (emphasis mine):
Lakers coach Luke Walton did not address the situation with the entire team Monday, a team source told ESPN. However, Walton has had several individual conversations about it with his players, much the same way he did with players last season when the specter of landing James became an elephant in the room and eventually led to the cap-clearing trade at the deadline that sent Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson to, coincidentally, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The speculation is “weighing heavily” on the several of young guys this time around, the source said.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton disagreed with that sentiment, as just a few days ago he said that everyone in the locker room has came in and done their job the same way they have all season (via Lakers.com):
“I would imagine it’s probably even harder (to block out trade rumors) today with how much social media there is, but at the end of the day the only thing that really matters is our group and what we’re doing. If anything were to happen it’s out of our control anyways, so we don’t focus on it. We come in and I think our group does a good job of that.”
Walton also said that the players are handling the noise around the team better than they were last year, and noted that he hasn’t heard them talking about it:
”There seems to be more comfort this time around than last year when all this was happening. It’s just like anything in this league, their skillset, their bodies physically. The mental part of going through these types of things, it gets a little better each year that it goes on, and before you know it you don’t even think about this stuff. It’s part of the process, but yeah they’re getting better with those types of things.”
We’ve heard the age-old cliche that “basketball is a business” from countless players over the years, but that doesn’t take away the fact that there is still a human element to the business.
Every day, for the next nine days, the players in the Lakers’ locker room won’t know whether or not they have a future with the team. Granted, the same could have been said a few weeks, even months, ago, but the perceived inevitability and immediacy of it all almost has to create a heightened sense of uneasiness.
It’s not just the players, either. We’re now at the point where half of the team and the head coach don’t know where they stand with the organization — or should I say LeBron James and his camp. Sure, that’s the price of having arguably the greatest player alive on your team, but it’s still a difficult situation to be in.
Luckily, the situation will be resolved sooner rather than later. For better or for worse, the young Lakers won’t be burdened much longer.