The Los Angeles Lakers are mere hours from returning to the court to begin their 25-game-long attempt to make up the three-game gap between them and the Western Conference’s eighth seed of the playoffs. Not only will they be competing against other NBA teams or the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Clippers for that last spot, but also against the nasty residue left behind by this year’s trade deadline.
“Move on. Be professional,” you (or Magic Johnson) might say, but it isn’t that simple. These guys are still human, and it will take some time for them to move on from being the center of the deadline’s most pervasive story. Some might consider moving on impossible, even.
See this nugget Sam Amick of The Athletic’s latest, which disagrees to a certain extent with Magic’s assertion that the Lakers are in “a good place” right now:
But are they, really? That’s not the case if you talk to sources close to several key players.
“Guys will be professional, but it will never be the same,” one agent who represents a Lakers player said.
Remember, it wasn’t that the New Orleans Pelicans were asking for too many players that forced Magic to push away from the negotiating table. No, Johnson thought then general manager Dell Demps was asking for too many picks. So it isn’t like when Magic went to speak to the players that he could look them in the face and say any of them were too valuable to trade away.
Maybe that’s why we saw such a drastic shift in less than 24 hours where Magic went from promising to hug all the remaining Lakers to chiding the media for “babying” them. It would make sense that he’d be annoyed that the guys would balk at his apologies for the way things played out, if that’s how things went down. Pretty rich stuff from a guy who was never involved in trade talks during his own playing career.
It’s fascinating that this kind of information is coming from an agent of a current Laker. These kinds of reports only surface if a player wants them to. As we’re this close to the playoff race and this report is coming out, it would seem to really show how far the Lakers are from being alright.
Making the playoffs in the Western Conference if tough enough given the competition. Earning such a bid with any kind of infighting is damn near impossible. The Lakers have their work cut out in front of them. We’ll get a good look soon if they can make it work.