Another game, another disappointing showing from the guys Magic Johnson promised would help elevate the team (or at the very least provide more predictable production while the young core gets up to speed alongside LeBron James). The Los Angeles Lakers need more from Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and JaVale McGee.
I start the show by praising Brandon Ingram who, for all the talk of distractions and rumors or whatever else, has been playing some of the best basketball of his career. Once again, he was the best and most consistent player on the court for the Lakers despite LeBron’s attempts at regaining playoff intensity.
As important as pointing out his on-court production is though, it’s worth noting the circumstances he’s been able to succeed in. Very few young players have had to overcome as much ineptitude as Ingram has. Whether it’s how the Lakers have tried to develop him, his name’s constant presence in trade rumors this season or teammates whose games don’t elevate his skills (and arguably hold him back in some cases), Ingram has found a way to show a ton of promise. It’s for that reason I’m becoming a little more hesitant to simply throw him into whatever inevitable trade Magic tries to pull off this summer.
Back to the veterans, though. There’s been a trend over the last half decade while the organization has tried to rebuild post-Kobe Bryant: This borderline dogmatic edict from on high that they cannot and will not have contracts that extend beyond one season has taken a serious toll on the franchise’s culture overall.
When you sign guys to short-term deals and ask them to care even a little bit about the franchise’s future beyond their time as a part of it, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Players whose contracts don’t extend beyond the season they’re playing in are almost always going to look out for themselves in that season. You can’t even blame them for that, either.
These are their careers and they have a finite amount of time to earn as much as they can before they retire — often well prior to their 35th birthday with an entire lifetime ahead of them. For as long as this rebuild has been going on, the Lakers have relied heavily on players on one-year deals, and it shows.
I end the show on that point, but I also made time to address the latest weird post-game comments from LeBron. I wasn’t a fan of those ones, either.
The full discussion can be listened to below, and make sure to subscribe on iTunes, where you can also leave questions in the form of a five-star review to guarantee your topic makes the show.