Over the past few days, the Los Angeles Lakers have been heavily engaged in trade talks with the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis, and there have been concerns about how it might affect the locker room.
On Tuesday, the Lakers validated those worries.
After having two days off, LeBron James and the Lakers were blown out by the Indiana Pacers, 136-94, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. With the exception of maybe LeBron James, Brandon Ingram and JaVale McGee, no one wearing a purple and gold uniform looked like they wanted to be there.
After a game like that, they may not be much longer.
In the Lakers’ defense, they have every reason to feel uninspired to play. Literally everyone on the roster except James and McGee has been named in trade rumors over the past few days. Three out of their five starters were being handed to the New Orleans Pelicans just a few hours ago.
However, in a game with serious playoff implications, the team’s effort was still inexcusable, and it starts at the top with James.
James finished the game with a stat line of 18 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds, which is good considering he’s still recovering from a groin injury that kept him sidelined for over a month. Defensively, though, he was abysmal.
James isn’t exactly regarded as a defensive stalwart these days, but even his effort was really, really bad. On multiple possessions he didn’t cross halfcourt before the Pacers scored. When your leader isn’t making an effort on defense, there’s a clear ripple effect.
The one bright spot in the contest was Brandon Ingram, who continued to look like someone who is starting to figure things out. He finished the game with 12 points on 4-8 shooting from the field and 6 rebounds.
His fit with James is still questionable, to say the least, but at least he’s shown he has some value as a prospect. Whether he’s traded for Anthony Davis or another player — or the Lakers keep him — that’s a welcome sign.
The Lakers will have the next day to regroup before taking on the Boston Celtics on Thursday, which is also the day of the All-Star Draft and the NBA trade deadline. We may be seeing a significantly different team by then.
Keep track of all the latest Lakers rumors until the trade deadline here. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Christian on Twitter at @RadRivas.