The very first trade Magic Johnson made as president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers sent Lou Williams to the Houston Rockets for Corey Brewer and a first-round pick, a pick that allowed them to trade down in the 2017 NBA Draft for Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant.
At the time, the trade was regarded as a home run for the new-look front office, who had less than 24 hours to find a fruitful deal for Williams. Now, it appears that trade caused a domino effect that ultimately helped cost them one of their targets in free agency last summer. Whoops.
After two seasons and 78 appearances for the Lakers, Brewer was waived by the team in February of 2018 and once he cleared waivers, Brewer signed with Oklahoma City, where Paul George had been traded to earlier in the year.
Unfortunately, it seems Brewer’s testimony didn’t work in their favor:
George never gave the Lakers an opportunity to take their shot. But he had a wealth of information available to him about the inner workings of the Lakers without ever hearing a word from Magic Johnson. For example, George played in Oklahoma City with Corey Brewer in the second half of the 2017-18 season, after Brewer was waived by L.A. in February. Brewer divulged his Lakers experience to George, sources said.
The Lakers haven’t exactly been the model for stability in the NBA over the past few years, but it’s hard to imagine what would prompt Brewer to say his experience with the team was especially bad.
During his time in Los Angeles, Brewer averaged 13.9 minutes per game and even started a handful of contests. Sure, he had a few DNPs in his second season but by then, playoffs were already out of the question for the Lakers, which prompted him to ask for a buyout from the team. From an outsider’s perspective, Brewer had a perfectly normal career with the Lakers, outside of his consecutive games streak coming to an end with the team, although at the time Brewer had said that wasn’t a concern for him (via Bill Oram, then of the O.C. Register):
Earlier this season Luke Walton went to Corey Brewer with a question. The coach was mindful of the veteran swingman’s reign as the league’s active ironman, with a games played streak that before Thursday had reached 317 games.
“Would he want me to throw him in some game with three seconds, call a timeout type of thing just to keep the streak alive?” Walton recalled to the Southern California News Group on Thursday night.
He said Brewer replied, “No, just coach the game. If I’m playing I’m playing, if I’m not I’m not.”
However, perhaps there was more to Brewer’s situation that resulted in him wanting to leave the team and if that’s the case, the Lakers have to do some serious soul-searching before they go out and try to recruit free agents to Los Angeles this summer, and make sure that they are creating a place players want to be, because this isn’t the first we’ve heard of a former Laker seeming to not enjoy himself in L.A.
Some of this is due to factors outside of the team’s control, but they have to make sure they’re doing everything in their power to control what they can, and make this a place players want to stay, and tell others is a great place to play.