There are a lot of ways to look at what went wrong for the Los Angeles Lakers this season, but two common threads that surface every time it’s discussed by the players themselves are injuries and the Anthony Davis trade rumors, both of which approached critical mass at around the same time, killing any ability for the team to create chemistry and continuity.
At exit interviews, the players themselves admitted that the rumors affected the team, and there was a report that the young Lakers “stopped trusting” LeBron James during the period when such whispers were at their loudest. However, some of the players also thought that learning to deal with the rumors was a necessary part of their personal growth process.
Regardless of what you think about the outcome of everything, though, Lonzo Ball said on “The House of Highlights Show” that after all those rumors were over, the team did come together a lot more:
“I will say, for some reason, we got really close as a team after the trade deadline. Off the floor at least. I just think the injuries hurt us a lot.”
“For some reason.” Lol. I wonder what that reason could be? One is left with limitless guesses.
Ball then continued, answering how things weren’t weirder after such a tumultuous deadline for the team:
“It wasn’t weird. It was just like, obviously, everybody’s name was in (trade rumors) which was kind of different. As far as guys on the team and in the locker room, we was all cool. We kind of stuck together off the court after that. We started going to a lot more dinners together and just hanging out off the court. Like I said, the injuries played a big role and we just couldn’t pull it out at the end.”
That Ball felt this way is notable, because it on some level represents a reversal of fortune on how he seemed to feel heading into the deadline. Ball and his camp were apparently bothered enough by the discussions to try and get Ball traded to the Phoenix Suns, even if Ball has now said his preference was always to remain in L.A. — something that, intentionally or not, his saying he wanted to go somewhere else instead of New Orleans may have accomplished. So maybe his camp was just trying to gum up the works of a deal. We’ll probably never know for certain.
But improved chemistry or not, the Lakers just couldn’t overcome all of their injuries in the end, and it’s fair to wonder whether or not they could have survived all the trade deadline drama had they been just a bit less snakebitten with injuries at the same time. We’ll ultimately never know, but how the new front office feels will ultimately affect — and be reflected by — how the roster is built this summer, so the fact that Ball and so many other players feel this way is certainly worth paying attention to.
Especially for as long as the Pelicans are posturing that they aren’t going to trade Davis, potentially removing one pitfall for the team on the floor (while also complicating their path forward off of it). When you factor it all in, this summer has the chance to make the trade deadline look tame by comparison.