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Luke Walton calls Brandon Ingram ‘a huge part’ of Lakers organization, says he hopes Ingram can be around team soon

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Brandon Ingram isn’t doing any basketball activities and hasn’t been around the Lakers yet since his surgery, but Luke Walton has been in contact with him and empathizes with what he’s going through.

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Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — Given that the Lakers have declared Brandon Ingram out for the rest of the season, there haven’t been a whole lot of reasons to get updates on him, but head coach Luke Walton was asked on Sunday how Ingram is doing in the aftermath of the thoracic outlet decompression surgery that is supposed to alleviate his blood clotting issue for good, and gave a brief update on where Ingram is at in the recovery process.

“I’ve talked to him a couple times. We haven’t seen him, so it will be good to see him again when that happens,” Walton said, adding that Ingram has been in Los Angeles but not around the team, and also not able to do basketball activities.

“He’s just recovering,” Walton said.

Ingram’s recovery will be key for his career moving forward, but even beyond that, the blood clotting issue he had could have been life-threatening. Even if it put his career in jeopardy, his well being as a person is obviously more important than that.

Still, as sad of a situation as this is, and as much as there are more important things than Ingram’s trade value or perception of him around the league, heading into the final year of his rookie contract, the off-the-court aspects of this have to be discussed, even if that’s not quite fair. And as ESPN NBA Insider Brian Windhorst noted on the Silver Screen and Roll Podcast last week, this situation — again, as much as it is bigger than basketball — has affected the view of Ingram’s future around the league (emphasis mine):

Brandon Ingram’s blood clot really complicated his trade value, and I hate to talk about trade value when referring to a life-threatening situation, and I really want to emphasize that I really feel for him. I had a blood clot at one time in my life. The treatment for it sucks. The medication they give you makes you feel like crap and you have to stay on it for months,” Windhorst said.

“He is now — fair or not — a damaged asset. And I know the report came out there that it was structural and that everything is going to A-OK, I’m just going to tell you that not every team is going to believe that, and fair or not, Brandon Ingram’s trade value has diminished,” Windhorst continued. “When it comes to this particular summer, I think his trade value — I don’t think, I know in talking to other teams his trade value has taken a big hit.

“I’m sorry to put it that way, I just think that’s the way that it is, and it’s a delicate subject and you want to be respectful, but that’s just the way that it is. What you hope is that is that he comes back, is 100 percent and has an awesome season next year, doesn’t have any issues, puts it all to rest and can get another contract, whether it’s with the Lakers or another team, and is taken care of... And I know I’m repeating myself, but just to emphasize the point, this is more from me talking to people in the league. It’s not my personal opinion.”

But while Ingram’s health will be a critical question for the Lakers moving forward, Windhorst was right to point out multiple times that there are more immediate, real and human concerns here. On Sunday, Walton was asked how aware he was of Ingram’s “mental frame,” and he said that while he can’t speak for Ingram, he imagines things have to be tough for him right now.

”Well, Brandon is a huge part of our organization. Health is always first. Personally I can only answer that for myself, but I feel for a young player that isn’t able to play right now. So I check in with him and will continue to check in with him, and be around as much as possible,” Walton said.

That was sort of respectfully ducking the question, which is understandable with an issue like this. Walton has always been very cognizant of not fueling speculation on the mental state of his players, and not sharing health information that isn’t his to share.

He’s also not alone in feeling for Ingram. LeBron James and tons of Ingram’s other teammates have spoken about how scary Ingram’s situation was, and how it forced the team to reckon with things beyond basketball. It was sad for anyone to watch a player who so clearly cares about this, and genuinely wants to be great see basketball ripped away from him just when he was playing the best he’d ever played. Anyone can empathize with how tough that must be for Ingram.

All that can be done now is hope that Ingram is all right health-wise for the long-term, and beyond that, that he’s able to get back out on the basketball court better than ever.

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. All stats per NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.