The months since last season ended have been marked either by long stretches of silence or outbursts of headlines that make Los Angeles Lakers fans miss that aforementioned silence. Currently, we’re mercifully in one of those calmer stretches, but we all know that won’t last for very long, especially as we near free agency and the 2019 NBA Draft.
JaVale McGee made an appearance on FS1’s “Undisputed” this week, and during it he addressed the amount of noise surrounding the team he spent last season with (and hopes to return to).
According to McGee, the noise might matter a lot less than we might think:
”I think people are over-analyzing how easy it would be to get someone to come to L.A.”
This is a cool sentiment, JaVale, but there is a lot of noise here.
When Shannon Sharpe pressed him about that, McGee then pointed out the difference between noise stirred up by the Lakers, compared to how that would be received it was another team:
”That’s cool, but you got to think about it like ‘things happen all the time, it’s just magnified in L.A.’ Like if all this was happening in OKC, no one would say nothing just because it’s not as big of a market as L.A. ... People are worried about it because it’s Magic (Johnson), one of the best basketball players ever. It’s the Lakers. You get what I’m saying? Everything is just magnified.”
Here’s why I’d have to disagree with McGee:
Magic stepped down in a way that we really haven’t ever seen before. Yes, that it was Johnson resigning from the Lakers abruptly without warning anyone else in the organization (or LeBron James, for that matter) meant more people were going to care. But I’d contend it doesn’t matter where such a scenario plays out — we’re probably going to pay extra close attention to trying to figure out what the hell just happened, even if it was a less famous executive with a less marquee team.
Stll, this is a sentiment McGee has been pretty consistent with. In an interview with Chris McGee of Spectrum SportsNet, he spoke about what all the noise would mean to him, as an impending free agent:
“Maybe other free agents, but me particularly no it doesn’t affect it. I know what I have to do to go to any organization, (and) that’s just play basketball and play to the best of my ability. The outside noise isn’t really doesn’t affect me just because I’m a vet and I know what comes with it.”
This is something all players tend to fall back on when asked about organizational instability. All they can do is focus on their game and make the situations as productive for themselves and their teammates as they can, because eventually, once they leave that organization, they’ll have their own reputation to make work.
If what McGee is saying is true, this summer could be hugely fascinating throughout the NBA. If somehow the Lakers land a star or two, we might really have to rethink what is actually important to free agents, and how high up the list of priorities the perception of organizational stability resides.
That said, if the Lakers strike out, they’ll have some serious questions to ask themselves, starting with how they view what stars look for in their next destinations, and how they can become that for the next crop of free agents.