NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson vowed to restore the Los Angeles Lakers to their glory days upon assuming the role as the team’s president of basketball operations. Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka made numerous moves this offseason to further improve their roster and prepare for the summer of 2018. The Lakers are even willing to move some of their young players, proven by their decision to trade D’Angelo Russell to the Brooklyn Nets to dump Timofey Mozgov and his expensive contract.
However, there are players who’re currently untouchables via trade and Magic Johnson mentioned them when he joined ESPN’s First Take Tuesday morning.
“Our secret weapon is Larry Nance [Jr.], because Larry… we’ve gotten calls from a lot of teams that want to trade for him and Brandon Ingram. We said no. But Larry is such a fundamentally sound basketball player,” Johnson said.
Brandon Ingram’s unavailability via trade is not surprising at all. The Lakers viewed him as their next franchise player after Kobe Bryant decided to end his basketball career. However, the inclusion of Larry Nance Jr. in Johnson’s list of untouchables sounds interesting. Nance Jr. mostly comes off the bench in his first two seasons with the Lakers.
When given enough playing time, the 24-year-old forward proved his worth and provided that needed energy for his team. He became popular for his slam dunks and a hustling role player. Nance Jr. was also one of the Lakers’ best defenders last season and still under contract until the 2018-19 season. So far, Julius Randle is expected to be the Lakers’ starting power forward next season while Nance Jr. will assume the primary backup role.
Meanwhile, Brandon Ingram, who’s frequently compared to Kevin Durant, continues to work on improving his skills. Ingram struggled in the most parts of his rookie season, only averaging 9.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.1 assists on 40.2 percent shooting from the field and 29.4 percent from beyond the arc. However, in the remaining games of the 2016-17 season, he managed to show massive improvements on both ends of the floor.
Brandon Ingram was rumored to be one of the trade pieces the Indiana Pacers were asking for to send Paul George to Los Angeles. However, Magic Johnson refused to pull the trade and even call Ingram the only untouchable on the Lakers’ roster. Johnson must be seeing Ingram’s potential to become a future superstar and there is no doubt that the incoming sophomore is on the right path, especially with his incredible work ethic.
Lakers beat reporter Mike Trudell revealed on ESPN LA’s Thompson and Trudell show (h/t The Score) that Brandon Ingram grew two inches this offseason.
“I think he’s at least 6-foot-10. He might be 6-foot-11 … I think he might be 6-foot-11, if not 7 feet,” Trudell said.
This will undeniably put him in a huge advantage, creating a mismatch to opposing teams. After earning the trust of Magic Johnson, Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance Jr. should prove that the NBA legend made the right decision to keep them. The Lakers’ performance in the 2017-18 season will be vital since it could play a major factor in their plan to recruit free agents in the summer of 2018.
[Featured Image by Harry How/Getty Images]