With their 115-101 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday, the Los Angeles Lakers dropped to a 27-26 record, putting them at 10th place in the Western Conference, right behind the surprisingly competitive Sacramento Kings. This loss was reportedly followed by a heated “verbal exchange” between Lakers head coach Luke Walton and several of the team’s veterans, including forward Michael Beasley.
In a Twitter post shared on Saturday evening, the Athletic‘s Shams Charania broke down what allegedly happened between Walton and the Lakers veterans, explaining that the “emotionally-charged” argument had “stopped short of turning physical.” As cited by Bleacher Report, Charania followed up with another tweet, where he related that the altercation broke out after Walton emphasized the importance of playing unselfishly and a number of veteran players “snapped back.”
Additionally, Charania brought up Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee as two veterans who purportedly joined Beasley in “challenging” Walton during his postgame talk.
“The veteran players raised their voice on topics of Walton’s playing time distribution and rotations, sources said. Hope afterward among players and coaches was that this helped cleanse issues within the team,” Charania continued, as cited by USA Today‘s Lonzo Wire.
On the other hand, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne downplayed the incident, as she cited her own sources and tweeted that the argument “never got close to getting out of control,” as the Lakers were simply “emotional” after the tough loss to the Warriors.
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) February 3, 2019
As explained by Bleacher Report, the Los Angeles Lakers have struggled in the 18 games they have played without LeBron James, who returned from a groin injury on Thursday but was rested for Saturday’s game against the Warriors. Without James, the Lakers have gone 6-12, while the team has won just 10 out of the last 26 games after getting off to a solid 17-10 start. Furthermore, the team has also been at the center of a plethora of trade rumors, especially since the New Orleans Pelicans announced that their superstar big man, Anthony Davis, is requesting a trade.
While most of the rumors surrounding Davis have focused on younger players such as Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Ivica Zubac, and Josh Hart, some of the Lakers’ veterans, including Beasley, Stephenson, and Rajon Rondo, have also been mentioned as potential trade pieces.
“Naturally, a losing skid coupled with at least eight players not knowing where their professional lives will plant them in a week has to make for a difficult situation,” Bleacher Report wrote.
“The season probably hasn’t been easy for the veterans, who were perhaps expecting a deep playoff run rather than a fight just to make the final eight in the West.”
Meanwhile, Lonzo Wire pointed out that the alleged incident could lend credence to the belief that Luke Walton’s coaching job with the Los Angeles Lakers could be in jeopardy. While Walton has had a reputation as a “player’s coach” who gets along well with his roster, the Lakers-centric blog posited that the altercation could bring him closer to becoming “expendable” in the eyes of the team’s front office.