Although the Los Angeles Lakers put on a united front as they edged the Boston Celtics, 129-128, on Thursday night, numerous reports ahead of the NBA’s trade deadline hinted at tension behind the scenes. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, it was even speculated that the New Orleans Pelicans had stretched out negotiations for their All-Star big man, Anthony Davis, and spread trade rumors to sow discontent among Los Angeles’ younger players, all in revenge for the Lakers’ alleged tampering with Davis.
With Davis remaining in New Orleans despite how the Lakers purportedly offered several key youngsters and veterans to the Pelicans, a new report from the Los Angeles Times suggests that Lakers president Magic Johnson plans to meet with the team over the weekend to discuss the failed trade attempt. Citing two sources familiar with the situation, Broderick Turner wrote that Johnson will be telling his players that the NBA “is a business” and that the Lakers are determined to do what they could in their quest for more NBA championships.
Furthermore, Turner noted that Johnson wants his team to “stay the course” and focus on their short-term goal to make the playoffs with just 27 games remaining in the regular season. The Lakers legend also plans to allow his players to clear the air and have an “open dialogue” so that everyone can move forward as a team as the season continues.
Following their win over the Celtics in Boston, the Los Angeles Lakers improved to a 28-27 record, but remain at 10th place in the Western Conference. At multiple points early in the season, the Lakers were among the top five teams in the West, though the team ultimately slumped when superstar forward LeBron James missed 17 straight games after Christmas due to a groin injury.
From @BA_Turner, Magic Johnson is flying to Philadelphia to meet the team and talk to them about the Anthony Davis trade saga. He'll provide an open forum for players to speak. https://t.co/161LY8MN1R
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) February 8, 2019
As observed by Bleacher Report, a number of incidents took place after James’ return that hinted at the alleged turmoil in the Lakers’ locker room. On Sunday morning, reports hinted at a “heated” altercation between some of the team’s veterans and head coach Luke Walton after Los Angeles’ Saturday night loss to the Golden State Warriors. Two days later, the Lakers took a 42-point loss against the Indiana Pacers that “perhaps not coincidentally” came just hours after it was reported that Los Angeles was planning to trade six rotation players and two first-round draft picks to acquire Davis from the Pelicans.
Although the Los Angeles Lakers ultimately failed to trade for Anthony Davis, the team was able to retool its lineup before the trade deadline took effect, acquiring wingman Reggie Bullock and forward/center Mike Muscala in separate trades respectively involving the Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Clippers. It’s possible that the Lakers could focus on helping the new arrivals adjust to the team’s system, though Bleacher Report stressed that Johnson might have to focus instead on “placating” the young players he supposedly dangled to the Pelicans in hopes of acquiring Davis.