Most fans would have expected LeBron James’ return from a groin injury to revitalize the Los Angeles Lakers after they struggled in his absence. However, the Lakers’ swoon has continued even with James playing at his usual high level, as the team is currently far removed from playoff contention, sporting a 30-36 record and sitting at 11th in the Western Conference after five straight losses. It hasn’t helped either that youngsters Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram are both expected to sit out the rest of the season due to injuries, as previously reported by The Inquisitr.
While team president Magic Johnson had hoped to restore team morale after a plethora of trade rumors had linked several key players to a proposed trade for the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis, a new report suggests that some of Johnson’s efforts had the opposite effect on the Lakers’ locker room.
In a detailed report on the Lakers’ recent struggles, ESPN‘s Zach Lowe wrote on Tuesday that, per sources familiar with the situation, the aforementioned trade talks for Davis did indeed affect the team’s morale. He added that Johnson’s comments to reporters after the NBA trade deadline by talking to the team also “sapped” morale, as he talked about how the Lakers’ young players, many of whom were rumored to be headed to New Orleans in exchange for Davis, shouldn’t be treated “like babies.”
As further quoted by Bleacher Report, Johnson’s post-trade deadline remarks also included allegations that the Pelicans did not act in good faith during the failed Davis negotiations. Although he added that the Lakers were expected to deal with the trade rumors like professionals, he also stressed the importance of “[giving] them credit” and of moving forward after the unsuccessful trade attempt and the rumors that surrounded it.
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) March 11, 2019
Although Lowe did not specifically mention the clear-the-air locker room meeting Magic Johnson had with the Lakers after the trade deadline, this was brought up by Bleacher Report as another one of Johnson’s failed attempts to boost morale and help the team move forward.
Aside from Johnson’s remarks and the fallout from the Anthony Davis debacle, Lowe also suggested that LeBron James, for all his efforts, isn’t without blame for the Lakers’ poor morale, due to his tendency to roll his eyes at players whom he feels aren’t giving it their all on the court, as well as his perceived lack of effort on defense. Lowe also talked about the organizational disagreements that have allegedly taken place due to how most of the veteran Lakers signings from the 2018 offseason haven’t panned out as expected.