Now that the Los Angeles Lakers’ season is over save for Tuesday’s finale against the Portland Trail Blazers, we’ve gotten a handful of pieces trying to figure out what went wrong during LeBron James’ first year out west. There have been a number of moments that have been identified as major points of conflict along the long and winding road, and it seems like none have been bigger than the Lakers’ pursuit of Anthony Davis before the trade deadline.
Davis wanted out, and all signs pointed to Los Angeles doing everything it could — save for putting James in a trade — to acquire him. This included leaks regarding the team’s willingness to part with all of its young players to make a deal happen, which didn’t work.
What it did lead to, though, was a reported rift between James and the Lakers’ young players, who lost their trust in the former league MVP. This comes via Bill Oram of The Athletic’s deep dive into the myriad of issues in Laker Land this season.
Via The Athletic:
The Lakers’ reported trade talks loomed over the team roster. Virtually every member of the young core had been linked to a trade for Davis, as had veterans Rondo and Beasley.
A schism developed in the locker room. Sources around the team said it was apparent that the young players no longer trusted James, believing he was operating behind the scenes to get them traded to New Orleans.
Plus, because every story has to involve questions about Luke Walton’s job security, those close to him were reportedly worried this would lead to his getting fired. However, as Oram wrote, “the Lakers received backchannel information that Davis liked Walton and that relieved pressure on the third-year head coach.”
The extent to which L.A. pursues Davis this offseason is going to be fascinating, especially because of the accusations from Magic Johnson that the Pelicans didn’t negotiate in good faith at the deadline. But even more fascinating is how the locker room would respond to another series of trade rumors involving an attempted roster overhaul that ends up with Davis in purple and gold, because as this indicates, it didn’t go over especially well the last time they popped up.