In his second career start as the primary ball handler, Ingram scored six points, picked up five fouls and turned the ball over three times without an assist in 36 minutes. He called the dismal performance “out of character” for himself, but wanted to remember it as motivation. “There are going to be nights like that, but there shouldn’t be nights where we don’t compete,” Ingram said. “I don’t think I competed at the level I should have.” Ingram lamented his lack of aggressiveness with the first unit. When he tried to manufacture it, he found himself forcing difficult shots.
Lakers coach Luke Walton said Ingram’s game is best suited for a second unit that is more free-slowing, but is still encouraged by his progress. In 12 games during the month of January, Ingram is averaging 11 points, the most for a single month in his short career thus far. “He’s had a couple of bad games, but you get 10-year vets who have bad games,” Walton said. “He’s 19 years old, going from point guard to small forward, figuring the whole thing out. So we’re very happy with where Brandon is at.” reported a dinner between Jeanie Buss, her longtime close friend Linda Rambis (now a team executive and the wife of former Lakers’ coach and player Kurt Rambis), and Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson at the team’s game at Staples Center last Tuesday with the Denver Nuggets. Maybe it was just dinner. But everything is magnified now. “I think she is still gathering information,” one friend of Jeanie Buss texted Sunday night.
Los Angeles can still easily pursue a max free agent next summer, even with the new contracts on the books, but Mozgov hasn’t been an interior force on offense, and Deng doesn’t look like the Deng of old on defense. In the NBA’s new TV-contract soaked world, the deals aren’t indefensible; But they haven’t been very impactful, either, and that’s something Jeanie Buss is considering as she contemplates her brother’s future. “She’s hearing from enough people that those two signings were not strong enough signings,” said one person who’s spoken with her recently.
Storyline: Lakers Front Office
There is no conflict inside the team’s locker room, though. Losing corrodes, and Walton hates it even as he understands it’s unavoidable at this stage of the team’s rebuild. Walton came from Golden State, where he was Steve Kerr’s right hand man, to instill some of the values he learned from his playing days with the Lakers. He was a rotation player as the franchise won championships in ‘09 and ‘10, and learned lessons from the Warriors, too, where he won another ring in ‘15 and got to the Finals last season.
There is still a sense among some in the organization that Russell is still not getting the ball to teammates on time and is still looking too much for his own shot. He says he’s learning the importance of doing just that. He picks Luol Deng’s brain as the two sit together on the team plane about the dos and don’ts of the game.
Storyline: Los Angeles Lakers Turmoil?