Duane Rankin: Whether it was on the court, on the bench or after the game, was was clear tension with the #Suns tonight. Being 4-21 will do that to you. Will have later tonight.
December 18, 2018 | 3:43 am EST Update
Kuzma may have taken the mantle of the Lakers’ second star for now, but that won’t stop the team from seeking an established All-Star. Can Ingram adjust to being a third or even fourth scoring option? “[Ingram] will probably be traded at some point, whether it’s for a second or third star,” another NBA front-office executive said.
To date, Los Angeles has not offered players such as Ingram, Kuzma, Ball and Hart in trade discussions. They value each of them highly. The Lakers should have enough cap space to keep all four and still sign a top free agent like Kevin Durant (2019-20 player option), Klay Thompson or Kawhi Leonard (player option) this offseason. Will Ingram still be a part of L.A.’s young core in six months?
But the C’s may be battling with their historic rival if (when) Davis becomes available. “Boston has been hawking Anthony Davis for years,” Wojnarowski said in an ESPN video with Zach Lowe. “They always hoped that it would be, whether it’s the end of this season or the beginning of next before the trade deadline, that they would gather up all those assets, all those picks Danny Ainge has, [all the] young players, and they’d be the team to be able to get Anthony Davis. But now you have L.A. and if they get shut out in free agency, they’re going to have to take all their young players to try to use them to get Anthony Davis.”
A day later in Oakland, where the Raptors had gone to face Golden State, I circled back with Leonard to make sure I read the situation right. Sure enough, as he confirmed, he didn’t know the man who had been standing there when we said hello. “No, who was it?” he asked. “Lawrence Frank, the head of the Clippers’ front office,” I replied. “Oh, that was Lawrence Frank?” he said with a smile (and no, to answer the obvious question, he didn’t share one of his legendary laughs).
“I’ve dealt with this before with DeMar — the speculation — and I will be happy for Kawhi Leonard when he makes his decision,” Lowry told The Athletic. “Nothing else matters but his happiness, and that’s how I am, because our brotherhood is too small for us to say this, that and the other (about another player’s free agency decision). Our brotherhood in the NBA is really tiny, and we really all appreciate and support and want each other happy. That’s where it is with me and that situation. I just want him to be happy.”
So why were the Suns so eager to trade someone who was was signed to help change the franchise’s culture, started all 26 games he played and was so respected by his teammates? According to league sources, this was a “mutual” decision between Ariza and the Suns.
Ariza checked out mentally early in the season, according to sources. After practices would ended, he’d leave before everyone else, when that’s usually an opportunity to bond. He’d break from the team huddle before his teammates and wasn’t engaged.