The young Los Angeles Lakers are 3-7 in their last 10 (including a Christmas Day loss to the Timberwolves at home), and in there the team has the 23rd ranked offense in the league, and their usually stout defense has fallen to 19th in that stretch. Part of this is due to the bumps and grinds of the NBA season forcing good players out — both Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram sat on Christmas).
It also may be the trade rumors swirling around the team. With the Lakers looking to clear out two max cap slots headed into next July, the Lakers have tried to trade Luol Deng (but may be giving up on that), and the names of Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle have come up in trade buzz. Basically, anyone but Ball, Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma are available for the right price.
“Everyone knows what is going on with the salary-cap situation next season and all that. That is just distractions that we can’t let affect us. That is part of the league, the business decisions that front offices and coaches make. So if that is distracting guys, that is going to be like that your whole career. That is just the nature of this league.”
Luke Walton echoed that on Christmas, this time as reported by the Orange County Register.
“I think that every team deals with it,” Walton said, “the outside influence. Whether it is one-year deals, or trade rumors in the media, whatever is going on in the outside world that as a player you read or hear about or agents tell you about, is a very real distraction…
“So don’t waste energy thinking about that,” he said, “don’t waste energy and mind and time capacity. Worrying about that type of thing is only going to hurt your own game. So those things are all true and all real for every team out there.”
This is part of being in the league, veteran players have learned to deal with it. However, for young players experiencing the first time their name pops up in trade rumors — which would completely uproot the lives they have established — it is disconcerting and distracting.
It is not just the Lakers, teams such as Philadephia and Minnesota will have to deal with this as well. Handling the rumors is part of being a young team, along with the conditioning wall rookies hit and the countless distractions of the NBA life. It’s the players who can focus through it all who stick and succeed in the league. Like Bogut has.