Rival executives apparently believe that the Los Angeles Lakers will include wing Brandon Ingram in any trade for a star. Ingram is still trying to figure out how to play with LeBron James, and he has struggled mightily. The third-year star has seen some of his advanced statistics drop significantly, and it has called into question whether Ingram is the right fit long-term next to James.
LeBron will be out for an undetermined amount of time with a groin injury suffered earlier this week. It was also announced that Rajon Rondo has had surgery on his finger and could be out for up to a month. That gives Ingram some space to operate, which the Lakers youngster apparently appreciates.
“It’s an opportunity,” Ingram said after shootaround Thursday, leading up to the game against the Kings. “It’s an opportunity for me to go out there and play my game a little bit more. I think I’m going to be a little bit more ball-dominant, cutting off the basketball. I have to play even better defense and be on the help side on the defensive end. So it’s a chance for me to just up my game a little bit.”
You could read into this a couple of different ways. The first would be the more reactionary measure of Ingram’s quote, that he feels as though he is unable to play how he likes while next to the best player on the planet.
The other way to interpret Ingram’s comment is that he simply wants to get back into a rhythm. Lakers fans have been right to be patient with Ingram’s development over the last two years, but he has certainly regressed as he tries to figure out what his role is with LeBron. That kind of stunting is not what you want to see for a young, 21-year-old player.
Ingram’s development probably isn’t at the top of the list for Lakers fans at this moment. Of real interest is how this ramshackle roster can sustain the fifth spot in the Western Conference with James no longer on the floor. If Ingram is able to break out and help them stay afloat, all the better.