When the Los Angeles Lakers play the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night, everyone involved in the blockbuster trade that took Anthony Davis from the Pelicans to the Lakers will be facing their former team for the first time.
Brandon Ingram is one of those players. After three seasons with the Lakers, he was sent to New Orleans along with Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and three first round picks. Going from the Lakers, a team hoping to break into the playoffs this season, to the Pelicans, a team that’s trying to build a foundation with young talent, might seem like a downgrade. Ingram, however, revealed to USA Today that being on the Lakers last season wasn’t a picnic.
“The team was a little rattled. Coming in every day, it wasn’t always good,” Ingram told USA Today. “It wasn’t always good energy.”
It’s not hard to see why. The addition of LeBron James last year raised expectations for the Lakers, and when the team struggled (and eventually failed) to meet those expectations, morale took a downturn.
It didn’t help that rumors swirled around a possible Davis trade to the Lakers for months. The Lakers were struggling, and landing Davis in-season would have helped anchor a flailing roster. Things turned ugly, though, when negotiations and possible trade terms were leaked. Magic Johnson ended up accusing former Pelicans GM Dell Demps of being behind those leaks and negotiating in bad faith.
It was a distraction, but Ingram is sanguine about the whole ordeal.
“I’ve never been in a position of GM. I don’t know how it could’ve been handled,” Ingram told USA Today. “I know it’s hard decisions to be made. I know these decisions had to be made to make them a better team, and they’re obviously a better team this year. So I don’t know how I would’ve handled it. They had to handle it how they handled it, and it worked out great.”
The Pelicans aren’t wowing anyone right now, but they have tons of potential. They have a lot of players missing time due to injury (including Zion Williamson, who is on track for a mid-December return from knee surgery), but Ingram has already had a positive impact on the team. He’s currently in the top 10 in scoring, and is one of just three players in the NBA to average 26 or more points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Despite all the drama that surrounded the Lakers, Pelicans and Anthony Davis last year, it seems possible that this trade may have worked out well for everyone involved.
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