The Lakers are a multi-billion-dollar entertainment product, free-agent destination and de facto showcase for LaVar Ball’s shoe company.
They’re also a basketball team.
To that end, they called a team meeting a couple weeks ago to vent about all the other aspects swirling around. Unsurprisingly, Julius Randle came up. Randle is a solid young player who’s unlikely to have a future in Los Angeles, as the Lakers chase star free agents. It’s obviously not an easy situation for Randle, and apparently not everyone likes how he has handled this crossroads season.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:
According to one league source, one topic discussed is that some Lakers have been frustrated by the play of Julius Randle, who has been the subject of trade reports for nearly a year now.
After coming off the bench prior, Randle has started the six games since the meeting. The Lakers have lost five of those, but they were struggling before. Purely in terms of basketball, Randle – a forceful big man – probably makes more sense off the bench. Still, it’s completely reasonable for Luke Walton to experiment with lineups on his relatively deep team.
But this doesn’t necessarily end between the lines, and it’s easy to connect dots.
Some Lakers vented about Randle during the meeting… Walton moved Randle into the starting lineup immediately afterward, anyway… Believing he was ignored, a Laker upset with Randle leaked word to Isola… LaVar Ball talks about Walton losing the team.
Maybe Ball is right. Maybe he’s not. But this might be one issue causing sparks in the locker room.