During Magic Johnson’s interview with ESPNLA on Thursday he let loose with some information about the Los Angeles Lakers’ current roster situation. The team’s president said the only untouchable player on the squad was Brandon Ingram.
The 19-year-old Ingram was the second pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, and while his numbers over the entirety of his rookie season weren’t great, the Duke product showed big-time potential.
As the season wore on, Ingram got much better, and he became more aggressive and found more confidence. In April he averaged 13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.0 steals in 35.5 minutes per game. He also shot 51.7 percent from the field. In May he averaged 12.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.4 steals in 24.3 minutes per game. Those were easily his best two months of the season.
Ingram’s length, athleticism and overall potential should make him untouchable. That’s a no-brainer. What was more surprising was that Johnson didn’t name anyone else as untradeable.
While D'Angelo Russell’s name has been tossed about as a potential trade chip, that’s largely been downplayed by people with knowledge of the Lakers’ inner-workings. Julius Randle is a leader on the team but could likely be moved in the right deal, as could Jordan Clarkson.
Ingram wouldn’t be the only untouchable piece if I was in charge of the Lakers. There’s no way I’d move Ivica Zubac or Larry Nance Jr. either. Zubac just turned 20 and showed serious promise as a rookie. The second-rounder out of Croatia is a legit 7’1″ and 240 pounds. He runs the floor, is a legit rim protector and has a surprising level of offensive polish. In just 38 games and 16.0 minutes per contest, Zubac averaged 7.5 points and 4.2 rebounds. There’s much more to come from him.
Nance is another guy I wouldn’t let go of. The 24-year-old is a high-energy bench piece who averaged 7.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 22.9 minutes per game. His ridiculous highlight-reel dunks have also made him a fan favorite. Nance still hasn’t reached his ceiling yet, if he can develop his jumper out beyond the 3-point line he’ll become even more valuable.
There are certainly guys on the Lakers who could be traded this offseason, but frankly, I wouldn’t move anyone under the age of 25. The franchise should stay disciplined and continue the slow rebuild.
So while I don’t fully agree with Johnson, at least we can now put to rest all those ridiculous rumors of Ingram being included in trade talks.