Bresnahan: What a Week
What a week.
In no particular order, the Lakers:
· Began blockbuster trade talks with New Orleans for Anthony Davis.
· Got LeBron James back for a game.
· Didn't get him back the game after that.
· Reportedly had a heated locker room debate after losing to Golden State.
Where does it all go from here? Nobody quite knows, the only certainty being four more road games before the All-Star break.
The uncertain parts start with Davis, the raging-hot property of the moment who the Lakers have gainfully tried to acquire from the seemingly reluctant Pelicans.
How many young Lakers would it take to secure the six-time All-Star? How many first-round picks must be added to convince the Pelicans to give up the brilliantly talented 25-year-old?
The teams have until noon Thursday to make a deal and, failing that, must wait until both their seasons end before restarting talks.
More teams will be in play for Davis's services this summer, making it the likelier time for a trade. New York and Chicago find out their draft positions May 14 at the annual lottery. If one of them wins the top spot, New Orleans would surely be intrigued.
Lottery night is also important for Boston, the biggest player in the future prospects game with four possible first-round picks at the June 20 draft.
Rewind back to now, with the Lakers in a playoff chase, with or without James.
He suited up for the first time in 37 days and almost racked up a triple-double in an overtime victory last Thursday against the Clippers. The costliest injury in his lifetime, a strained groin, was apparently behind him as the Lakers pulled within a game of the Clippers for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
But James couldn't play two days later. The 40 minute he logged against the Clippers left him too sore to suit up against Golden State.
Coach Luke Walton couldn't say with complete conviction whether James would return Tuesday against Indiana, a team without its injured superstar (Victor Oladipo) and a game the Lakers could definitely win.
James' absence against Golden State led to a series of dramatic in-game swings.
The Lakers trailed by 14 before the game was even six minutes old. Then they came back and took a 10-point third-quarter lead as Stephen Curry couldn't make a shot but Brandon Ingram could.
The Warriors turned into the Warriors in the fourth quarter and the best the Lakers could do afterward was claim moral victory. But then the story of locker-room strife was quickly posted online by The Athletic, barely 90 minutes after the game.
JaVale McGee, Michael Beasley and Lance Stephenson were reportedly angry with Walton's rotations and let him know about it after the game. (Stephenson quickly denied a role in the dissension and chose an Instagram story as his way of saying it. Of course.)
McGee's time has diminished in recent weeks because of the steady rise of Ivica Zubac. He played only 11 minutes against Golden State after a brief pre-game ceremony in which he received the championship ring he won with them last season.
Beasley's season has lacked consistency from the start and was sadly interrupted by the death of his mother in December. Like McGee, he is on a one-year contract with the Lakers.
Walton won't address the media until Tuesday morning in Indiana. If past locker-room spats are any indication, this likely blows over soon and leaves the Lakers with much more important big-picture concerns.
How is James feeling and, of greater interest, who's on their roster as of Thursday afternoon?