LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers held exit interviews with the media on Wednesday, fresh off a disappointing season and the drama of Tuesday night, when team president Magic Johnson abruptly stepped down before the final game.
“We had moments where we were really, really good and we had moments where we were really, really bad,” forward Brandon Ingram said.
“Because of what went on throughout the schedule, which was crazy, I think that ultimately helps us out and brings us even closer for next year. I’m not sure who is going to return, but for the guys who are, I know they going to feel that feeling of like we could have won games.”
But much is up in the air a day after the Lakers ended with a 37-45 record and missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season. Who will run the team? Who will coach the team? Luke Walton, after his third season on the bench, did not meet with the media Wednesday.
“I think Luke did a hell of a job, with what he had, the cards he was dealt,” point guard Rajon Rondo said. “Guys fought every night.”
The Lakers, who pursued New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis at the trading deadline, will want to make a big offseason splash, which could suit the desires of superstar LeBron James.
The Lakers were 20-14 and in fourth place in the Western Conference after beating the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day, when James suffered a groin injury that cost him the next 17 games.
Ingram didn’t play after March 2 and under underwent thoracic outlet decompression surgery after he was diagnosed with deep venous thrombosis, which involved a blood clot that caused shoulder pain.
Point guard Lonzo Ball didn’t play after Jan. 19 because of a left ankle injury. He wore a black hat with the words “Don’t Forget Me” to his media interview Wednesday.
“I think those two weeks before I got hurt, I kind of figured it out,” said Ball, whose name has been mentioned in trade possibilities. “I felt I was playing the basketball I was capable of playing and unfortunately I got hurt and couldn’t come back.”
The other big question around Ball is whether he will continue to do business with his father, LaVar Ball, and the family’s Big Baller Brand.
“We’re still talking about it,” Lonzo Ball said. “Right now, I’m not really too focused on that. I’m more focused on just being healthy, getting right for the summer. We’ll get around to it.”
Ball said he looked at James — who signed a four-year, $154 million deal last offseason — as a “big brother.”
“It was a dream come true for me,” Ball said of playing with James. “Obviously, his IQ is off the charts, so he’s not hard to play with at all.” — Reuters