When Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka took over management of the Los Angeles Lakers, the fear for many fans was that the new regime would be impatient. The Lakers have been stuck in rebuild mode for years with no definitive star taking the mantle from the recently-retired Kobe Bryant.
That hasn’t been the case, so far. Both Johnson and Pelinka have been adamant about developing the young talent and reports suggest that they will not trade anyone for a star like Paul George, opting instead to wait until 2018 when the Indiana Pacers forward is a free agent. Even Jeanie Buss, who previously expressed the desire for an all-star as Los Angeles is set to host the festivities next year, has recently suggested that the Lakers should continue developing their homegrown talent.
Johnson gave an even more direct response appearing on ESPN LA on Thursday. The newly appointed President of Basketball Operations admitted that he does not like labeling anyone as “untouchable” but he did point out one young Laker as being close to just that:
Magic Johnson when asked about untouchables: "Brandon (Ingram) is a guy we probably won't think about moving, ever." (On @ESPNLosAngeles).
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) May 25, 2017
That’s a very direct approach from Johnson. Ingram was not too productive in his rookie season but he did flash immense signs of potential, especially towards the end of the season. Magic, who recently detailed the improvements he wants to see from Ingram and the rest of the young core, seems enamored with Ingram’s physical tools and his growth as a player.
Of course, this all could change in the right situation. If the Lakers find themselves with a favorable trade opportunity, I would consider it unlikely that any player is truly untouchable. That said, there were reports at the trade deadline that the Lakers (then led by Mitch Kupchak) refused to include Ingram in trade talks for the Kings’ center DeMarcus Cousins.
The Lakers, across management, are clearly very high on Ingram, as they should be. That’s just another sign that they’re doing the right thing in remaining patient with their rebuild.