EL SEGUNDO — The Los Angeles Lakers aired various frustrations among each other and their coaches in a team meeting Thursday that was held in lieu of a regular practice.
“I think we put it out there about how each guy was feeling about how they play on the basketball floor, how they feeling about the business of the organization, how they wanna be played or anything of that nature,” Ingram said. “Ultimately I would hope they felt free after they did it.”
The Lakers (11-22) had lost four straight games and seven of eight coming into Friday’s matchup against the L.A. Clippers. Both Lonzo Ball and Brook Lopez – two of the team’s most important players – are currently injured, with Brandon Ingram recently returning from an ailment of his own.
If that weren’t enough, Andrew Bogut said after a loss against Portland that certain players on the roster are “frustrated” because of the injuries, inconsistent rotations and the often public goings-on of management. He added that the team’s effort in that loss “wasn’t very professional.”
“I’d be lying to say that there’s guys that are not frustrated on this team,” Bogut said. “Everyone knows what’s going on with the salary cap situation next season and all that. They’re distractions that we can’t let affect us. That’s part of this league.”
Lakers head coach Luke Walton said Bogut’s comments were part of the reason Walton felt it would be a good time to hold a meeting. In addition, several of his players logged significant minutes in the previous game, Walton said, so in his view, holding a practice would not accomplish much.
“You don’t wanna do too many of them because a lot of it comes down to let’s get on the court and work,” Walton said of the efficacy of team meetings. “The schedule that we have right now, practice time isn’t always gonna be available. So we gotta make sure that no matter what we do when we come in each day, we’re getting better. It just felt like by having one of those meetings as a group, there was an opportunity for guys to speak and feel comfortable speaking up in front of everybody. So it’s just another way of getting better not really being able to get much done on the court.”
Kyle Kuzma called the meeting a “heart to heart,” and said he was part of a similar meeting as a collegiate player at Utah. Kuzma said “everybody on the team said something,” but did not elaborate on what was said because he preferred to keep the details “in the house.”
Kuzma downplayed the gravity of what it meant for the team to have a meeting, and said the goal of it was to get the players and coaches “on the same page.”
“Even championship teams in this league, they have players that are frustrated,” Kuzma said. “That’s just gonna come with playing basketball and a team sport. Because at the end of the day, you’re gonna have five guys on the floor and somebody’s always gonna be frustrated about something -whether that’s playing time, whether that’s not getting enough shots, whether that’s coaches being on them too hard or anything. That’s just the game of basketball.”
Ingram said the meeting was “well-needed” after the Lakers lost the last two games, which he said were very winnable and the team didn’t play up to its potential. He added that time will tell to see whether or not the meeting was effective.
“Hopefully, we think about we said to each other, what we said to the coaches and the coaches have listened to what we have said,” Ingram said. “Hopefully we can take it into practice and to games and just get better. We don’t know if the talk worked or not unless we step in between the lines and play our hardest.”