The Los Angeles Lakers put up a strong effort on the road against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night before ultimately falling short.
Following the contest, there was reportedly a speech given about the need to play together, one that veterans Michael Beasley, JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson didn’t take too kindly to, voicing their frustrations to Walton and the rest of the staff.
According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, one of the topics of contention for the veterans was their playing time and Walton’s rotations:
Sources told ESPN that Walton criticized veterans for contributing to the Lakers’ downfall by not playing a team game and making poor decisions in crunch time. Michael Beasley and JaVale McGee, in particular, took exception with the feedback.
The veterans — both signed to the Lakers on one-year contracts this past offseason — countered Walton’s criticism by expressing frustration with Walton’s inconsistent rotations this season, sources told ESPN.
The confrontation, earlier reported by The Athletic, was “heated,” according to a source but calmed down rather quickly. Beasley, who also got into a verbal spat on the sidelines with Walton during the Lakers’ 138-128 overtime victory in Oklahoma City just more than two weeks ago, repeatedly referred to Walton as “bro” during the exchange Saturday, which touched a nerve with the coach, a source told ESPN.
There is no doubt that playing time for nearly everyone on the Lakers has been up and down all season. The team has several wing players such as Stephenson, Beasley, Josh Hart, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Svi Mykhailiuk all potentially playing 20 or more minutes one night and fewer than five the next.
The same can be said for the center rotation between McGee, Tyson Chandler and Ivica Zubac.
It can be difficult for players to feel comfortable and get a rhythm and confidence when minutes fluctuate wildly from game to game and it is Walton’s job to be able to appease all of the personalities in the locker room. Perhaps this was necessary, as noted, to get the issues out in the open so they can be solved.
This isn’t the first time a heated team meeting took place this season as another ‘heart-to-heart’ took place in December. LeBron James spoke recently about the Lakers coming together on this road trip and this incident could either be a step in that direction, or the beginning of an unrepairable splintering of the team.
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