Lakers News: Latest on Brandon Ingram, Al Horford Rumors and More

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2016

The Los Angeles Lakers continue to dominate the headlines after a monster draft.
The Los Angeles Lakers continue to dominate the headlines after a monster draft.Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

On paper, the Los Angeles Lakers have it all. 

D'Angelo Russell looks like the point guard of the future. Julius Randle looks like a surefire starter for a long time at power forward, and Brandon Ingram—the second pick in the 2016 NBA draft—has the upside to be one of the league's best players in time. 

Oh, and to top it all off, the Lakers have a new head coach in Luke Walton and the cap space to chase the free-agent market's biggest names.

It might all sound too good to be true, and maybe it is. The young core will, in fact, take a long time to mesh together with a new coach and fight for a playoff spot. And if the last few seasons have been any sign, Los Angeles isn't exactly the hottest free-agent destination right now.

Still, those factors don't make the latest news and rumors around the organization any less notable.

Indeed, much of the news surrounding the Lakers cites the obvious—the team will be much different than last year's version. A note by Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times from a Walton meet-and-greet with the media says it all:

Brad Turner @BA_Turner

Luke says Lakers will play an uptempo game

Gone are the days when one had to wonder if Byron Scott was running Kobe Bryant into the ground. Gone are the days when folks scratched their heads in confusion as the team cared more about a retirement tour than getting younger players significant playing time and experience.

Last year, the Lakers slowed it down while Bryant averaged 28.2 minutes per game. Incredibly, he averaged 16.9 attempted field goals per game, a full three more than the next closest player (Jordan Clarkson) and many more than both Russell (12.0) and Randle (10.3).

Long story short, it sounds like the Lakers have a mind to let the young guys run wild next season, free-agent additions or not.

This includes Ingram, who just averaged 17.3 points and 6.8 rebounds with the Duke Blue Devils. That said, even general manager Mitch Kupchak recently said the 6'9", 196-pound Ingram “needs to work and get stronger,” according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

Of course, that was but a small negative bit from an otherwise praise-filled interview with Kupchak.

"We look at him and his age (18) and his body type, his willingness to work and be coached,” Kupchak said. “We think the upside and potential in him, there is no ceiling on him. But to date, he has had a pretty good career in a pretty good conference."

Ingram was always the best pick for the Lakers if they want to improve right away. He might be thin, but he can stretch the floor with his deep shot after hitting 41 percent of his attempts last year. Unlike many rookies, he won't be a complete loss on the defensive end of the court either, as he averaged 1.1 steals and 1.4 blocks per game.

Such a youthful core couldn't hurt for some veteran direction, though, which makes it interesting to hear the Lakers might be hot in pursuit of Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford.

Steve Kyler of BasketballInsiders.com provided the scoop:

Steve Kyler @stevekylerNBA

Horford? -- He's gonna shop - Knicks, Wizards, Lakers, Magic, Hawks all in the mix. https://t.co/7YAYD0U9Ts

It's hard to think that Horford would like to sign with the Lakers and go through a decent-sized rebuild when contenders might offer the same amount of cash.

Still, it's easy to see why the Lakers are interested.

Horford is a great leader and one of the most consistent players at his position. He just turned 30 years old at the beginning of June, but he averaged 15.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game last season. Not only would he be an immediate upgrade over Roy Hibbert, but Horford would act as the perfect mentor and on-court complement to Randle, who heads into what is basically his second season in the league.

Even if the Lakers whiff on Horford and other big names such as Hassan Whiteside—another center they have an apparent interest in, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein—the plan doesn't change much for next year.

In other words, let the young core get experience, and give it another go in free agency after the team shows improvement.

The Lakers have stuck to their guns for this rebuild, throwing away the instant-gratification ways of the past. It's going to pay off on the court next season regardless of who they grab in free agency.

For Lakers faithful, watching the young core grow and improve with an uptempo attack and a potential future All-Star leading the charge is downright fun, especially compared to what the last two or three years have provided.

Winning is fun too, and the tempo of the rebuild suggests that might not be too far off either. 

All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.

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