After the game, the Lakers locker room got heated, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, with forward Michael Beasley and head coach Luke Walton specifically mentioned:
Shams Charania @ShamsCharania
As uncertainty surrounds Lakers into deadline week, several veterans -- including Michael Beasley -- had an emotionally-charged verbal exchange with head coach Luke Walton postgame tonight, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @WatchStadium. It stopped short of turning physical.
However, sources told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, "it never got close to getting out of control, people are always emotional after a loss."
Los Angeles has gone 10-16 ever since a 17-10 start. The Lakers are also 7-12 without James in the lineup and have lost five of their last seven overall.
The team is also in a state of flux as trade rumors run rampant regarding a sizable chunk in regard to potential deals for New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis. Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac and Lonzo Ball have been part of them, per Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times.
Naturally, a losing skid coupled with at least eight players not knowing where their professional lives will plant them in a week has to make for a difficult situation.
The season probably hasn't been easy for the veterans, who were perhaps expecting a deep playoff run rather than a fight just to make the final eight in the West. Charania mentioned a couple players more who got upset on Saturday:
He also mentioned some specific issues while noting that sources thought some good could come out of the airing of grievances:
The key here is whether Walton can steer the team back in the right direction when James is back on the court full time. He returned Thursday but missed Saturday because of "load management" but looks good to go for the remainder of the season.
James could be the best medicine for what ails the Lakers on and off the court, but the relationship between Walton and the veterans is something to keep an eye on after this reported postgame discussion.
At least some (if not all) of the vets figure to stay in town even in the hypothetical scenario where Anthony Davis is traded to Los Angeles before the Thursday deadline, as the young players are the reported centerpieces of any deal. Therefore, any issues would likely need patching up before a playoff run.
Despite all of the L.A. drama, the Lakers aren't out of it at 27-26. They are just two games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the final playoff spot with 29 contests remaining.
L.A. hits the court next at the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.