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The Lakers reached their breaking point

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However severe the tension that spilled over into the locker room, it’s clear the Lakers ’external drama is catching up to them.

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers predictably lost to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night in a game LeBron James didn’t play. The game was tight through three-and-a-half quarters, then Golden State prevailed, 115-101.

The real drama happened after the game, though, and the severity of it depends on who you want to believe.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Michael Beasley, JaVale McGee, and Lance Stephenson got into “an emotionally-charged verbal exchange” with head coach Luke Walton. “The veteran players raised their voice on topics of Walton’s playing time distribution and rotations,” according to Charania, and “the scene was heated.”

Minutes after that report, many reporters downplayed the incident. with ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne said that “It never got close to getting out of control, people are always emotional after a loss.” Shelburne also said Stephenson was not involved in whatever happened, and the L.A. Times’ Tania Gangui reported it was Josh Hart instead. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported that the feud started as Walton “challenged several players because of their selfish approach to the game and they went back at their coach.”

The TL;DR here is that there was some beef between the vets and Walton. The volatile Lakers are nearing a breaking point.

The Anthony Davis situation needs to be resolved

Every Laker not named LeBron James must sleep at night not knowing where he’ll live the next day. As L.A.’s trade offers are being leaked, we, along with the team, are learning just how dispensable management thinks each guy is. That’s a tough reality to live in, and it’s stressful for players with families or kids. Fans overlook this aspect of the game some times.

It’s only been six days since Davis’s request, and even fewer since negotiations began, but to the players involved, it must be straining. That’s often how frustration like Saturday night’s boils over.

Until a decision on an AD trade is made, or players are told they are or are not safe from being dealt, this level of hostility isn’t going anywhere. Regardless of how serious this bash with Walton was, it’s bound to get worse as we approach the Feb. 7 trade deadline.

The Lakers’ roster construction is starting to bite them

Aside from the trade speculation, Charania said the feud was over playing time and rotations. This makes sense.

The Lakers signed the ultimate “meme team,” as many called it over the summer, with characters like McGee, Beasley, and Stephenson. In a lineup so focused on James and developing a core of 20-somethings, minutes were never going to be plentiful for those guys, and clearly they realize this now.

Who could’ve seen this coming? (Oh wait, all of us.)

Don’t blame Luke Walton for this, though

Walton didn’t sign the players who are unhappy with their role on the team. Instead, he was signed up with the tall task of pleasing everybody on the most-watched team in the NBA that’s looked at under a microscope 24/7. He also isn’t the one making trade offers for Davis. He’s simply the middle-man between employees and their boss here.

Walton will take on a lot of the blame because that is often a head coach’s job, but he isn’t the one with final say on how his roster will look. Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka got L.A. into a mess that’s likely only solved if AD comes to town.

Where do we go from here?

The Lakers have to survive five more days until the deadline, and at this point, it better end with a trade for Davis. They run the risk of an uncomfortable locker room with trust issues if not.

Saturday night wasn’t the end-all be-all feud between the vets and Walton, but we’re certainly entering that threat as the days go by.