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Hearing their name kicked around as part of the NBA’s rumor mill is not easy for any player. For young players, the angst and anxiousness is amplified exponentially.
With the league’s 3 p.m. trade deadline only hours away, the Los Angeles Lakers’ youthful trio of Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson admit they’ve heard their names being bandied about and are doing their best to deal with it, according to a story on ESPN.
“There’s definitely a human side,” Randle said from the team’s practice facility. “There’s going to be ups, there’s going to be downs, the frustration, there’s going to be happy times. Whatever it is, life’s not perfect.
“For me, it is about my family, I have a son, I have a wife. I owe it to them [to play hard and be professional], I sacrifice a lot of time working on my game in the summer, spending time away from them, so I owe it to them.”
Nance has emerged as a leader for the Lakers, who’ve gone 11-4 in the last 31 days (Jan. 7 through Feb. 7), the second-best mark in the league during that span, behind only Houston (14-2).
“I have been talking to guys like, ‘Hey, if you are traded, you are traded. There is nothing you can do about it,'” Nance said. “Speculating or being upset about it before it happens does you, does the organization, does anybody no good. There is nothing we can do about it. We’re just pawns in the game at this point. So you put your head down, play hard, play for us.
“Jordan struggled with [trade rumors] for a couple of games,” Nance continued. “Julius struggled with it for a couple of games. As did I. But it is all about winning. I think we all kind of came together and was like, look, whether we are going to be here for another two weeks, another two months, it is not going to be any fun losing.
“So might as well leave a good impression if we are going to be gone. Winning gets everybody paid. Winning makes everybody happy and that is the goal. We all kind of checked our egos, checked our own personal problems at the gym door and are playing pretty good basketball.”
Randle said he planned on spending Wednesday night doing his normal routine the night before a game, which includes spending time with family and watching “El Chapo” and “Surviving Escobar” on Netflix.
“I love it here, I love my coaching staff, you know, Luke has been great for me, the assistant coaches, I love my teammates here, so I would love to stay here and finish the season,” Randle said. “We’ve got something good going right now. We’re growing. But regardless, you’ve got to understand it’s a business. And the front office is going to do what they feel like is best for them. Regardless of what happens, I have had a great time here, but I would love to stay. Regardless, it doesn’t matter [because it is out of my control].”
Nance is comfortable with whatever happens, knowing it’s completely out of his control, saying he would have a quite dinner with his fiancee in the hours leading up to the deadline.
“Whether I am in the gym all night or whether I am on my knees begging and pleading not to get traded, whether if I was begging to get traded, what is going to happen is going to happen,” Nance said. “And me worrying about it isn’t going to change anything or make a difference.
“The NBA is a revolving door, whether you are under contract, not under contract, guys come and go. I mean I started out here with [Robert] Sacre and Kobe [Bryant]. And now I got Kuz [Kyle Kuzma] and Josh Hart. The amount of turnover you see from year to year is crazy.
“The best ways to combat those rumors is to show them like, what do we need to change for?” Nance continued. “We’ve got [one of] the best records in the NBA the past month. Why do we need to change? And I think we have been doing a good job of playing ball the right way and making our case to stay together.”