Rajon Rondo has some words to share about the fiasco in Los Angeles this season.
The point guard signed a one-year, $9 million deal with the Lakers last offseason and was right in the middle of trade rumors indicating the team intended to scrap the roster in pursuit of Pelicans star Anthony Davis — at the request of LeBron James. Rondo shed light on the situation, explaining the rumors had a serious effect on some players.
“Every guy on our team, LeBron was their favorite player growing up,” Rondo told Bleacher Report. “Everyone had the shoes, his jersey. You’re the biggest fan in the world. It’s like you’re playing with MJ, and then you get there, and it’s like your mom and dad, or the person that you looked up to and idolized, doesn’t want you. And then to have that sitting in your gut, not knowing. Guys aren’t at the age where they can have a man-to-man conversation versus texting you. Everybody wants to text you: ‘How you doing? We cool?’ People don’t understand how to have a real conversation and talk out problems.”
Among the names mentioned in potential Davis trades were Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Kyle Kuzma — all of whom were drafted by the Lakers in the last three years. But it didn’t stop here according to Rondo, as even the veterans felt the impact.
“Even some of the old guys were affected,” Rondo says. “I can’t say a name, but I remember me and the guy were on the bench for the Atlanta game right before the (All-Star) break. The guy was cussing and talking bad about the situation during the game. I was like: ‘Snap out of it. That shit is over with. We’ll get through it. As vets, we have to move forward and not focus on what the young guys are focusing on. Set an example.’ It was a little crazy to see a vet distraught over that.”
Rondo though, said he was “numb” to the speculation, as he’d been involved in trade rumors since his early days in Boston. The four-time All-Star joined the likes of other seasoned vets on one-year rentals last summer. Among them were JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson. While the team was firmly in the playoff hunt on Christmas Day, James suffered a groin injury in a win against the Warriors that derailed the course of the season.
The drama in Los Angeles intensified when president of basketball operations Magic Johnson unexpectedly resigned from his front office position as the regular season wound down. But Rondo believes the team handled adversity as well as it could.
“Biggest market, biggest media, you know what you’re coming into with LeBron James on the team,” Rondo said. “To me it wasn’t as crazy. The way things ended, the way Magic exited, maybe. Things happen. You learn. … I think we held it together as best as possible.”
It’s unclear who the Lakers will bring back after finishing with a 37-45 record in 2018-19. However, they are reportedly willing to pursue Davis again with members of its young core and the No. 4 pick as bargaining chips.