Rajon Rondo explains what trade rumors did to Lakers’ players
The Los Angeles Lakers’ season was destabilized around the trade deadline, when much of the roster was floated as part of the team’s very public pursuit of New Orleans center Anthony Davis.
Point guard Rajon Rondo has been around the NBA for a long time, and offered some insight into why those trade talks were particularly damaging, especially to the team’s younger players.
“Every guy on our team, LeBron was their favorite player growing up,” Rondo said, via Ric Bucher of 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.”
Rondo added, however, that it wasn’t just young guys who were impacted by the rumors.
“Even some of the old guys were affected,” Rondo added. “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 s— 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.”
Part of the reason James may have been ignorant to how much trade talk would destabilize the locker room is because, as he noted, he’s never been the subject of that speculation before. The Lakers may not have made the playoffs even without that factor, but as Rondo illustrates, it was definitely a major distraction that really hurt the team in a key part of the season.