- LeBron James’ apparent involvement in the Los Angeles Lakers’ pursuit of Anthony Davis hurt the team, according to point guard Rajon Rondo.
- Rondo said the Lakers’ young players all idolized James, and he compared the players’ involvement in trade rumours to a child not being wanted by their mother or father.
- Rondo said the trade noise even affected the team’s veteran players and said injuries and a lack of chemistry affected their ability to power through the buzz.
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The Los Angeles Lakers season went off the rails when LeBron James went down with a groin injury on Christmas and when Anthony Davis requested a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans.
With the team spiraling with its best player sidelined, the trade rumours involving nearly everyone on the roster only added drama.
The optics also didn’t look great for James when he created some controversy by saying he would love to play with Davis.
Then Davis requested a trade through his agency, Klutch Sports, which is run by Rich Paul, James’ agent and childhood friend. It appeared James was trying to help facilitate a Davis trade, and it hurt the Lakers’ chemistry.
Speaking with Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher, Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo said James’ supposed involvement hurt the team.
“Every guy on our team, LeBron was their favourite player growing up,” Rondo told Bucher. “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 mum and dad, or the person that you looked up to and idolized, doesn’t want you.”
Rondo said the trade buzz was even affecting older veteran players on the roster, not just the Lakers’ young players.
“Even some of the old guys were affected,” Rondo said. “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.”
Rondo said the constant injuries to key players hurt the team’s chemistry and that few players were willing to have a face-to-face conversation about the issues.
ESPN’s Baxter Holmes wrote in May that some within the Lakers saw Paul as a disruptive presence for the Lakers, getting more access to Lakers facilities than most agents.
Holmes also reported that Paul told NBA Commissioner Adam Silver that he didn’t think Luke Walton was the right coach for James and the Lakers. Silver later confirmed the conversation.
Rondo, however, disagreed that Paul was intrusive.
“He wasn’t around that much,” Rondo told Bucher of Paul. “I’m not a fool, but he doesn’t have a dominant personality; he’s not, ‘Look at me.’ He’s super chill. We’ve had a lot of conversations. I didn’t see him as a threat or controlling anything at all.”
The Lakers reportedly remain involved in the pursuit of Davis. They face a big summer in which they will try to add a star free agent or two around James.
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