As the 2019 NBA Finals, and thus the entire season, draws to a close, it’s time to start focusing on free agency and another busy summer of player movement. Of course, one of the biggest potential moves is an Anthony Davis trade. The New Orleans Pelicans star has made it clear he wants out, and not even winning the Draft Lottery last month changed his mind.
When the Pelicans decide to make that move, or where they trade Davis remains to be seen, but if he has indeed indicated he won’t sign an extension, there’s no chance New Orleans will lose one of the best players in the league for nothing. One leading candidate to get Davis this summer is the Los Angeles Lakers, who, at least at one point, were his preferred trade destination ahead of the trade deadline back in February.
Speaking of the Lakers, they’ll be picking No. 4 overall, landing yet another prime lottery spot after a disappointing first season with LeBron James. And their struggles, at least towards the end of the season, were due in large part to the impact of the Davis trade rumors. As much was obvious to anyone watching the games, but now, veteran point guard Rajon Rondo has once again confirmed the negative effect of the rumors, saying they even impacted veterans who weren’t included in the trade talks. Via Bleacher Report:
“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 also mentioned the impact of many players going through that situation for the first time in their careers, and doing so in the social media age, where it’s hard to escape the discourse.
“Me, I’m kind of numb to it. I was in trade rumors every year in Boston. Eight straight years. You can’t really relate to it until you’ve gone through it. Not knowing the future, waking up every day—and now you’re on the phone reading stuff. When I was going through it, there wasn’t so much social media; it was just on TV. You’d hear it, or someone would text you about it, but it wasn’t so much in your face, with eight different blockbuster or proposed trades and your name in every one of them. Every Instagram scroll, you’re in it. So, psychologically, it probably took a toll. …
“Guys may have felt like, ‘Oh, I need to prove myself so I won’t be traded’ or ‘They’re going to trade me anyway.’ Each game you didn’t know what the mentality was for those guys: ‘Should I give my all to this organization that is about to trade me in two days?'”
Furthermore, acquiring Davis seemed to be an important goal for LeBron, and Rondo noted the secondary aspect of how that impacted the young players who looked up to him.
“Every guy on our team, LeBron was their favorite player growing up,” Rondo says. “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.”
All in all, these are some pretty interesting quotes from Rondo — in particular his last insight into the dynamic between LeBron and the Lakers’ young players.
While they no longer have to play games while dealing with these rumors, the drama isn’t over for the Lakers’ youngsters. As we saw with the Kawhi Leonard deal last summer, or the Carmelo Anthony trade in 2017, these situations aren’t easy to resolve. It’s not like free agency where most of the big deals are done a few days after July 1.
We may be waiting all summer for a Davis deal, and that’s only going to prolong the uneasy thoughts and doubts about where they’ll be playing next season. For their sake, and Davis’ hopefully a resolution will come sooner rather than later.