The Los Angeles Lakers' 2018/19 campaign was not short of drama, between Magic Johnson's resignation, their 10th place finish in the Western Conference and the speculation surrounding a trade for Anthony Davis.
The Lakers' interest in Davis reached its peak around the February trade deadline, with multiple pieces of their young core reportedly on the table in a potential deal. Veteran point guard Rajon Rondo believes the speculation took its toll on the locker room, especially for the younger guys.
"Every guy on our team, LeBron was their favorite player growing up," Rondo told Bleacher Report's Ric 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 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."
The deadline passed without a deal, and while the young core of names including Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart were reportedly on the table, the locker room rift extended to some of the veterans on the team according to Rondo.
"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."
"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."
Missing the playoffs for the sixth-straight season, the Lakers were in the headlines again in April following Magic Johnson's shock resignation from his role as President of Basketball Operations. Johnson announced his resignation prior to their final game of the regular season against Portland Trail Blazers and despite the whirlwind surrounding the team, Rondo believes the team handled the situation as best they 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."
The Lakers now turn their attention to a blockbuster off-season as they try to pair James with another superstar, with a host of superstar talent available in free agency.