THE SECOND, California. Looking in the rearview mirror in a season that went wrong, several members of the Los Angeles Lakers spoke openly about the affection that rumors ran about the search for Anthony Davis in the locker room.
"At the trade deadline, everyone was lost," Kentavious Escort Caldwell-Pope said Wednesday after his exit interview with trainer Luke Walton and general manager Rob Pelinka. "That's all that worried them.
"And I feel like after that, everyone relaxed, calmed down and started playing basketball and did not worry about outside talk."
The Lakers went from 9 to 15 from the moment LeBron James publicly expressed his interest in playing with Davis until the redemption term expired, including a brutal 42-point loss in the Indiana Pacers just a few days before that the agreement ceases to be consummated.
The Lakers' relationships with the New Orleans pelicans became a hot topic not only for the players but also for the main office. After the deadline, the president of the Lakers team, Magic Johnson, who retired from his post on Tuesday in a surprising turn of events, told reporters that the pelicans did not negotiate in good faith. Weeks later, the Lakers' owner, Jeanie Buss, described as "false news" the reports of robust commercial packages offered by L.A.
Despite the sudden resignation of Magic Johnson as team president, LeBron James is behind the Lakers' owner, Jeanie Buss, and the organization, a source told ESPN.
The concern seemed to separate a list that was not a natural fit to begin with, full of promising promising youngsters, veterans with one-year contracts and one of the biggest stars in the game at James.
"I guess it was annoying," said Lakers guard Josh Hart, looking back. "Nowadays, it's all about social networks, so we go to social networks, it's all about exchanges, change expiration week, I suppose, that's all, we see our names, the names of others. that is an amplified part.
"Obviously, because we are in Los Angeles, we have Bron, AD did what AD did, so I think it got amplified … So, I think it was annoying, the media did it annoying, social networks did it annoying. At the end of the day there was no frustration between us, there was no frustration between us and the office, we were all a collective unit, and we tried to be professionals about it, we tried to control what we can control. "
The Lakers showed some cohesion to finish the season, with a record of 6-4 in their last 10 games, but their postseason possibilities had disappeared.
Rajon Rondo, one of the team's clear leaders, marveled at the change.
"Believe it or not, the last two weeks we've been on the road, in every game or road trip we've gone to dine in every city, play some cards all the time during the road trip," he said. . "So our bond was completely strengthened, it's a bit crazy how it happened at the end of the year compared to the beginning."
Those end-of-season victories came with half the lineup due to injuries. James, Hart, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Tyson Chandler closed their seasons prematurely due to health. To that end, the Lakers separated from athletic trainer Marco Nunez on Wednesday, after the team scored more than 200 games lost due to an injury counted during the 2018-19 season. Chandler said the injuries had their effect as much as Davis's talks.
"It was the injuries and then the commercial rumors," he said. "It would not be honest if I was sitting here without saying the same, it was one of the most important factors of the season, the injuries were difficult for us because we were already a young unit … Having those injuries and not being able to get used to each other , I think it really affected us. "
Still, other players said that all the traps that came with L.A. this season, even the unfortunate things that are out of your control, are worth it.
"I would say it's a lot of distractions, obviously, we're in the media every day, whether it's good or bad, but like I said, I think as long as you're close to your teammates, and the costumes are good, it's all that matters, "Ball said. "Outside noise does not really mean much, if anyone who wants to come or come, I would say that, do not worry, whatever happens, living here and growing up here, I know how he's playing in Los Angeles, so I do not I surprised when I came in. But the fans love you whenever you're doing your job. "
"There are opportunities on and off the court here," McGee said. "We had most of the television games of all, and they came from a lost season, or we came from a lost season, that only shows you how much attention and how much opportunity there is to be with the Lakers if you are" Win or lose. It's just an opportunity for anything. Anyone who does not want to take advantage of that opportunity just because their fear of the spotlight is childish. "