The Los Angeles Lakers have been quiet during the NBA Free Agency period. Despite the trade of D’Angelo Russell to Brooklyn (Read my reaction here), the Lakers have not made any other acquisitions. They only have 12 players under contract, so signings are coming shortly.
Looking over their roster, the Lakers seem to set down low. They have Brook Lopez, Ivica Zubac, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., and Kyle Kuzma to play the four and the five. They also have combo forwards Brandon Ingram and Luol Deng to play the three and four. The holes come in the backcourt with Lonzo Ball, Jordan Clarkson, and Corey Brewer the only players demanding minutes. A particular need is a point guard that can both run the offense and mentor young Ball.
There are still plenty of free agent point guards available, but the one you hear linked to the Lakers is Rajon Rondo. Pundits make the case that Rondo and Ball are both pass first point guards and Rondo would be a good mentor for him. Today, I am going to discuss the four reasons why the Los Angeles Lakers should avoid Rajon Rondo.
Reason #1: Rajon Rondo cannot shot the basketball
Rajon Rondo is an experienced NBA player. His accomplishments include being a four-time All-Star, a four-time All-Defensive team member, and winning an NBA Championships with the Boston Celtics in 2008. I applaud him on those achievements, but one thing Rajon Rondo could never do was efficiently shoot the basketball.
Last season with Chicago, Rondo shot 40.8% from the field, a respectable 37.6% from three-point territory, and 60.0% from the foul line. Not great numbers for a point guard. For his career, he shoots 46.3% from the field (has not shot well since he left Boston, though), 30.4% from three, and 60.6% on free throws. He is 31 years old now and is never going to learn to shoot.
The problem with Rondo on the Lakers is floor spacing. In a league ruled by three-point production, the NBA league average three-point percentage is 35.8%. Los Angeles’ best returning three-point percentage is Jordan Clarkson at 32.9%. The new addition, Brook Lopez did shoot 34.6% last season, but that means the Lakers do not have an above average three-point shooter on their roster. That is a problem and adding Rajon Rondo to that mix will only exacerbate that issue.
Reason #2: 4 teams in the last three years
Since 2014, Rondo has played for the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings and Chicago Bulls. The exits have not been soft. The Bulls recently paid $3 million to buyout his contract rather than have him on a reasonable for a starting point guard salary of $13.4 million. The Mavericks dumped Rondo and told him they never wanted to see him again as you would do with a crazy ex-girlfriend.
Reason #3: Rondo might be a bad teammate
Rajon Rondo poor reputation as a teammate may be the biggest reason the Lakers should avoid him. The negative headlines follow Rondo everywhere he goes these days. In Boston, you did not see this much, but the Celtics were winning, and he was the starting point guard and floor general. When he left Boston things took an abrupt turn for the worst.
Mavericks faked injury
I mentioned the Mavericks story, but this one makes it sound even worse. SB Nation reported the Mavericks faked an injury after game two of a 2015 playoff series to get Rondo off the court and refused to give him his playoff share. Please read the article for more information, but if that is not a red flag, I do not know what is.
Rondo then moved on to the Sacramento Kings and strains were reported there. Rondo himself detailed some of them in an ESPN article. Also, Rondo took a swipe at some of his Kings teammates in this article from last season.
So Rondo moves again to Chicago and to make it three for three as tensions arose again. There was the famous spat with Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade detailed here. Rondo served a one-game suspension in December after a verbal altercation with an assistant coach. There was also a benching, and Rondo told sources he would push for a trade if it stuck.
If it was a one-time thing, maybe you could brush it under the rug, but multiple stories every season and you want that guy joining a young rebuilding team. I cannot imagine Rondo standing for Lonzo Ball playing over him down the stretch of a game much less starting over him. If the Lakers add Rondo, it seems like a poor fit. Rondo would likely put stress on the locker room just like D’Angelo Russell did. Russell is playing for the Nets because he did not fit the mold. Magic Johnson said, “I need a leader” and Rondo is not a leader if these stories are true.
Reason #4: Rondo is slipping and refuses to admit it
At age 31, Rajon Rondo can still play the game of basketball at the NBA level, but he is not the player he once was. His game is slipping, and he refuses to admit it. Last season, he averaged the lowest points and minutes per game since his rookie year. That was on a Bulls team with no backup point guard to push him for minutes. You hear the story all the time that some players on-court ability make them worth the headache, Rondo has slipped below that threshold. Rondo's best role is a backup point guard playing 20-25 minutes a night, but he sees himself as a starter and star contributor to the team. The Los Angeles Lakers cannot afford to make the mistake of signing Rajon Rondo.
There you have it, the four reasons why the Los Angeles Lakers should avoid Rajon Rondo in free agency. I wish Rondo nothing but the best. Maybe a contending team will give Rondo a shot at the one, but it appears to be a bad move for the rebuilding Lakers. To be fair to him, the Bulls embraced Rondo’s return at the end of last season. Maybe some of the stories are dramatized, but if he came to Hollywood things would get worse. I just do not see it as a good fit.
Expect the Lakers to bring in a point guard at some time during the free agency period. Los Angeles does not appear to be in a rush and could roll with Lonzo Ball and the unproven David Nwaba with Jordan Clarkson playing both the one and the two. I still believe a veteran point guard would be a good fit to settle the offense down and help Lonzo Ball grow his game. If you spring for a veteran Lakers, make sure it is the correct fit.
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