When considering why the Los Angeles Lakers might be giving “strong consideration” to signing free agent guard Rajon Rondo, one idea that didn’t come immediately to mind for me might have been the most obvious. While Rondo doesn’t fulfill the Lakers’ desire for “shooting and defense,” he does add veteran experience.
According to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times, that’s exactly why the Lakers want him. In addition to reporting that the Lakers would only offer Rondo a one-year deal if they decide to sign him and that Rondo’s’ team reached out to the Lakers first, Turner adds that the Lakers see Rondo as a potential “mentor” for rookie point guard Lonzo Ball.
Rondo’s reputation on this front is mixed. On one hand, reports from around the Bulls have pegged him as someone the Chicago Bulls younger players looked up to last season. Rondo additionally mentored young boys in Chicago to help give them a male role model.
If any of those things made a positive impact on the professionalism of the young Bulls, that’s definitely a positive in addition to the value the latter provided the Chicago community.
On the other hand, Rondo has also feuded with just about every coach he’s had in the NBA at some point. There is also the highly regrettable incident in which Rondo called NBA official Bill Kennedy a homophobic slur. Kennedy later came out publicly as gay.
You can bet the Lakers are weighing both hands of this equation just as much as Rondo’s shooting ability or defense given how much the front office has talked up wanting to put a premium on bringing in high-character players. Has Rondo matured as he’s aged? Could he teach Ball the importance of avoiding incidences like the one’s above, as well as teach him about passing and reading defenses?
I don’t know what the answers to those questions are, but the Lakers can (and almost certainly will) figure them out to the best of their ability before bringing Rondo in on a deal of any length.