As expected after one of the strongest playoff runs of his career, Lakers veteran Rajon Rondo is officially opting out of his contract to enter free agency, according to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:
Sources: Rajon Rondo is expected to decline his player option for $2.6 million with the Lakers to become a free agent. Rondo will have teams after him, including the Clippers and Atlanta Hawks.— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) November 16, 2020
Again, this is not a surprising development. There were multiple reports that Rondo planned to opt out within days of the Lakers claiming the 2020 NBA championship, and as our own Sabreena Merchant wrote at the time, there was literally no point in him opting in to the final year of a two-year contract worth the veteran’s minimum. He literally can’t lose money by opting out (as long as a team signs him):
For Rondo there is little downside to this; he literally can’t get less on the market than the minimum deal he would have been opting in to. If he wants to stay with the Lakers, his best-case scenario is likely getting another year at the minimum in addition to this one due to this stellar playoff performance. If he wants more money annually, he’ll probably have to go elsewhere, but again, he’s proven that he could be worth a bigger payday.
That part about potentially having to go elsewhere to get one last long-term deal at age 34 is particularly relevant, especially when considering that the Lakers have been open about wanting to keep their books clean for the 2021 offseason. Rondo deserves to be rewarded, it’s just that if he wants anything beyond an extra year or two at the minimum, he may have to try and get it from another organization.
The Lakers reportedly wanted to keep him, but with their trade for Dennis Schroder, they’re also moving ahead as if he’s gone. It’s not over yet, but don’t necessarily expect to see him back next season, making this a necessary precursor to his eventual exit.