Earlier this week, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reported that Rajon Rondo would likely head ‘right back to the Lakers’ if he were bought out by the Memphis Grizzlies.
Those whispers were confirmed by multiple reports after that Rondo agreed to a buyout. Barring some last minute plot twist, Playoff Rondo is coming home:
The Los Angeles Lakers are the frontrunners to sign Rajon Rondo after he clears waivers on Monday, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Rondo was a key part of the Lakers‘ 2020 championship team. https://t.co/lT4jCtoCXw— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 28, 2021
*one of the final roster spots.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 28, 2021
Rajon Rondo...— Law Murray (@LawMurrayTheNU) August 28, 2021
Got his ring last October
Got his money from Hawks
Cost Clippers Lou Will + draft picks for Pat Bev insurance/the narrative
Traded WITH Pat Bev for Eric Bledsoe
Got his buyout from Grizzlies
Likely replacing Jared Dudley
...all in 11 months time
Rondo joining the roster would leave the Lakers with two available roster spots and three spots for training camp, although the team reportedly plans to leave one roster spot open for the buyout market.
But the Lakers were said to be looking for a point guard with one of their final spots, and Rondo certainly fits the bill. It’s unclear exactly how much he’ll play, but the latest returning 2020 champion will bring steady playmaking when he is on the floor, as well as a dose of continuity for Frank Vogel and the coaching staff as the Lakers look to raise banner No. 18.
Rondo’s leadership skills could also be part of why the team felt comfortable parting ways with renowned locker room chemist Jared Dudley. And hey, the team told Dudz (36) they wanted to get younger, and Rondo (35) technically fits the bill. Rondo is also someone unafraid to call out LeBron James or other stars, and had a rock-solid relationship with Vogel and the coaching staff, serving as an extension for them on the floor and in the locker room. His brother, William Rondo, and Russell Westbrook had unforgettable beef in the bubble that led to the former getting kicked out of a playoff game despite being an NBA employee at the time, but it’s safe to assume that’s all behind Russ and Rajon now if the Lakers are signing off on this move.
The only concern here, insomuch as there is one, is role. The Lakers have a crowded backcourt, featuring Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, Wayne Ellington, Kent Bazemore and Talen Horton-Tucker. Now, LeBron and the other leaders of this team have likely come to an understanding on how much of a role Rondo will play on the court through back channels prior to Rondo taking this buyout and essentially agreeing to head their way, but how Frank Vogel and the front office manage the minutes and expectations here will be key things to watch moving forward.
Is Rondo all right being this team’s Jared Dudley, but one who plays sporadically? Or does he expect to play a regular role? Is everyone else in the backcourt okay with the resulting cutbacks for them? How everyone involved, from the players, to the coaching staff and the front office communicated here and agreed on everything will be important to monitor. We all saw what can happen last year when roles go wrong.
But whatever level of concerns those are, they’re for another day. Given Rondo’s closeness to the various power players here, we can probably assume they’ve all been ironed out anyway. For now, we can just celebrate the return of a former Lakers champion who played as big a role as anyone in elevating that 2020 team to a title. Whether he plays more of a role on the court or off of it for this team, we all know that Playoff Rondo will make his mark felt somehow.
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