Rajon Rondo’s return to the Lakers appears imminent following his buyout with the Memphis Grizzlies over the weekend. However, Rondo experienced a truly incredible bit of good fortune during his buyout discussions.
Because tampering is not allowed in the NBA, Rondo could not have possibly known what kind of deal a team would offer him should he hit the open market. It makes it an incredible coincidence, then, that Rondo appears to have left the exact same amount of money on the table with Memphis as he will make with his reported one-year contract with the Lakers.
Doing so will ensure he makes the full $7.5 million he was set to be due this season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Rajon Rondo plans to sign a one-year, $2.6M deal with the Lakers upon clearing waivers today, sources tell ESPN. He agreed to a contract buyout with Memphis on Saturday. Rondo will still make his full $7.5M salary this season between buyout and new deal. https://t.co/ehFzHb6pVC— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 30, 2021
Rondo has had an adventurous nine months since leaving the Lakers in free agency. After winning a title in October of 2020, Rondo signed a two-year, $15 million deal with the Hawks in November, and then played a half-season in Atlanta before being traded midseason to the Clippers, where he was a virtual non-factor in their postseason run to the Western Conference Finals and was then dealt this offseason for Eric Bledsoe.
Rondo’s future with a Memphis side that is a fringe playoff team was never going to be lengthy as the two sides engaged in mutually beneficial buyout discussions that will free up a roster spot for the Grizzlies while also allowing Rondo to land with a contender. He also becomes the latest Grizzlies buyout to join the Lakers as Memphis continues to serve as a feeder team for the purple and gold.
Still, Rondo won’t clear waivers until Monday afternoon, meaning he could not have possibly known what type of contract the Lakers would offer him due to the league’s strict anti-tampering rules. Recently, the Bulls and Pelicans and Heat and Raptors all underwent investigation for agreeing to sign-and-trade deals at the very onset of free agency, thus proving the league has a clear zero-tolerance policy for tampering.
Because Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka attended CBA School with Adam Silver upon his appointment in the front office, he is well-versed in the tampering rules and certainly would not have had discussions with Rondo prior to his buyout. Perhaps Rondo would have assumed a team would offer him the veteran’s minimum contract the Lakers will offer him, but there was simply no way of him knowing that before clearing waivers. What a leap of faith.
All of this makes Rondo giving up the exact amount of money he will reportedly be offered by the Lakers in his buyout all the more improbable and truly a stroke of incredible fortune. Perhaps Rondo should stop by a gas station to pick up a lottery ticket given the luck he found today.
In conclusion: tampering rules are dumb.