A few months ago, it felt like quite a certainty that the Los Angeles Lakers would be going after Rajon Rondo in the 2015 free agency period, but after his disastrous finish with the Dallas Mavericks, the market for him isn’t quite as high as it used to be.
It seems the Lakers don’t feel attracted to the prospect of adding Rondo, and especially not giving him a max contract, after the way things went down in Dallas, with the team basically erasing Rondo off the roster for the final playoff games, preferring he doesn’t even come near the team than letting him try and redeem himself.
Rondo averaged 9.3 points, 6.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds in his 46 games with the Mavericks, playing 28.7 minutes a night. His arrival was supposed to take care of defensive issues, but the gamble backfired. Defense slightly improved, but the chemistry on offense was hurt, as Rondo took away a lot of touches from Monta Ellis, the team’s main offensive engine, not to mention the teammates not really loving the Rondo experience.
Maybe someone on the Lakers finally realised how bad it could become to partner Rondo and Kobe Bryant in the same backcourt. Sure, Bryant endorsed the signing of Rondo last summer if it does happen, but he was also happy Dwight Howard joined the team in 2012, and we all know how badly that turned out to be for all sides involved.
Rondo needs the ball. He isn’t a very good shooter, not to mention an historically bad free throw shooter (39.7% from the line this season). Bryant isn’t going to change. We’ve learned that time and time again, no matter how much he declines or gets older. Is Rondo, 29, willing to make changes not just in his game, but in his approach, ego and attitude?
The smartest thing, maybe even for Rondo himself, will be to take a shorter deal filled with incentives and bonuses. That way he isn’t tied down for the big cap surge of 2016, while the Lakers (or another team that signs him) doesn’t take too much of a risk on a player who has been exposed as far less than the franchise player many thought he’d be at this stage.
Maybe, at least as far as the Lakers are concerned, it all comes down to their draft pick. They need it to be a top 5 selection or they lose the pick. But what will they do with it? Many believe they’ll be going after a point guard, D’Angelo Russell from Ohio State or Emmanuel Mudiay, who preferred playing in China to college basketball. They also have Jordan Clarkson, who seems to be someone the team is building on for the future. Rondo is immediately better than these guys, but two years down the road? Not to mention the money he’s making? Suddenly the prospect of signing him in free agency doesn’t sound too exciting.