Rajon Rondo

Pacific Notes: Leonard, George, Caruso, Kings

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George may have permanently altered the perception of the two teams in Los Angeles, writes Arash Markazi of The Los Angeles Times. At one time, Leonard and George were both considered to be future Lakers. They were two stars who grew up in the L.A. area and wanted to leave their smaller-market teams for the comforts of home. That’s where they wound up, but they’re both Clippers.

Markazi recounts the history of the two franchises and how unbalanced the rivalry has been since the Clippers moved west. The Lakers had the stars, the famous fans and the titles, with 33 playoff appearances, 16 trips to the Finals and 10 championships from 1976 to 2011. Over that same time, the Clippers had just three winning seasons and made the playoffs four times.

The “Lob City” years and the purchase of the team by Steve Ballmer helped changed the balance of power as the Lakers fell onto hard times. Now with George and Leonard together on one side of Staples Center and LeBron James and Anthony Davis roaming the other, there finally appears to be a real rivalry.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers will sign Alex Caruso with part of their $4.8MM room exception, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. A full day of signings on Saturday plus the Davis trade left the team a little more than $1MM below the salary cap, and Marks believes that money may be used to give second-round pick Talen Horton-Tucker a contract longer than two years. Dudley, Daniels and Rajon Rondo will all sign veteran’s minimum deals, Marks adds (Twitter link).
  • The Warriors had “significant interest” in Caruso before he opted to return to the Lakers, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
  • The Lakers risk another “reality show” season with their flurry of signings in the wake of losing out on Leonard, observes Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. L.A.’s front office was heavily criticized last summer for not surrounding James with more shooters, and although they improved in that area this year with Danny Green, Jared Dudley, Troy Daniels and Quinn Cook, only Green has proven to be a reliable two-way player. Goodwill is also concerned about the lack of young talent, with Kyle Kuzma left as the only prominent player with a chance to improve.
  • The Kings continue to move toward GM Vlade Divac‘s vision of a faster and deeper team with this year’s free agent signings, notes Jason Jones of The Athletic. Sacramento added veteran help for its young core by re-signing Harrison Barnes and adding Dewayne Dedmon, Trevor Ariza, Cory Joseph and Richaun Holmes.

Lakers Re-Sign Rajon Rondo

JULY 8: The Lakers have officially re-signed Rondo, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 6: After agreeing to terms on new deals for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and JaVale McGee, the Lakers have struck an agreement to bring back another one of their veteran free agents.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne (via Twitter), Los Angeles will re-sign point guard Rajon Rondo to a two-year deal. Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times reports (via Twitter) that Rondo will earn the veteran’s minimum on his new contract.

Rondo, 33, is now on track to play for the same team for a second consecutive year for the first time since his days as a Celtic. Since being traded from Boston to Dallas during the 2014/15 season, Rondo has played for the Mavericks, Kings, Bulls, Pelicans, and Lakers.

In his first season as a Laker in 2018/19, the four-time All-Star’s impact was limited by an early-season suspension and then injury issues. He averaged 9.2 PPG, 8.0 APG, 5.3 RPG, and 1.2 SPG with a .405/.359/.639 shooting line in 46 games (29.8 MPG).

In sticking with the Lakers, Rondo will not only rejoin teammates from last season, such as LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma — he’ll also reunite with former Pelicans teammates Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. All three players spent the 2017/18 season in New Orleans playing together.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lakers Notes: Rondo, A. Davis, McGee, Buss

Rajon Rondo confirms to Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report that the Anthony Davis trade rumors just before the February deadline had a negative effect on the Lakers. Nearly all the team’s young players heard their names in rumored offers that were leaked to the press as L.A. tried to lock up Davis before the market becomes more competitive this summer.

There were numerous stories about how the Davis saga affected the mindset in the locker room, and the Lakers weren’t nearly as competitive after the deadline passed. Although he doesn’t name names, Rondo says a few veteran players were affected as well, but he denies being one of them.

“Me, I’m kind of numb to it,” he said. “I was in trade rumors every year in Boston. Eight straight years. You can’t really relate to it until you’ve gone through it. Not knowing the future, waking up every day — and now you’re on the phone reading stuff. When I was going through it, there wasn’t so much social media; it was just on TV. You’d hear it, or someone would text you about it, but it wasn’t so much in your face, with eight different blockbuster or proposed trades and your name in every one of them. Every Instagram scroll, you’re in it. So, psychologically, it probably took a toll. …

“Guys may have felt like, ‘Oh, I need to prove myself so I won’t be traded’ or ‘They’re going to trade me anyway.’ Each game you didn’t know what the mentality was for those guys: ‘Should I give my all to this organization that is about to trade me in two days?'”

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • Rondo also believes the team splintered because it had six players on one-year contracts, including himself. After the Lakers were unable to find a second star to pair with LeBron James last summer, they rounded up veterans on short-term deals to preserve their future cap space. “If the organization doesn’t give a guy a multiyear deal, how much can that guy really invest in the team?” Rondo asked. “His thinking is: ‘You don’t really believe in me. You’re just trying to fill a void. I’m just a plug-in.’ You can say you’re playing for a contract; on mediocre teams, OK, but on championship-caliber teams, it doesn’t work that way. Guys aren’t willing to make sacrifices.”
  • JaVale McGee, another of those one-year veterans, is open to coming back to L.A. for another season, according to a tweet from the Fox show “Undisputed.” “I love L.A., it was beautiful for me,” he said. “I had my best averages, I had my best season playing alongside LeBron.”
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban defended Lakers owner Jeanie Buss this week, telling Dave McMenamin of ESPN that after her father’s death she had to balance family concerns with the pressures of running an organization.

Lakers Notes: Free Agency, Rondo, Caruso, Howard

The Lakers could steal one of the Warriors’ three star free agents on the open market this summer, adding to a group that’s primarily been centered around LeBron James, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report writes.

Golden State is currently fixated on making a lengthy playoff run this spring, but the futures of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins have quietly loomed over the franchise throughout the season. Thompson and Cousins are set to enter unrestricted free agency on July 1, while Durant holds a player option worth $31.5MM.

“I’ve never played fantasy basketball,” James told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck last week. “But I will be as active as I need to be for this franchise to get better. That’s why I came here. I came here to win. And obviously, we need to get better, as far as our personnel. We have an opportunity to get better. And there’s a lot of talent out there, and a lot of guys that can help our franchise. So I’ll be as active as I need to be for us to get better and go from there.”

The buzz among various NBA executives, scouts and media members suggests that Durant is ready to leave Golden State, according to Pincus. Thompson could remain on the team if he’s offered a max deal, while both Cousins and the Warriors have already agreed that a return is unlikely (albeit not impossible).

The Lakers will look to be aggressive in free agency with an estimated $34MM in cap space. The team also has several young assets that can be included in a trade, should the club look to revive negotiations with New Orleans on star forward Anthony Davis. The idea of having arguably the two best basketball players on the planet could be an appealing factor for Durant if he considers joining the Lakers, as he’s already known to be close friends with James.

There’s more today out of Los Angeles:

  • Rajon Rondo has built equity in the Lakers’ locker room ahead of his upcoming free agency, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register writes. Rondo, who has already stated his intentions of wanting to return next season, has helped the team’s younger players in the locker room and during games as a veteran leader this year. “He’s been a bright spot as far as what we’re building and what we’re trying to do,” coach Luke Walton said. “One of our top priorities with a lot of young guys was to continue to grow them as quickly as possible. And his leadership and the way his teammates look at him and toward him has been great.”
  • Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype explains why Alex Caruso deserves to be brought back by the Lakers next season. Caruso, 25, provided a spark off the bench against the Clippers on Friday, adding 32 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists in 38 well-rounded minutes.
  • Juwan Howard has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Lakers’ head coaching job if Luke Walton is dismissed, as Andy Kamenetzky writes for The Athletic. Howard has maintained a strong relationship with LeBron James and Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, with the former NBA player spending his past six seasons as an assistant coach in Miami.

Rajon Rondo Wants To Return To Lakers Next Season

Rajon Rondo signed a one-year deal with the Lakers last summer just days after LeBron James announced he would be joining the team. The long-time Celtics point guard wants at least one more season playing alongside LBJ in yellow and gold.

“Absolutely,” Rondo said of his desire to come back to the Lakers next season (via Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com). “Absolutely. I mean, the only way we can go from here is up.

“So, I don’t know what the future holds as far as the summer — if I come back, or who else comes back or if I don’t come back. Those things are out of my control. But at the same time, it’s a great organization. I can’t say enough about the staff and the people who work here. They’re really kind and helpful, so I want to continue, if I can, help this organization grow.”

Rondo is making $9MM for his one season in Los Angeles. He said there were discussions last summer about signing a multi-year deal, though those talks never materialized. The point guard suggested that he may look to sign a contract longer than one season this time around.

“As far as long term, maybe not like a six-year deal, but you know, I’m only 33,” said Rondo, who missed 34 games so far this season because of a pair of hand injuries and a three-game suspension for his part in a mini-brawl with the Rockets during the Lakers’ home opener. He chalks those things up to being “just part of the game.”

James admires Rondo’s game and if his comments are any indication, Los Angeles will attempt to bring the 33-year-old back.

“The youth look up to us, look at us as superheroes at times, so to be able to have that fun and that joy we hope it goes back to those guys and to the kids that look up to us,” James said of Rondo’s approach to the game. “Rondo, his energy and him just having fun and being the leader that he is [is invaluable].”

Lakers Rumors: Zubac, LeBron, Butler, PG13, Randle

The Lakers‘ decision to trade Ivica Zubac to the Clippers in a deal for Mike Muscala was one of the more questionable deadline moves last month. To make matter worse, Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com writes that the Lakers actually instigated those trade discussions.

Sources tell McMenamin that the Clippers never inquired on Zubac, and that it was the Lakers who made the offer, which the Clips “gladly accepted.” Veteran Clippers executive Jerry West “couldn’t believe how Zubac fell into his lap,” McMenamin writes.

The Lakers had hoped the roster spot they opened up in that swap – which also included Michael Beasley – would clear the way for the team to sign a player like Wayne Ellington, DeAndre Jordan, or Enes Kanter on the buyout market, per McMenamin. However, those players either chose other teams or never became available.

McMenamin’s latest article for ESPN digs into the Lakers’ disappointing season in detail, and includes several more noteworthy tidbits. Here are the highlights from the piece:

  • One team source tells McMenamin that they felt as if LeBron James didn’t fully engage with his younger teammates prior to the trade deadline.
  • Rajon Rondo organized a players-only meeting about a month ago in the hopes that the team would find “a better understanding of one another,” a source tells McMenamin. Players spoke up about LeBron’s “inconsistent body language,” and James took the criticism to heart, making an effort to improve on that going forward. Of course, the meeting hasn’t led to improved on-court results. “Just because [the meeting] was positive doesn’t mean we’re going to win 25 games in a row,” a team source told McMenamin.
  • Anthony Davis‘ name didn’t come up last summer when James met with Magic Johnson on the eve of free agency and discussed future plans. However, it has been clear all year that the Lakers intend to pair LeBron with a second maximum-salary free agent. L.A. was one of several teams to inquire on Jimmy Butler before he was sent to Philadelphia last fall, McMenamin reports.
  • Paul George‘s decision to stay in Oklahoma City last offseason was more about what the Thunder did right than what the Lakers did wrong, sources tell McMenamin. Still, it’s worth noting that George was somewhat familiar with how the Lakers ran things, having spoken to his agent Aaron Mintz and former teammate Corey Brewer about their experiences with the organization.
  • Mintz represents Julius Randle, who never received an offer from the Lakers as a restricted free agency last July, per McMenamin. Randle ultimately signed with the Pelicans because he felt like they really wanted him, which wasn’t a feeling he got from the Lakers, despite the fact that head coach Luke Walton and his staff hoped he’d be back, McMenamin writes.

Lakers Notes: Rondo, LeBron, Ingram, Tanking

Celtics fans who watched Rajon Rondo battle the Lakers in the 2008 Finals could have never imagined he would wind up in purple and gold someday, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Before taking the court against his original team one more time tonight, Rondo explained some of the turns his career has taken since Boston traded him in 2014.

“Not many players have ever been with one franchise their whole entire career,” he said. “I’ve had a great journey. I don’t know where I’ll be next year, but, like I say, Boston hasn’t called since I got traded away. It’s a business. Things happen. Paul [Pierce] didn’t finish as a Celtic. If it was anybody, you’d think Paul Pierce would finish as a Celtic. I mean, he obviously did go back at the end, but even he got traded. Things happen. The ACL [injury] happened, and then they broke up the Big Three the following year. It was just time to go a different way. It’s just how the chips unfolded.”

Rondo hasn’t stayed in one place long since leaving the Celtics. He spent half a season with the Mavericks, then signed one-year deals with the Kings, Bulls, Pelicans and Lakers. Heading into free agency again this summer, Rondo claims, “I feel like I’ve still got four or five more years, but I don’t know where I’ll be.”

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • As his first season in L.A. winds down to a disappointing conclusion, LeBron James is more of an outsider than a hero or villain, Bulpett notes in a separate story. James is taking a lot of heat from media for the Lakers’ losses, while hearing occasional boos from fans who were thrilled when the team signed him. Bulpett adds that many are wondering whether James really wanted to be part of the Lakers’ legacy or just help out his career in the entertainment industry.
  • In a session with reporters before tonight’s game, coach Luke Walton refused to expound on Brandon Ingram‘s condition, other than saying he’s out for the season, tweets Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. Among the questions that Walton declined to answer were whether the injury could affect him long term and how Ingram was dealing with the news.
  • With the playoffs seemingly out of reach, the Lakers should spend the rest of the season improving their draft pick, evaluating their young talent and trying to repair their relationship with the Pelicans in hopes of acquiring Anthony Davis, suggests Kevin Pelton of ESPN.

Pacific Notes: Bagley III, Ball, Johnson

There’s no set return date scheduled for Marvin Bagley III but the standout Kings rookie has at least returned to basketball activities, Sean Cunningham of ABC10 Sacramento tweets. Bagley has been sidelined since spraining his left knee on Feb. 27.

Earlier this week, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee wrote about the 20-year-old’s recovery status after a scary injury, noting that he was “feeling good” and walking without a limp. That’s good news for a Kings team on the outside of the postseason looking in.

The ninth-seeded Kings have managed to keep their heads above water in their pursuit of a playoff berth since Bagley has been out, managing .500 basketball in the four games that they’ve been without him. In 10 February contests, Bagley averaged 17.5 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • We wrote yesterday that Lakers coach Luke Walton said there was a chance point guard Lonzo Ball would miss the remainder of the season. Now, in the wake of the announcement that forward Brandon Ingram will miss the final month of the season, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN tweets that the “expectation” is that Ball will also be shut down following a doctor’s appointment scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
  • The addition of scrappy veteran Tyler Johnson has brought a new sense of stability to the young Suns, Katherine Fitzgerald of The Arizona Republic writes. Head coach Igor Kokoskov anticipates that the 26-year-old trade deadline acquisition will start at the point guard position for the rest of the season.
  • The Lakers will not fine Rajon Rondo for sitting in a courtside seat removed from his teammates, Dave McMenamin of ESPN reports. “I was just in my head contemplating the game. That’s kind of what I do. I don’t think I have to explain myself as far as my relationship with the team, the players and the coaches,” Rondo said.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Pacific Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Pacific Division:

DeMarcus Cousins, Warriors, 28, C (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $5.3MM deal in 2018
Everyone was curious to see how healthy Cousins would look after returning from the Achilles injury and whether he’d fit in with the star-laden Warriors. So far, so good. Other than getting a couple nights off on back-to-backs, Cousins hasn’t had any physical setbacks. He’s settling in as a third or fourth option in the attack, averaging 23.3 PPG over the last three games. He’s also given the Dubs a defensive presence in the middle. Cousins may not find a max deal this summer but he’ll get something close to it from one of the teams with ample cap space.

Garrett Temple, Clippers, 32, SG (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $24MM deal in 2016
The defensive specialist didn’t move the needle as a starter with the Grizzlies and he was dealt to the Clippers just before the trade deadline. Temple is the No. 5 option when he’s on the court but he hasn’t made the most of his limited opportunities, shooting 33.9% from deep after knocking down a career-high 39.2% of his long-distance shots last season in Sacramento. Temple’s age will work against him in the open market. Forget about an $8MM average in his next contract. He’ll be shopping for the veteran’s minimum this time around.

Rajon Rondo, Lakers, 33, PG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $9MM deal in 2018
A strong argument can be made that Rondo’s decision to sign with the Lakers ruined the season for two franchises. With Rondo at the point, the Pelicans reached the second round of the Western Conference playoffs last season. They wanted him back but he jilted them to join Los Angeles. New Orleans’ season went sour, leading to Anthony Davis‘ trade demand. Rondo has been a poor fit with the Lakers and his PER is a well-below-average 11.7. He’s played heavy minutes during the Lakers’ recent slide, including a 1-for-10, four-assists, two-turnover stinker against Phoenix on Saturday.

Troy Daniels, Suns, 27, SG (Down) — Signed to a three-year, $10MM deal in 2016
Daniels is essentially a one-trick pony and he hasn’t been allowed to perform it as often as he did last season. Daniels, who is playing for his fifth team, has seen his minutes drop to an average of 13.3 per game under first-year coach Igor Kokoskov with quite a few DNPs mixed in. His 3-point shooting hasn’t suffered — his 40% average mirrors what he did last season when he appeared in 79 games and averaged 20.5 MPG. Daniels’ shooting ability should keep him in the league a few more years but he may have to settle for one-year deal or a partially guaranteed two-year contract this summer.

Alec Burks, Kings, 27, SG (Down)– Signed to a four-year, $42MM deal in 2015
Burks was better off playing regularly on a bad team than spot minutes on an improving club in the playoff hunt. Burks flourished with Cleveland after getting dealt by Utah early in the season. He posted averages of 11.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG and 2.9 APG in 28.8 MPG with the Cavs, who then shipped him to the West Coast in a three-team swap. Burks has done next to nothing with Sacramento, scoring 2.6 PPG in 12.1 MPG through seven games. Burks has only attempted five 3-pointers since the deal and missed all of them. Burks needs a strong finish to reestablish his value in unrestricted free agency.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lakers Make New Offer For Anthony Davis

2:42pm: The Lakers are willing to surrender Ball, Kuzma, Ingram, Rondo, Beasley, Lance Stephenson, and two first-round picks for Davis and Hill, reports Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).

That reported offer fits the description Wojnarowski provided, as it includes three promising young players, multiple draft picks, and cap relief in the form of Hill’s contract. Of course, New Orleans doesn’t have any open roster spots, so a 6-for-2 deal might be a little problematic, but if the Pelicans like the offer, that obstacle could probably be overcome.

The Lakers are waiting on the Pelicans to respond, Turner tweets.

2:04pm: The Lakers have offered up a new package for Anthony Davis, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that Los Angeles put an offer on the table that includes multiple young players, multiple draft picks, and cap relief for the Pelicans.

Wojnarowski suggests (via Twitter) that there’s no sense of how much progress the two sides have made, but the Lakers have “absolutely gotten more serious” in negotiations, and their latest offer moves closer to what the Pelicans want to get out of a Davis trade. Pelicans GM Dell Demps and Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson have had multiple conversations today, per Wojnarowski.

There were conflicting reports last week on what exactly the Lakers’ offer(s) to the Pelicans looked like. A Los Angeles Times report indicated that L.A. had put five different scenarios on the table for New Orleans, with one of those packages featuring Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac and a first-round pick. However, the offer reported by Woj was less impressive, with Rajon Rondo and Michael Beasley in place of Ingram and Zubac.

Wojnarowski’s latest report suggests that the Lakers’ newest offer probably looks a little different than both of those previously reported packages. If the Lakers are offering “cap relief,” that presumably means they’d be acquiring more than just Davis. Solomon Hill‘s contract ($12.52MM this season and $12.76MM next season) is the one the Pelicans would most like to get rid of, so he could be part of L.A.’s offer.

Earlier today, we learned that Davis’ camp informed the Pelicans he’d be willing to re-sign with the Lakers, Knicks, Clippers, or Bucks if he’s traded. However, the Knicks and Bucks would be hard-pressed to put together a viable package for Davis, and the Clippers have yet to make an offer, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link).