Rajon Rondo

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).

Pelicans Unimpressed By Lakers’ ‘Underwhelming’ Offers

Los Angeles is reportedly Anthony Davis‘ preferred landing spot but the Lakers‘ early offers for the talented big man have been underwhelming, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

In their first offer for Davis, the Lakers’ package included Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley and a first-round pick, Wojnarowski writes. The Lakers’ offers to the Pelicans’ have been limited to two of the organization’s top young players, one first-round pick and no salary relief, sources tell the ESPN scribe.

Wojnarowski compared the Lakers’ pursuit of Davis to the organization’s attempts to acquire Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in recent seasons. While L.A. had significant interest, the club’s offers underwhelmed the Spurs and Pacers, respectively, and both players were traded elsewhere.

While the two teams’ basketball decision-makers, Magic Johnson and Dell Demps, remain in touch, the Pelicans feel the early offers have not warranted a response or counter-offer, per ESPN’s report. The NBA trade deadline is five days away, which gives both sides time to find common ground on a trade.

As we relayed yesterday, the Knicks and Celtics are among the other teams with interest in Davis. However, the Knicks traded perhaps their most valuable asset in Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavericks after including him in offers for Davis. Also, the Celtics remain interested in Davis, but their ability to make an offer is restricted until July, and AD’s camp seems to be taking extra measures to push him toward the Lakers.

On Friday, Davis made his first comments since his trade request went public. The five-time All-Star explained he wants a new challenge after seven seasons in New Orleans, per Stefano Fusaro on ESPN Now.

“I just feel like it is my time,” Davis said. “Gave the city, organization, fans, everything I felt like I could do. I don’t know how long I’m going to play this game. People’s careers are short. I felt like it is my time to move on.”

Davis is sidelined with an injured left index finger, which he said will be re-evaluated after Saturday’s game in San Antonio. While he intends to return to action once he is medically cleared, there’s a chance the Pelicans will sit the big man for the rest of the season if a trade is not made.

Jeanie Buss: Luke Walton “Doing A Terrific Job”

There’s a perception in Los Angeles and among many NBA observers that Lakers head coach Luke Walton is on the hot seat, but controlling owner Jeanie Buss said during an appearance on Zach Lowe’s Lowe Post podcast that’s not the case, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com relays. According to Buss, “everyone in the organization” – including top decision-makers Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka – is behind Walton.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure that Luke is successful in his job. That’s our job,” Buss said. “I think he is doing a terrific job. Given the injuries that we’ve had, it’s a challenge and people forget that he has had two of our starters taken away from him and they’ve won really important games on the road, proving what is possible even without LeBron (James)… I think Luke has done an impressive job.”

Buss’s comments don’t come as a real surprise. Even earlier in the season, when Johnson reportedly “admonished” Walton for the Lakers’ slow start out of the gate, the head coach was always said to have the support of Buss, who would ultimately have the final say on any change. Johnson said back in November that no coaching change was planned during the season, and a report last week indicated that the Lakers continued to project support for Walton both publicly and privately.

Walton had the Lakers in position to make the playoffs up until James went down with the groin injury that has now sidelined him for nearly a month. Since then, the team has lost nine of 14 games and slipped to ninth in the Western Conference, albeit just a half-game behind the No. 8 Clippers.

Walton and the Lakers are expected to get some reinforcements soon. As ESPN’s Dave McMenamin outlines, Rajon Rondo is on track to return to the club’s lineup on Thursday vs. Minnesota, filling the hole at point guard created by injuries to Rondo and Lonzo Ball. James is moving closer to a return as well, having participated in five-on-zero play and shooting drills over the weekend, per Walton. However, LeBron isn’t expected to be ready for Thursday’s game.

Lonzo Ball To Miss 4-6 Weeks With Ankle Sprain

Lakers guard Lonzo Ball will miss four to six weeks with a grade 3 left ankle sprain, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. The Lakers also confirmed the injury and timetable in a press release.

Ball injured his ankle in Saturday night’s game against the Rockets and needed help getting off the court. While Ball struggled with injuries in his rookie season (he appeared in just 52 games), he had stayed healthy this season up until this point, appearing in all 47 games the Lakers have played.

So far in 2018/19, Ball is averaging 9.9 points, 5.4 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game, but continues to struggle with his shot, shooting just 40.6% from the field and 32.9% on 3-pointers.

Rajon Rondo was recently cleared for practice and is nearing a return, which will help a Lakers team that has fallen out of the playoff picture due to LeBron James‘ injury.

Pacific Notes: Rondo, Ingles, Cousins, Shumpert, Divac

Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo has been cleared to practice, Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet tweets. The Lakers will not practice prior to their game against Houston on Saturday, so Rondo’s first practice will be delayed until at least Sunday. Rondo hasn’t played since Christmas Day due to a torn ligament in his right ring finger. Rondo, who will be an unrestricted free agent once again this summer, underwent surgery on December 28th.

We have more from around the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers coach Doc Rivers still rues the day the franchise let Joe Ingles go, Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News reports. Ingles was the team’s last cut during 2014 training camp because the roster was already filled with guarantee contracts. Ingles has since emerged as a key piece for the Jazz. “I said it the day we released him that this was a bad decision and that we’re going to regret it,” Rivers said. “Unfortunately  I was working for someone who said we couldn’t eat a contract. We were begging to eat one contract and they said that will never happen and we had to let him go.”
  • The Warriors know there will be adjustment period once DeMarcus Cousins returns to action but they’re confident he’ll eventually fit in, Nick Friedell of ESPN writes. Like many of the team’s stars, Cousins is used to having the ball in his hands frequently. They’ll all have to learn to share it even more with a dominant low-post scorer in the lineup. “Obviously, we want him to be himself,” Stephen Curry said. “We want him to be that player that he knows he can be. Bring that specific and unique skill set to kind of change our look a little bit. We have high-IQ guys all over the floor that will be able to figure it out. It might not be smooth at the beginning because it is going to be different, but he brings another element that we’ve never had before.”
  • Kings guard Iman Shumpert denies that he tried to enter Portland’s locker room in a confrontation manner on Monday, he tweets. Shumpert was apparently upset at Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic for setting a hard pick on him but said he merely wanted to talk things out. “I was respectful of their team’s space and privacy. I waited outside and asked to have a conversation. I was greeted by team security that talked to me and I left.”
  • Kings GM Vlade Divac confirms that he told minority owners to stop meddling in the team’s affairs, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee tweets. Divac made his feelings known during a conference call with members of the team’s executive board. “I just told them about my plan,” he informed Anderson. When asked if he told those owners to stop meddling and leaking stories, he replied, “Yeah, that’s my plan.”

Rajon Rondo Expected To Miss 4-5 Weeks

12:17pm: Rondo underwent surgery today to repair a ligament in his right ring finger, the Lakers announced in a press release. He’s expected to make a full recovery in about four or five weeks, according to the team.

11:03am: A frustrating season for Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo has taken another unfortunate turn, as the finger injury he suffered earlier this week will require surgery, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links). According to Charania, Rondo is expected to miss about four weeks of action after undergoing the procedure on his right hand.

That right hand has been banged up for much of the 2018/19 season, as Rondo already missed a month due to a separate surgical procedure on the hand. He had been back on the court for just three games before being sidelined again, and has appeared in only 14 total games for the Lakers so far this season.

With Rondo likely out of action until late January, the Lakers will be without two of their veteran leaders for the short term. LeBron James is battling a strained groin, and while the team is calling him day-to-day, he’s reportedly expected to miss at least a few games.

In the absence of Rondo and James, the Lakers will lean more heavily on point guard Lonzo Ball and forward Brandon Ingram. Both youngsters played well in Los Angeles’ loss to the Kings on Thursday night — Ingram posted 22 points, while Ball nearly had a triple-double (20 points, 12 assists, nine rebounds).

LeBron James Day-To-Day, Expected To Miss Multiple Games

DECEMBER 27, 2:33pm: The Lakers are preparing for James to miss “several games” due to his left groin strain, league sources tell ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski. While LeBron avoided a serious injury, there’s a healing process that will need to occur before he gets back on the court, and the team is expected to play it safe to avoid further aggravating the injury, per Windhorst and Woj.

In the short term, the Lakers will also be without Rajon Rondo, who sprained a finger and will miss Thursday’s game in Sacramento, according to the team (Twitter link).

DECEMBER 26, 12:00pm: LeBron James‘ MRI came back clean and the Lakers superstar is listed as day-to-day, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). James suffered a “slight groin strain” in the Lakers’ 127-101 Christmas Day win over the Warriors.

The Lakers believe James will miss at least a few games, according to Chris B. Haynes of Yahoo Sports. The four-time MVP, who has rarely been injured during his 16-year career, acknowledged his disappointment with missing the remainder of Tuesday’s game.

“I take a lot of pride in [staying healthy], so that is why it pissed me off not being able to go back into the game,” James said. “It’s more than anything being available to my teammates, to my coaching staff; that is something I take more personal than anything.”

The soon-to-be 34-year-old tallied 17 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists in 21 minutes of action before leaving Tuesday’s win in the third quarter. Cameras picked up James telling trainers he felt “something pop” in his groin but reports suggested the injury could have been worse.

In 34 games this year, James has averaged 27.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG and 7.1 APG for the Lakers.

Head coach Luke Walton said the team wants James back “as soon as possible” but would take a cautious approach when he’s deemed ready to play.

Without their best player, the Lakers (20-14) stepped up to defeat the defending NBA champions by 26 points. While the fear of losing James for a prolonged stretch would be a daunting proposition, Lakers guard Josh Hart said the team would be prepared in that situation.

“The narrative is that it’s LeBron and the Lakers,” Hart said after Tuesday’s win. “Obviously, we hope he’s OK, but we’ve got a lot of good players…If he’s down, we’re ready to step up. We’re not scared of the spotlight.”

The Lakers continue their four-game schedule against fellow California teams on Thursday when they will face the Kings in Sacramento. James told reporters on Tuesday that he would not rule out playing, but Haynes’ report suggests that is unlikely. Los Angeles has three more games left in 2018, including Thursday’s tilt against Sacramento.

If James does indeed miss a few games, it’s possible he does not play until after the New Year, when the Lakers open 2019 against the Thunder on Jan. 2.

“Hopefully, it is not a long thing and I can get back on the floor as soon as possible,” James said.