The Los Angeles Lakers aren’t taking their foot off the gas in preparation for next season, despite clearly planning for a blockbuster free agency period in 2018. There are still players out there that can make the Lakers a better team right now, rather than waiting a year for a shot at landing one of the many available superstar talents.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported on Tuesday the Lakers met with free agent guards Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Ramona Shelburne reported last week the Lakers were giving “strong consideration” Rondo.
Lakers obviously hanging back at start of free agency, but one player they continue to give strong consideration to is Rajon Rondo
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 2, 2017
There is a lingering misconception that Rondo isn’t a good locker room guy, but he has long been revered by many of the younger players he’s played with over the years. He could be a solid addition to a young Lakers locker room looking for some direction. There is a lot of knowledge to pick from a former champion with 13 years of NBA experience.
He could also be a tremendous asset on the court. Despite a shaky start with the Chicago Bulls, Rondo really started to find his comfort with the team in the playoffs. He averaged an exceptional 11.5 points, 10 assists and 8.5 rebounds in two playoff games against the Boston Celtics.
The Bulls were up 2-0 in the series before Rondo went down with a broken thumb. They looked like a completely broken team without Rondo on the floor, and the Celtics were able to climb back into the series and eliminate Chicago.
Rondo would give the Lakers another savvy ball general on the floor and a mentor for Lonzo Ball, the team’s enigmatic first-round draft pick.
“It’s worth noting that young players in Sacramento and Chicago have raved about Rondo’s mentorship and his ability to assist with player development,” ESPN’s Ian Begley recently wrote about Rondo.
One thing is abundantly clear in these Bulls' exit interviews: The younger players absolutely LOVE Rajon Rondo.
— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) April 29, 2017
Caldwell-Pope sounds great on paper, being an able-bodied defender capable of getting buckets. He averaged in double-digit points in his last three seasons with the Detroit Pistons. The problem is he’s likely looking for a four-year deal, and the Lakers don’t seem to be in the market for any cap-strapped commitments.
Those kinds of deals could take them out of the running to land LeBron James, Russell Westbrook or Paul George next season.
Magic Johnson is leaving no stone unturned in his effort to improve the present-day Lakers, as well as positioning them for a great future. Rondo and Caldwell-Pope could be a big part of that process for the right deal.
They could help bring “Showtime” back to Los Angeles.
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