The breakfast club known as Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo could create more problems for the Lakers
Yesterday, driving into the western suburbs of Chicago from Minneapolis, I tuned into ESPN 1000 to hear discussion by some local talking heads about the career—past, present, future—of the formidable Kobe Bryant. There was the one guy on the one side of the debate, the Kobe Bryant Negator. And the other guy on the other side of the debate, the Kobe Bryant Defender. The Negator mentioned how Kobe could only win championships with a Hall-of-Famer big man, first Shaq and then Pau, and the Defender pointed out that most NBA championships are won with at least two Hall-of-Famers founding the roster. The Negator pointed to the massive contract Kobe is on, sucking the life out of Los Angeles, while the Defender responded by saying that actually the Lakers are in a pretty good place moving forward, with tons of future cash available, a couple young good players, and the enduring romance of their history.
Kobe Bryant is, like most NBA superstars, a decisive figure. There are legitimate debates to be had and there are some points of view bolstered only with personal rage or adoration, but if there is one place where I would like to make a stand against Kobe Bryant, where I would like to firmly plant myself in the Negator camp, it would be in the potential luring of Rajon Rondo to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Rajon Rondo is not worth a max contract. In fact, Rajon Rondo is not even in the better half of point guards in the league. ESPN, not usually the wellspring of all great basketball knowledge, has him ranked 19th. And you know what? That makes sense to me.
If you ask the Dallas Mavericks, for example, how their little Rajon Rondo experiment has worked out—an experiment in which, it must be noted, Rajon Rondo has been paired with a ball-needing backcourt partner in Monta Ellis—they probably rue their decision, especially since they said goodbye to promising big man Brandon Wright and now can’t rebound the basketball at all. The Mavs had one of the league’s best offensive efficiency ratings before the Rondo trade and, after, Dallas plummeted.
(Okay, yeah, we do need to point out that the Mavs have stabilized a little bit offensively, but this fact remains: 19-8 without Rondo for a .703 winning percentage, 27-22 with Rondo for a .551 winning percentage.)
Now imagine Rondo paired with maybe the most ball-needy guard of all-time, Kobe Bryant. Imagine a franchise in need of a franchise players looking for someone to pair with this kind of backcourt to create a dynasty. At least from my perspective—which is definitely limited, probably skewed, and maybe biased—this isn’t going to work. Dallas will be happy to say goodbye to Rondo when the season is over, happy to retool their roster and bounce back as a contender. If the Lakers sign Rondo, and especially if the Lakers sign Rondo to a max long-term contract, and especially especially if the Lakers sign Rondo to a max contract as well as give the Black Mamba an extension, then what Kobe will have accomplished is not only draining his team of millions and millions of unused, wasted dollars, but also pushing the franchise in an unwise direction both fiscally and in terms of basketball.
Nobody wants my advice, and I don’t work in the NBA, but I am warning you now, Los Angeles: Just because Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo get breakfast and have a man-crush on each other doesn’t mean it’s going to work out well for you on the court.