“I’ve never seen such a cast.” New Lakers transfer has formed a unique team
Point guard Rajon Rondo, 35, returns to the Los Angeles Lakers. The team was replenished with one more veteran, but what – a two-time NBA champion, a four-time participant in the All-Star Game, twice in the “all-defensive”. This summer, Rondo agreed to a three-fold salary cut (although he could hardly go through the options too much) to help the former club compete for another title.
Last season, Rondo started at the Atlanta Hawks, and played out at the Los Angeles Clippers. Alas, injuries prevented the eminent veteran from getting enough playing time in both teams. He entered the court in just 45 games, averaging 5.4 points, 4.4 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 17 minutes. But Rajon showed the best percentage of three-pointers in his career – 40.4%.
The Clippers, who gave Lou Williams in exchange for Rondo , were counting on the veteran’s help in the playoffs. However, Rajon played unconvincingly and went into a deep reserve already in the semifinals of the conference. As a result, in the summer he was included in the deal to transfer Eric Bledsoe from Memphis. But two weeks later, the 35-year-old point guard reached an agreement with Grizzlies to buy out the contract. The agreement was calculated until 2022, and under it Rondo could have earned $ 7.5 million. In the Lakers, Rajon will receive almost three times less – the one-year agreement involves the payment of $ 2.6 million. Although he will not lose money for the season – Memphis will pay him $ 4.9 million for the ransom.
Rondo played for the Lakers from 2018 to 2020. In the 2019/20 championship season, he contributed to the victory with a stunning ending to the season. Rondo played mediocrely in the regular season, but made a historic run in the playoffs. Then Rondo took on the role of the second playmaker, whom the Lakers lacked so much throughout the season. He became the first-ever bench player to score 105 assists in a single postseason. Among other things, his regular presence on the court helped to reveal Anthony Davis in a completely different way, who, by the way, did not win a single playoff series without Rondo.
In that playoffs, Rondo played enough for himself a 15 million contract. In the summer, point guard gave up the player option and became a free agent. The Lakers knew in advance that they would not be able to keep Rondo. The team lacked the budget to outbid potential offers in the free agent market. So Rondo ended up in Atlanta. Now he is returning to a well-known team, where he will be more useful in the locker room than on the court.
In the current Lakers, Rondo will be the third playmaker option after LeBron James and Russell Westbrook . Rajon himself understands that he is unlikely to get enough game minutes, but is serious about becoming a “key player in the locker room.” In the Lakers, that role was freed up after Jared Dudley left , and Rondo fits perfectly into it. He knows Davis better than anyone else and will be able to tell Westbrook how to play with the star big man. For young Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Horton-Tucker, Rajon is a great mentor.
Westbrook remains the only Lakers player to have a tense relationship with Rondo. In September last year, during the fifth match of the conference semifinals series, a conflict occurred between Westbrook and Rondo’s brother William . William began to insult the defender, to which he responded rudely during the execution of free throws. It all ended with a security officer escorting the senior Rondo out of the room. At the press conference, Rajon stood up for his brother.
“He didn’t say anything crazy, didn’t raise his voice or swear to Russ. I just called it “trash”. Sometimes players manipulate the game and the officials as if they were being attacked. I’ve done this before, too, ”said point guard.
Now Rondo claims that the conflict with Westbrook is over: “I am ready to leave everything in the past for the good of the team.”
Be that as it may, Rondo is a great signing for the Lakers. Despite his age and injuries, he is still able to benefit the team, even if his transition will only affect the microclimate in the team. And at 35, he is not the oldest player in the current LAL, about which he is ironic.
“I am most pleased that I am no longer the oldest in the team. Now I’m probably in the top five youngest Lakers players. These are major changes for me compared to two months ago. I was the oldest guy on the team. And now I seem to be one of the club’s relatively young basketball players, ”the point guard said.
Although you will not get away from the situation with age. The Lakers have assembled a team that is unique by historical standards. 6 out of 12 NBA players aged 35+ play in Los Angeles.
Yudonis Haslem (Miami Heat) – 41
Andre Iguodala (Golden State Warriors) – 37
Carmelo Anthony (Los Angeles Lakers) – 37
LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers) – 36
Mark Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers) – 36
Paul Millsap (free agent) – 36
PJ Tucker (Miami Heat) – 36
Chris Paul (Phoenix Suns) – 36
Taj Gibson (New York Knicks) – 36
Trevor Ariza (Los Angeles Lakers) – 36
Dwight Howard (Los Angeles Lakers) – 35
Rajon Rondo (Los Angeles Lakers) – 35
One of the Eastern Conference functionaries does not hesitate to call the Lakers a “retirement home”. The team still has two places in the application, which can also be taken by experienced players. One of them is 33-year-old center Deandre Jordan.
“I hope the Brooklyn Nets will buy Deandre Jordan’s contract so he can join Los Angeles. Assembled a nursing home. You can call them the Los Angeles nursing home. I have never seen such a composition, ”the functionary said.
Experience is often a hindrance to basketball players, but not always. Rajon Rondo is a seasoned playmaker with a high playing IQ who is adept at organizing attacks, passing passes, picking and throwing three-pointers. This is quite enough for a reserve option as a playmaker, especially for the symbolic $ 2.6 million. The Lakers are serious about competing for the championship next year. With Rondo joining the Lakers, there are now six basketball players from the 2012 All-Star Game – Rondo, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Mark Gasol . Let’s see how such a stellar, but age composition will cope with its task.