Rajon Rondo may be atop the Lakers’ offseason shopping list
Rajon Rando grabbed a bite to eat with Kobe Bryant, and that spurred interest about a potential pairing down the road.
Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo went out together for a bite to eat, and so the rumors began. The Lakers are in Boston to play the Celtics, and while it’s not uncommon for two friends on different teams to grab breakfast, the slice of knowledge led to some investigation about Bryant’s and Rondo’s topic of conversation.
Sources to ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne said the breakfast was nothing but a social event. But lying beneath the friendship between the two NBA players, there’s business. Shelbourne reports the Lakers and Celtics had a brief, “informational” discussion about Rondo a few months back — it’s unclear which team initiated the talk. Rondo is a free agent after this season, and while Boston president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has maintained he would like his point guard to stick around, there’s always the chance he doesn’t.
At this point, a trade involving Rondo seems unlikely, especially involving the Lakers. Yet, there’s reason to believe Los Angeles will target Rondo this coming summer.
Why the Lakers and Rondo are a good fit
Rondo has bought in to helping the rebuilding climate in Boston, but it’s hard to argue that the Celtics will be challenging for titles within the new few seasons. The 28-year-old Rondo could be looking to chase rings, and doing so in Los Angeles could be tempting. It all starts with Bryant, whose own contract runs through the 2015-16 season.
The Lakers star has openly praised Rondo as a competitor, and vice versa. Stylistically, they are complementary; Bryant is a scoring while Rondo is a passer. Even their personalities are similar, and that could be a selling point considering Rondo is understood as a unique soul who might not thrive in just any environment.
It works financially, too. Los Angeles will have the money to spend on one top-tier free agent this coming summer.
Why it won’t happen
The main hurdle from the Lakers’ perspective is Rondo wanting to re-sign in Boston.
The second is the possibility that Boston finds a trade for Rondo’s expiring deal that is paying him $12.9 million this season. Shelbourne reports Boston would want at least a first-round draft pick coming back as compensation, but the Lakers are in a position where they need every one of their picks. After all, they worked hard just to acquire a first-round pick in the Jeremy Lin deal this summer. In short, other teams can offer more in picks or in young assets.
The third and final hurdle for Los Angeles, of course, is that Rondo hits free agency and is wooed somewhere with a more promising path to success. First-year Lakers’ coach Byron Scott hasn’t proven there’s a plan in place, and the team’s roster isn’t going to attract waves of free agents.
What’s the chance Rondo ends up in Los Angeles?
There’s a long period of time before the trade deadline even passes. Even assuming Rondo reaches free agency and decides to leave the Celtics, it’s hard to imagine other teams won’t be pitching him more appealing situations than what the Lakers can manage. Los Angeles indeed will have Bryant’s pull, but even with that, give it a 2 out of 10 shot of Rondo turning in his green uniform for the purple and gold.