What Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Would Bring to Lakers

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The Los Angeles Lakers have already begun a mass overhaul of their roster from the 2016-17 season. As our own Jonathan Adams broke down, the new-look Lakers roster features two new faces projected in the starting lineup and an interesting amount of depth as well. While point guard D’Angelo Russell is now long gone, it’s expected to be the Lonzo Ball show for the Lakers, with Brook Lopez being a nice addition inside for the team.

But, it seems as though the Lakers aren’t done making moves this offseason, and they’re attacking free agency with a full head of steam. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Lakers met with both point guard Rajon Rondo and shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Both players are interesting options for the Lakers, and as Windhorst points out, Rondo could fill Magic Johnson’s desire to add a point guard on a one-year deal. Rondo, who was with the Bulls last season had an up-and-down year that was filled with its fair share of drama but he still wound up averaging a solid 7.8 points, 6.7 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game in just 26.7 minutes.


What Would Rondo Bring to the Lakers?

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While Rondo’s numbers were down last season, a large part of that was due to the Bulls opting to cut his minutes down as well. He averaged 11.9 points and 11.7 assists with six rebounds the season before with the Sacramento Kings, so there’s no question he can still perform at a high level. Even still, the expectations for what role Rondo would play with the Lakers is an interesting topic.

Head coach Luke Walton and Magic Johnson are unlikely to start Rondo over Ball, so he’d be the force behind their second-unit, which may be a perfect fit. Currently, it would likely be either Jordan Clarkson, Josh Hart or David Nwaba who would spell Ball on the court, except that Clarkson is expected to start at shooting guard.

To put it gently, the addition of Rondo, or another point guard, almost qualifies as a must for the Lakers. They need to add depth at point guard somehow, and getting Rondo on a one-year deal which would leave Los Angeles plenty to work with during 2018 free agency would be ideal.


What Would Caldwell-Pope Bring to the Lakers?

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This one’s a bit tougher to gauge. The Detroit Pistons opted to make Caldwell-Pope an unrestricted free agent just days ago, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

While Caldwell-Pope is only 24 years old and is a good defender and solid shooter, it’s hard to envision the Lakers looking to do more than a one-year deal with him as well, as Woj also reported.

The fact that the Lakers would like to do one-year deals with both players doesn’t mean that one (or both) couldn’t be a part of their future. It’d also be interesting to see how Caldwell-Pope and Clarkson would wind up on the depth chart at shooting guard, but it’s hard to envision Clarkson being pushed back to the second-team at this point.

Clarkson played over four minutes less per game than Caldwell-Pope last season but shot the ball better (14.7 points vs. 13.8 points per game) and had just 0.1 fewer steals per game. Regardless, Caldwell-Pope would be an excellent addition both for scoring with the second unit and also for his defense. A one-year deal would be perfect for the Lakers, but he’d also be a great backup option for a longer-term deal if the team can’t add a big name free agent or two next summer.


Consensus

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The Lakers would get an A-plus grade here if they can land both players on one-year deals. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks points out, Los Angeles is up there in terms of the most available cap space in the NBA, so at least one of these two players agreeing to sign a short-term deal could certainly happen.

The most realistic option is probably Rondo, though. Caldwell-Pope is young and could look for a long-term deal with more money over the span of it, while Rondo is 31 and will probably wind up signing a one-year deal wherever he ends up going. Time will tell, but both players could carve out nice roles with the Lakers in 2017-18.


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