It may not have been the blockbuster trade that fans have been waiting for but the Los Angeles Lakers finally made a deal by sending Rajon Rondo to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The veteran guard’s role with the team was minimal and now he gets a chance to make an impact with a team that needs him. In return, the Lakers received 28-year-old guard Denzel Valentine but the intention was never to keep him as the team wanted to open a roster spot.
It didn’t take long for Los Angeles to move off of the newly acquired guard. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers are sending Valentine to the New York Knicks in what is now a three-way deal with the Cavaliers. The Knicks will also be receiving $1.1 million and two draft-rights players.
With the trade, New York is helping the Lakers save about $4 million in salary and luxury tax, per Wojnarowski. Los Angeles also gets to open up a roster spot.
This is a win-win deal for all parties as the Lakers open up cap space while the Knicks get $1.1 million just for helping out.
ALL the latest Los Angeles Lakers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lakers newsletter here!
Who Will Get Open Lakers Roster Spot?
What will be interesting to see what comes of this trade is if the Lakers opened up a roster spot with a player in mind or if they want to keep the spot open until later in the season. If the team hopes to fill the spot now, the most logical option is Stanley Johnson. He was recently brought in on a 10-day contract and has impressed with his defensive effort. He’s even started in three games.
Darren Collison is the only other player on a 10-day deal but he’s been inactive for two straight games. It doesn’t appear the team thinks he’s a difference-maker. That should pave the way for Johnson to earn the spot. The Lakers could give him another 10-day contract just to make sure they want to keep him for the rest of the season but he’s likely already done enough to earn that last roster spot.
Lakers Getting Back on Track?
Things were looking grim for the Lakers recently when they dropped five straight games. Luckily, LeBron James has almost single-handedly gotten them back on track. They’ve won three of their last four and are back to .500. After an uneven start to the year, now would be a great time for the team to go on a run. Three of their next four games are against teams with losing records.
The Lakers’ schedule is tough to end the year so beating the bad teams is necessary. They still hold the seventh seed in the Western Conference but they’d prefer to get to the sixth seed so they can avoid the play-in game at the end of the year. This Lakers team has been inconsistent, to say the least, but the talent is still there for them to go on a championship run.