Rajon Rondo helped the Los Angeles Lakers win the title last season, but it’s looking unlikely he’ll return to defend it.
Rondo is an unrestricted free agent after declining his player option and is due to get a significant raise as he looks for another team. Rondo is expected to receive a “significant” offer from the Atlanta Hawks — estimated at $15 million total for two years, guaranteed — but he is “focused” on landing with the Clippers, per Frank Isola.
Rajon Rondo is expected to receive a significant offer from the Atlanta Hawks ($15 million for two years guaranteed) but according to a source, Rondo remains focused on potentially joining the Clippers. He could possibly get the mid-level from LAC.
— Frank Isola (@TheFrankIsola) November 17, 2020
Rondo came through for the Lakers and this could be the 34-year-old to haul in a nice payday. Rondo played for just over $2.5 million last season with the Lakers and signed a $9 million, one-year deal with the purple and gold the season prior.
The Clippers are a compelling option for Rondo because they are not only a contender, but he wouldn’t have to change cities. The Hawks should be better next year, but are far from any kind of contender status after finishing 20-47 last season. That being said, if Atlanta is willing to buck up some money for Rondo after his stellar playoff run, it would make his decision that much harder.
Rondo averaged 24.7 minutes in the postseason, rebounding from a fractured thumb he suffered during a practice in the bubble. He put up 8.9 points, 6.6 assists and 4.3 rebounds in the playoffs. His leadership and ability to make plays with the second unit helped the Lakers turn the tide in a handful of games.
Lakers Have ‘Strong Belief’ Rajon Rondo is Moving on
The Lakers made a preemptive move to fill Rondo’s role with a trade for Dennis Schroder, with there being a strong belief within the organization that the veteran guard was looking to move on, per Marc Stein.
“The Lakers are making the trade for Oklahoma City’s Dennis Schroder under the strong belief that they will be losing Rajon Rondo in free agency, league sources say,” Stein reported this week. “After his role in helping the Lakers win a championship with a particularly strong playoff run, Rondo is expected to command free-agent interest that exceeds the Lakers’ budget constraints.”
The Lakers are making the trade for Oklahoma City's Dennis Schroder under the strong belief that they will be losing Rajon Rondo in free agency, league sources say
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) November 15, 2020
Schroder finished second last season in Sixth Man of the Year voting. He averaged 18.9 points a game and shot nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc. Schroder might not fill the leadership void or bring the basketball IQ Rondo did to the Lakers. However, the 27-year-old has better upside to become a valuable piece alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Kendrick Perkins: Clippers Need Rajon Rondo to Lead
Former NBA champion and Rondo-teammate Kendrick Perkins voiced that the Clippers need to land Rondo to bring some leadership to a locker room that appears to be lacking it.
“The Clippers do not have a leader,” Perkins said on ESPN’s The Jump. “Kawhi Leonard is not the guy that speaks out vocally and talks about. He just goes out there and performs and does his job. And if I’m the Clippers, I would really really consider trying to get at Rajon Rondo. They do need a leader, they need a voice in that locker room that’s going to hold guys accountable.”
Perkins is right, with the Clippers lack of leadership rearing its ugly head during the postseason when LA blew a 3-1 lead against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals.