It appears the Los Angeles Lakers are the first team to make a big move this offseason. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Sunday that the team is set to acquire Dennis Schroder from the Oklahoma City Thunder in a trade. The move will make the Lakers a little younger while also giving them a real third scoring option.
While Schroder makes sense for a number of reasons, he could be the replacement for Rajon Rondo. The veteran guard is set to hit free agency soon after he declines his player option. According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Lakers believe that Rondo is planning to walk in free agency.
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. Trading for Schroder is an adroit pre-emptive move
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) November 15, 2020
Rondo has already won multiple championships and likely doesn’t have very many years left in his career. He could be seeking a bigger payday, which a team in need of a veteran guard could give him. Rondo was an important piece for the Lakers in the playoffs but wasn’t much of an impact player in the regular season. It would be hard for them to invest a lot of money into an aging player who doesn’t show up in the regular season.
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Who Could Target Rondo?
The Los Angeles Clippers seem like a logical fit for Rondo. They have a need for a floor general with strong leadership qualities. He’ll be able to still play with a contender but could make some more money in the process.
The Lakers probably wouldn’t love having Rondo land with their rival but with the Schroder deal all but done, they don’t have a need for the guard. The New York Knicks have also reportedly shown interest in Rondo. That move wouldn’t make a lot of sense for the Knicks. They need to rebuild and Rondo is 34 and likely past his prime. They’d be able to give him a good chunk of money but he’d basically be accepting that he’s done winning championships.
If neither the Clippers nor Knicks signs Rondo, the Milwaukee Bucks could be a good fit. They’ll be contenders but they need some help to get over the hump as they’ve played poorly in the playoffs. While Rondo doesn’t play well in the regular season, he’s proven time and time again that he flips a switch in the playoffs.
Lakers Expecting Schroder to Sign Extension
Schroder will be entering the last year of his contract this season but it appears the Lakers already have plans to keep him long-term. According to Wojnarowski, they are expecting to sign him to a new contract at some point:
Schroder has one year and $15.5 million left on his contract and would be acquired with the intention of eventually signing him to a new contract to remain with the defending NBA champions, sources said.
Getting Schroder as a one-year rental wouldn’t be great for the Lakers. They’re giving up a first-round pick and one of their starters. Schroder is only 27 so he should be an important part of the team’s future. Fortunately for the Lakers, it sounds like he’ll be sticking around for a while.