The Los Angeles Lakers are nearing a trade that would send veteran guard Rajon Rondo to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The trade talks was first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic, who hinted that the talks had progressed quite a bit. The Cavaliers, who currently sit at 20-14, are among the top contenders in the Eastern Conference, surprising with a strong start to the year. The team learned earlier in the day that they had lost guard Ricky Rubio for the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are in serious talks on a deal to acquire Lakers guard Rajon Rondo,” Charnia tweeted. “In wake of Ricky Rubio’s season-ending ACL injury, Cleveland has need for backcourt help and is working on the potential move.”
Rondo is currently in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, which is holding up the deal. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that a deal could be reached as soon as Friday.
Rubio had played an important role for the Cavaliers, averaging 13.1 points, 6.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game. It was an injury that hit the team hard.
“Him and I have such a history,” Cavaliers veteran forward Kevin Love said after Tuesday’s game, per ESPN. “I really care for him. … We’re just completely gutted. He was having such a great season.”
Rondo Brings Leadership to Locker Room
Rondo is a savvy veteran with a wealth of experience, but hasn’t done a ton with the Lakers this season. He’s averaged 3.1 points and 3.7 assists per game, notching about 16 minutes per contest. Rondo is also shooting at just a 26.7 percent clip from beyond the arc and a career-worst 32.4 percent from the field.
However, the Lakers were clear that Rondo wasn’t going to be relied on as much for his production as he was his mind. But he was still open to returning to the Lakers after winning a title with the team in 2020.
“It played a huge role, you know, obviously, everybody wants to be wanted,” Rondo said after signing. “But having Coach Frank, I talked to him as far as his expectations for me and understanding that he missed my voice last year in the locker room, which meant a lot kind of saying that I do have value here and wanted to be wanted.
“And so Frank was a big key, obviously talking to Bron and AD, we keep in touch all the time. Rob has been true to me from day one, even the first time I signed with the Lakers. So just having those old relationships and not burning bridges in the past and having great things come together.”
It’s unknown what the Lakers could get back for Rondo, although the return is likely not very lucrative. It could simply be a strategic roster move to open up a roster spot to sign either Stanley Johnson or Darren Collison once their current 10-day deals expire.
Lakers Still Searching for Answers
The Lakers are off to a 17-19 start and have been plagued by injuries and having multiple players unavailable due to COVID-19 issues. The guard rotation has been especially tricky behind Russell Westbrook. It’s led to a lack of chemistry and a bevy of turnovers, which reared its ugly head against the Grizzlies in their last loss. The Lakers notched 18 turnovers, including some tough ones down the stretch.
“We understand that we have a lot of attackers, but the careless turnovers where literally you just turn the ball over, there’s no pressure or reason for it, those are the ones that get us in trouble,” James said.
The Lakers have been active on the trade market, per Charania, and could decide to shake things up before the deadline.
“This team doesn’t look like it has the young legs that they need to have, and that’s why I’ve heard that they have been active in the trade market,” Charania said on the Pat McAfee Show earlier this month. “When you look at a guy like Ben Simmons, they’d love to get their hands on a guy like him. Jerami Grant, those are the types of guys that they need on this team.”