The Los Angeles Lakers parted ways with Rajon Rondo this week, dealing the veteran guard to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
But the veteran guard was not heartbroken about his second stint with LA ending preemptively. In fact, Rondo embraced the move, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Here’s what Woj had to say about the deal:
Rondo is eager for the chance to play a bigger role with an ascending Cavaliers team in the absence of Ricky Rubio, sources said. He has been positive on the deal since it was presented to him as an option Thursday.
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. The Cavaliers might not rely on Rondo as much, but it will provide him with more opportunity than he had with the Lakers.
The Lakers got back Denzel Valentine in the deal but are expected to waive him and his partially guaranteed deal, opening up a roster spot. That spot looks reserved for forward Stanley Johnson, who has impressed everyone in the building on his 10-day deal.
Rondo Didn’t Play Large Role For Lakers
Rondo 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.
The Lakers were clear that Rondo wasn’t going to be relied on as much for his production as he was his basketball 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.”
But as Rondo showed during the Lakers title run, he can come off the bench and contribute in the postseason, rising to the occasion and embodying his “Playoff Rondo” persona.
LeBron James Putting Lakers on His Back
The Lakers are finally starting to get healthy and LeBron James is hitting his stride. Fresh off his 37th birthday, James netted a season-high 43 points in 29 minutes against the Blazers on Friday night.
“I literally try to prepare my mind and my body and my soul on how I can stay young in a young man’s game,” James told reporters after the game. “Sometimes you do have to remind people that you can still do what you do at a high level, and I’ve just been blessed, very blessed and continue to put the work in,” he said. “Because that’s what it all boils down to. It boils down to putting the work in and everything else will take care of itself.”
The Lakers are now 18-19 this season and will have a chance to move to .500 against the Timberwolves on Sunday. Minnesota has won both matchups this season with LA.