With the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly making the decision to send Rajon Rondo to the Cavs in exchange for Denzel Valentine, fans have been left to wonder whether the deal could act as a catalyst for a reversal of fortunes. However, they may have to wait to find out.
Valentine is a former college Player of the Year with a 6-foot-10 wingspan and a three-point percentage north of 40 this season, but he’s not a difference-maker. And he’ll probably never suit up for the Lakers; according to Woj, Los Angeles is expected to waive him once the trade is completed.
That’s not to say the deal was for nothing, though.
Once Valentine is waived, the team will have opened a roster spot that could probably be put to better use than it was with Rondo, who was posting a net rating of minus-10.7 and shooting 32.4% from the floor as a 16th-year vet. Moreover, the Lakers are creating a potentially useful asset.
The Lakers Will Create Another TPE
The contract that Rondo signed to join the Lakers in August will pay him just over $2.6 million this season. However, Valentine’s salary for 2021-22 is only partially guaranteed. So, he could be waived today with a total payout of just $847,072.
As relayed by ESPN’s front office guru Bobby Marks, the Lakers will have created a modest trade exception worth about $1.7 million when all is said and done.
That exception won’t expire until a year from the date that the trade was completed. However, fans should look for Rob Pelinka and his brain trust to try to get something out of it — or, more likely, the $2.7 million exception created in the Marc Gasol deal — sooner rather than later.
Although the Lakers’ trade exceptions can’t be combined, the team can — and should — use one of them to sweeten its mix. Stanley Johnson has made a strong case to fill the roster spot created by the Rondo trade. But if the Lakers opt to go in a different direction or can open up another spot, a TPE could come into play.
In any case, the Lakers clearly aren’t where they expected to be after assembling their star-studded crew over the summer. The roster may be an imperfect one with the likes of Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, DeAndre Jordan and others joining the fray, but a sub-.500 record wasn’t what anyone signed up for.
LeBron Sets Another Lakers Record
During the Lakers’ Friday bout with the Portland Trail Blazers, LeBron James scored a whopping 43 points in just 29 minutes to key a 139-106 win. It was his seventh straight game of scoring 30 or more points. As relayed by the team, he’s the first Lakers player to put together such a run in a decade.
The last Lakers player to do so was the late, great Kobe Bryant. He hit 30-plus points in 10 straight games back in December of 2012. During that stretch, Bryant averaged 34.4 points per game on shooting splits of 46-39-83 and twice scored 40 or more along the way.
At 37, James is also now the oldest player to score 30-plus in seven straight games as well.