Lakers Trade Veteran Guard to Cavaliers for Former Lottery Draft Pick

Frank Vogel Lakers

Getty The Lakers are trading Rajon Rondo to clear up a roster spot.

The Los Angeles Lakers are officially trading one of their veterans.

As Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported on Friday, December 31, the Lakers are sending Rajon Rondo to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Denzel Valentine. The move is not made with the intention of retaining Valentine on the roster; the Lakers are expected the waive the 28-year-old guard in order to clear up a roster spot.

“ESPN Sources: The Cavaliers have agreed to trade Denzel Valentine to the Lakers to acquire Rajon Rondo,” says Wojnarowski. “The Lakers are expected to waive Valentine’s partially-guaranteed deal and create an open roster spot.”

By trading Rondo and waiving Valentine — instead of Rondo — the Lakers are saving millions of dollars in the process. Waiving Rondo would have resulted in $7 million in dead money in the luxury tax. Waiving the partially-guaranteed contract of Valentine (just $500,000 guaranteed of just over $1.9 million) results in roughly $3.7 million in dead money, according to HoopHype’s Yossi Gozlan.

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Why Rondo Trade Benefits Lakers

While it’s not official, the Lakers could be making the move to sign Stanley Johnson to a full-time roster spot. Johnson had recently appeared in three games for Los Angeles while on a 10-day contract, averaging 7.7 points in 27.3 minutes per game.

At just 25 years of age, Johnson would immediately become the Lakers’ third-youngest player among active rotation players on the roster.

The move is a step in the right direction for a Lakers squad that is clearly struggling due to lousy roster construction. As valuable as Rondo was to the 2020 championship team, it became obvious he was a detriment to the current team. The soon-to-be 36-year-old point had averaged just 3.1 points and 3.7 assists in 16.1 minutes per game on 32.4% from the field and 26.7% from beyond the arc.

In fact, Rondo’s offensive rating of 83 compared to his defensive rating of 109 is by far the worst among Lakers rotation players and one of the worst numbers in the league.

Eliminating one of the 10 players over the age of 30 on the roster allows the Lakers to add much-needed young bodies. Assuming they add Johnson — or somebody of similar caliber — the Lakers should be on the way to at least improving their standing of 27th in defensive rating.

LeBron on Lakers’ Biggest Flaw — Turnovers

Following another disheartening loss — a 104-99 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, December 29 — LeBron James revealed the Lakers’ biggest flaw — turnovers.

“There’s a difference between careless turnovers and attack turnovers,” James said. “We gotta cut down on our careless turnovers — the ones that’s just unforced. We’re gonna have attack turnovers, which is OK. We have a lot of attackers and we understand that. But, the careless turnovers, where, literally, you just turn the ball over and there’s no pressure or there’s no reason for it, those are the ones that get us in trouble.”

Ironically enough, it was a turnover by James with an opportunity to tie the game with 5.1 seconds left that directly led to Los Angeles’ latest loss. The turnover — and loss — overshadowed yet another spectacular performance by the 37-year-old superstar, as he posted 37 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists.

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