校对：Lincoin & Jerry
Los Angeles Lakers: 5 Reasons Rajon Rondo should be re-signed
by Robert Marvi
Los Angeles Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo is a polarizing player, and Lakers Nation seems split on keeping him around. But there are several reasons why the team should at least consider resigning him.
I don’t need to tell anymore that the Los Angeles Lakers seem to be in turmoil right now behind the resignation of Magic Johnson, the loss of head coach Luke Waltonand the uncertainty behind who will succeed him and just who is in charge in the front office.
They have a lot of things on their to-do list between now and late July. While most are focusing on their pressing need for a second legit star next to LeBron, they also will need to make sure the rest of the team is stocked with quality complementary players, both young and experienced.
Rajon Rondo should be one of them, barring the signing of an elite point guard like Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker, which now seems more possible given the report that Irving will grant the Lakers a meeting this summer, but is still unlikely.
I know Rondo is not a good defensive player anymore and that he got beat off the dribble quite a bit, and I know he can be a little prickly sometimes. But his benefits outweigh his downsides, and he would be really valuable if and when the Lakers are ready to compete for a world championship for the first time in what seems like forever.
Here are five reasons that the Lakers should re-sign Rondo this summer if a max contract isn’t used on a point guard.
5. He’s still a pretty good player
Rondo is still a gamer. He’s still a very good passer, skilled at finishing around the basket, a nice floor general and a very smart player.
In about 30 minutes per game this season, he averaged 9.2 points, 8.0 assists and 5.3 rebounds. On a team that struggled mightily from 3-point range, he shot 35.9 percent from out there, which ranked second on the team among players who were in the lineup for at least half of the season. Interesting enough, first in that category was Lance Stephenson (who would’ve thunk it?).
He had his moments this season, such as the Christmas Day game in Oakland when the Warriors cut the Lakers’ 19-point lead to two before Rondo got the team stabilized and contributed in a huge way to a 26-point win. And who can forget his improbable game-winning shot in the Boston Garden right before the All-Star break against his old team?
The Lakers need some wily veterans who can teach the young guys how to win in crucial moments and how to handle difficult situations. Rondo is one of those veterans.
He won a world championship with the Celtics in 2008 as they overcame a 24-point deficit in Game 4 of that year’s NBA Finals. In Game 7 of the 2010 championship series, his Celtics choked away a 13-point lead in the second half, so he has that experience on both sides.
Rondo recently told the media that he realized how Kobe Bryant figured out how to lead the Lakers to a comeback win in that game. That’s the wisdom and basketball IQ he can bring to the table.
Remember how in last year’s NBA Finals LeBron James talked about wanting to play with teammates who had a high basketball IQ, and how that’s integral to winning a title?
4. Lonzo Ball is flawed and injury prone
On one hand, I like Lonzo Ball. He’s a unique player who can speed up the tempo of the game as well as almost anyone. We know about his passing ability, and who knew he’d quickly become one of the better defensive guards in basketball?
But I’m also pessimistic about his chances of becoming a very good player, let alone an All-Star. To this point of his career, he is injury prone, and I’m not sure if many other NBA players would have suffered a complete ligament tear if they rolled their ankle in the exact same way that Ball did in Houston in January.
Therefore, an insurance policy is needed for him. Alex Caruso emerged late in the season and proved he can play, but let’s pump the brakes on him a bit. He looks like a real solid, if not a really good third-string point guard, but he is still very young and unproven at the NBA level.
By having a tag team combo of Ball and Rondo at that position, the Lakers will make sure they always have someone capable of running the team and dictating the tempo.
Lonzo Ball has played in only 99 of a possible 164 games so far in his career. That is not good at all. I know that some of you will point out all the games Rondo has missed this season due to two separate hand injuries, but he has not been near as injury prone as Ball has been throughout his 13-year career.
3. LeBron needs help with playmaking and ball handling
The man who calls himself The King and Greatest of All Time is now 34 years of age, and in late December he’ll turn 35. Although he’s still arguably the best player in the game right now, his workload needs to be eased if he will continue to be an elite player for the remainder of his Lakers tenure.
The main area of his game that he needs to delegate to teammates is ball handling and playmaking. Over the years, the task of having to bring the ball upcourt, specifically on a fast break team like the Lakers, takes its toll on you, especially when you also have to score at least 25-30 points a night.
If LeBron wants to give himself the best chance of winning at least one more ring, he needs to move his game more off the ball and post up more often.
Keeping Rondo in the fold will help with that. The great ones don’t trust just anyone to share their workload with, and Rondo, by virtue of his ability and experience, is more than qualified to handle the ball and dictate the tempo the majority of the time he’s on the floor with LeBron.
For most of his career, Kobe Bryant had to bring the ball upcourt and be the Lakers’ de-facto point guard, even though he hated it. As he got into his 30s, the Lakers failed to bring in a skilled point guard who could relieve him of that duty.
When they acquired Steve Nash in 2012, it was too late, as the 34-year-old Black Mamba tore his Achilles months later, effectively ending his career.
LeBron is the same exact age now. With all the criticism the Lakers front office has been getting for not evolving and adjusting to the modern NBA, don’t you think it’s time for them to learn from their past mistakes and better manage the load of their franchise player, especially since he’s coming off the first significant injury of his pro career?
2. He may be the most realistic option at point guard
Many of us are not really confident about the Lakers’ ability to sign a big-time free agent this summer. As the saying goes, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Rondo said late in the season that he’d like to remain a Laker.
Kyrie Irving may be the dream option, both in terms of talent and fit. Although he has recently ended his beef with LeBron, his former teammate in Cleveland, can you really say that you expect him to sign on the dotted line come July?
Recently, I wrote an article here about why it could be argued that the Lakers are a more attractive free agent destination than the Clippers.
Some of you commented that it was a warped or even flat-out wrong viewpoint. I accept that criticism, especially since the subsequent resignation of Magic Johnson has given their front office the appearance of having a power vacuum and lacking stability, meaning that they would seem less attractive than they did just weeks ago.
If they strike out on any top-tier free agents, particularly one at point guard or even an off guard like Jimmy Butler, Rondo becomes almost an absolute must.
Who else would you want? Patrick Beverly is a nice role player and really feisty, but his skills are limited. The other options in free agency seem to be guys like Trey Burke, Seth Curry, Tyreke Evans and Jeremy Lin, all of whom are solid players but either lacks the skills or experience that Rondo has or would possibly cost more money.
At $9 million this season, Rondo was probably a bargain. If the Lakers make a major addition this summer and still have room for him, perhaps Rondo will at least consider taking a pay cut to remain with the purple and gold.
1. Playoff Rondo is a thing
The Lakers are a franchise that cares about one thing, and one thing only: winning world championships. It’s not enough for them to “make some noise” in the playoffs, or even to reach the NBA Finals.
This is where Rondo will be a big factor.
As of now, they’ll be relying on guys like Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Caruso and Josh Hart to be key contributors, none of whom have played a single minute in the postseason. Experience matters, and it really helps to have a floor general who’s been there and done that.
As previously mentioned, Rondo has been to the championship series twice, and we remember those classic battles with the Celtics. You can’t teach experience, but Rondo’s presence can help keep the young guys calm and even-keeled when the bright lights of the NBA Playoffs threaten to blind or discombobulate them.
He also tends to play better in the playoffs. For his career, he’s averaged 10.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 8.5 assists in 31.7 minutes during the regular season. During the NBA’s “second season”, he has upped those numbers to 14 points, 6.1 rebounds and 9.3 assists in 37.6 minutes per game. Twice he’s led the league in assists per game for an entire postseason – in 2012 and just last year (2018).
(Before you stat geeks try to point out the discrepancy in Rondo’s regular season and playoff minutes played, Rondo’s per 36 playoff numbers are still higher than his per 36 regular season numbers)
In the 2010 NBA Playoffs, arguably his coming-out party, he posted 15.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 9.3 assists and even shot 37.5 percent from downtown en route to taking Boston to the brink of their second NBA championship in three seasons.
As we all know, during the playoffs, coaches shorten their rotations and give most of the playing time to their top seven or eight guys. If the Lakers are playing for the NBA title next June in Milwaukee, Toronto, Philly, Boston or even NYC next June, who would you rather have playing significant minutes: the battle-tested Rondo, or one of the guys I mentioned in the last slide?