While it was clear the Los Angeles Lakers would pursue LeBron James in free agency, that they also would sign Rajon Rondo was not something many, if anyone, could have foreseen.
After rounding out the roster with Rondo, Michael Beasley, JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka explained a focus was on adding versatility, playmakers and defensive-minded personnel to the fold.
Pelinka further explained the Lakers don’t see any value or sense in attempting to dethrone the Golden State Warriors by playing their style of basketball.
While the signing of Rondo was surprising on the surface, he fits the mold of what the Lakers were searching for and figures to be a mentor for Lonzo Ball. Nonetheless, because of his time with the Boston Celtics, seeing the veteran point guard in a Lakers uniform is perhaps more jarring than James.
Rondo was part of two memorable matchups against Los Angeles in the NBA Finals, with the two teams splitting their meetings. The last of which was in 2010, when Kobe Bryant and the Lakers got revenge.
The series went the distance and the Lakers overcame a significant deficit in Game 7 to win the title. Rondo revealed to Mike Trudell that he learned of Bryant solving the Celtics as proving the difference:
It’s interesting, I just found out something about Kobe, what he did in the 2010 championship Game 7. How he broke the game down and figured out how to beat us. I can’t give you the insight on that, but I just found that out. Like, maybe 45 minutes ago. It kinda pissed me off a little bit. It’s part of it, but it’s craziness. It’s amazing how he thinks the game, and it’s fun to know that. … I don’t know if it was going into the game, but it was told to me that he had to figure it out during the game. He wasn’t himself. So he had to figure out a different way to win the game.
MT: OK wait, so you heard it from Rob (Pelinka)?
Rondo: Somebody. (laughs) I can’t give you my source.
Bryant scored a game-high 23 points but shot a forgetful 6-for-24 from the field. He offset a poor shooting performance by grabbing 15 rebounds and going 11-of-15 at the free throw line.
That Bryant may have relied on a cerebral aspect to lead the Lakers to a championship would hardly be a surprising development. Beyond his talent and skill set, Bryant had a dedication to studying film. He’s passed that on to several players, including Rondo who in turn has tutored younger players.