The Los Angeles Lakers announced they have officially traded Rajon Rondo to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Denzel Valentine, who is being sent to the New York Knicks as a part of a three-team deal.
As a part of the team, the Lakers are acquiring the draft rights to Louis Labeyrie while the Cavaliers are acquiring the draft rights to Wang Zhelin and the Knicks are getting the draft rights to Brad Newley in addition to Valentine.
Rondo played in 18 games for the Lakers in the veteran guard’s second stint with the team. The 35-year-old averaged 3.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 0.7 assists over 16.1 minutes on the floor per night this season.
Before rejoining the Lakers ahead of 2021-22, Rondo spent two seasons with L.A. between 2018-2020, winning an NBA title during the 2019-20 campaign.
Here is the reason why the deal was expanded to three teams, which saves the Lakers some money in luxury taxes, via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The Knicks saved the Lakers approximately $4M in salary and luxury tax — and give LA the open roster spot that they wanted with the Rondo deal. Adding Valentine to deal gets his entire salary and tax off LA's books. https://t.co/g7x5Leb2ui
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 3, 2022
Trade talks between L.A. and Cleveland started at the end of 2021 after Cavaliers playmaker Ricky Rubio tore the ACL in his left knee, sidelining him until the end of the season.
The deal opens up a roster spot for the Lakers that would allow them to sign one of the players they have brought in on a 10-day deal to a permanent contract.
Stanley Johnson appears to be the main candidate to take the open spot. The 25-year-old forward averaged 6.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in his first five games for the Lakers. But most importantly, the Arizona alum has improved the team’s vulnerable defense ever since he made his debut for L.A. in the Christmas Day loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
Johnson has been one of the six Lakers who clock in 10 minutes or more per game and have a positive +/- rating on the season.
James praises Johnson for being ‘hungry’
Even though head coach Frank Vogel has refused to commit to keeping Johnson beyond his 10-day contract, he praised the forward’s “toughness and hustle.” James had similar comments on the eight-year veteran’s time in L.A., adding he hopes Johnson will continue playing “great basketball” for the Lakers.
“He’s picked up our system really fast and part of it is because he was with South Bay [Lakers] and that gave him a cheat sheet, which we needed,” James said of Johnson. “And he brought in some toughness at the wing position and also some defensive toughness as well.
“That’s where we hang our hats at over the last three years, the defensive side of the floor. He’s a guy that’s hungry, obviously he’s trying to earn a roster spot, you could tell he’s hungry and it’s been great basketball since the Christmas Day game. The road trip, Houston, Memphis and tonight once again, and hopefully it continues.”
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