An exhilarating first day of NBA free agency has turned into a bit of a curious one for the Los Angeles Lakers. Since agreeing to a four-year contract with LeBron James, they’ve struck deals with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and newest addition, Rajon Rondo.
Re-signing Caldwell-Pope answered the Lakers’ need at shooting guard, while Stephenson and McGee presumably will be factors off the bench. Although that’s of value, there’s no denying McGee and Stephenson are large personalities.
So too is Rondo, as the the veteran point guard’s demeanor has been said to irritate a few of his former teammates. Moreover, Rondo joins the Lakers with the message that he will have an opportunity to compete for the starting job.
It’s worth remembering it was just last year that the Lakers drafted who they touted as the point guard and future of the franchise in Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick.
Although Ball’s standing on the depth chart may be in question, it’s not a set of circumstances he’s hiding from, per Bill Oram of The Athletic:
Wonder what Rondo signing means for Lonzo Ball? A source close to Ball said, "Zo’s ready to compete. Plain and simple."
— Bill Oram (@billoram) July 2, 2018
Ball started 50 of 52 games during his rookie season, but durability was an issue. This might also be the first time the 20-year-old has been pushed for a starting job in his basketball career.
Assuming Ball’s play warrants him retaining his spot in the lineup, Rondo would still be valuable asset off the bench. The Lakers sorely lacked a backup point guard last season, and Rondo’s experience should aid Ball’s development.
Of course, the overall impact Rondo can have on the roster is contingent on his accepting whatever role the Lakers deem is best. They gained some experience in this field last season when Isaiah Thomas was acquired at the trade deadline.
Thomas had grand visions of re-establishing himself as a starter but ultimately bought into coming off the bench before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery.
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