That deal was followed up by the drafting of Lonzo Ball with this year’s No. 2 selection, which was certainly more expected but may prove every bit as impactful.
Since then, the Lakers have been relatively quiet. With the exception of waiving Tarik Black and letting free agent Nick Young walk, L.A. hasn’t done anything concrete.
That doesn’t mean it’s not trying, though. And if you’re paying attention to the players being targeted, it’s not terribly difficult to see the Lakers’ strategy.
They want guards, particularly veterans, who may be able to fill the role of mentor to their young point man. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, they were interested in George Hill before he agreed to terms with the Sacramento Kings. Ditto for Dion Waiters, who was reportedly offered a one-year, $17 million dollar deal before re-signing with the Miami Heat, per Basketball Insiders’ Michael Scotto.
With those two off the board, who’s left? L.A. has been connected to Jamal Crawford and Rajon Rondo. The question is: Which one makes the most sense?
And if that happens, Crawford would reportedly like to join the Lakers, per ESPN’s Marc Spears:
Crawford still has the reputation of a heat-check guy off the bench, but at what expense? Many of the Lakers’ young players already experienced life alongside a past-his-prime chucker during the last few years of Kobe Bryant‘s career. Does the front office really want to subject another group of up-and-comers to that?
Among the 87 players who launched at least 500 threes over the last two seasons, Crawford’s .527 True Shooting Percentage ranks 72nd, per Basketball Reference. In that same group, he ranks 83rd in Box Plus-Minus.
Crawford may still have some nuggets of NBA wisdom to impart, but he’s not likely to help a young team on the floor much these days.
Speaking of players who don’t make the same impact they once did, Rondo has been linked to L.A. as well. According to Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times, Rondo is “…very interested in Lakers.”
The logic behind this idea is easier to find. Prime Rondo was a somewhat similar player to Lonzo Ball. A long, rangy 1 who likes to get his teammates going before himself.
And while Rondo’s catch-all metrics have fallen off a cliff in recent years, his strong assist and steal rates have helped him to still be a plus overall.
In fact, among point guards with at least 3,000 minutes over the last two seasons, Rondo ranks 20th in Box Plus-Minus, per Basketball Reference.
He still has a little something in the tank, and this wouldn’t be his first rodeo as veteran mentor. If L.A. has the choice between Crawford and Rondo, the latter makes more sense.
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