Laker Land — scratch that, LA-Bron Land — gets more interesting by the hour.
First it was LeBron James announcing on Sunday evening that he was signing a four-year deal with the Lakers. Then they added fellow Klutch Sports Group client Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a 25-year-old shooting guard who played last season with the Lakers and was given a one-year, $12 million deal. Then came deals for Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee, talented players who are also widely known as two of the most eccentric personalities in the NBA.
But this latest roster move, this revelation that former Boston Celtics champion Rajon Rondo is going to don the purple and gold after agreeing to a one-year, $9 million deal, begs a question that no one thought we’d be asking a year ago: Is Lonzo Ball, the 20-year-old who was drafted second overall out of UCLA by Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka a year ago, still the point guard of the future?
According to a person with knowledge of the dynamics, Rondo — who won a title with the Celtics in 2008 and has gone 2-2 against James in their memorable playoff battles — comes to town with the expectation that he can earn a starting spot. The message from the Lakers, according to the person, is that the best point guard will win the job. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. Bear in mind, Rondo is coming off a New Orleans Pelicans season in which he was not only effective on both ends of the floor but was routinely hailed as a spiritual leader in the locker room.
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Meanwhile, Ball isn’t about to back down either. When asked about the unexpected turn of events for this young player who was being hailed as the franchise’s future centerpiece not too long ago, a person close to him told USA TODAY Sports, “We’re not running from competition.”
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the fluid nature of the situation.
That is, of course, assuming Ball remains for the long haul. One never knows in these crazy Lakers days.
James’ arrival has sparked a win-now mentality that has Johnson and Pelinka working every angle, and so there is more work to be done here.
There is also the looming Kawhi Leonard situation, as the San Antonio Spurs star is hoping to come the Lakers’ way via trade. The Spurs have been in talks with the Lakers, but — as of early Monday — there was no known progress on a deal. Last but certainly not least, there’s this possible scenario down the line: Ten-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony finally unites with James after being bought out by Oklahoma City, as so many around the league expect.
As it pertains to the basketball discussion, it’s hard to handicap the LA-Bron Lakers just yet because, well, this roster is in flux. But in true LA form, the entertainment value of this revamped squad is already off the charts. Get your popcorn, and enjoy this show.