On Wednesday afternoon, Marc Stein of The New York Times tweeted an update on Rondo, noting that per league sources, the Clippers “have interest” in the 34-year-old and are expected to go after him when free agency kicks off next month. He added, however, that the Lakers are “naturally determined” to re-sign the veteran, whose desire to test the free-agency market essentially means he will decline his $2.7 million player option for the 2020-21 campaign.
Commenting on the new rumors, NBC Sports wrote that Rondo’s regular-season numbers in 2019-20 — 7.1 points and five assists per game — did not tell the complete story when it came to his value to the Lakers. As noted by the outlet, the four-time All-Star provided “quality minutes” as a backup playmaker who would step up whenever LeBron James was resting on the bench. He also offered strong leadership, saying in a team meeting toward the end of this year’s NBA Finals that the Lakers were going to win a title through their defense.
In addition, Rondo was described as someone who “stepped up on and off the court” during the postseason, particularly in Game 6 of the Finals, where he scored 19 points on eight-for-11 shooting from the field as the Lakers closed out their championship series against the Miami Heat. The outlet pointed out that he “made the Heat pay” for leaving him open as he converted three out of his four three-point attempts. Despite his reputation as a subpar shooter, Rondo finished the playoffs with a three-point shooting percentage of 40 percent.
“The Clippers could use all of that, but they need to go into this with their eyes wide open about Rondo’s lack of shooting and inconsistent (to be kind) defense,” NBC Sports opined. “They would not be getting him for the regular season.”
As the Clippers could only use part of their mid-level exception as they try to upgrade their point guard rotation, the publication wrote that their options may be limited beyond Rondo. It also warned that there’s a chance the Lakers could at least match their rivals’ offer.
Other playmakers that have been linked to the Clippers as potential free-agent acquisitions include the Heat’s Goran Dragic. But due to the organization’s lack of salary-cap space, more affordable players such as D.J. Augustin of the Orlando Magic and De’Anthony Melton of the Memphis Grizzlies were brought up as possible alternatives in the event Rondo signs elsewhere.