My feelings are well known here, so I’ll just cut to the chase. The Lakers are expected to re-sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a 2-year, $16 million contract and have agreed to a 2-year contract with Rajon Rondo at his veteran minimum ($2.6 million) with the 2nd year being a player option.
I’m not a huge fan of either player, but both do fill a need, so I understand bringing both back — especially within the context of the remaining players on the market.
KCP, specifically, when at his best offers shooting and defensive ability at both guard positions. I could see lineups where KCP and newly signed Danny Green flank Kuzma, LeBron, and Anthony Davis to form a lineup where LeBron is the de facto PG and everyone else provides spacing around his ability to create offense in tandem with Davis. KCP, then, could be a key contributor and should he play to the best of his ability, the value of his contract is probably just right.
The problem with KCP, of course, is an ability to consistently play to the peak of his ability. Over the course of his two years with the Lakers his shot has come and gone — and mostly the latter in games where there seemed to be real stakes. He’s played his best when the Lakers were not in the hunt for anything of significance and unless that changes, things are problematic. Personally, if bringing KCP back at all, I’d have preferred a 1-year deal at a number closer to the room exception ($4.8 million).
As for a Rondo, a deal at his minimum is…fine, I guess. I know he has the respect of players in the locker room and coaches (mostly) really like him for his leadership and ability to be a “coach on the floor”. Rondo’s history as a playoff performer also work in his favor for a team that hopes to make a run this year. Add in his ability to continue to accumulate counting stats and be a distributor who can capably set up a team’s offense and put people in positions to be successful, and I get it. Again, the market was thin at players with these skills.
That said, Rondo’s defense is subpar and has been that way for several seasons now. He dies on screens, does not play hard consistently, and has fully entered veteran-who-points-at-teammates-to-cover-for-him mode. For a team that will need perimeter defense at the point of attack and guys willing to make second and third rotations within a possession, Rondo soaking up minutes feels problematic. There’s a reason Alex Caruso had much better on/off numbers than Rondo this season — Caruso, with his young and fresh legs, does many of the little things that contribute to winning while Rondo simply has the reputation of doing those things at this stage.
I will reiterate, though, that Rondo at his minimum is not an egregious signing by any means. He can help. But his role should be limited to minutes when LeBron is off the floor and not in tandem with him like Luke Walton loved to deploy him. My hope is that Frank Vogel can make this adjustment because it’s sorely needed.
Ultimately, then, I suppose this post could have simply been a title and a “meh” as the body and then I could have kept it moving. But, if you’re looking for real analysis, I thought I’d pay it forward for you all.