The Lakers need more talent on the roster. Desperately. Kobe Bryant is jacking up 37 shots a game and while nobody (even Kobe) thinks that’s ideal, who else do you really want on that roster taking more shots. Their next best guys — Jeremy Lin, Ed Davis and so on — are role players asked to do too much.
So who do the Lakers target next summer as a free agent?
While I had heard some Greg Monroe rumblings, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated threw out another interesting name: Rajon Rondo.
There is one player who makes sense in LA next season: Rajon Rondo. Several rival executives believe the Lakers will make a strong run at Rondo next summer, and it’s easy to see why. Rondo is young (28), plays a critical position and shares the same win-at-all-bleeping-cost attitude as Bryant. The Celtics are rebuilding and have a young playmaker in Marcus Smart, which may limit their desire to hand Rondo max money.
Kobe and Rondo? What could go wrong with those egos in the same room?
Certainly Rondo knows how to be a floor general and he would be a massive defensive upgrade over Jeremy Lin. Rondo is an All-Star player. But he’s also not a good shooter (.379 true shooting percentage this season, 20 percent from three). He’s a player who when he has great teammates can help elevate them (as he did when the Celtics were contenders) but he’s not necessarily a guy who himself can take over a team and lift it up. Plus Mannix asks this question.
Even with Rondo (and, for the sake of argument, let’s say Greg Monroe) what are the Lakers? A playoff team? With Randle back and another high draft pick — which the Lakers will hand to Phoenix if it’s not in the top-five — maybe. A contending team? Not even close.
For the record, I’m not convinced the Celtics don’t go big and keep Rondo, using him as one star to lure another.
Mannix suggests the Lakers should consider trading Kobe. That’s not going to happen, he’s worth too much to them financially — plus good luck moving that oversized contract to a contender. What contender has room for that or would give up the assets necessary to match that salary. Plus, Kobe isn’t really a guy you just plug in as a role player on an existing contender with an established hierarchy. He changes all the dynamics, You think you can just slide Kobe onto the Spurs and it works?
What the Lakers do next summer — and who will be really interested — is going to be a great storyline to watch. Rebuilding this team is not going to be easy.