Report: Lakers refused to give up rookie Julius Randle in trade for Rajon Rondo

23 Comments

Before Rajon Rondo was traded to the Mavericks, the Lakers were one of the teams in talks to acquire him from the Celtics.

Boston ultimately believed the package that Dallas had to offer was more appealing, and pulled the trigger on a deal that netted  Brandan WrightJae Crowder, Jameer Nelson and a future first- and second-round draft pick, the former of which turned out to be heavily protected.

One offer the Lakers discussed included (presumably) the expiring contract of the injured Steve Nash, Jordan Hill, and one or more draft picks in exchange for Rondo and Jeff Green — which would have been a steal for Los Angeles.

There were likely other scenarios, however, and one of the pieces that may have gotten a deal done for the Lakers was rookie big man Julius Randle, who is currently out for the season due to injury.

From Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports:

The Lakers and Celtics had mutual interest for a Rajon Rondo deal, but the Lakers weren’t willing to give up injured rookie Julius Randle, a source said.

I believe Rondo’s impending free agency, more than the Lakers’ desire to retain the promising rookie, is what ultimately informed L.A.’s decision.

It’s no secret that the Lakers are desperate to add star-level talent to the roster. L.A. is not a market that will stand for the team undergoing a faceless rebuild of potential stars through the draft that may take several seasons. It requires a star to sell tickets, even in down seasons like this one where losing more often than not is the expected result.

That reality is why Kobe Bryant received such a large contract to play out the final two seasons of his career, even though it was counterintuitive to give him that much when considering the team’s need to improve, and the limitations L.A. would now face from a salary cap standpoint.

If stars don’t come willingly to the Lakers in free agency (and they haven’t in recent seasons), then at some point, the team will need to trade for one still under contract, and will likely need to overpay to do so.

The option was there where Rondo was concerned, but like Dwight Howard before him, Rondo would have been able to bolt as an unrestricted free agent after just one season — and despite the Lakers wanting to add a star with Rondo’s resumé, his contract situation was such that giving up Randle proved to be too steep a price.