Rajon Rondo trade grades: Lakers clear roster spot; Cavs replace Ricky Rubio; Knicks make it three-team deal

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been one of the best stories of this bizarre NBA season, and as the schedule turns to 2022, they sit fifth in the Eastern Conference at 21-16. But last week they suffered a major loss when veteran point guard Ricky Rubio fell with a ripped ACL that will keep him sidelined for the rest of the season. Need another point guard – especially a veteran to help with their young team – the Cavaliers have struck a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers to acquire Rajon Rondo, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Cleveland initially sent forward Denzel Valentine to Los Angeles for Rondo, by Adrian Wojnarowski from ESPN. However, the Lakers reportedly sent Valentine to the New York Knicks, and the Knicks relinquished Valentine shortly after acquiring him, by Charania.

Rondo, who entered league health and safety protocols on December 26, has struggled so far with the Lakers, recording just 3.1 points and 3.7 assists per game with 32.4% shots from the field and 26.7% shots from a 3-point field. At this point in his career, Rondo, 35, isn’t the most exciting acquisition and will be a downgrade from Rubio. But the Cavaliers don’t have too many options mid-season, and Rondo will at least bring similar qualities. He is still a competent defender who will fit into the Cavaliers’ first defense style and will always be able to launch an attack.

Rondo is excited for the chance to play a bigger role with an emerging Cavs squad, by Wojnarowski. He would have viewed the trade in a positive light since it was first mentioned to him. Even though Rondo can bring some of the same skills, it will be difficult for him to replicate Rubio’s impact. The Cavaliers have been much better with Rubio on the pitch this season.

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There are also the intangibles that Rubio brings in terms of leadership and camaraderie.

“I think this team is so close so it’s like an extended family member breaks down and it just pains you,” Kevin Love said after Rubio’s injury. “It hurts to see someone fall, but especially a guy like Ricky, who has been so consistent for us and brings so much to this team for so many different reasons.”

Now that Rondo joins the squad, it will be interesting to see if the Cavaliers can stay atop the Eastern Conference playoff table. They are also already without Collin Sexton for the season due to a torn meniscus, which will put additional responsibility on young goalkeeper Darius Garland to lead the way in the backcourt.

As for the Lakers, it’s no surprise that they moved Rondo. Not only has he played poorly this season, but he doesn’t fit on this list. Moving it opens up a spot on the roster that they could use on another shooter or on a greater depth of the frontcourt. Here’s how the two sides ranked in the deal:

The Lakers receive:

The Knicks receive:

The riders receive:


Los Angeles Commercial Grade: A-

It’s a very simple calculation for the Lakers. They wanted to free up a spot on the list. To do so by giving up Rondo would have left them around $ 7 million in dead money between his salary and the luxury tax. It was a Lakers team that let Alex Caruso walk because of the tax. Savings like this are significant, especially if they have to continue upgrades elsewhere on schedule. The Lakers got those savings by swapping a Rondo player who came out of the rotation before COVID forced his hand. They can now use that spot on the roster to keep Stanley Johnson, who has performed well with a 10-day contract for them in a position of need while attacking. Essentially, swapping Rondo for Johnson at minimal cost is a free upgrade as long as Johnson maintains recent productivity.

Cleveland Commercial Grade: C

Cleveland couldn’t have lost Rubio at a worse time. In a normal season, the Cavs might have signed an independent playmaker to serve as a stopgap while they sought a longer-term solution … but the COVID epidemic across the board league has considerably drained the pool of available talent. This has made Rondo perhaps their best option in the short term, and that doesn’t mean much. Rondo has been ineffective this season and hasn’t even been an average regular-season player since at least the 2017-18 season. Cleveland probably shouldn’t expect much from Rondo in the long run and should continue to seek improvements in other trades, but that deal hasn’t even cost the Cavs a second-round pick. It’s an ultimately harmless decision that gives them a better replacement than they could have found in free agency. Rondo is not ideal, but it is better than nothing.

Knicks Commercial Class: B

The Knicks get $ 1.1million by closing this deal at the last minute, and all they had to do was cede the draft rights to two players who shouldn’t be playing in the NBA, so not a bad deal. at all by these terms. Unsurprisingly, New York has given up on Valentine so he can join another team for the remainder of the season. That deal was mostly about whether the Lakers would put a spot on the list for the buyback market, or whether they decide to sign Johnson to a standard contract for the remainder of the season, and the Knicks have gladly helped in that matter and got cash back. the process.

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