The Los Angeles Lakers made the team’s first trade of the season right before the new year as the Lakers traded Rajon Rondo to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Denzel Valentine. It might seem like a pointless trade to some fans but this trade definitely has a purpose for the Lakers.
The Cavaliers traded for Rondo to fill the hole that was left behind after Ricky Rubio suffered a season-ending ACL injury. While Rondo has struggled this season, the Cavaliers have really struggled without that veteran point guard presence, so it makes sense to kick the tires on a cheap asset like Rondo.
As far as the Lakers are concerned, this trade has nothing to do with Valentine. Valentine is going to be waived by the Lakers and play as many games with the team as Wang Zhelin, whose draft rights were traded to the Lakers in the Marc Gasol trade.
The purpose of the Los Angeles Lakers trading Rajon Rondo is to keep Stanely Johnson.
It has become clear in the short amount of time that Stanley Johnson has been with the Los Angles Lakers that he is what this team needs. He might not be the most dynamic offensive piece but he provides solid wing defense for a team that is one of the worst defensive teams in the league.
Johnson supplies exactly what the team needs, making him an impactful contributor in the rotation. If Johnson can be consistent as an off-ball shooter then he is someone who could absolutely play in the crunch time lineup because of his defense.
There was speculation prior to this trade that the Los Angeles Lakers would release DeAndre Jordan to make space for Johnson. While that also would have worked as Jordan has been terrible this season, this trade makes more sense than outright releasing Jordan.
The Lakers would still have to pay the rest of Jordan’s salary and the luxury tax implications that come with it. As we know, the Lakers are very high over the luxury tax and they are very aware of it… even though they are a billion-dollar franchise that can more than afford it.
This trade allows the Lakers to trade Rondo’s guaranteed contract for a non-guaranteed contract in Valentine. Now, in releasing Valentine, the Lakers do not have to worry about the extra tax implications. They are essentially just switching out the rest of Rondo’s salary this season for Johnson.
We would’ve liked to see at least a second-round pick thrown in the mix as well but at the end of the day, it is hard to complain about this trade, as small as it is.