Rajon Rondo returning to Lakers? Grizzlies agree to buyout

Sunday, June 20, 2021, Phoenix, Arizona - LA Clippers guard Rajon Rondo (4) slips past Phoenix Suns.

Another familiar face could be joining the Lakers, with veteran point guard Rajon Rondo likely headed for a reunion with the team once he clears waivers early next week, according to people familiar with the situation not authorized to speak on the matter.

The move would give the team the backup point guard they sought with one of their final available roster spots and reconnect them with someone who was an important player in their run through the 2020 playoffs on the way to a championship inside the league’s bubble.

It also is yet another offseason move that looks like it’s intended to get the Lakers a crack at the 2012 NBA championship instead of the 2022 title. As its currently constructed, the 35-year-old Rondo will be younger than five players on the team’s roster.

If the Lakers were getting the player who averaged 8.9 points and 6.6 assists in the 2020 postseason, the signing would be a major victory. But after those playoffs, Rondo signed a two-year deal in Atlanta, was ineffective and traded to the Clippers, where he failed to make a positive impact.

The Clippers dealt him to the Grizzlies as part of the deal that returned Eric Bledsoe. The Grizzlies agreed on Saturday to buy out the final year of Rondo’s contract.

Rondo was slowed by injuries last year, his 15th NBA season, playing only 45 games between the Hawks and the Clippers. He did, however, shoot better than 40% from three-point range for the only time in his career.

After being acquired for Lou Williams at the NBA trade deadline, the Clippers were unable to play Rondo significantly in the playoffs. In 13 games, the Clippers were nearly seven points per 100 possessions worse than their opponents with the four-time All-Star and two-time champion on the court.

He will join a veteran-heavy team that includes LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard and Marc Gasol. The Lakers currently have only four players signed to their main roster under 30 years old — Anthony Davis, Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk and Talen Horton-Tucker.

Rondo will likely be third on the team’s depth chart at point guard, playing behind Russell Westbrook and Nunn. James will also shoulder a lot of the point-guard duties.

The Lakers have two open spots left on their roster, though it’s expected that the team will keep one spot empty heading into the season. More shooting on the wing or added size in the frontcourt could be on the team’s shopping list.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.