Saturday, January 22, 2022

Rajon Rondo trade: Cavaliers acquiring Lakers guard after Ricky Rubio’s season-ending injury, per report

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been one of the best stories of this strange NBA season, and as the calendar turns to 2022 they sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference at 20-14. But earlier this week they suffered a major loss when veteran point guard Ricky Rubio went down with a torn ACL that will keep him out for the rest of the season. In need of another point guard — in particular, a veteran to help with their young roster — the Cavaliers have made a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers to acquire Rajon Rondo, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Terms of the deal have yet to be released.

Rondo, who entered the league’s health and safety protocols on Dec. 26, has struggled so far with the Lakers, putting up just 3.1 points and 3.7 assists per game on 32.4 percent shooting from the field and 26.7 percent shooting from 3-point land. At this stage of his career, he isn’t the most exciting acquisition and will be a downgrade on Rubio. But the Cavaliers don’t have too many options in the middle of the season, and Rondo will at least bring some similar qualities. He’s still a capable defender who will fit in with the Cavaliers’ defense-first style, and will always be able to run an offense. 

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But even if 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 court 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 goes down and it just pains you,” Kevin Love said after Rubio was injured. “It just hurts to see anyone go down, 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 with Rondo joining the team, it will be interesting to see if the Cavaliers can remain at the top of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. They are also already without Collin Sexton for the season due to a torn meniscus, which will put extra responsibility on young guard Darius Garland to lead the way in the backcourt. 

As for the Lakers, it’s not surprising that they moved Rondo. Not only has he played poorly this season, he doesn’t fit on this roster. Moving him opens up a roster spot that they could use on another shooter or more frontcourt depth. 

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