Rajon Rondo Explains Why He Can Still Step Up In The Playoffs

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Lakers Nation 31 August, 2021 - 07:27pm 13 views

Did Rondo sign with Lakers?

Rajon Rondo signed with the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday after he cleared waivers Monday. Terms weren't disclosed, but Rondo received a one-year deal worth $2.6 million, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. ESPNRajon Rondo rejoins Los Angeles Lakers with one-year deal

Rajon Rondo Returns To Lakers

Lakers Nation 01 September, 2021 - 01:50am

Feb 22, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) moves to the basket against Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook (4) and forward Rui Hachimura (8) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports – Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers roster is much different for this upcoming season than it was last season. Last season’s roster was much different than the year before that. Despite winning the championship less than a year ago, the Lakers have seen plenty of changes.

It is not usual for a contending team to see that many changes in that short of a span but that is the result of a wonky NBA schedule as well as the situation the Lakers are in. LeBron James and Anthony Davis take up most of the salary and the team has to filter between various role-players year after year.

The Lakers restricted themselves to mostly minimum signings after they traded three role players from last year’s team for Russell Westbrook.

Despite the financial hurdles, Rob Pelinka crafted a pretty solid team. The Lakers are fairly deep and they are the bonafide favorites to win the NBA Championship in the Western Conference.

There are two areas of the Los Angeles Lakers roster that could become concerns next season. Spoiler alert: age is not one of them and we will explain why that is the case when we break down the areas of strength on the Lakers roster.

Today, we look at the potential areas of weakness and there are two things to remain wary of before the season gets underway.

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How LeBron James and Anthony Davis played major roles in Rajon Rondo's return to team

Lakers Daily 01 September, 2021 - 01:50am

The Los Angeles Lakers brought back guard Rajon Rondo on Monday after he cleared waivers.

Rondo, who was bought out by the Memphis Grizzlies, returns to the team he won the 2019-20 NBA title with.

The veteran guard revealed that Lakers superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis played major roles in his decision to return to the team.

Rajon Rondo says that Frank Vogel told him he missed his voice in the locker room, and calls Vogel "a big key" in his return to the team, along with his relationships with LeBron and AD.

— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) August 31, 2021

Rondo was a key cog in the Lakers title run during the 2019-20 season, and he may be exactly what the team needs to make another title run in the 2021-22 campaign.

The Lakers made several moves to bring in veteran players this offseason, and Rondo should fit right in as a potential backup point guard to Russell Westbrook.

Los Angeles was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs last season without Rondo on the roster.

James and Davis clearly value Rondo’s presence, and it should be a solid reunion for the trio next season.

Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.

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The 3 most volatile players on the Los Angeles Lakers roster

Lakeshow Life 01 September, 2021 - 01:50am

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 10: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with media during a press conference at Staples Center on August 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers Russell Westbrook

The Los Angeles Lakers acquiring Russell Westbrook is an LA-style move at its core: the ethos of the city has always been to either go big or go home. Lakers GM Rob Pelinka made this trade with winning future championships in mind.

Ultimately, the Lakers wanted a third superstar. Russell Westbrook was the only one realistically available in the trade market. Westbrook’s massive contract ($44,211,146 next season!) diminished his trade value to a point where the Lakers could actually get him.

In my opinion, Sacramento’s sharpshooting guard Buddy Hield would have been a better fit. Per Bleacher Report, Sacramento was only asking for Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell for Hield.

Losing KCP (and missing out on Hield) will hurt the Lakers far more than what many fans might realize. KCP shot 41% from three-point range last season. Hield has shot 40.6% from three-point range in his career.

As we all know, the Lakers need reliable three-point shooters for their half-court offense to be at its most effective. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have always thrived in the half-court when surrounded by elite three-point shooters such as KCP or Hield.

Moreover, it will be counterproductive to have a ball-dominant guard like Westbrook play alongside LeBron and AD. Westbrook is not a great outside shooter and he has not played off the ball since his college days at UCLA.

Lakers Head Coach Frank Vogel will need to determine whether to stagger LeBron and Westbrook’s minutes to optimize the offense now or to play them together in order to build up their chemistry later.

In reality, Westbrook is one of the greatest NBA point guards in NBA history and is still in his prime.

It is quite astonishing that several NBA analysts have said that Westbrook is NOT a top-10 point guard. This article from NBA.com only rates Westbrook in the honorable mention tier.

Nothing personal, but that writer for NBA.com is out of pocket! Here are two reasons why Russell Westbrook is still an elite point guard!

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The 'LeBron's championship teammates' quiz

Yardbarker 30 August, 2021 - 11:02pm

Rajon Rondo won his second championship as a member of the 2019-20 Los Angeles Lakers. Last season, he split time between the Hawks and the Clippers. Now, after a trade to the Memphis Grizzlies and a subsequent buyout, Rondo appears ready to run it back in purple and gold. The Lakers have spent the offseason collecting ring-chasing veterans to play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis (and they might not be done yet). In a league where youth is typically king, it's a bold choice. Will the plan actually work? Only time will tell. 

Which brings us to today's quiz of the day. For an NBA vet looking to win that elusive ring, playing next to LeBron is never a bad option. In his four title runs, James has played with 49 different teammates. So with that in mind, how many of the King's men from his four championship teams can you name in five minutes?

Get the Quiz of the Day, one carefully curated quiz inspired by today's headlines. Test your knowledge and compete with your friends. Emailed every weekday. Always free!

It has been two days since a "high school" football team called Bishop Sycamore finagled its way onto an ESPN Sunday broadcast. But even as time passes, questions about the team's legitimacy remain unanswered as people formerly associated with the team begin to speak out. Former players and parents attached to the Ohio-based football program have begun telling their stories about the so-called team, which has somehow been around for three years. One parent detailed to Awful Announcing, which has been at the forefront reporting on the fiasco, his son's experience with the team which included poor treatment of players, expensive hotel bills being dropped on parents and countless lies at the hands of head coach Roy Johnson. In light of being blown out 58-0 by Florida-based powerhouse IMG Academy, reports began to emerge that Bishop Sycamore is not recognized by any major institution as a legitimate school. Reports also surfaced the team had played two games in three days, which breaks player safety protocols. It was later found some of the players on the roster are not high school age anymore and that Johnson has an active warrant out for his arrest. Both ESPN and Paragon, the company responsible for scheduling the matchups on the worldwide leader in sports, have said they didn't know the program's background prior to the game on Sunday. "We regret that this happened and have discussed it with Paragon, which secured the matchup and handles the majority of our high school event scheduling," ESPN said in a statement. "They have ensured us that they will take steps to prevent this kind of situation from happening moving forward." Paragon itself told Awful Announcing it wasn't informed that Bishop Sycamore had played a game two days before and told The Columbus Dispatch it received a different player roster on Sunday than they had when the game was scheduled one month prior. Now, it remains to be seen if more people will speak out with information about the program -- and if Bishop Sycamore's run as a fraudulent school will finally come to an end.

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Trevor Bauer recently had his paid administrative leave extended a seventh time through Sept. 3 by MLB and the MLB Players Association as he continues to face allegations of sexual assault. The City of Pasadena Police Department turned the case over to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office ahead of this past weekend, and ESPN's Jeff Passan has since provided an in-depth look at what could be next for the 30-year-old right-hander. Interestingly, Passan left no doubt Bauer's 2021 season is over. "If the DA does not make a decision on charges before the end of the season, Bauer almost certainly will remain on administrative leave," Passan explained. "If he's charged, MLB would either extend his administrative leave or use the paid-suspension provision in the policy. "If he's not charged, a suspension will be coming, and even if Bauer appeals, the lack of an immediate stay will prevent him from returning." Passan also said that Bauer could be facing anywhere between a one- and two-year suspension following a league investigation into the allegations made against the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner. He could be hit with the longest domestic violence ban since MLB implemented its policy in the summer of 2015. It's unclear if the Dodgers will welcome Bauer back or if any team would accept him assuming he'll be cleared to play at some point in 2022, 2023, or 2024.

No, the New York Islanders have not officially announced any contract for Casey Cizikas, but details of the expected deal are starting to drip out. Earlier this month, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet heard that the Islanders had a six-year deal with Cizikas that would carry an average annual value of $2.5M. The insider was clear that he couldn’t confirm it though, something that has become par for the course in the Lou Lamoriello era. Tuesday, Arthur Staple of The Athletic tweets that the report from Friedman appears to be accurate. He is also hearing that Cizikas has signed a six-year contract with an annual average value of around $2.5M. Staple notes that the AAV could end up being slightly higher, something that won’t be known until the contract is actually filed (and even then there’s no guarantee from this Islanders front office). Cizikas, 30, is pretty obviously not leaving the Islanders, given there would have been plenty of interest in him elsewhere on the open market. Though he is a true bottom-six option, likely unable to play any higher than that on a contending club, there’s real value in what he brings to the ice every night. A strong defensive presence, a physical player and a lynchpin of the Islanders’ four-line structure, he represents a fixture of the team even scoring just a handful of points each season. In 2020-21, he had seven goals and 14 points in 56 regular-season games but was a huge part of the team’s success in the playoffs. Cizikas won 142 of his 232 postseason faceoffs (61.2%), including a huge chunk of them in the defensive end. His presence frees up the team’s more talented offensive players to do exactly that—play offense—while neutralizing the opposition’s best as much as possible. A six-year deal may seem like a lifetime for a player who resides near the bottom of the lineup, but it’s likely the only way that the Islanders could keep his cap hit down. A $2.5M salary will allow the team to spend money elsewhere, like on free agents Kyle Palmieri and Zach Parise, who are both expected to also have deals signed with the team but not announced. Even if Cizikas’ play falls off a cliff, there’s not a ton of risk here for the Islanders. Nearly half of his expected cap hit could be buried in the minor leagues if necessary, leaving around $1.35M each season on the books near the end of the deal. That obviously doesn’t cripple a team’s finances, but keeping his cap hit relatively low over the next few years will only help the Islanders in this window of Stanley Cup contention they have opened.

New York Mets big-name acquisitions and underwhelming performers Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez would like to put the controversy sparked by the team's "thumbs-down" celebration in the past. As is often the case with such situations, the fans will have the final say about that. Ahead of Tuesday's home game against the Miami Marlins, both Lindor and Baez stood in front of cameras and offered apologies for the action that was a response to supporters booing the team at Citi Field. "I didn’t mean to offend anybody," Baez said, per SNY. "This is something that I’ve done in the past against the other team. I did it in LA to the dugout. I might [have said] something wrong about how I was booing the fans, and I really meant to [say] like, 'Boo me now' — and not to the fans — to our dugout because I’ve done it with the other team and against other teams. "I’ve never seen the same fans and I didn’t say the fans are bad. I love the fans. But I just felt like we were alone. The fans obviously want us to win, and they pay our salary, like everybody says. But we want to win, too. The frustration got to us, and I didn’t mean to offend anybody, and if I did offend anybody, we apologize." According to SNY, Lindor added: "It was to the dugout, the thumbs down. It was to the dugout. Thumbs down for me means the adversity we have gone through in this whole time. The negative things we have overcome. We did it. We went over it. However, it was wrong and I apologize to whoever I offended. It was not my intent to offend people. I can't go against the fans. I've never done it in my career. "We play for the fans, like Javy said. Javy said we play for the fans and he's 100% right. For our teammates, for the front office, for our families, for the city. So with that being said, I apologize and it didn't look good on our part." Both players also addressed the matter via Twitter, as did Mets owner Steve Cohen: Perhaps Lindor and company will embrace a thumbs-up approach over the final month of what's become a lost season for the Amazins.

Bryson DeCheambeau was not happy with the way fans heckled him last week over his ongoing rivalry with Brooks Koepka, and the PGA Tour is taking steps to prevent it from happening in the future. Several fans who attended the BMW Championship at Caves Valley Gold Club in Maryland could be heard yelling “Brooksie!” at DeChambeau throughout the tournament. After DeChambeau lost to Patrick Cantlay in a six-hole playoff, he had a heated exchange with one such fan that nearly turned ugly. On Tuesday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said yelling “Brooksie!” at DeChambeau will now be considered harassing or disrespectful fan behavior and could result in an ejection. Monahan added that it has been a “long season” with dealing with instances of inappropriate fan behavior. He said the PGA Tour began working on an official fan code of conduct last season. The DeChambeau-Koepka rivalry has been good for golf, and DeChambeau has certainly done everything he can to keep it going. It’s baffling that yelling another golfer’s name at a Tour player could be considered such a serious offense, but here we are. Fans will almost certainly find other ways to heckle DeChambeau. He’s the most polarizing golfer on the PGA Tour, and we were reminded of why with the awkward exchange he had with Cantlay on Sunday (video here).

As of the final weekend of August, the SEC was the only Power 5 conference that hadn't yet publicly finalized policies regarding potential coronavirus-related setbacks for the upcoming college football season. That changed Monday afternoon. "In the event a team is unable to begin or complete a regular season conference event due to the unavailability of participants (due to COVID-19, injuries or other reasons), that team will forfeit the contest and will be assigned a loss in the conference standings," the SEC announced in a release. "The opposing team that is ready to play will be credited with a win in the conference standings. Both teams will be deemed to have played and completed the contest for purpose of the conference standings." "If both teams are unable to compete due to the unavailability of participants (due to COVID-19, injuries or other reasons), both teams shall be deemed to have forfeited the game, with a loss assigned to both teams and applied to the conference standings. Both teams will be deemed to have played and completed the contest for purpose of the conference standings." Interestingly, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey can declare a game a "no contest" if "extraordinary circumstances warrant" such a decision. Examples of such circumstances were not mentioned on Monday. As Heather Dinich noted for ESPN, the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, Mountain West Conference and American Athletic Conference previously embraced similar policies.

Saturday's NFL preseason finale between the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals had to be canceled because of Hurricane Ida. It seems the storm will also impact the first college football Saturday of September. According to Adam Rittenberg of ESPN, Saturday's showdown between the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners and Tulane Green Wave set to occur at Yulman Stadium in New Orleans will be relocated because of the aftermath of the storm. Tulane athletic director Troy Dannen took to Twitter to somewhat refute the report: Rittenberg wrote that Tulane "has contingency plans" to play Saturday's matchup currently scheduled to begin at noon ET in Oklahoma. Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione addressed the matter this past Friday: Tulane is currently practicing in Birmingham, Ala. ahead of Saturday. Meanwhile, the Saints may have to open their regular season "hosting" the Green Bay Packers at AT T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, if they're not cleared to play in New Orleans by Sept. 12.

The Patriots released veteran quarterback Cam Newton on Tuesday after weeks of speculation regarding whether he’d be New England’s starter in 2021-22. With the move, New England has signaled that rookie quarterback Mac Jones will be the starter. For weeks, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has seemingly maintained that Newton would likely be the one to lead the offense heading into next season. That all began to change in recent days, when Newton suffered one embarrassing setback after another. The former MVP’s cryptic social media posts from that point forward suggested that there was trouble in paradise – culminating in what transpired early Tuesday morning. Ultimately, three very specific things ended up changing the trajectory of Newton’s relationship with the Patriots. “There wasn’t just one reason that Cam Newton is gone. It was a combination of at least three,” reported Adam Beasley of the Pro Football Network. “I’m told: Mac Jones’ emergence, Newton’s vaccination stance (which caused a bit of a stir behind the scenes) and Cam’s uninspiring performance this summer.” Jones played 107 snaps in the preseason, the most of any Patriots quarterback. In that time he went 36-of-52 for 389 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. Newton, meanwhile, finished the preseason 14-of-21 for 162 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Last year, with Newton leading them, the Patriots became something of a laughingstock. At one point, opposing teams were openly ridiculing Belichick over how terrible their offense was. Memories of that were no doubt still fresh when Tuesday’s decision was made. By getting rid of Newton, the Patriots indicated that a new era was beginning. How will that new era ultimately turn out for them? Time will tell.

Joel Embiid seems to be totally unbothered about the current drama surrounding his team. The Philadelphia 76ers star sent a funny tweet on Tuesday after news broke that teammate Ben Simmons has formally requested a trade. Embiid asked if there was any trade news … regarding European soccer club Real Madrid. Embiid continued the troll job by referencing Real Madrid’s stalled efforts to acquire Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe, saying, “We’ll get it done in January.” Longtime Real Madrid fan Embiid might be happy to learn that the team managed to sign 18-year-old phenom Eduardo Camavinga from French club Rennes in the meantime. But Embiid definitely cannot be happy about what is going on with his actual team. In addition to Simmons, the Sixers might be losing another one of Embiid’s teammates as well.

The Nationals announced they’ve optioned center fielder Víctor Robles to Triple-A Rochester. Fellow outfielder Andrew Stevenson has been recalled in his place. It’s the culmination of back-to-back poor seasons for Robles, who finds himself in the minors for the first time since 2018. Robles has more or less been Washington’s everyday center fielder over the past three seasons, a role he’s been expected to hold for years. A one-time top prospect, Robles seized the center field job during the Nats’ World Series winning 2019 campaign. While he was a slightly below-average hitter that year, Robles rated as one of the league’s best baserunners and defensive outfielders. Only 22 years old, he looked to be a core piece who could emerge as an All-Star caliber player with just a bit of an improvement at the plate over the coming seasons. Not only has Robles not taken another step offensively, he’s completely fallen flat at the plate. Since the start of the 2020 campaign, the right-handed hitter has posted a .209/.304/.302 line over 558 plate appearances. That translates to a 67 wRC+ that suggests Robles has been 33 percentage points worse than the league average hitter. Of the 181 hitters with 500+ plate appearances over the past two years, only four (Kevin Newman, Elvis Andrus, Gregory Polanco and Garrett Hampson) have been less productive at the plate. Those struggles have cost Robles playing time in recent days, as he hadn’t started a game since Friday. Lane Thomas, acquired from the Cardinals at the trade deadline, has started the past three games in center and is in the lineup there again tonight. With Robles relegated to fourth outfielder duty at the big league level, the Nationals have evidently determined it better to get him continued reps against minor league pitching. The Nationals could bring Robles back up relatively shortly, as position players only need be on optional assignment for ten days before they’re eligible to be recalled. (They can be brought up within ten days if recalled to replace an injured player). However, the timing of the demotion could suggest they’re prepared to leave Robles in the minors for additional experience. Active rosters expand from 26 to 28 players starting tomorrow, so the Nats weren’t under immediate pressure to make a move from a roster limit perspective. Instead, it seems the team has decided an optional assignment to be the more prudent course of action for Robles’ long-term development. Even if Robles doesn’t return to the majors this season, the demotion shouldn’t have an effect on his service time outlook. He entered the season with 2.052 years of big league time and has already accrued around 152 days of service this season. That’s more than enough to push him beyond the three-year threshold as had been anticipated. He’ll qualify for arbitration for the first time this offseason and is still ticketed to reach free agency over the 2024-25 offseason — assuming he begins next year on Washington’s active roster.

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