NBA Trade Rumors: Can Rajon Rondo Save Kobe Bryant and the Lakers' Season?

Michael DulkaContributor IFebruary 27, 2012

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 15:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics steals the ball from Brandon Knight #7 of the Detroit Pistons on February 15, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Lakers have been surrounded by trade rumors since their trade for Chris Paul was nixed by the league. Rajon Rondo is being mentioned as a potential target in recent rumors as a player who could be available for the Lakers. 

According to Peter Vecsey of the New York Post, the Lakers could wind up with Rondo by dealing Pau Gasol. The Lakers would likely get back both Rondo and Jermaine O'Neal from the Celtics while also likely signing Rasheed Wallace, a move that has been rumored over the last week.

As of the All-Star break, the Lakers are a good team. They are old, but still good. In Los Angeles, good isn't good enough for this team. This is a franchise that expects championships and expects them often thanks to one of the richest histories in the game.

If the Lakers don't make any significant roster moves before the trade deadline, they are looking at a mid-level seed in the Western Conference playoffs, maybe win a playoff series or two before falling to a younger, more energetic contender. 

With a Dwight Howard/Andrew Bynum swap looking more and more unlikely at this point, the Lakers will be forced to go in another direction. By working a deal with one of their most hated rivals, the Boston Celtics, the Lakers could be in position to make another title run as early as this year. 

Yahoo! Sports' Charles Joel also addresses the rumor of a Rondo-to-LA move and quotes Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak: "If there were a way for us to get a 25-year-old, All-Star, ball-handling guard we'd love to do it."

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Rondo was named an All-Star and played in the game yesterday. Check. Rondo is one of the best ball-handling guards in the league. Check. Rondo just turned 26 on Feb. 22nd. Close enough.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 20:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after a foul during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on February 20, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges an
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The move makes obvious sense for the Lakers, who desperately need a point guard as the aging Derek Fisher has faltered. Pau Gasol would be easy enough to part with at this point, as he has been affected by trade talk since he was supposed to be sent to New Orleans as part of the package that would have brought Chris Paul to the Lakers.

By giving up Gasol, the Lakers would rely on the core of Bryant, Rondo and Bynum to get the job done and bring this Lakers team back up into title contention. That trio could be as frightening as any in the league.

They would each have very different offensive roles with Rondo as a pass-first point guard, Bryant as the team's primary scorer and Bynum as the team's big man working down low. 

While the trade would definitely help the Lakers get the much-needed offensive boost they have been searching for, they wouldn't have to sacrifice their defense, which is giving up 91.4 points per game—good for sixth-best in the league. The Lakers would have two very capable perimeter defenders in Rondo and Bryant and a formidable presence in the post with Bynum reigning tall as well as a likely addition in Rasheed Wallace.

Offensively, the Lakers have been scoring just 93.1 points per game, the 22nd most in the league. Outside of Bryant's 28.4 points per game, the Lakers have struggled to find point production. Even with Bryant's high point total, the biggest problem for the Lakers offense has been finding a rhythm.

By adding Rondo and getting rid of Gasol, the Lakers add a point guard who will look to create offensive opportunities for others and subtract a guy shooting 13.8 times per night. With Rondo running the point, pressure will be lifted off of Bryant, who will benefit from Rondo's passing abilities.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 20:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket on Nicolas Batum #88 of the Portland Trail Blazers during the game at Staples Center on February 20, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expres
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With Rondo being added to the Lakers' starting five, the team gets a ton more athletic and should be able to open up the floor more instead of relying almost entirely on half-court sets.  

It will probably take an adjustment period for the Lakers to get used to Rondo's flashy and up-tempo pace. This shouldn't prevent the Lakers from making the move as they will be a much better team come playoff time with Rondo running the point over Fisher.

Another benefit from the move is that the Lakers would have a viable vision for what their future looks like down the road. With Kobe set to turn 34 this offseason, he can't go on to play forever despite the wishes of Lakers fans. When Kobe decides to hang up his Nikes for good, the Lakers still have a formidable core to build around in a Rondo/Bynum pairing. 

For a team which has seen its season centered around a failed trade, an awful trade and various trade rumors, it is time for the Lakers to pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade.

Being a good team in Los Angeles just isn't good enough. The Lakers need to make a move of this caliber in order to compete for future championships.  

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