Lakers Rumors: Assessing Rajon Rondo, Tyler Ennis and Other Potential Targets

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2017

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 30:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Chicago Bulls goes up for a shot during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers on November 30, 2016 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
Gary Dineen/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers made one of their more significant moves in the 2017 offseason with the addition of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but it doesn't look like the team is done filling out their backcourt. 

KCP wasn't the biggest signing of the offseason, but his one-year deal fits perfectly with the team's MO. The Lakers have been savvy in building a roster that has some exciting upside but can still accommodate multiple max-level free agents next offseason. 

To that end, the Lakers now shift their focus to finding more help in the backcourt. Specifically, they appear to be on the lookout for options to play point guard behind No. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball.

It's an important position for a franchise looking to give its young players a chance to take a big step forward and a well-known veteran in Rajon Rondo has emerged as a candidate, per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

Rondo would obviously be the biggest splash. The former Boston Celtic and recent Chicago Bull has a wealth of playoff experience and an NBA title to his name. 

Stylistically he's also a fit. As a pass-first do-it-all point guard, Rondo would be a good complement to Ball off the bench. Other than the fact that Ball is a better shooter, they are both players who excel as playmakers. Rondo's defense would also be something for Ball to watch and learn from. 

However, there is cause for concern as to whether Rondo can really play the mentor role. His reputation hasn't always been that he's easy to get along with, and he has been put in this role before. 

"You can control what you can control. That's what I tell my [younger teammates]," Rondo said, per Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe back in March during a tumultuous stretch of season. "I'm going through it 11 years, but they're going through it their second or third year, so I try to be the example for those guys and stay professional. My young point guards and my young bigs are going through it here. But I think that's what I'm here for, to try to help them out."

While Rondo tried to be that guy, drama ensued with the Bulls last season. The result was his release from the franchise while they started a rebuild of their own. The last thing the Lakers need is someone who might keep the young guys from developing because of a toxic environment. 

If the Lakers are looking for veteran leadership, it might come in a familiar face. According to Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype, Jordan Farmar is kicking the tires on a comeback and has already met with Lakers head coach Luke Walton:

Farmar certainly knows the ropes. He spent five of his 10 NBA seasons with the Lakers, including two championships where Los Angeles won the title. 

Farmer doesn't match Rondo's skill on the court. His VORP, according to Basketball Reference, has hovered around 0.0 in each of his five last seasons, which is to say that he's right on par with your average NBA player. Rondo's VORP has been around 1.0 each of his last two seasons. 

If they want the veteran leadership aspect without worrying themselves with any ramification in the locker room facilitating Farmar's return to the NBA might be the right fit.

The other route the Lakers could go in adding another free agent is to extend their youth movement. The team's goals right now should be to add as many assets as possible while saving cap room to be a major player in free agency next season. 

That could mean adding another young player with breakout potential. 

Ian Clark and Isaiah Canaan have been mentioned as possibilities. However, both are 26 years old and probably capped out in terms of potential. Neither are facilitators either, excelling more in playing off the ball rather than setting teammates up to score. 

Tyler Ennis, however, showed the ability to be comfortable as a distributor in his last season, including 22 games where he was playing in the Lakers system. Here's how his per-36-minute stats look compared to some of their other options.

         

Per 36 Minutes Stats

Ennis: 15.6 points, 4.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game. 45.1 percent shooting.

Rondo: 10.5 points, 10.9 assists and 1.9 steals per game. 40.5 percent shooting.

Clark: 16.7 points, 2.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game. 48.1 percent shooting.

Canaan: 11. points, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game. 36.4 percent shooting. 

Rondo obviously has the best stats out of that group in terms of playmaking, but, again, there's potential that he clashes with what the Lakers are trying to accomplish. Rondo and a losing team has never been a good combination and this is still a young team that will take its lumps. 

Instead, the team should be looking to sign Ennis who showed some promise in finishing the season with the team last year. At 22 years old, there's still a chance that he has another level and could become a valuable asset that the Lakers can choose to trade down the road. 

If not, he's already shown the ability to play the backup point guard position better than anyone else on their list besides Rondo. 

If the team is really looking to develop young assets Ennis makes the most sense at this point, even if he isn't the biggest name on the market. 

        

All statistics provided by Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted. 

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