The Lakers turned almost their entire backcourt to free agency one day, as two more key players announced they will not be returning.
Avery Bradley signed a two-year contract with the Miami Heat the Associated Press reported it would have a sophomore team option. Rondo region announced on his Instagram account he would go elsewhere after two seasons with the Lakers, although that destination was not set on Saturday afternoon.
Bradley was the only Laker not to travel to Disney World for the restart and thus not play against the Heat in the Final. The Athletic reported that Jimmy Butler helped recruit the six-foot veteran guard for South Beach.
The signs of both departures surfaced at free agency. Bradley declined his sophomore player option with the Lakers earlier this week, reportedly looking for a second season. By acting for Dennis Schrӧder, which has often been compared to Rondo, the Lakers said they were preparing to move on from the 34-year veteran.
Losing both takes the protagonists away from last season’s Western lead campaign and puts pressure on the Lakers to bring back Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who pulled out of his $ 8.5 million for next season and on is looking for an increase.
Bradley started 44 games for the Lakers last year, averaging 8.6 points and guarding the opponent’s front ball handlers most nights. He was often picked by coach Frank Vogel as the setter for the defense, picking up the opponents when the Lakers needed a shock.
But as Bradley became the only Laker who did not travel to Florida for the championship run, that’s when Rondo – a figure who divided fans during his two years in LA – became critical.
Returning from a fracture of his thumb he sustained in July, Rondo averaged 8.9 points, 6.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game from round two. Central games against Houston, Denver and Miami helped the Lakers and renew Rondo’s reputation as an artist in the late season. In the closing Game 6, he scored 19 points on 8-for-11 shots.
“To the fans … thank you for welcoming me with open arms from day 1 and showing me love,” Rondo wrote on his Instragram post. “Other than #LakeShow was something special and I’m proud we brought it back to you!
“Now what’s next …” he wrote.
The New York Times reported that Atlanta and the Clippers are in the process of signing Rondo for next season.
The Lakers are already not bringing back three key guards from last year’s rotation: Bradley, Rondo and Danny Green. The team also cut off Quinn Cook, a welcome dressing room presence who struggled to make their way to the floor last year.
While acting for Schrӧder and signing Wesley Matthews in free agency added shooting and brought back some defensive presence, the Lakers have limited options if Caldwell-Pope decides to move elsewhere to pursue a bigger contract.
Alex Caruso is the only main rotation guard to remain under contract next season, and Talen Horton-Tucker, who received several playoff minutes against Houston, will also be back.