CLEVELAND (AP) — Rajon Rondo had a limited role as a reserve with the up-and-down Lakers. The Cavaliers will ask him to do much more.
Cleveland agreed to acquire the four-time All-Star guard Friday in a trade with Los Angeles for guard Denzel Valentine, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.
The Cavs, who are 20-15 and fifth in the Eastern Conference, needed an experienced guard to help continue their strong start after losing Ricky Rubio to a season-ending knee injury earlier this week.
They will bring in Rondo once the deal is approved by the NBA, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the teams have yet to schedule the required conference call with the league.
The timing could be tricky since Rondo has been in health and safety protocols for the past week and will need to clear them before joining the Cavs.
The 35-year-old Rondo averaged 3.1 points and 3.7 assists this season in his second stint with the Lakers, who have struggled with chemistry and injuries along with having one of the league’s oldest rosters.
The Cavs are at the other end of the spectrum. They have a solid core of young players, featuring rookie forward Evan Mobley, guard Darius Garland and center Jarrett Allen, who has played at an All-Star level this season.
Rubio was instrumental in mentoring Garland, providing leadership and contributing at both ends while coming off the bench. His selfless playing style and enthusiasm rubbed off on the Cavaliers.
Rondo will be asked to do the same as the Cavs, who won just 22 games last season, try to build on their surprising start and perhaps make the playoffs for the first time since LeBron James left after the 2018 season.
Rondo also brings postseason experience. He has appeared in 134 playoff games, including 19 in the Finals, and won titles with the Boston Celtics (2008) and Lakers (2020).
Valentine averaged just 9.3 minutes for the Cavs, who signed the 28-year-old to two-year deal in September. A first-round pick in 2016, Valentine spent four seasons with the Chicago Bulls, but missed 2018-19 to have major ankle surgery.
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