The battle for Los Angeles is now spilling over into 2020 free agency
Last offseason, the Lakers and the Clippers battled for Kawhi Leonard in free agency. They may not have met on the court in the Western Conference finals as most predicted, but that doesn’t mean the two sides are done battling one another. In 2020, the two have their hearts set on the same free agent point guard: Rajon Rondo. According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Clippers are interested in poaching Rondo away from the Lakers, who also want him back.
Rondo has a $2.7 million player option for next season — a 120 percent raise on his 2019-20 minimum salary — but is obviously expected to decline it after a stellar postseason. Stein indicates that Rondo wants to test the market, suggesting that his primary goal is cashing in. So, who can pay Rondo more? Well, it’s complicated. Technically, if the cap comes in at last year’s $109 million total, both should be able to offer somewhere between $9M-10M. How and why they’ll be able to do so, or not do so, depends on a variety of other factors.
Let’s start with the Lakers. As Rondo has played two seasons in Los Angeles, he has Early Bird Rights with the Lakers. That means the Lakers can pay him either 175 percent of his 2019-20 salary, or, more pertinently, 105 percent of the league’s average salary. That was $9.3 million last season, so 105 percent of it would be around $9.8 million. There are caveats, though. Deals signed with Early Bird Rights must last at least two seasons. The Lakers have so far avoided giving out deals that last…
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