Rajon Rondo, who helped the Boston Celtics win an NBA title in 2008, has reportedly joined LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday as a revamped lineup begins to take shape.
Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James agreed to a four-year deal worth $154 million Sunday with the Lakers, just hours after the NBA free agency period began.
Four-time All-Star Rondo, a 32-year-old point guard, who has made stops in Boston, Dallas, Sacramento and Chicago, averaged 8.3 points, 8.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds a game last season for New Orleans.
ESPN, Sports Illustrated, The Los Angeles Times and New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Rondo will sign a one-year deal with the Lakers for $9 million after releasing forward Julius Randle to free up space under the NBA salary cap.
Players cannot sign contracts with teams until Friday under NBA free agency rules.
Lakers legend Kobe Bryant said he personally welcomed James to the organization on Sunday.
“I told him, ‘Welcome to the family, man.’ It sounds crazy but I said, ‘Dude you are part of the family now. So anything you need on my end, I got you,’” Bryant said. “Now it is somebody else’s time. And that is what the Lakers have always been about.”
Even as an iconic 10-story banner of James is about to be removed from a Cleveland building, the Lakers began filling out the roster for next season, agreeing to one-year deals with swingman Lance Stephenson, guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and center JaVale McGee.
The Lakers were reportedly targeting New Orleans free agent center DeMarcus Cousins but he is now expected to sign with the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
– Cavs fans feel the pain –
Meanwhile, back in Cleveland, the city James departed for a second time is moving quickly to say goodbye to James after a departure, having suffered through similar pains when he left the Cavaliers in 2010 for the Miami Heat.
This time, response has been less heated than the jersey-burning anger that erupted from his home region. James did return in 2014 and led the Cavs to the 2016 NBA title, ending a 52-year sports championship drought for Cleveland, before departing for the Lakers in the wake of four consecutive NBA Finals appearances for Cleveland.
Sherwin-Williams told the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Monday that the 10-story banner featuring James on the side of its world headquarters building will be removed this week by advertiser Nike.
It stood across from the Cavaliers home arena and became something of a tourist attraction for sports fans visiting the city. The banner went up after James returned from Miami to the Cavs in 2014.
Stephenson, 27, joins his seventh NBA club since joining the league in 2010. He averaged 9.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists a game for Indiana last season, his first campaign without missing a game.
Caldwell-Pope, 25, played four seasons for Detroit before joining the Lakers last season, when he averaged 13.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 steals a game.
McGee, 30, was a reserve on the Golden State Warriors’ NBA championship teams the past two seasons. The 7-footer (2.13m) has career averages of 7.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots a game.