Rajon Rondo has a pretty good idea of what it takes to win a championship, and as he was introduced officially as a Los Angeles Laker — again — he said the advanced age of the team will only help in the pursuit of another one.
“Wisdom is definitely key to winning a championship,” Rondo said. “We have a lot of that, obviously, with the age and experience on the court. I’m most excited about not being the oldest guy on the team anymore. I’m actually about [fifth oldest] now, so that’s a big step for me going from two months ago I was the oldest guy on the team and now I’m one of the young guys.”
With Carmelo Anthony (37), LeBron James (36), Marc Gasol (36), Trevor Ariza (36) and Dwight Howard (35), the Lakers are the oldest team in the NBA this season, and one of the oldest in league history. Rondo, 35, has heard the criticism that the age of the team might be a negative, but he sees it only as motivation.
“I’m looking forward to it, looking forward to the naysayers saying our age being a problem, but you don’t have longevity in this league without discipline,” Rondo said. “We have guys that have the mileage, but there’s a reason they’re still playing in this league at this level for so many years. So I’m not worried about anything or the spectators saying age makes a difference. I think the mind is going to be a big key in why we win this year.”
Rondo rejoined the Lakers after spending last season split between the Atlanta Hawks and LA Clippers. He was traded by the Clippers to Memphis in the Eric Bledsoe deal, agreeing to a contract buyout with the Grizzlies. After clearing waivers, he officially signed with the Lakers on Tuesday. With the Lakers, he’ll add to the backcourt depth, backing up recently acquired Russell Westbrook.
“More excitement, more energy in practice,” Rondo said of playing with Westbrook. “Looking forward to a lot more competitive competitions with him and other guys on the team. It’s a helluva team as far as a lot of competitors, and I’m looking forward to getting better each day in practice with those guys.”
Rondo dealt with injuries last season and didn’t factor in as a big part of the rotation for the Clippers down the stretch. With the Lakers, though, he expects to be healthy and in position to be a factor this season.
“It hasn’t been 10 years; I don’t think I’ve changed much, I don’t think my game has declined,” Rondo said. “But you’re only as good as your coach believes in you. And going forward, this year, looking at this Lakers team and the roster, understanding where I am in my career, at the same time I think I can still bring a lot to the game. But my main focus is, if we win, nothing else matters.”
Rondo said his prior relationships played a big part in his wanting to return to the Lakers, noting a trust in coach Frank Vogel, as well as his connection with James and Anthony Davis. A two-time champion, Rondo was a key contributor to the Lakers’ title in 2020 in the Orlando bubble.
“We didn’t get our parade, coming off over a year of being a champion, but we want to do it again,” Rondo said. “I obviously want a parade here in L.A., and I think this is a special team that can make that happen.”