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The Lakers need Russell Westbrook-Rajon Rondo beef to end now

russell westbrook rajon rondo

Rajon Rondo will back up Russell Westbrook at point guard for the 2021-22 Los Angeles Lakers.

Bringing Rondo back into the Lakers’ locker room makes sense for numerous reasons. They needed another point guard, he was arguably the team’s third-best player in their title run less than a year ago, and he offers baked-in chemistry with LeBron James and Anthony Davis — especially valuable on a re-tooled roster.

James, Davis, Frank Vogel, and the Lakers organization hold a ton of admiration and gratitude for Rondo for his IQ and his contributions in 2020 (and the season prior). Considering Rondo gave the Memphis Grizzlies a discount on the buyout agreement to return to Los Angeles, it’s safe to assume the feelings are mutual.

However, Rondo will not show up to Lakers training camp on Sept. 28 with the same type of relationship with Westbrook. Let’s revisit the recent feud between the two multiple-time All-Stars.

During Game 5 of the Lakers’ second-round win over the Houston Rockets last September, Rajon’s brother, William, started a dialogue with Russ from his courtside seat.

According to The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears, William, who was rooting for the Lakers, called Russell the T-word (“trash”), for which he was asked to leave.

Afterward, Rondo played down the altercation, while Westbrook voiced his disapproval.

“Rondo was talking s—,” Westbrook said. “He decided he wanted to hop in too. Those rules stand for everybody. When you cross that line, he’s supposed to be at home. He started talking crazy and I don’t play that.”

The feelings lingered into this past January, well before this Lakers marriage. Westbrook was ejected from a game against the Atlanta Hawks for shoving Rondo in pursuit of a rebound and picking up his second technical. Rajon seemed to revel in Russell’s ejection.

Westbrook blamed himself for what he characterized as a “stoop” down.

“I mean, honestly, it’s more on me,” Westbrook said postgame. “I cannot allow myself to stoop down to anybody’s level. That’s not my character, who I am, so I gotta be better in regards to trash-talking when things are said.”

Obviously, we don’t know precisely what the relationship is between the two veterans. Rondo and Russell Westbrook are two of the most intense competitors in modern NBA history, so the fact that the two have gone at it should come as no surprise (see: Rajon Rondo-Chris Paul beef). Perhaps the water will be under the bridge by Day 1 for the Lakers.

They likely won’t share the court too often, unless Rondo consistently shoots as well he did in the bubble or Westbrook makes some miraculous late-career shooting improvement. Ultimately, however, the vibes do need to be good in order to raise another banner — as they were for the 2020 Lakers in the bubble.