Even when their respective teams were vicious rivals, Rajon Rondo often gave LeBron James high praise.
He’ll now be giving him the ball.
A person with knowledge of the negotiations confirmed The Associated Press that Rondo had agreed to sign a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal is not finalized.
So in less than 24 hours, not only did the Lakers lure James out of Cleveland — but added two players who were longtime antagonists in his annual quest to win the Eastern Conference, first by agreeing to a deal with Lance Stephenson on Sunday night and then moving Monday to convince Rondo to join what will be his sixth different NBA franchise.
James is back on vacation while the Lakers are busy building a roster around him.
“For him, it’s just business as usual,” Lakers legend Kobe Bryant said of James during a Monday appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump.” “He’ll come to work. He’ll work hard every single day. I’m really excited for our young players, because they get a chance to watch him work up close and so I think that speeds up their learning curve. … I think it’s just important for `Bron just to be himself and continue doing what he’s been doing.”
After just over $1 billion in new contracts were agreed upon starting late Saturday night and through the official first day of free agency Sunday — with James going to the Lakers, Kevin Durant staying in Golden State, Chris Paul staying in Houston and Paul George staying in Oklahoma City, among other news — things predictably cooled off a bit for Day 2.
It was still a big day for some guys, including Derrick Favors, who agreed on a $36 million, two-year deal to stay with the Utah Jazz. Upon hearing that news, his teammates Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert reacted by quickly posting similar requests on Twitter — that being that Favors finally grabs a dinner check.
He can do that now, and then some.
JJ Redick is back with the Philadelphia 76ers, agreeing to a one-year deal worth about $12 million. Redick averaged 17.1 points and shot 42 percent from 3-point range last season with Philadelphia, when he made $23 million.
With James out of the Eastern Conference, Philadelphia believes it can make a run at getting to the NBA Finals. So does Boston — which, coincidentally, gave away the No. 9 jersey that Rondo used to wear there Monday by completing the long-expected signing of Brad Wanamaker, a guard who comes to Boston after spending the last seven seasons in Europe.
Wanamaker played his college ball at Pitt, and is coming off being selected MVP of this year’s Turkish League finals.
Anthony Tolliver changed teams again, this time going back to one of his former stops — Minnesota, which will sign him to a one-year deal worth $5.75 million. Tolliver has played for nine different franchises, and spent last season with Detroit.
The Pistons added Jose Calderon, who will reunite with his former coach Dwane Casey. Calderon signed a one-year deal for the veteran minimum of about $2.4 million. Calderon was with James in Cleveland last season.
So he’s leaving Cleveland — and so is the massive banner showing James and bearing the phrase “We Are All Witnesses.” The 10-story banner in downtown Cleveland is scheduled to be taken down by Nike later this week, even though some Clevelanders said they hoped it would remain as a tribute to James’ years with the Cavs.