CLEVELAND – The Cavaliers may have found a quick fix for their emergency situation at guard.
Cleveland has made progress in talks with the Los Angeles Lakers about a trade involving veteran point guard Rajon Rondo, a person familiar with the potential deal told The Associated Press on Thursday night.
The Cavs have an urgent need for an experienced guard after Ricky Rubio, who has had a huge role in the team's turnaround, suffered a season-ending knee injury Tuesday night.
The teams are “trending” toward completing the trade, said the person spoke on condition of anonymity because an agreement is pending.
It's not yet known if Cleveland will include any players in a trade. The Cavs will have to clear a roster spot to make room for Rondo.
The Athletic was first to report the potential swap.
Rondo is in his first season with the Lakers, who are just 17-19 and have struggled with one of the NBA's older rosters. In a reserve role, the 35-year-old is averaging 3.1 points and 3.7 assists in 18 games.
A four-time All-Star, Rondo has been in health and safety protocols since late last week. He would need to be cleared before joining the Cavs, who are home for games against Atlanta on Friday and Indiana on Sunday.
Rondo is under contract for this season at $2.6 million, and the Cavs have a trade exception that could absorb his salary.
Although they dropped to 20-15 with a 110-93 loss on Thursday night in Washington, the Cavs have been one of the league's biggest surprises and want to keep their momentum going.
Cleveland wants to find a proven guard after Rubio, who had a major impact on Cleveland's early season turnaround, tore his left anterior cruciate ligament against New Orleans. Rubio also tore his left ACL as a rookie in 2012.
Cavs reserve guard Kevin Pangos made his first career start against the Wizards, and finished with two points and six assists in 24 minutes.
Pangos, who spent the past six seasons playing in Europe, is having to take over running Cleveland's offense with little practice time.
“It’s not an easy situation by any means,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after the loss in Washington. “He’s up for the challenge. He’s just gotta keep going out there and competing, and you’ll see him catch his rhythm and figure out his spots within the team.”
With the Cavs back in playoff contention after three sub-.500 seasons, Bickerstaff trusts that general manager Koby Altman will add another dependable backcourt player.
“Our guys have put themselves in position to make something happen this year,” he said. "So we need to do everything we can to support them and give them everything that they need. I’m confident Koby will do what’s necessary to help this basketball team and to help those guys in that locker room.”
Rubio had a positive effect on Cleveland's young players, especially guard Darius Garland, who is currently in health and safety protocols.
The Cavs are hoping Rondo, who is in his 18th season and has plenty of playoff credentials, could provide some of the same leadership and playmaking as they got from Rubio.
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