Lakers and Celtics rivalry hits historic low

The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, teams with a combined 33 NBA titles, are used to playing each other as two of the best teams in the league, but on Friday their rivalry hits a historic low.

The Celtics and Lakers are a combined 28-51 this season (.354). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is the lowest combined win percentage entering a game between these teams in their series history (min. five games into season).

No team has a worse record than the Lakers (1-12) and the Celtics (2-11) since December 21. The Lakers win percentage (.359) this season is on pace to be their worst since they moved from Minneaplis and the Celtics (.350) would be their fourth-worst in franchise history.

Despite the bad seasons, there is a flurry of activity surrounding each team.

Rondo Returns

Rajon Rondo will return Friday in his first game since January 25 last season when he tore the ACL in his right knee. That is potentially good news for the Celtics, depending on how you look at it.

Rajon Rondo Last Season

Rondo led the NBA in assists per game in each of last two seasons. His 3,943 assists before his age 27 season rank ninth all-time, between Oscar Robertson and John Stockton.

On the other side, Coach Mike D’Antoni said last week he hopes Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant (each played six games this season) will return January 28 against the Pacers after a seven-game road trip.

However, the Lakers have fallen to 8.5 games back of the eighth spot in the Western Conference and there may be no need to rush their stars back.

Trade activity and future outlook

The Celtics traded Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to the Warriors on Wednesday in a three-team trade, receiving Joel Anthony and two draft picks. They also traded Courtney Lee for Jerryd Bayless’ expiring contact January 5 to better position themselves for the offseason.

This summer also looms large for the Lakers, who currently have three guaranteed contracts in 2014-15 for a total of $34.1 million (Pau Gasol’s $19.3 million salary comes off the books after this season).

Notable Potential Free Agents
This Summer

The projected salary cap for next season is $62.9 million and the Lakers could gain more space by using the stretch-provision on Nash (he would be released and his $9.7 million contract would be spread over three seasons).

Boston and LA could be prime markets for the promising free agent class.

Both teams are currently in position to have lottery picks next year. The only year that both the Lakers and Celtics had lottery picks was 1994 when the Celtics took Eric Montross ninth and the Lakers took Eddie Jones tenth. Both teams made the playoffs the following season.

The Celtics could be in better position for the 2014 NBA draft. They potentially have three first-round picks as they will receive one from Brooklyn, and have the 76ers lottery protected pick.

The Lakers are guaranteed to have their first-round pick this year, as it is untradeable due to NBA rule stating a team cannot trade first-round pick in back-to-back seasons.