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Playing the part of a mercenary, Rondo joined the Kings during the 2015 offseason after receiving a lukewarm reception in the free agent market. After being banished from the Dallas Mavericks partway through their postseason a few months before, the talented but excitable Rondo seemed a perfect reclamation project for a team that has been acting as a reclamation project of its own for a decade now.
We saw how it all worked out. Rondo put up some good stats – 12 points, six rebounds, a league-leading 11.6 assists per game – but the Kings were never in playoff contention despite his and DeMarcus Cousins’ presence, and the postseason whiff (the franchise’s tenth in a row) helped convince to fire coach George Karl 112 games into a four-year contract.
In honesty, missing the playoffs was only probably part of the reason Karl was canned so early. He also had that thing going where nobody appeared to like being around, with Cousins leading that particular charge. From quotes culled from Rondo’s appearance on ESPN on Monday:
The 30-year-old point guard, who will be a free agent this offseason, said the Kings "didn't sacrifice enough for one another" in 2015-16.
"There were too many distractions on and off the court. The organization as a whole, I don't think was together completely. I think as a team you have to want the best for the next man beside you, and that wasn't the case with the Sacramento Kings," he said.
Of Cousins' relationship with former Kings coach George Karl and his staff, Rondo said there was "a lot of tension at first."
"Too much tension. I've never witnessed or experienced a thing like that in my 10-year career," he said.
This from the guy who, again, was told not to come to work in his final days as a Dallas Maverick, prior to being told he wouldn’t be receiving his typical playoff payroll share. The guy infamous for bustin’ TVs and feuding with future Hall of Famers in Boston.
If you want any further examples of Rondo’s believability, take a look at his message in the wake of the Pulse Nightclub shooting massacre from Monday:
"Want to send my thoughts and prayers out to the LGBT community. The only thing that's going to stop all this madness is love. The only thing that can conquer hate is love. I think that's what we need to do is love one another. My prayers and thoughts go out to the community of Orlando."
You’ll recall that Rondo basically outed referee Bill Kennedy earlier in 2015-16, calling him a homophobic slur while knowing full well Kennedy’s sexuality:
"I definitely want to apologize again for my actions earlier on in the year. That's not who I am if you know me.”
We know you, Rajon. If you’re going to that language with intent to harm someone you know is gay just a few months before you turn age 30, we’ve got a pretty good idea of where you’re coming from. Not that there’s an appropriate age cutoff for this sort of pointed hate speech, but 29 and 10 months? We know you.
Rondo is a free agent this summer, and with a paucity of available high-end replacement options at point guard in this summer’s free agent market out there, there is a chance he could return to the Kings in 2016-17. New coach Dave Joerger may have worked well with free agent Mike Conley while in Memphis, and the Grizzlies appear to be on their last legs, but Conley would probably consider several other actual playoff participants before following Joerger to California.
Rondo expressed a desire to continue working with DeMarcus Cousins, and wear what are reported to be the Kings’ new uniforms …
… but the point guard still has issues making anything outside of layups, his defense in 2015-16 was miserable, and he’s feuded with his last two coaches. As such, at age 30, Rajon Rondo might have to join his fourth team in 19 months sometime this July. Or later, depending on the market.
We’re looking forward to the day when Sacramento Kings fans don’t have to be reminded of fissures like these.
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