Should the Sacramento Kings pursue Rajon Rondo this summer?


"‘Royal Roundtable’ is a new feature we’re trying out here at A Royal Pain. Welcome to the pilot! Each week, we’ll throw out a topic to the writing staff, and see where the conversation goes from there. This week’s topics include Rajon Rondo, and … mostly Rajon Rondo. Thanks for reading."

Tony Xypteras (@tonyxypteras): Ok. Hear me out. The Kings want Rajon Rondo. Can we all agree on that? At various points over the past couple of years, the Kings have tried to trade for him. I could dig up a hundred different ‘sourced’ rumors with deals the Kings proposed, or discussions with Boston that they had. The interest from the Kings end is obviously there.

Rondo is nearing the end of his second injury-plagued season in a row. His numbers have dropped off considerable since he was an All-Star in 2012-13. I’m sure everyone has seen the ‘fight’ Rondo and Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle had this week, and today reports are circulating that he won’t resign in Dallas. Not to mentioned the fact that the Mavericks were better before they traded for him.

His stock has clearly taken a hit. Is it low enough that he’d reconsider Sacramento when he becomes a free agent this summer? Is he even worth the injury/attitude/regression risk?

Kyle Robert (@notoriouskro): The Sacramento Kings have made it clear they are interested in Rajon Rondo.

I do wonder if that has changed with George Karl taking over. He seems to make sense for Karl’s uptempo offense. but his inability and unwillingness to shoot would have to be a major concern.

My biggest question in signing Rajon Rondo is what it will cost. If he wants anywhere near max money, the value is not there.

Tony Xypteras: George Karl’s hiring is going to have a major impact on the Kings interest or disinterest in Rondo this summer. No doubt about it.

Based solely on the fact that Karl loves Andre Miller, I would imagine that Rondo would work fine in Karl’s system. Both Rondo and Miller are unselfish facilitators who rarely look for their own offense, and neither player has ever been a three-point shooting threat. That didn’t stop Karl from acquiring (and reacquiring) Miller throughout his career. Are they the exact same player? No, but the similarities are obvious.

The Kings would probably have to overpay Rondo. I don’t think he’s max player anymore, or at the very least, his play over the last two seasons isn’t going to earn him a max contract this summer. The Kings potential willingness to overpay Rondo is the only reason they’d have a realistic shot at signing him. If the money is equal, he’s going to go to Los Angeles or New York. He’s already made that clear.

Rudy Gay signed an extension with the Kings a few months ago that will pay him about $12.5 million next season. Is that per year number too high for you?

Kyle Robert: I don’t love the Rudy Gay extension for the Kings, but it made a ton of sense. They were able to sign a good, but not great player at a number that works for both sides.

In my opinion, Rondo is a middle of the road point guard. I don’t see the benefit of signing a player who will be 30 this time next year to a deal that will pay him in the 12-15 million dollar range. He hasn’t been the same player since the ACL injury in 2013.

Darren Collison has been much better than many thought this season. He will make a fraction of what Rondo will covet on the open market. While I like the idea of adding depth at point guard, spending the money for a rim protector to pair with Cousins makes a lot more sense. This roster could use talent at a few spots and the slight upgrade at point guard to Rondo is not worth what it will cost.

If the Kings want to upgrade the point guard spot, I’d rather go after Brandon Knight or trade for Ty Lawson.

Keith Jouganatos (@keithjouganatos): Looks like I’m going to be the negative one on this, but just hear me out. The question at hand is this: If available, would the Sacramento Kings want Rajon Rondo on their roster? I’m going to say no.

The whole Rondo situation is a Shakespearian drama that’s being played out in the 21st century. In Rondo’s first seven seasons, you could’ve made the case that he was the most productive point guard in the NBA, but you could also make the case that he was one of the most disliked.

Rondo has become the equivalent of the hot girl who’s single for all the wrong reasons. You get her number and think to yourself, “I’m so lucky, how is she still single?” But then you soon find out why. You see the attitude, the conceitedness, and the ultimate turn offs by the time the drinks start to get to you. Halfway through the first date you’re looking for the exit sign thinking how in the ‘hell did I get in this mess?’

Last year, as he was recovering from the torn ACL, he was mentioned almost daily in trade rumors. So why didn’t Danny Ainge, one of the most active GM’s of this era, trade him?


Talent is great, but when you’re a total jerk, there’s only so much people will take until they stop putting up with you. (For reference, see Dennis Rodman, Albert Belle, or Vince Carter in Toronto).

Before George Karl dealt with cancer he was dealt with Carmelo Anthony, and a year after Anthony left Denver he took a starless team to 57 wins. He doesn’t need Rondo.

Kyle Robert: I’m definitely on the ‘no thanks’ side of signing Rajon Rondo. The new NBA requires having at least four, but ideally five guys who can shoot. It keeps the floor spaced well, and allows for movement.

Rondo is a guy who needs the ball in his hands to be productive, and Dallas runs a system, similar to the one Karl will want to employ, that requires constant movement. The ball isn’t supposed to stop.

Rondo’s struggles would continue in Sacramento. The hot girl who is still single is a great analogy. He has a ton of name value, but is a shell of his former self.

He also had issues with Garnett, Pierce and Ray Allen. Can you imagine him and Boogie sharing the floor every night?

Tony Xypteras: You guys are really forcing me to play devils advocate here. That’s fine.

I’m open to bringing Rajon Rondo in. You both seem strongly against the idea. I’m not willing to pick a side one-way or the other just yet. I know I’m sitting on the fence, but it’s a tough call, and one the Kings won’t have to make until the summer, and since both of you argued against the idea, allow me to do the opposite.

My only potential worry about signing Rondo is the possibility that he just isn’t good anymore. I don’t care about personality or system clashes in this case. If the talent is still there, and if George Karl is the coach I think he is, I don’t foresee the other stuff being an issue.

I think Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins have a lot of similar personality traits. Both have faced a tremendous amount of scrutiny in the media, both have been labeled as bad teammates, both have been labeled as ‘difficult to play with’. I think they could easily find a common ground.

They are both Kentucky Alumni. Of course, Rondo never played under Calipari, but still.

On the court, Rondo loves to pass, Cousins loves to shoot. That dynamic works. Rondo was at his best with ball dominant, egotistical stars. Despite his deteriorated relationship with Ray Allen, Rondo managed Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett about as perfectly as a point guard could have. I would argue with the notion that those players didn’t get a long. The Allen relationship certainly fell apart towards the end, but Pierce and Garnett? They made it work.

Chuck Klosterman was on Bill Simmons’ podcast a few days ago, and they had a very interesting conversation regarding the Rondo / Carlisle / system discussion. Klosterman made the point that maybe, just maybe Rondo should be the play caller. Rondo is, by all accounts, a smart basketball player. He’s also an unselfish basketball player, meaning whatever play he ran instead of whatever play Carlisle wanted him to run, could have been a better play call. Rondo is the one playing the game. He probably has a better idea of what will break down the defense than Carlisle just based on the fact that Rondo is watching the opposing defense in motion on such a close level that Carlisle couldn’t possibly match.

It was an interesting argument, if nothing else.

Rondo isn’t working in Dallas, but he isn’t the first player who didn’t work out in one particular system, and he won’t be the last. This happens all the time.

Kyle Robert: I like some of the points you made, especially his ability to manage so many ego’s on the court. He found a way to feed everyone.

However, we haven’t seen Rondo play anywhere near that level since coming back from injury.

Between the personality, and lack of production, it’s a hard pass for me.

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