A lot was made of the way Rajon Rondo left the Dallas Mavericks last season. It seemed like he quit on the team in their playoff series versus the Houston Rockets and the team and Rondo agreed to shut him down the rest of the playoffs. Heading into the offseason, many wondered what he would garner on the free agent market. He looked a little off in Dallas the entire time he was there and the impact he was thought to have was not that great. Plenty believed that Rondo had ruined his basketball stock after his showing in Dallas, which included clashes with head coach Rick Carlisle. Plenty speculated where he would land, but not many had him coming to Sacramento. The veteran guard signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Sacramento Kings. When that news came out, many were surprised that he would even consider there. He would be joining a cast that had not won much at all. And included in that losing was the dysfunction between the front office, head coach George Karl and star big man DeMarcus Cousins. With Rondo in the mix, many envisioned this team as being the perfect reality show in the NBA. But Rondo envisioned it as a potential return to what he was when he was in Boston.
So far in Sacramento, things have not gone as smooth as Rondo may have thought. The team is 8-15 and has not seemed to hit any stride. Along with the losses, big man DeMarcus Cousins has been injured a little to start the season and the teams still seems to be trying to figure things out under Karl. But as for Rondo, he has come out ready for redemption. The biggest difference between Rondo last year and this year is the effort with which he plays the game. In Dallas, it seemed like he was always a step slow making things happen on both ends of the court. Some of that came from him still recovering from his ACL tear in Boston in the 2013-2014 season. But there was definitely some frustration at play in the system he was in. In Sacramento, Rondo is a year older and a year healthier. And along with that, he is also playing in a system that is a better fit for his talents. Gone is the constant structure that was in Dallas and now he has the free-flowing offense that he was accustomed to. Since he has returned to that style, Rondo has looked like the point guard we all saw in Boston, averaging eleven assists per game. But this is not the only difference we see from the much maligned point guard. And defensively, he is back making plays there and pushing the tempo off misses. But this is not the only difference that is being noticed.
Over the years, Rondo has acquired a reputation for being difficult to get along with. Many stories have been leaked about his attitude and how he alienated himself. With that being known about him, some wondered how he and Kings head coach George Karl would get along. Karl has also had some stories mentioned about him in regards to how he treated some players he was around in his coaching career. But so far in Sacramento, Rondo has not had any hiccups. His relationship seems to be so good with Karl that he and big man DeMarcus Cousins reportedly approached him recently about their style of play and how they could be successful. They mentioned to him that the team may want to slow down the tempo at times and selectively push the basketball. And Rondo even went as far as to say that Karl could be harder on him to make points to the team if he needed to. In the past, that would not have been something that Rondo would have done. He would have just went out there and did what he did. He is still the floor general he has been over his career, but now he seems to be on the same page as he head coach. The unlikely pairing of Karl and Rondo has worked out well when many thought it had disaster written all over it. And as a result, Rondo seems to actually be comfortable in a place where many wondered what he was thinking going there.
The Sacramento Kings have been a bad team for a while. But with the talents of Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo, things could be looking up. And even though they are 8-15 right now, the team seems to be getting better. If Cousins can stay healthy, then they could make even more progress on the court (provided his relationship with Karl stays at least decent). But with Rondo there, he is not only trying to make this team better, but trying to rehab his reputation and career. So far, he is definitely making himself a name again across the NBA. And when the offseason comes around and the salary cap goes up, it will be interesting to see how much he commands on the open market. It looked like his career was trending downward after his time in Dallas. But now that arrow is trending upward with his excellent play and more importantly, the way he is conducting himself.