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Rondo is returning to the Lakers -- the team he helped to an NBA title in the Orlando bubble during the 2019-20 season. Rondo began last season in Atlanta before being dealt to the Clippers at the trade deadline. Earlier in August, he was sent to Memphis as part of the deal that brought Eric Bledsoe to the Clippers, and he was subsequently waived. Rondo, who will turn 36 years old in February, appeared in only 45 total games last season, averaging career lows in points (5.4), rebounds (2.4) and minutes per game (17.1). As a trusted confidant of LeBron James, Rondo should work his way into the Lakers' rotation, but with Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn, Talen Horton-Tucker and James all capable of running the point, Rondo will likely be forced to settle for a reduced role.
Rondo struggled to stay on the floor in his first season with the Lakers, missing 15 games in the regular season and taking the floor for just 20.5 minutes per contest when healthy enough to do so. He also missed the Lakers' first 13 bubble games (regular-season and playoffs), though he capped off a tumultuous season on quite the positive note. In his 16 appearances in the bubble (all playoffs), he averaged 8.9 points, 6.6 assists and 4.3 boards across 24.7 minutes, while notching two double-doubles. Rondo won't be returning to the Lakers this season, as he signed a two-year, $15 million deal with the Hawks. In Atlanta, he'll presumably play a backup role to Trae Young, though the two could share time on the court together, as could Kris Dunn. Ultimately, we shouldn't expect Rondo to see more than the 20.5 minutes per game he did last season, so he's probably only worth rostering in deep re-draft leagues.
After one year with the Lakers, Rondo signed a two-year deal over the summer to remain with the team. In 46 games, he averaged 9.2 points, 8.0 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals across 29.8 minutes. Rondo handed out at least 8.0 dimes in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2013-14 and 2014-15, so his ability to still be a high-level passer is encouraging, though inefficient shooting remains an issue for Rondo (40.5 FG%). This season, Rondo figures to take a back seat to LeBron James, who is set to handle starting point guard duties. Rather than force Kyle Kuzma to come off the bench, the Lakers are likely to run James at point and round out the starting five with Danny Green, Kuzma, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Rondo should still see some work with the second unit over Quinn Cook, as the team is in win-now mode, but a downturn in minutes and production seems like a reasonable expectation for Rondo in 2019-20.
Rondo signing with the Lakers marks his sixth team in five years. He spent last season with the Pelicans, starting all but two of his 65 appearances. Seeing 26.2 minutes per game, the veteran averaged 8.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting 46.8 percent from the field -- his highest clip since 2012-13. However, in joining LA, Rondo's role as a starter may not continue. Lonzo Ball was the Lakers' starter last season, but it's not immediately clear how the signing of LeBron James will affect coach Luke Walton's mindset for a starting five. The situation may ultimately come down to a training camp battle, in which the goal is to find out who fits best next to LeBron. Still, considering Rondo's contract is worth $9 million, the intent is probably for him to hover around sixth-man minutes. Assuming that's the case, he should have enough Fantasy relevance to be worth a late-round selection in deeper formats.
Heading into the 2016-17 season, Rondo joined the Bulls as a free agent, marking the fourth team he's played for in just three years. It ended up being a relatively unsuccessful campaign, with coach Fred Hoiberg alternating his point guard rotation constantly throughout the season. Rondo ended up starting just 42 of the 69 games he played in, while averaging 7.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 1.4 steals across 26.7 minutes. That translated to arguably his worst statistical season in years, as his scoring was the lowest it's been since his rookie campaign, while his rebounds and assists were both down significantly from a season prior. The good news for Rondo's value is that it could be on the rise following his move to the Pelicans for the 2017-18 season. While his role is unclear, the Pelicans are considering an experiment in moving Jrue Holiday to shooting guard at times, while allowing Rondo to run the point. That would allow Rondo to potentially play alongside the likes of Holiday, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, who are all elite scorers and would give Rondo plenty of targets to boost his assist numbers. Rondo's never been someone to rely upon for his scoring and that shouldn't change in New Orleans, but the veteran is likely in for a bounce-back effort due solely to the fact of the talent he'll be surrounded with. Again, his minutes per game will likely depend on how well Holiday can transition to an off-the-ball guard, so that could play a key role in just how big of bounce-back effort Rondo can achieve.
Following a disastrous half-season stint in Dallas, Rondo rebounded in Sacramento last season, averaging a double-double and matching the highest assist average (a league-leading 11.7 per game) of his career. Rondo also averaged a career-best 6.0 rebounds per game to go with 2.0 steals, his highest figure since 2010-11. While Rondo's shooting woes have been well documented, he was actually an above-average three-point threat last season, knocking down 36.5 percent of his 170 attempts, which were both career highs by a wide margin. The Bulls are betting that the improvement is more than a one-year anomaly, as Rondo joins a backcourt that features two relatively poor long-range shooters in Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler. Whether the trio can coexist will ultimately determine the Bulls' ceiling, and it's fair to question if Rondo's ball-dominant style of play will clash with Wade and Butler's dribble-drive attacks. Regardless, the Bulls roster is relatively void of point guard talent, so the position will be Rondo's to command. Playing alongside Wade and Butler will likely equate to a reduction in Rondo's primary ball-handling duties, and he's unlikely to have the offensive freedom he was granted for much of last season in Sacramento. As a result, Rondo's ceiling should be slightly lower than it was in 2015-16, but he should remain an extremely productive source of assists with above-average steals and rebounds totals at the point guard position.
Rondo signed a one-year, $10 million contract with Sacramento this offseason after finding a lukewarm free agent market for himself following last season. After being traded from Boston to Dallas midseason, the ninth-year point guard saw a significant drop in production across the board while struggling to acclimate to Rick Carlisle's offense. Rondo averaged 8.9 points, 7.9 assists, and 1.3 steals while shooting 40 percent from the free-throw line, all career lows. He did increase his three-point percentage a tad to 31 percent but didn't attempt enough shots from distance (1.3 per game) to be a consistent threat. Rondo's strength has always been his elite ability to find or create open looks for his teammates and deliver the ball. On the downside, Rondo has always struggled to be an efficient shooter and has failed to make significant progress with his outside shot along with his stroke at the charity stripe. He should benefit by playing with an elite level center in DeMarcus Cousins and solid outside shooters in Rudy Gay and Marco Belinelli. Now on a team starved for playmaking talent, Rondo possesses the opportunity to rebuild his stock for free agency in the summer of 2016.
Rondo got a late start to the season in 2013-14 after his recovery from knee surgery. Missing about a year of competitive basketball led to some rust in the point guard's game last season, and he never played on the second night of back-to-back sets. By the end of the season, he was getting regular minutes (37 minutes in March/April) while averaging double-digit assists (11.5 apg). As a whole, Rondo averaged 11.7 points on 40-percent shooting with 5.5 rebounds, 9.8 assists, and 1.3 steals in 30 games. There were nights when the vintage Rondo was on display but others when it looked like he was still fighting through rust. Aside from the health of his knee, the biggest question surrounding Rondo is whether he'll be with Boston all season. Speculation started about two minutes after Boston selected Marcus Smart with its first round pick in June. Rondo is in the final year of his contract and is expected to test the free-agent market next summer. The Celtics' front office insists they want to rebuild around him going forward, but does Rondo want to stay in Boston to rebuild? Or will the front office be tempted to move him? Offers will come in, and general manager Danny Ainge, who's not afraid of bold moves, will listen. But the city Rondo's calling home will not matter. He'll be any team's starting point guard. Entering 2014-15, Rondo remains a top playmaker with excellent vision, a good rebounder from the guard position, and a gambler on defense who will average more than a steal per game.
Rondo is well-established as one of the NBA's top point guards and a perennial leader in assists – he's averaged 11 or more in each of the last three seasons. But this year, his status is so uncertain – the only category where he'll lead the league is question marks. First off, he's recovering from a partially-torn ACL. He's expected to miss the first month of the season at minimum, so figure he's on the shelf for roughly 25-30 percent of the Celtics' 82 games. When he does return, he'll be leading a team that bears almost no resemblance to the one he left back in February. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry are gone, replaced by younger, much less talented teammates. Can Rondo continue to generate big assist numbers when he's passing to Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger instead of Pierce and KG? Will his new teammates create enough space for him to operate? Or will defenses be able to lay off and dare him to shoot? And what happens when he does return? Will Danny Ainge complete his rebuild by trading Rondo at the deadline?
Rondo has increased his assist average in each of the last five seasons, topping out with an impressive 11.7 dimes per game last season. Why so many? Rondo passes, in part, because he can't shoot. Defenses don't have to defend him at the three-point line, but they do have to worry about him driving past. When they sag off, he has all the time in the world to find a teammate cutting to the basket or coming off a curl or screen--he's like a quarterback with an excellent offensive line. When he does have the opportunity to drive, though, he's a very good finisher and has improved his mid-range game significantly (just ask the Miami Heat--he lit up LeBron and company with his pull-up game.)
When last we saw Rajon Rondo, he was trying to lead the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals, playing one-handed through the pain of a dislocated elbow. He actually played with a very different handicap for much of the season; he was badly affected by the C’s trade of Kendrick Perkins, and has admitted that his play suffered as a result. And that should be alarming to the rest of the league. Because even after an ineffective half-season, he finished the year with a career-best averages of 11.2 assists and 2.3 steals (which tied his 2009-10 average). Opposing teams’ defensive strategies may have contributed to Rondo’s big assist totals. He’s such a bad outside shooter, opposing defenders tend to sag off and prevent his drives, daring him to shoot from the outside. But that gives Rondo all day to find teammates like Ray Allen and Paul Pierce running off screens. Don’t be alarmed by Rondo’s ugly three-point percentage; he won’t take enough shots to impact team stats.
Once upon a time, Rajon Rondo was considered the Celtics' big weakness. Today he might be their biggest strength. Rondo continued to develop into one of the league's top point guards last season, leading the league with a career-high 2.33 steals, posting new career bests in scoring (13.7 ppg), assists (9.8 apg), and shooting (50.8 FG%) with respectable totals in rebounding (4.4 rpg). If he had any kind of outside shot – just enough to keep defenses honest – he'd be near-unstoppable. Unfortunately, shooting anything other than a layup can be an adventure for Rondo. Defenses routinely sag off him to prevent dribble penetration – daring him to shoot – he made just 17 threes all season, and from the line he has never topped 65 percent shooting in a season. His poor shooting is the biggest reason he fell behind Derrick Rose, Chauncey Billups and Russell Westbrook on Team USA's depth chart for the World Championships, prompting Rondo to remove his name from consideration just before the final cut. That could become a motivator for him this season.
Last season, Rajon Rondo emerged as one of the top young point guards in the game and an excellent floor leader for Boston’s lineup of superstars. He posted significant improvements across-the-board last season, setting new career highs in points (11.9 ppg), assists (8.2 apg), rebounds (5.2 rpg) and shooting (50.5% from the floor). Like Tony Parker, Rondo does most of his scoring from the paint, using his excellent handle to penetrate and his athleticism to finish; he also doesn’t take – or make – many threes. Unlike Parker, he’s a terrific defender, using his long arms to ball-hawk to the tune of two steals per game. And at a mere 23 years old – he won’t turn 24 until February 2010 – Rondo has plenty of room to improve. And yet, the Celtics spent a good portion of this offseason shopping Rondo. Team president Danny Ainge even bad-mouthed his point in the press, saying “He’s stubborn. He doesn’t always take direction well. He’s very bright and knows what he needs to do to be successful. But sometimes he doesn’t understand what the team needs to be successful.” Has Rondo fallen out of favor with Boston’s management? Probably not. But he’s one of the most tradable commodities on a team that could get old in a hurry. It seems fair to write off Ainge’s comments as “tough love” for a player that is still improving.
With all the attention paid to Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, Rondo thrived last season. It takes all-star caliber teammates to hide Rondo’s gaping flaw – his jump shot. With so many gifted scorers on the team, Rondo never had to keep defenses honest with his shot. In fact Rondo averaged 49-percent shooting, getting tons of layups. With all-stars surrounding him, Rondo should average more than 5.1 apg. But Pierce and Allen can also handle the ball, and coach Doc Rivers limited the second-year pro to just 29.9 mpg. More playing time should come this year, but he’ll never have the ball in his hands as much as other points. Defensively, Rondo creates havoc on and off the ball, averaging a whopping 1.66 steals in just 26.7 minutes per game for his career. Expect that number to hover around 2.0 with increased playing time. Rondo’s also a good rebounder from the position. The Celtics aren’t asking him to do too much as a playmaker, but Rondo produces in a few categories and is a capable second point guard on a fantasy team.
Rondo opens the season in charge of the most-talked about team in the NBA. The additions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to play alongside Paul Pierce give Rondo a chance to pad his assist numbers from his rookie season (3.8 apg). As a starter in 2006-07, Rondo averaged 5.8 assists per game – even though he was without Paul Pierce for a stretch and in a job-share arrangement with Delonte West. He’s an above-average defender (1.6 spg) and a very good playmaker, so there is some fantasy value here, but he’s a poor shooter from everywhere. That may not hurt the team because Allen can space the floor and scoring threats abound inside and out. Just don’t expect big point totals from Rondo.