Rajon Rondo may not be the player he once was, but the high variance that comes with the point guard makes his situation with the New Orleans Pelicans a potential high-risk, high-reward situation.
The 31-year-old veteran agreed to a one-year deal to join his fifth team, following a lone season with the Chicago Bulls.
Since leaving Boston in 2014, Rondo also played a half season with Dallas and spent a single year in Sacramento alongside DeMarcus Cousins, who he reunites with in New Orleans.
Rondo’s brief stint with the Bulls saw him average 7.8 points, 6.7 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 40.8 per cent shooting overall. He did, however, set a career high in 3-point percentage with his mark of 37.6 on 1.9 attempts per game and was instrumental in the first two games of Chicago’s first-round playoff series against Boston – both wins – before suffering a thumb injury that ended his campaign.
As far as chemistry with teammates and coaches, an area Rondo carries baggage in, he embraced a leadership role with the Bulls’ young players and took a professional approach for the most part, despite his minutes varying wildly.
The publicised clashes he had came when he blasted fellow veterans Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade through an Instagram post for calling out the team’s younger players, and when he served a one-game suspension for an incident with assistant coach Jim Boylen.
With the Pelicans, Rondo will once again share the court with Cousins, a volatile personality in his own right.
The two flourished in the one season they previous played together in Sacramento in 2015-16, with Rondo averaging 11.9 points, 11.7 assists and 6.0 rebounds, while Cousins put up 26.9 points and 11.5 rebounds per game.
Rondo is expected to both play with and back-up Jrue Holiday, who re-signed on a five-year, $126 million deal earlier in the summer.
While shooting and floor spacing could be a concern for the Pelicans when Rondo, Cousins and Anthony Davis are all on the floor, the two big men will now have a pass-first distributor to lubricate the offence.
The addition of Rondo could have a positive effect on Cousins before the centre hits free agency next offseason, which in turn could keep the Pelicans’ core intact and allow them to avoid preemptively trading Davis before his contract runs out.