As his tumultuous tenure with the Dallas Mavericks ended last season, Rajon Rondo‘s stock was the lowest it had ever been. At the beginning of last year, most thought Rondo would command a max contract the following summer. Instead, because of his disastrous play, he wound up with a one-year, $10 million contract with the Sacramento Kings. This left Rondo with just one season to prove last year was a fluke, and that he was still worth the max. According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, Rondo’s succeeded in this venture, as two different NBA executives think Rondo will hit pay dirt this summer.
“I don’t know whether he will quite get the maximum, mostly because we don’t know what the max is going to be,” one Eastern Conference general manager told Sporting News. “But there is going to be a lot of money on the market and only a handful of players who you would really say are max guys. If Rajon were to keep playing the way he’s been playing, if he is not getting the max next year, it’ll be close.”
“It would not surprise me at all if he winds up with a max deal next summer,” another league executive told Sporting News. “Maybe not for five years, but a three-year deal or something like that. But if he stays healthy, I would expect the money to be around max. But let’s see how the year goes.”
Despite the turmoil surrounding the Kings, Rondo is thriving as he leads George Karl’s attack, averaging 12.5 points, 10.6 assists and 6.9 rebounds per game. His defense isn’t quite back up to his suffocating standards of his Boston peak, but he’s at least giving consistent effort on that end, a stark contrast to his seeming disinterest on defense last year in Dallas and in Boston. It’s worth noting that even Rick Carlisle, whose relationship with Rondo while he was on the Mavericks could best be described as toxic, thinks Rondo is going to get the max next summer.
However, even though Rondo’s numbers are hovering around where they were at his all-star apogee, caution is still a must when it comes to giving Rondo a huge raise, and not just because he’s playing well in a contract year. The second league executive is concerned with Rondo’s health, but what might be more concerning is Rondo’s mindset. You can’t just put Rondo on any team with any coach. He has to be at once mentally stimulated and challenged while also given the freedom he desires. Rick Carlisle probably satisfied the former, but not the latter. George Karl seems to have struck that balance, and with DeMarcus Cousins saying he will go so far as to kidnap Rondo to prevent him from leaving, there might not be a better fit for Rondo than his current situation.
(Via Sporting News)