Jeremy Lin, Rajon Rondo & Playing for the Kings

Rajon Rondo

As the NBA Finals continue to devour most of the news section in the world of basketball, Rajon Rondo shedding some light on what happened last season with the Sacramento Kings gives us a little insight on whether Jeremy Lin should end up playing there.

Last month we ran out series of posts on Lin’s potential landing spots across the NBA. The Kings, on paper, aren’t a bad fit at all, just for the sole fact that they don’t have a starting point guard right now. Rondo is a free agent (more on that later), Darren Collison is a backup, nothing more, and this gives Lin the opportunity of starting on a team with some interesting offensive weapons. Minutes, the right role – seems like a pretty good fit.

But… there’s a but, and Rondo touches on that in his talk with ESPN, which makes Lin’s prospects of succeeding in Sacramento kind of murky, and it’s not even up to him. The Kings aren’t exactly the role model for how an NBA franchise should be run. From the decision making up top, to the coaching staff’s relationship with some of the players, especially DeMarcus Cousins. George Karl not getting along with his star player rubbed off on the team in the wrong way, but maybe switching to Dave Joerger will finally put the Kings on some kind of direction after floating aimlessly for a pretty long time.

On the Cousins-Karl feud and the atmosphere in general: There were too many distractions on and off the court. The organization as a whole, I don’t think was together completely. I think as a team you have to want the best for the next man beside you, and that wasn’t the case with the Sacramento Kings. Too much tension (Between Cousins and Karl). I’ve never witnessed or experienced a thing like that in my 10-year career. Cousins is one of the guys that’s very selfless. He has to find other ways to get it done. He’s going to continue to grow and learn. I was just glad I was able to be in his life and have a little bit of influence and help him a little bit this year.

On his own free agency: I want to see myself in a situation where guys want to grow, guys want to get better. I don’t want to be the hardest-working guy in the gym. At times, I felt that way with the Kings. I want to play with guys that want to work and win and are willing to sacrifice, continue to grow, get better, go outside their comfort zone. At the very least, selfless teammates — that’s the most I can ask for going into this free agency, to get around guys that want to be around one another.

So when trying to read between the lines, what is Rondo saying here?

  • It wasn’t just a Karl-Cousins thing. There’s been a lot of talk on the direction Vlade Divac and Vivek Ranadivé have been taking the Kings, and the way they’ve been running the franchise. Putting Karl and Cousins together and letting things simply run doesn’t sound like smart management to me. Regardless of what Rondo was saying, Karl realized he was a lame duck at some point and started feuding with other guys too. Surprisingly, it seemed that he and Rondo got along pretty well.
  • Rondo doesn’t seem like he’s too eager to come back. He might like playing with Cousins, but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot pulling him back to the California Capital. Rondo put up solid numbers last season, but no one sees him as one of the best point guards in the NBA anymore, not even close. And echoes from his turbulent times in Dallas are probably still bouncing around in GMs heads around the league

Where does Lin fall into all of this? Basically, there’s an opening for him in Sacramento. Setting aside the entire “tired of switching teams” factor (which could be very important, although Sacramento is only 2 hours away on the I-80), the Kings present one of the best opportunities for Lin to be a starting point guard right now in the NBA. However, Lin’s style might not mesh with what the Kings have in mind – Joerger worked in Memphis, not exactly a high-possession, fast paced team in recent years. And again, if Rondo says the organization is in some kind of disarray, maybe staying away is better for Lin. We’ll know a lot more once the Finals are over and free agency, along with the NBA draft, becomes the main event in the NBA. Lin has opted out, but that was going to happen regardless of him leaving Charlotte or not. Rondo’s words make me think Sacramento might not be a very good spot for Lin, despite the positives.

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