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RUMOR: Clippers interested in signing Rajon Rondo in free agency

Rajon Rondo, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Clippers

Despite not knowing when free agency will officially begin for this offseason, teams and players are already gearing up for what’s expected to be one of the quickest free agencies ever. Free agent point guard Rajon Rondo will have multiple suitors this winter, including the LA Clippers.

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Clippers have interest in signing the guard after helping the Los Angeles Lakers to the 2020 NBA Championship.

Stein reports that the Lakers are ‘naturally determined,’ to re-sign Rondo this offseason. That will mean having to pay up after Rondo declined his $2.7 million option for the 2020-21 season.

The Clippers, meanwhile, have been reported as wanting to upgrade at the point guard position after failing to have a clear-cut playmaker around Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. It wasn’t considered one of the factors that led to them blowing a 3-1 lead in the conference semifinals to the Denver Nuggets, but it might’ve helped prevent the blown lead.

While this news does express the Clippers’ interest in Rondo, it could also be a ploy to ensure that the Lakers, or other interested teams, pay Rondo what he’s asking for in free agency. Klay Thompson did something similar last year, with reports that he’d be interested in joining the Clippers in free agency. Shortly after, the Warriors offered Thompson a 5-year, $190 million max contract which he gladly took.

Additionally, Rondo’s fit with the Clippers is unclear. The Clippers don’t necessarily ‘need’ a point guard playmaker. He’s obviously a good playmaker, and has been throughout his career, but the Clippers had all the tools to overcome Denver and just didn’t use them appropriately. Heck, you don’t build a 3-1 lead by chance.

Rondo also hasn’t been very effective off the ball prior to the bubble. He’s not known as a great cutter or a great shooter. The career 31.6 percent three-point shooter shot 40 percent from beyond the arc inside the bubble, including a handful of games with multiple three-pointers made. Rondo, who will turn 35 years old in February, has also become more prone to injuries as his career has gone on.

Rajon Rondo, Playoff Rondo, Lakers

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Rondo played more than 70 games in a season once since the 2009-10 season, when he played 81 of a possible 82 games (with the exception of the 2011-12 lockout season where he played 53 of a possible 66 games). He played 48 of a possible 71 games this season. He played 46 of a possible 82 last season. Durability is a significant issue for Rondo, and if the Clippers are able to add him to their puzzle, it’ll be for his his availability in the postseason. Rajon Rondo is a two-time NBA Champion and one of the smartest players in the NBA. Do the Clippers, however, want that guy now that he’s older, more injury prone, less efficient scoring-wise, and may take the ball out of Leonard and George’s hands in order to try and run an offense more efficiently?

If Rajon Rondo can somehow be the same player he was inside the bubble, which remains to be seen, that might go some way towards solving some of the Clippers playmaking problems while taking pressure off of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. As one of the smartest players in the NBA, Rondo could also be big for Landry Shamet and Terance Mann to learn from while also helping Ivica Zubac continue to grow.

In 16 appearances in the playoffs, Rajon Rondo turned into ‘Playoff Rondo,’ averaging 8.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 1.4 steals on 45.5 percent shooting from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc.

Rondo’s fit with the Clippers is questionable at best, but free agency is always a wild time in the NBA. We’ll see what happens.