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Lakers’ Rajon Rondo takes shot at Tyronn Lue, Clippers for bad year

Kawhi Leonard, Rajon Rondo, Paul George, Tyronn Lue, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Frank Vogel, Clippers, Lakers

The Los Angeles Clippers moved on from Rajon Rondo rather quickly this offseason. After just 18 regular season appearances and 13 playoff appearances, Tyronn Lue‘s Clippers traded Rondo along with Patrick Beverley and Daniel Oturu to the Memphis Grizzlies for Eric Bledsoe. Rondo, in turn, agreed to a buyout with Memphis and joined the Los Angeles Lakers.

The two-time champion won his second NBA championship with the Lakers in 2020 under Frank Vogel and alongside LeBron James. While his time with the Lakers was a success, his time with Lue and Clippers was… quite the opposite.

Rajon Rondo averaged 8.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 6.56 assists, and 1.4 steals across 16 playoff appearances for the Lakers while shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 40 percent beyond the arc. He maintained a net rating of +5.8 throughout the postseason.

With the Clippers, Rondo averaged just 4.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 3.8 assists on 34 percent shooting from the field and 39.3 percent from beyond the arc. He had a -6.4 net rating with the Clippers, however, and was virtually unplayable beyond the Clippers-Mavs first round series.

During his introductory press conference, Rajon Rondo was asked if he could get back to the level he was playing at when he was a member of the Lakers following his subpar postseason with the Clippers.

“Like I said, it hasn’t been 10 years,” Rajon Rondo told members of the media in his introductory press conference Tuesday. “I don’t think I’ve changed much, I don’t think my game has declined. You’re only as good as your coach believes in you and going forward this year, looking at the Lakers team and the roster, understanding where I am in my career, but at the same time, I do believe I can still bring a lot to the game. But my main focus is if we win, nothing else matters.”

Rajon Rondo appears to be all-in on winning with his new group, but many are questioning his apparent veiled shot at Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue.

The surprising part of Rondo’s quote, if it indeed is a veiled shot at Lue, is that the Clippers’ head coach gave him more opportunities than most fans would’ve liked. There were points in the playoffs when Rondo clearly wasn’t performing well, but Tyronn Lue gave him a longer leash because he needed to get Reggie Jackson and Paul George a breather. Once Kawhi Leonard went down, the Rondo minutes were critical toward giving his starting backcourt a rest.

According to NBA.com/stats, Rajon Rondo struggled shooting from everywhere in the playoffs.

• 18-of-53 (34%) Shooting
• 7-of-21 (33.3%) on Layups
• 3-of-6 (50%) on Finger Rolls
• 11-of-31 (35.5%) on Jump Shots

Rondo’s two biggest games were essentially Games 3 and 4 of the first round, helping the Clippers even the series against the Dallas Mavericks. Outside of that, Rajon Rondo’s postseason time with the Clippers was tough to watch. He constantly played traffic cop offense, holding the ball and directing traffic for long periods of the shot clock. There were also moments when he took ill-advised shots or made bad passing decisions.

Rondo joining the Lakers adds an extra level of intrigue to the Lakers-Clippers rivalry, but it’s not as though it was missing any extra juice before he re-signed. The Lakers completely retooled their roster and are primed for a championship run. The Clippers, on the other hand, will be starting their season without Kawhi Leonard, who is without a timetable to return following offseason surgery to repair a partially torn Achilles.

The Lakers are set to open the season at Staples Center on October 19 against the Golden State Warriors. The Clippers are also scheduled to open their season against the Warriors, but they’ll do so on October 21 in San Francisco.