Since leaving the Boston Celtics via a trade to the Dallas Mavericks four years ago and subsequently departing Texas on a sour note, Rajon Rondo has spent the last few seasons jumping from team to team with stays that alternate between good and mediocre. Teams are also concerned with the mercurial point guard that they are not willing to commit to more than a one-year, make-good deal.
So when the 31-year-old signed with the New Orleans Pelicans during the summer, the news didn’t send much ripples and expectations were tempered. Fortunately for the Pelicans, the gamble paid off. While his regular season averages of eight points, four rebounds, and eight assists per game seem decent on paper, it’s actually “Playoff Rondo” that’s killing it.
In six postseason games, Rondo is averaging seven rebounds, 12 points, and nearly 13 assists nightly – and that’s not counting the 21 assists he had earlier tonight in the win against the Golden State Warriors.
The downside to rental players is the chance they explode and the difficulties of retaining them – and Rondo’s spectacular play certainly falls under that category and the Pelicans now have to worry about the possibility of entering the 2018-19 season without their top facilitator.
Free agency of Rajon Rondo will be impacted by what New Orleans does with DeMarcus Cousins. Rondo has been terrific but NOP will be restricted ($3.9M or $5.2M tax ML) on what they can pay the guard if Cousins returns at max money.
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) May 5, 2018
This scenario, however, hinges on DeMarcus Cousins actually commanding a maximum salary deal — which is not set in stone. Not many players (especially big men) have bounced back from an Achilles tear, and this will certainly be a factor during negotiations. Then again, a player coming off a debilitating injury hasn’t stopped teams from throwing money. Wesley Matthews and Rudy Gay are some recent examples of Achilles casualties that still got paid.