The Clippers took a gamble last week with the acquisition of Hawks point guard Rajon Rondo for beloved bench scorer Lou Williams. After he mostly struggled in Atlanta, L.A. is banking on Rondo being engaged from the get-go now that he is back in the NBA in Los Angeles, after spending the past two seasons with the Lakers, where helped the team to a championship in 2020.
But that does not mean the Clippers know exactly what they’re going to do with Rondo, who has been a starter for most of his career. That’s shifted recently. Rondo started only two of 27 games this year in Atlanta, and only three of 48 games for the Lakers last season.
The Clippers got Rondo, though, to help organize the offense from the point-guard spot, something he would do much better than current starter Reggie Jackson or even injured starter Patrick Beverley.
“I’m not sure right now,” Lue said. “We’ve got to get everyone together, get everyone healthy. See what works, who fits with who. It’s going to take a little time for that.”
Rondo, Beverley Remain Out With Injuries
Of course, first things first—the Clippers need to get Rondo healthy. He has been out since March 22 with a groin/adductor injury and has yet to make his debut with his new team. It’s unclear when Rondo will play, but Lue did say on Monday that Rondo has been on the floor with other Clippers players and that, “he’s pretty much picked up,” the team’s playbook.
The Clippers also need to get Beverley healthy. The presumption is that he will return to his starting role when he is able, but Lue has not been definitive on that.
Before Tuesday’s game against the Magic, Lue said, “Pat and Rondo was on the court today, playing 4-on-4, 5-on-5, half-court and full-court. Looked pretty good, so I’m hoping we see those guys sooner than later.”
And how will they slot into roles when Lue does see those guys? It’s a touchy subject.
“A lot of thought has went into it, you know, lot of sleepless night just thinking about rotations, when guys get healthy,” Lue said. “We don’t know right now. All we know is we can just put the guys on the floor that’s healthy right now. When those get healthy, we just got to see what happens.”
Ex-NBA Exec: Rondo Has Been ‘Horsesh***’ This Season
Rondo will take the court in Los Angeles with something to prove. When he has been healthy, he’s averaged just 14.9 minutes in 21 games, putting up a measly 3.9 points and 3.5 assists. What’s worse, he is signed in 2021-22 for $7.5 million, so the Clippers’ commitment to him likely will go on past this season.
Of course, Rondo’s numbers alone don’t measure his impact. The Clippers did not really want him for the 3.9 points a night he provides, but rather for his ability to run the offense and take ballhandling pressure off Paul George and Kawhi Leonard—and for his well-known ability to up his game in the playoffs. As paltry as his numbers were, the fact that Atlanta was 16-11 when Rondo played and 7-12 when he did not says something about his impact on winning.
Still, former Nets executive Bobby Marks, now working for ESPN, was about as blunt as possible when it came to how Rondo has played thus far this season.
“Let’s face it, and I’m gonna use the PG-13 version of this,” Marks said. “Rondo has been horses*** this year. I mean, he has.”
Marks continued: “If you get the regular-season version of Rajon Rondo, this trade is a complete disaster. I’m not going to sugarcoat it right now. What the Clippers are banking on is that they will get Playoff Version of Rajon Rondo. Because as I said before, he has been terrible this year.”