Rajon Rondo‘s free agent stock plummeted last season after his trade to Dallas, but multiple executives tell Sean Deveney of The Sporting News that his performance thus far for the Kings has lifted his value back into maximum-salary territory. The 29-year-old took a one-year, $9.5MM deal from the Kings this past summer, a figure in excess of $10MM less than the $19.689MM maximum salary for which he was eligible this season. His projected maximum salary for next season, when he’ll be a 10-year veteran, is $29.3MM. However, uncertainty over just what his precise max will be when the league reveals the number in July has an Eastern Conference GM who spoke with Deveney unsure of whether the Bill Duffy client will score whatever the max number is.
Still, the GM believes that if Rondo, who leads the NBA in assists per game this season with 10.7, keeps playing as well as he has, he’ll at least come close to the max, particularly given the relative dearth of max-level 2016 free agents and the expected boom in the salary cap. The other executive Deveney heard from wouldn’t be surprised if Rondo gets the max, but he thinks a three-year max deal is more likely than one that runs for five seasons, and he cautions that the season is still young.
The Kings are the only team eligible to sign Rondo for more than four years, and he said this week that he finds the team a fit and that playing with his new teammates has helped his game, according to Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. He appears to have formed a bond with DeMarcus Cousins, who made it clear to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports recently that he’ll do whatever he can to keep Rondo in Sacramento.
“I was in a contract year last year [too],” Rondo said, as Murphy relayed. “I just want to win. I’m not playing to get on the radar. If I do what I have to do on the court, I feel I’m still one of the best, if not the best, point guards to play the game. I’m a pass-first point guard, I know how to run the show, and [Kings coach George Karl] has given me the keys to run the show.”
The Kings are notoriously difficult to predict, with trade rumors having swirled around Cousins for most of the offseason. Rondo hasn’t been receptive to questions about what he’d like to do when he hits free agency again in the summer, and he and Duffy are unlikely to make any public pronouncements about Rondo’s market value, Deveney writes. Still, it shouldn’t be entirely surprising to see Rondo back in the conversation for a max deal. He was No. 5 in our 2015 Free Agent Power Rankings as late as November 2014.
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