Sacramento point guard Rajon Rondo is in New York tonight for his only game of the season at Madison Square Garden. Next year, there’s a chance he’ll be playing there 41 times.
The market for Rondo was limited when he hit free agency last summer after a disastrous experience in Dallas. He clashed constantly with Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle after Boston traded him there and was benched midway through Dallas’ first-round playoff series, although both sides reportedly agreed to say he was out with a back injury. With few suitors to pick from, Rondo accepted a one-year, $10MM offer from the Kings.
He’ll be a free agent again in a little more than three months, and this time the demand should be much greater. Rondo is averaging a league-best 11.9 assists per game to go with 11.8 points. He’s shooting 45% from the floor, which is his highest mark in four years, and his 3-point percentage is a career-best 35%.
New York is expected to be among the teams lined up for Rondo. The Knicks have made no secret of their desire to improve at the point guard position, and they are projected to have between $21MM and $27MM available to chase free agents.
While Rondo would be an upgrade in New York, there are questions about his ability to run the triangle offense and to adapt to an unfamiliar system after his experience in Dallas. Rondo made some disparaging comments about the philosophy earlier in the season, but he was much more open to it when meeting with reporters prior to tonight’s game. Interim coach Kurt Rambis apparently believes Rondo can succeed in the triangle, though there’s no guarantee Rambis will be with the team next season.
And Rondo won’t be the only available option on the market. Bobby Marks of the Vertical on Yahoo Sports ranks the Grizzlies’ Mike Conley as the top free agent point guard. Conley said he hasn’t ruled out anything when it comes to free agency, and the Knicks are believed to have strong interest in him.
Marks puts Rondo second, followed by Deron Williams, Jeremy Lin, Brandon Jennings, Tyler Johnson, Ish Smith, Matthew Dellavedova, Jerryd Bayless and Mario Chalmers. A return of “Lin-sanity” to New York seems unlikely, given the rumored tensions with Carmelo Anthony, but the Knicks may be looking at every other name on the list.
That brings us to tonight’s topic: Who will be the Knicks’ starting point guard next season? Will this be the year they finally land a big name in free agency? Can Conley be persuaded to leave Memphis, where he has spent his entire career? Would Rondo be able to fit into the triangle? Or will the top free agents pass up New York, leaving the Knicks to solve their point guard problem through a trade?
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