Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo Has Surgery, Out 4-6 Weeks

Pelicans point guard Rajon Rondo will be sidelined four to six weeks after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia, tweets Shams Charania of The Vertical.

The 31-year-old had a meeting Monday with a specialist, who determined that an operation was necessary. Rondo suffered the injury Friday in a game against Oklahoma City.

Rondo’s absence is a setback for New Orleans, which signed him over the summer to a one-year, $3.3MM deal to run an offense featuring All-Star big men Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Jrue Holiday will probably shift back to point guard in Rondo’s absence.

Rajon Rondo Suffers Sports Hernia

The Pelicans could be without Rajon Rondo to start the 2017/18 campaign. As William Guillory of The Times-Picayune writes, on Sunday it was announced that the veteran guard has suffered a sports hernia.

While Guillory says that the Pelicans won’t know whether their point guard needs surgery before he meets with a specialist on Monday, Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Advocate tweets that his sources say the initial expectation is that Rondo will miss about a month.

The Pelicans signed Rondo to a one-year deal in July, he is expected to serve as the club’s starting point guard with incumbent Jrue Holiday sliding over to the shooting guard position.

Pelicans Notes: Rondo, Cousins, Allen, Crawford

New Pelicans point guard Rajon Rondo is confident that Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins can be effective together and he’s eager to be part of that process, relays William Guillory of The New Orleans Times-Picayune. Rondo, who is with his fifth team in the past four years, said the big-man tandem played an important role in his decision to sign with the Pelicans. “They’ve only had a couple months together, I don’t count pretty much last year even though they did play together,” Rondo said. “I think those two guys are capable of being two of the best bigs to ever play this game as a duo. That’s pretty high expectations, but they have the talent to do it.”

Rondo had prior experience with Cousins when they were in Sacramento together in 2015/16. Both excelled that season as Rondo led the league with 11.7 assists per game and Cousins averaged 26.9 points. Coach Alvin Gentry said he likes the idea of pairing Rondo with incumbent point guard Jrue Holiday because it gives him two players capable of running the offense.

There’s more today out of New Orleans:

  • Cousins believes his on-court chemistry with Davis is already much better than it was last season, Guillory writes in a separate piece. The All-Star big men didn’t have much time to prepare as they were thrown together after Cousins was acquired from the Kings during All-Star weekend. They spent the summer working out in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and Cousins describes their relationship as “smoother” now that camp has started. “We’re figuring out our high-low game a lot more. We’re picking our spots: Who’s the guy to pop? Who’s the guy to roll,” Cousins said. “Last year, it would be times where we would run into each other or be on top of each other.”
  • After being a starter in Memphis, veteran guard Tony Allen knew he couldn’t count on that role when he signed with the Pelicans, Guillory adds in another story. Allen, who agreed to a one-year, minimum-salary contract two weeks ago, expects to see his playing time vary from game to game based on matchups. “I’m going to be put in situations or lineups where some days I might start, some days I might play five minutes,” Allen said. “It’s just being ready to do whatever it takes for the team to win ball games.”
  • Jordan Crawford, who joined the Pelicans on a 10-day deal in March, tells Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com that his best moment as an athlete was getting back to the NBA after two years out of the league. After the Warriors elected not to re-sign him in 2014, Crawford played in China and the G League before getting an opportunity with New Orleans.

Southwest Notes: Rondo, Rockets, Finney-Smith, Mavs

The pairing of Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo in the Pelicans’ backcourt should work out quite well and could turn New Orleans into a spoiler during the Western Conference playoffs next season, Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders argues. Holiday has never been hesitant to shoot and he’ll find plenty of good looks at shooting guard with defenses focusing on Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, Davies continues. Davies notes that Rondo has led the league in assists three times and is an underrated 3-point shooter and rebounder for his position who can also contribute defensively by making steals. A quality season would also help convince Cousins, who becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season, to stay put, Davies adds.

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • Billionaire Dan Friedkin has expressed interest in buying the RocketsMark Berman of Fox26Houston.com reports. Friedkin is owner and CEO of Gulf States Toyota and the president and CEO of the Friedkin Group. Forbes lists his net worth at $3.1 billion. Owner Leslie Alexander announced last month that the team was up for sale.
  • Forward Dorian Finney-Smith will have to earn a roster spot with the Mavericks by showing improvement in two key areas, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Sefko believes Finney-Smith needs to become tougher around the boards and improve his 3-point shooting or else he’ll wind up in a salary-saving transaction. All but $100K of Finney-Smith’s $1.3MM salary is not guaranteed and the contract doesn’t fully guarantee unless he’s on the roster through January 10.
  • The Mavericks need to dramatically improve their rebounding to have any shot at a playoff berth next season, Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com writes. Dallas ranked last in overall rebounding and grabbed the fewest offensive rebounds in the league. Coach Rick Carlisle told Sneed his frontcourt players have to get more physical. “We’ve got to get some monsters that push and shove, throw people out of the way and go get the ball,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got to get more of those guys.”

DeMarcus Cousins Plays Recruiter Role For Pelicans

The Pelicans made two notable signings over the past couple weeks, inking both Rajon Rondo and Ian Clark to one-year contracts. DeMarcus Cousins played a big role in both of those deals, according to coach Alvin Gentry.

“He’s done a phenomenal job this year of helping recruit free agents,” Gentry said of Cousins (via William Guillory of The Times-Picayune). “He’s talked to Rondo, he’s talked to Ian Clark, he’s talked to all of those guys that we’ve been trying to sign and he’s been very active in that.”

Cousins wants the Pelicans to add talent so the team can make the playoffs, something he never accomplished during eight years in Sacramento. He’s been doing his part to help with that process.

“We want to win. We need as much talent and as many pieces as we can get,” Cousins said. “I’ve reached out to everybody. I mean, I don’t want to throw names out there, but some of the biggest names that are on the block right now I’ve reached out to. It’s just about getting better.

“We see where the NBA is going, we need as much help and as much talent as we can get just to match up with the [reigning champion Golden State Warriors]…We’re fully invested in this and we want to win.”

The big man will be a free agent after the 2017/18 season, but his activism within the franchise could be seen as a sign that he’s not planning on going anywhere. It was reported on Wednesday that Cousins may have much at stake during the upcoming campaign.

Western Notes: Bledsoe, George, Rondo

While his name has been consistently floated in trade rumors over the course of the past season, Eric Bledsoe wants to remain in Phoenix. That said, the Suns guard recently told Scott Bordrow of azcentral that he also wants to win.

Most recently linked to the Cavaliers in a move that would help Cleveland honor a recent Kyrie Irving trade request, Bledsoe has once again been earmarked as a potential trade chip. If the Cavs are seeking established veterans capable of contributing to a contender, then a player like Bledsoe could be an appealing part of a larger Suns package.

There’s no denying Bledsoe’s value in the NBA — he posted a career best campaign with the Suns in 2016/17, averaging 21.1 points, 6.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game. He just doesn’t line up with Phoenix’s “timeline” built around a young, rebuilding roster.

If the Cavaliers do choose to seek a buyer for Irving, then the question becomes whether or not the Suns are willing to package Bledsoe with enough assets to make a deal palatable for the Eastern Conference champions.

There’s more out of the West:

  • The Thunder shocked the NBA when they managed to trade for Paul George earlier this summer. It’s already easy to see the swingman’s impact on the franchise. Erik Horne of the Oklahoman details how George can help the team’s offense, defense and even second unit.
  • The decision to sign Ronnie Price to a two-year deal last summer has come back to haunt the Thunder. Fred Katz of the Norman Transcript has broken down the significant luxury tax impact the since-waived guard will have in 2017/18.
  • The Pelicans are excited about the addition of point guard Rajon Rondo, particularly big man Anthony Davis who will be one of the prime beneficiaries of Rondo’s playmaking abilities. “He and I will do very well in pick-and-rolls, especially the way I dive to the basket, or I can pick-and-pop,” Davis told Jim Eichenhofer of the Pels’ official website. “He’s great at finding guys at the right times with the ball. Anyone who’s been in pick-and-rolls with him has been very successful. Hopefully we can do the same thing.

Pelicans Sign Rajon Rondo

JULY 19: Rondo’s one-year deal with the Pelicans will be for $3.3MM, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link). The signing is now official.

JULY 15: The Pelicans have agreed to a one-year deal with veteran point guard Rajon Rondo, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link). Charania’s report adds that the four-time All-Star met with the Pelicans twice (Thursday and Saturday) before reaching an agreement with New Orleans.<a rel=

After he was waived by the Bulls last month, Rondo drew interest from several teams including the Lakers and Knicks. A late-season surge — that was cut short by an injury in the playoffs — helped Rondo rebuild some of the value he lost in the beginning of last season.

Rondo, 31, spent last season in Chicago where he posted totals of 7.8 PPG, 6.7 APG, and 5.1 RPG in 69 games (42 starts). However, Rondo’s tumultuous stint in Chicago included losing his starting role, a social media feud with former teammates Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade, and a seemingly abrupt parting of ways. Rondo originally signed a two-year, $28MM deal with the Bulls but the second year was only partially guaranteed. The Bulls saved $10MM by severing ties with Rondo.

In joining New Orleans, Rondo reunites with DeMarcus Cousins, the Pelicans’ prized acquisition from last season, with whom he teamed in Sacramento during the 2015/16 campaign. In a Christmas Day feature in 2015, James Jones of the Sacramento Bee detailed how strong the bond between the veteran Rondo and emotional-yet-talented center Cousins developed.

“He’s a misunderstood kid,” Rondo said. “I think that’s why I gravitate toward him so much. I love what he’s doing.”

Trading Tim Frazier to the Wizards for a second-round pick left a vacancy that Rondo now fills. It’s likely that Rondo will mostly reprise his role as a reserve for the Pelicans in 2017/18. The team agreed to a five-year, $126MM deal with Jrue Holiday to be the team’s long-term point guard.

Rondo, a former NBA champion with the 2008 Celtics, will give Holiday opportunities to play off the ball and form a potent triumvirate with Cousins and Anthony Davis. Rondo holds the reputation of one of the NBA’s best passers and gives New Orleans strong depth in case of an injury.

Terms of the deal aren’t yet known, but the Pelicans still have most of their mid-level exception available.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Zagorac, Noel, Smith Jr.

Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations Mickey Loomis says the team is “due” for success and Rajon Rondo will provide veteran leadership, as he told New Orleans Times-Picayune columnists Jeff Duncan and Larry Holder during a radio interview. Loomis affirmed that the team was at a crossroads in terms of its development after trading for DeMarcus Cousins last season, retaining free agent point guard Jrue Holiday and reaching an agreement with Rondo. “I think we’re due and it’s time to have some success,” he said in the interview. “I think we’re all expecting that.” Though Rondo has yet to officially signed with New Orleans, Loomis said Rondo’s experience made him a good fit. “We’re talking about a veteran player that has some leadership qualities that’s been on winning teams, that understands how to win in the NBA,” Loomis said.

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • Rade Zagorac‘s contract with the Grizzlies is a three-year, $3.9MM deal, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The first two years and $2.3MM is guaranteed, he adds. Zagorac, the 35th overall selection in the 2016 draft, played overseas last season. The swingman was the leading scorer for KK Mega Leks in Serbia in 2016/17.
  • The Mavs will continue to play hardball with restricted free agent Nerlens Noel now that his other options have fallen by the wayside, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News opines. Noel is one of the few high-level free agents who hasn’t already signed a contract this month. Sefko doubts that Noel will take the qualifying offer of $4,187,598 and become an unrestricted free agent next summer, speculating that the two parties will eventually come to an agreement.
  • Mavs first-rounder Dennis Smith Jr.has made a strong impression on some scouts with his summer-league performances, according to Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. The point guard averaged 16.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 3.8 APG in his first five summer-league outings.  “(Smith Jr.) has a solid feel as a young point guard,” one scout told Wasserman. Wasserman quotes eight scouts, who break down the pros and cons of Smith Jr.’s game.

Pacific Notes: Rondo, Clark, Caldwell-Pope, Perry

The Lakers will have to find another option at point guard now that Rajon Rondo has signed with the Pelicans, writes Mark Medina of The Orange County Register. L.A. had talked to Rondo about serving as a mentor to a young roster and especially to rookie Lonzo Ball. Attention may now turn to re-signing 22-year-old Tyler Ennis, who was obtained from Houston in a February trade. Ennis averaged 7.7 points and shot 45% from the field in 22 games with the Lakers.

Other options include Rodney Stuckey and Ian Clark, although L.A. has only the $4.3MM room exception to offer apart from veterans minimum deals. The Lakers currently have 12 players under contract for the upcoming season, along with Alex Caruso signed to a two-way deal.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • After struggling to make a roster in the early part of his NBA career, Clark is in position for a big payday, writes Joe Rexrode of The USA Today Network. The Lakers and Bucks are among the teams that have expressed interest in the free agent shooting guard, whose chance to return to the Warriors likely ended when Golden State signed Nick Young. “I can’t worry about this, I just have to let it fall into place,” Clark said. “At some point you stop worrying about surviving in this league and get determined to make your mark in it.”
  • The one-year, $18MM deal that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope signed with the Lakers includes a 15% trade kicker and a 50% advance, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN.com.
  • Marcelo Huertas, who spent parts of the past two seasons with the Lakers, has signed with EuroCup champions Unicaja Malaga in Spain, tweets international basketball writer David Pick.
  • Scott Perry had a strong influence on the Kings during his three months as vice president of basketball operations, according to Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. Perry left this week to become GM of the Knicks, with Sacramento receiving a 2019 second-round pick and cash considerations in return. During Perry’s time with the Kings, Voison says he pushed for the free agency additions of veterans Zach Randolph, Vince Carter and George Hill and was a “strong advocate” for drafting De’Aaron Fox with the No. 5 pick. “This is a great opportunity for Scott professionally,” said GM Vlade Divac, “and it gets him back east, closer to his daughter. I was not going to stop him. The only thing I feel bad about is that we had everything in place in our front office. Our front office is strong. Now I have to find someone who can come in and do the things Scott did for us.”
  • The injury that forced Kings center Georgios Papagiannis to leave Friday’s summer league game has been diagnosed as just a bruise, according to a post on the team’s website.

Southwest Notes: Anthony, Simmons, Mavericks, Rondo

Houston continues to be the preferred destination for Carmelo Anthony, but former Rockets coach and ESPN commentator Jeff Van Gundy doesn’t see the high-scoring forward as a “natural fit” for the team, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Van Gundy, who still lives in Houston, believes the Rockets need to focus on defense in any future transactions. “I think they have a lot on their plate integrating [Chris] Paul and [James] Harden,” Van Gundy said. “They’re not going to be better offensively than they were last year. They were the second-best team in the league offensively. I thought they had defined roles everyone knew.”

Efforts to work out a four-team trade that would send Anthony to Houston are currently on hold as new Knicks GM Scott Perry hopes for a face-to-face meeting with his star player before proceeding. New York officials would like Anthony, who can block any deal with a no-trade clause, to expand the list of teams he is willing to join, which reportedly now just includes the Rockets and Cavaliers.

There’s more this morning from the Southwest Division:

  • The Spurs never made a serious attempt to keep Jonathon Simmons, tweets Casey Keirnan of News 4 San Antonio. Simmons agreed to a three-year, $20MM deal with the Magic on Friday after the Spurs pulled his qualifying offer and made him an unrestricted free agent. Despite reports that San Antonio was trying to retain Simmons, the team never made him an offer apart from the QO, sources tell Keirnan.
  • The Mavericks are taking an international approach to rebuilding their roster, notes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. This week’s signing of German star Maxi Kleber could give them as many as seven international players at training camp. Joining roster holdovers Dirk Nowitzki, J.J. BareaDwight Powell and Salah Mejri will be Kleber, Nico Brussino and Ding Yanyuhang. However, Brussino’s $1,312,611 salary for next season won’t be guaranteed until Thursday, so he may be somewhere else when camp opens. “You want good players, and it doesn’t matter where you find them,” said president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson. “There are players all over the world. It’s our job to know where they are.”
  • After reaching an agreement Saturday with Rajon Rondo, the Pelicans plan to use him and fellow point guard Jrue Holiday as their backcourt starters, according to Marc J. Spears of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Rondo’s friendship with former Kings teammate DeMarcus Cousins was a factor in choosing New Orleans, Spears indicates.
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