Rajon Rondo on coming to Sacramento: “I just love to prove people wrong”

18 Comments

LAS VEGAS — It didn’t end well for Rajon Rondo in Dallas. Finally, the organization had him just start to stay away from the rest of the team — in the middle of a playoff series.

Monday was a new day. Rondo was onboard a charter plane that brought the heart of the Kings on the court — Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins, Marco Belinelli and others — as well as GM Vlade Divac to Las Vegas to watch just drafted rookie Willie Cauley-Stein. It was very public team bonding (to be followed by some not so public bonding through the night in Vegas).

Rondo likes what he sees in Sacramento.

“I’m excited that everybody’s doubting us,” Rondo said. “All the negative things that are going toward Sacramento as far as me coming — and the Cousins and George Karl thing — I think there’s been a lot of naysayers, a lot of doubters my entire career. And I just love to prove people wrong.”

Rondo was in a very positive space Monday. He told PBT his right knee — which had the ACL surgery — is good, and he can’t even really tell which leg had the surgery anymore.

He was even positive about his experience with the Mavericks, where he was traded last season from Boston.

“It was a learning experience,” Rondo said. “It was a great experience I had. I met one of my best friends now in Monta Ellis, I wouldn’t have met Monta if I hadn’t been traded there. Dirk (Nowitzki) is one of the funniest guys I’ve met. I gained a lot of great relationships….

“I can’t say enough about that organization, it was a great organization. (Mark) Cuban from day one was very honest with me.”

It’s one thing to have a challenge-the-narrative, everything is cool moment in Vegas in July.  It’s another to carry all this positivity into the season — and then forge relationships that work amongst a lot of strong-willed people.

Karl has coached some great point guards — and strong willed ones — in his career, guys like Gary Payton, Sam Cassell, Allen Iverson and Chauncey Billups. Rondo will be another one of those.

“He’s going to challenge us as coaches, because I think he knows the game and he’ll have some things, we’ll probably some give and take on,” Karl said. “But this kid’s an All-Star, he’s a triple-double machine when he’s playing well. He likes to lead teams, he leads teams with a spirit that has some toughness to it.

“He’s a pass-first point guard, which I think is important. In the end, he and Darren (Collison) really excite me. We’re going to have two guys who can take control of the team, play together, and keep the pace of the game where we can play with a lot of freedom and creativity, and also play without turnovers….

“I think he wants to lead our team, but he also wants to be a part of the decision making. That can be somewhat combustable, but that also can work at a high level.”

Rondo said he and Karl have talked a little about the role he will play.

“I think the point guard is extremely important in George’s system,” Rondo said. “George and I always have to be on the same page, and if we communicate every day, we will be….

“Things happen in life, you learn from them, you go on. But to have the opportunity to be somewhere you want to be, and they welcome you as well, I think it’s a great fit. So far. We haven’t played any games, coach Karl hasn’t kicked me out of any practices yet, so we will see how it goes.”

It all sounds good. On paper in July. And if everything comes together for the Kings, they have the talent to surprise a lot of people in the West. But most people will be watching this team expecting the train wreck.

Rondo will have to prove everyone wrong again.

 

Gregg Popovich on Fox News pundit attacking LeBron James: “Unbelievable”

2 Comments

Fox News pundit Laura Ingraham launched an attack at Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James after the NBA star voiced his opinion on Donald Trump. LeBron had done so many times before, alongside other notable NBA personalities like Kevin Durant and Steve Kerr.

This instance of LeBron speaking up apparently struck Ingraham in some type of way, enough to invoke a shot at James’ intelligence and speaking mannerisms in thinly-veiled comments. Ingraham told James to “shut up and dribble” which sparked the ire of many around the league. LeBron responded in kind, and most considered Ingraham’s racially-tinged tirade to be par for the course from that particular outlet.

Ingraham, who failed to do basic research on LeBron’s background, community leadership, and charitable contributions, also drew criticism from San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. Speaking before San Antonio’s game against the Cavaliers, Popovich told a crowd that Ingraham’s comments said more about her than about LeBron, and that he was happy the game had such a positive role model for young fans in James.

Via Twitter:

Shoutout to Popovich for continuing to be a voice from such a prominent position within sports and pop culture. Guys like him and LeBron haven’t exhausted themselves even though the discussion about what they say is undoubtedly tiring.

Jimmy Butler has surgery on right meniscus, no timetable for return

Getty
1 Comment

The playoff picture in the Western Conference became much more opaque after Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler went down with a knee injury earlier in the week.

Reports out of Minnesota was that Butler had suffered a right meniscus injury, ducking what many had feared was an ACL tear. According to the team, Butler had successful surgery on his right meniscus this weekend.

As of Sunday morning they did not have a timetable for his return.

Via Twitter:

Minnesota currently stands third in the West but they will have a hard time fending off the rest of the playoff hopeful teams below them without their star player.

For his part, Butler is hoping he will be back in time for the playoffs. Early reports were that the team was thinking his recovery had a 4-to-6 week timeline, but again nothing has been set. Meniscus recovery times vary greatly depending on the issue at hand and the procedure done, neither of which we have details on at this time.

The Timberwolves have the 15th most difficult strength of schedule ahead of them according to Tankathon.com, with games against major Western Conference opponents ahead of them as well as bottom-dwellers like the Memphis Grizzlies.

Minnesota has been a good story all season long. No doubt many will bring up Tom Thibodeau’s workload once again with Butler injured, something compounded by Butler apparently requesting to rest during the 2018 All-Star Game.

Wolves fans have been waiting a long time for this. They don’t deserve this kind of punishment at this late a date, but the Basketball Gods are cruel and unceasingly unforgiving.

Isaiah Thomas on Cavaliers trade to Lakers: “They were in panic mode”

Getty
4 Comments

It seems Isaiah Thomas is a thorn in the side of many in the NBA these days. The Los Angeles Lakers point guard reportedly was the source of some locker room conflict while he was with the Cleveland Cavaliers, although it appears that Dwyane Wade was the first to lead the charge against Kevin Love in the infamous player rap session.

Thomas is now a member of the Lakers after being part of the worst section of the season in Cleveland. The Cavaliers, with their revamped roster, have just one loss since the trade deadline. LeBron James & Co. have moved on, and Thomas appears set for free agency this summer and yet another team.

A move for the Cavaliers seemed inevitable, even if the return for Kyrie Irving from Boston — conveyed through consequent trades — was less than ideal. Meanwhile Thomas, who didn’t appear to enjoy his time in Ohio, has now said that he was surprised Dan Gilbert’s team bailed on him so quickly.

Via ESPN:

“I didn’t think they would pull the trigger that fast, 15 games,” Thomas told ESPN’s E:60 in an interview that will air March 11. “But again, it’s a business. And the Cavs were, I mean, they were in panic mode. We were losing — a lot. And I think they felt like they needed to make a move, and they, they basically cleared house.”

Thomas went on to say that he didn’t think he had enough time to find a rhythm not only coming back from a hip injury but on a new team in a new system. Thomas also mentioned that he harbored no ill feelings toward the Cavaliers.

We’ll see if that’s the case when the Lakers take on Cleveland on March 11 in LA.

Coach Tyronn Lue says not to expect LeBron James to have “rest” games

Getty Images
6 Comments

LeBron James has not missed one Cleveland Cavaliers game this season. At age 33 in his 15th NBA season, LeBron is fourth in the league in total minutes played, third in the league in minutes per game at 37, and is top 10 in the NBA in usage rate.

Don’t expect that to change.

LeBron doesn’t want to take games off — he even dominated the All-Star Game — and do you really think Lue is going to force him to sit while the Cavaliers try to adapt to a radical roster shakeup at the trade deadline? From Dave McMenamin at ESPN.

“I just think being the leader of this team, I don’t think he thinks he can take games off, because, you know, guys being hurt and going through a rough patch, and now new guys coming in,” Lue said before the Cavs’ 112-89 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. “So, I think he’s trying to lead and lead by example … I think we still got to be smart about the situation, but [the training staff] say he feels good.”

LeBron said this last month and things have not changed.

“I told you I want to play every game,” James said. “If my health continues as it is right now, then that’s what it is.”

While “load management” is a buzzword around the NBA — one ignored in Minnesota — LeBron has responded to his increased workload with an MVP level season. LeBron is averaging 26.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 8.9 assists per game, is shooting 35.9 percent from three, and has the highest value over replacement player in the league. (His less energized play in January likely cost him any real shot at his fifth MVP.) With the league emphasizing not resting players — particularly in nationally televised games, which the Cavaliers have a lot of — LeBron is not getting much if any rest. He wants to play in a full 82.

The only concern is will he wear down. LeBron is going to have to dominate in the playoffs for the Cavaliers to come out of the East. How much gas will LeBron have in the tank come May? There’s a reason Gregg Popovich, Steve Kerr, and a lot of other elite coaches give players a night off. That’s not going to happen with LeBron, at least not likely in a meaningful way.

Consider it something to file away and remember if the Cavaliers and LeBron look a step slower in the postseason.