Kurt Helin

Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets - Game Two

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.

 

George Karl on DeMarcus Cousins: “We’ve got a lot of time to get back on the same page”

Atlanta Hawks v Sacramento Kings
6 Comments

LAS VEGAS — That’s it right there. George Karl and DeMarcus Cousins finally met and shook hands.

That Vine is also the extent of the meeting. It didn’t last long.

But Kings’ coach George Karl — who Cousins has tweeted is a snake in the grass (via emoji) after it was reported Karl was pushing to trade Cousins — sounded like a veteran coach who is not worried about repairing that relationship, or what is said in July.

“We’ve got a lot of time to get back on the same page,” Karl said just after the Kings played in Las Vegas Monday. “Summer talk is summer drama. I’ve always thought it’s hype, and so much of it is untrue. I’m not going to get into it, but Cuz and I have to work together to get back together. And I think we will.”

Cousins has power here. His biggest supporter is the owner, and when Cousins walked in the arena Sunday with GM Vlade Divac he got a standing ovation from Kings fans. Karl realizes that this is a relationship he has to make work. He emphasized what he has before, that it is about commitment.

“All our guys are hungry for winning, but Cuz is our best player, most talented kid,” Karl said. “We need him to feel like there’s a commitment from both sides. He to us and us to him.”

Karl has a locker room of strong-willed players he needs to navigate this year — Rajon Rondo, Cousins, and Rudy Gay among them. But he noted that in the past he has coached Gary Payton, Sam Cassell, Allen Iverson, and Chauncey Billups. And he likes the challenge Rondo will provide.

“He’s a very basketball high IQ guy,” Karl said. “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. 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 it’s going to be fun coaching (Rondo). I think he wants to lead our team, but he also wants to be a part of the decision making. That can be somewhat combustible, but that also can work at a high level.”

That may sum up the Kings this year. It’s a combustible combination, but if they come together they could surprise a lot of people.

We’ll see how good Karl is at chemistry. But that grade is not handed out in July.

Glenn Robinson III with two monster dunks — one a 360 — for Hawks (VIDEO)

D-League v Atlanta Hawks
Leave a comment

LAS VEGAS — Glenn Robinson III was a last-second addition to the Hawks’ Summer League roster, but he has turned a few heads with a couple strong performances.

He also thrilled the Hawks fans on Monday with a couple huge dunks — he put on a better show than half the expensive ones in Vegas.

There was him driving the lane and throwing it down above, but later in the game came the showboat 360 on a breakaway.

Nets trade Steve Blake to Detroit for Quincy Miller

Los Angeles Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers
8 Comments

Stan Van Gundy likes shooters. Steve Blake may have other flaws, but he can shoot the rock — a career 38.5 percent from three who shot 35.2 percent from three for the Blazers last year (on draft night Portland traded him to Brooklyn).

Now Van Gundy has Blake to put out there and space the floor.

The Pistons traded for Blake and the Nets will get Quincy Miller, a trade the teams have already announced.

The Nets are expected to waive Miller.

The Pistons are going to start just re-signed Reggie Jackson then they have Blake and Brandon Jennings behind him. Jennings provides playmaking, Blake shooting.

Adam Silver on free agency moratorium: “Is there a better system?”

Adam Silver
9 Comments

Understandably, Mark Cuban isn’t the biggest fan of the NBA’s free agency moratorium right now — DeAndre Joran told him he was coming to Dallas, then during that window changed his mind and re-signed with the Clippers. Cuban is ticked, and he’s got issues with the system.

Cuban isn’t alone, there are other teams around the league who have concerns about the system — there were a lot of dominoes that fell based on Jordan’s verbal commitment.

The NBA’s competition committee, and after them the owners, are going to take a look at adjusting the moratorium. But getting something done is not that simple. Here is what Adam Silver said on NBA TV from Summer League (hat tip Eye on Basketball for the transcription).

But on the other hand people have to remember one of the reasons for the moratorium was it used to be a guy could go from being a player under contract to all of a sudden at 12:01 signing with a new team. And people would say, ‘How in the world would that happen if he had been under contract and wasn’t supposed to be talking to other teams?’ So everyone agreed we needed a period of time in which more than either the player’s existing team or some team that somehow miraculously had had a conversation with him without having it directly — you needed an opportunity where other teams would have a chance to talk to that player. And now, what happened in this case was, of course, his own team — and I don’t know what the facts there are, and I’m sure we’ll ultimately spend more time looking into it, but at least as reported, DeAndre Jordan, through the moratorium period, reached out — that’s the report at least — and had second thoughts about leaving.

I will say it’s an imperfect system, there’s no question about it. The question is, ‘Is there a better system?’ And that’s something that the league office, and in discussion with our owners, we’re always looking to do things better. It so happens we have an owners’ meeting here in Las Vegas on Tuesday, we have a competition committee [Monday]. And there’s no doubt we’ll spend time talking about it to see just that, if there’s a better way. And on top of that, it also is part of our collective bargaining agreement as well. So even if we say, ‘Yeah, here’s a better way of doing it,’ we can’t unilaterally change it. It has to be changed through a collective bargaining process.

Silver said he has talked to Cuban and he understood the system, that nothing was binding.

All they have to do to change it is get the majority of GMs to agree, then get the owners to agree, then get the players union to agree.

Good luck with that.