This was Rajon Rondo back in July, talking about his relationship with Sacramento Kings coach George Karl: “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.”
Well, now they’ve played some games and already in the preseason the headstrong Rondo and his coach are in conflict. In an interview Tuesday with Cowbell Kingdom after the Kings beat the Lakers in an exhibition game in Las Vegas, Rondo said this about his relationship with Karl (you can see the video above):
“It’s not been going too well. We got into a couple arguments the last couple of days. Hopefully, we continue to talk, and it will get better.”
Karl said over the summer he expected some of this, that he knew Rondo was willful and that he would challenge the coaching staff at times. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in limited doses — you can be sure Chris Paul challenges Doc Rivers at points, same with Russell Westbrook and any coach who tries to reign him in.
The question is how it is handled and how the relationship evolves. Rondo challenged Rick Carlisle in Dallas last year and that relationship deteriorated to the point the Mavericks were better with Raymond Felton on the floor, and Rondo wasn’t around for the end of the Mavericks’ playoff series.
Rondo didn’t seem angry in this interview; he appeared to take this in stride as part of the process. The Kings are a combustible mix of players — to use Karl’s words — and that makes this relationship one worth watching.
Complicating matters for the Kings, their other point guard Darren Collison has played well this preseason in Karl’s system. Rondo and Collison are going to split time at the point, but if things continue as they have been the scales (and minutes) could tip toward Collison.