Report: Kings less willing to pay Rajon Rondo than you think

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Rajon Rondo outplayed his one-year, $9.5 million contract with the Kings – a deal that seemed exorbitant when signed.

But, after a miserable stint with the Mavericks, Rondo has rehabbed his value in Sacramento.

He’ll head into free agency under much more favorable conditions. He’s coming off a bounce-back season. The salary cap is skyrocketing.  It’s a weak point-guard class beyond Mike Conley.

How much will Rondo get?

A max contract? At least a couple NBA executives think he could.

If the bidding gets that high, the Kings might bow out.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

The latest scuttlebutt is that the Kings are prepared to cut bait with Rajon Rondo if the bidding for him gets beyond a certain threshold that is lower than we might imagine, given the Kings’ recent transaction history.

There’s a lot for Sacramento to consider.

Rondo’s resurgence came almost entirely offensively, where he was one of the NBA’s top distributors. His defense – a key element to his former star status – remains weak, and that’s unlikely to change. Rondo is 30. Do the Kings really want to invest big money in someone that age whose lack of a jumper forces him to rely so much on athleticism?

And how would they replace Rondo?

Darren Collison looked good starting before Rondo arrived. Sacramento could turn the keys back to him and spend the money it would have paid Rondo to upgrade the rest of the roster.

The Kings have the No. 8 pick of the draft, and the top two point guard prospects – Jamal Murray and Kris Dunn – will likely be off the board then. Any other point guard would be considered a reach, though I really like Wade Baldwin. Depending how workouts go, I wouldn’t rule out him warranting top-eight status.

And what about DeMarcus Cousins? Sacramento wants to forge a stronger relationship with him, and he has said how badly he wants Rondo to re-sign. They meshed well (though not always in good ways). How would Cousins respond to Rondo leaving?

The Kings will get more information by the time free agency begins. They’ll know whom they drafted and can talk to Cousins. Assessing Rondo’s value won’t become easy, but at least they’ll have more information.

By the way, if Rondo leaves Sacramento, I like him with the Grizzlies if Conley walks. Memphis would probably still need to continue trying to win now. With Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Tony Allen under contracted and a top-five-protected first-round pick owed to the Nuggets, there just isn’t much room to pivot into rebuilding. So, Rondo’s age would be less of a factor, and he could help the Grizzlies compete before they transition to their next era.