It’s no secret that the Clippers want to upgrade at point guard this offseason. Playmaking was the team’s biggest weakness dating all the way back to last summer, and the fact that Kawhi Leonard had his best season as an offensive initiator wasn’t enough to paper over that concern.
The Clippers don’t necessarily need a scoring threat at the one, just someone who can organize the offense, set up their teammates, and not be a liability on the defensive end. Ideally, this player is a veteran who is comfortable on the postseason stage. That’s why it is wholly unsurprising to see that the Clippers are interested in Rajon Rondo in free agency.
The Clippers have interest in signing the Lakers' Rajon Rondo, league sources say, and are expected to pursue Rondo when free agency opens in November— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 28, 2020
Rondo had a fairly miserable regular season, but he once again was worthy of his Playoff Rondo moniker during the postseason. He averaged 8.9 points and 6.6 assists per game off the bench. He pushed the pace when necessary, fed his bigs lobs, and helped dissect a variety of defenses in the half court. He was also a feisty defender at the point of attack, notably picking the pocket of James Harden on a number of occasions.
That version of Rondo is exactly what the Clippers are looking for, especially now that the Doc Rivers/Rondo baggage from their Celtics days is no longer an issue. Furthermore, Rondo should come fairly cheap since he just played this past season on a minimum contract.
The problem is that version of Rondo only showed up during the postseason. The 3-point shooting and defense he displayed in the playoffs were nowhere to be found in the regular season, when he was ineffective at best and outright damaging at worst. Rondo also often gets injured, and before his stint with a Lakers, he left behind a trail of dysfunction in locker rooms.
There is certainly high upside to signing Rondo; he just won a championship as arguably his team’s third-best player in the playoffs. But there is a low floor, as things have gone very wrong at some of his past stops, and even most of the Lakers fanbase had low expectations of him heading into the season.
It’s hard to see another point guard in LA’s price range that has a higher ceiling than Rondo. Jovan Buha profiled the point guard market for The Athletic, and it is bleak. If the Clippers want to take a risk, Rondo is definitely the guy to bet on given his playoff track record. But the Clippers shouldn’t expect consistency from Rondo. The Rondo experience comes with high highs and low lows. It is not for everyone, but the Clippers may not have other options.