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Rajon Rondo looks to be the player to take Clippers to next level

The veteran point guard could be the missing piece

Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

It wasn’t the sexiest move at the trade deadline, but the Clippers addressed their biggest need by trading for a true point guard in Rajon Rondo. Parting ways with Lou Williams hurt, but there’s no question this move has a chance to really benefit the Clippers come playoff time.

When a trade is deemed the best of the deadline, and it comes from a player on a different team, you have to think the Clippers made the right move.

Rondo has yet to make his Clippers debut, but he’ll likely suit up on Monday night. Although he has yet to play in a game for LA, the expectations surrounding him are already high, and for good reason.

Rondo has been one of the best point guards in the NBA over the last decade. He’s well respected around the league, and has proven he can be counted on during the biggest games.

“I mean it’s like having a quarterback,” Clippers coach Ty Lue said when asked about the addition of Rondo. “I mean he’s a leader of your team, gets guys easy shots. I think he’ll make it a lot easier on PG and Kawhi, getting those guys in position as well, but also just understanding the game, you know, understanding who needs a shot when they haven’t had a touch in a while, or where guys’ spots are on the floor... So I just think he means a lot. I think his leadership means a lot to this team as well.”

It’s been a very down year for the 35-year-old veteran. He’s averaging career-lows in points, rebounds and assists. The Clippers aren’t asking for him to put up All-Star numbers. They are asking for a leader on the court who will make his teammates better, especially when it matters.

“Obviously he’s just a point guard, been there before, been in previous championship runs,” Kawhi Leonard said. “So he’s going to give us that veteran mentality, the experience, and giving us another ball handling playmaker that can attack the rim and make the defense collapse.”

Rondo has appeared in 121 playoff games over his career. During those games, he’s averaged 13 points and nine assists per game. His most recent playoff run came last season with the Lakers, where he helped guide the Lakers to a championship. During the postseason last year, Rondo averaged nine points, seven assists and four rebounds per game. Again, those aren’t numbers that will scream MVP, but there’s no question that Rondo was a huge factor in the Lakers winning it all.

“I mean, for me, he’s a leader by nature and he is a leader coming into this team as is,” Paul George said. “It’s almost natural, it’s organic. We know what he stands for, we know what he’s about. There’s no egos. We want everything that he brings. It has never been a situation where it’s my team or Kawhi feels it’s his team. We are in this to do this together and build something together and we are here to win together. Same thing goes for Rondo.

“This team is his regardless if he has played a game yet or not. He is a part of this team and a big piece of this team. It’s just respect. We got a lot of respect for him when he has been on other teams and his career and its continued respect even more so with him being on our side.”