Rajon Rondo had Kevin Garnett, now wants to pay it forward to DeMarcus Cousins
The main reason Rajon Rondo came to the Sacramento Kings is they agreed to pay him $9.5 million.
However, it wasn’t completely about the money. Rondo is a Kentucky guy, as is Kings big man and franchise cornerstone DeMarcus Cousins — and Rondo sees a lot of himself in Cousins. The challenging temperament that can have coaches, teammates and fans oscillating between love and extreme frustration.Rondo was guided through that by teammates such as Kevin Garnett and coach Doc Rivers, now Rondo wants to pay that forward to Cousins, the guard told David Aldridge of NBA.com.
“That was part of the reason I wanted to come here,” Rondo said. “If I didn’t have a guy like KG in my ear all the time, a coach like Doc, who knows where I’d be in this league -- if I’d even be in this league. I’ve been wanting to play with Cuz for four or five years now. I think he’s the best big -- he is the best big in the game. And with a little bit of direction, even as far as his knowledge of the game, he can take even a bigger step in this game. I’m enjoying it. He’s listening, he’s embraced it.”
“I know his intentions,” Cousins said. “His intentions at the end of the day are the same as mine. I can never have a disagreement with a guy like that. Every night we try to go out and do whatever it takes to win the game. You have a guy like that on the floor with you, it’s hard to have disagreements ... I know his heart is to win the game. That’s why he’s the most unselfish player I’ve ever played with.”
Rondo seems to be getting through. In his last five games, Cousins is averaging 32.4 points a game on 51.4 percent shooting, grabbing 10.8 rebounds a game, even blocking a shot and hitting 32 percent from three. He’s on a tear, and he’s lifted Sacramento to a top 5 NBA offense in through those five games.
The Kings are 3-2 in that stretch, thanks to a bottom five defense, which keeps the Kings as the nine seed, two games back of Utah in the final playoff spot in the West. Sacramento is close, it just needs more of this Cousins then a little more help around him — including from Rondo, particularly on pick-and-roll defense. The Kings just need more stops in the short term.
In the long term, if Rondo is having this kind of impact on Cousins, the Kings likely will want to keep him around. Considering other teams will hesitate to chase Rondo in the wake of the Bill Kennedy incident, Sacramento should be able to retain Rondo (who is an unrestricted free agent come July). It will just come down to finding a number. The fact Cousins wants Rondo back should give the guard a little leverage in those talks.
But if Rondo really can pay it forward and has the ear of Cousins, if he can keep the big man playing like he has of late, the money may be worth every penny.