Early this Summer there were buzzing rumours that the Kings were possibly the only team that could trade for Rajon Rondo. Celtics fans seemed keen on the idea, suggesting Jimmer, Isaiah and other Kings but with one large decisive piece, the Kings first round pick. Kings fans scoffed at the Idea of removing their pick and the rumours and excitement for both parties involved seemed to day shortly after. Before I begin let me say I am a huge advocator of teams who build through the draft and on a talent level it is commonly the only viable option if you aren't one of the top tier destinations, however even for me who sits watching the Nike Hoop Summit and Jordan classic events along with my hoopmixtape extravaganza's daily think we might possibly be starting to overvalue the Presti model a little too much. Let us remember that the Thunder rebuild worked because although establishing a good culture, the Thunder, then Sonics got the most talented draft prospect in the last 15 years that isnt named Lebron. With the abundent acceptence of this method of reconstruction engulfing the whole league you also have to raise the question on its realiability if everyone is trying the same thing. For me I think that its maybe time to look at other ways of building a contender.
This years draft is a hard one to suggest the idea of trading a pick. It has 10 excellent prospects. Any team in the top 5 picks has the chance to changing there franchise overnight. From Wiggins to Selden this draft is stacked, however in the top 10 it'll be historic if 5 turn out to even be All Stars and that is a reality. And so it raises the question is trading a top pick and some expiring contracts better then an already proven bluechipper if the prospect only has, at best a 50 percent chance of reaching his ceiling, if a viable option is presenting itself in response. To me in this situation the answer is yes
The Truth about Rondo
Zach Lowe of Grantland wrote and article this week advocating Chris Webber as a Hall of Famer. Lowe highlighted his personal accolades but did an even better job of expressing the teammate he was specifically on the Kings. Every so often I think about that team as every KIngs fan does but the thing that sticks out from just the record was how they got their wins. This is where I begin my advocacy for Rondo. If you are establishing a culture that is unique the best place maybe to start is with truly the most unique player in the league. I know that everyone is aware of Rondos strengths and weaknesses but they must be explored more closely. Three years ago you could have easily made a case for Rondo as the best PG in the NBA. Two years ago Rondo lead a damaged Celtics team a game away from the Finals. Last season Rondo was well on his away to breaking Magic's highest assist per game average in a season before his injury. For years the knock on Rondos game was his lack of shooting ability. This has been true fault of Rondo's game for years, however Rondo drastically improved his shooting percentage to a respectable .484 last year while showing some ability from the mid range. And possibly Rondos best attribute is his defense where he is widely considered the best point guard defender in the league.Rondo obviously is not the best point guard in the league that title does belong to Chris Paul or Tony Parker but he's right on the fence and his improved shooting percentage last year maybe emphasizes the jump everyone has always thought was possible. The MVP level talent that he has shown the potential of being. And the leadership and ability of improving his surrounding teammates is possibly unmatched. He is truly the most intriguing player in the league from his strange food habits to his southern drawl in his voice. their is almost nothing normal of Rondo, similar to Kings best talent.
Now im sure someone is thinking that the pairing of Demarcus with Rajon is a horribly terrible idea however I think almost completely the contrary. It could become a coaches nightmare but those two might have more in common then any of their league counterparts. Let me begin with the obvious both are from relatively the same area and seem commited to keeping their southern ways as intrigal parts of their personalities. Much to peoples surprise Rondo is also a Wildcat alumn something that Boogie values tremendously. But the similarities on the court are actually more prevalent then people might think. Obviously Big Cuz doesnt have the same love affair with defense as Rondo but Cousins has an extremely high basketball I.Q. for a bigman, Rondo's best attribute. Cousins is also a tremendous passer for a big man something key for Rondos quick moving offenses. They both also have a tremendous understanding of their bodies using there frames in utterly strange ways. Boogie also does have good tendencies moving without the ball despite what it commonly looks like and is a great passer on the move within the key or on the fast break. Cousins isnt ideal on the pick and roll, something Rondo values extremely however Cousins has shown a little bit more incline to screening last year and does have the capability of rolling when he wants to. Rondo also has always had to rely on set offenses based on his surrounding players for the majority of his career who, because of age tended to rely on set offenses. In Sacramento the same restriction wouldnt be the case with Boogie's outlet abilities and Mclemore's athleticism, however the Kings could be successful in a set offenses considering Boogies high and low post game and Mclemore rout running abilities.
Lastly Cousins has needed a player he respects on his team. Rondo has proven that you can be eccentric and successful and Cousins might be willing to learn that from a champion and fellow Southern, Kentucky alumn. For some reason I think they would be highly successful together and if they weren't it could be the craziest duo in league history. Thinking back on the glory years of the KIngs they did it with beautiful passing and a collection of misfits who bought into each other. If Cousins and Rondo bought into each other we could be looking at a more successful version of white chocolate and boy would that be fun.
What we Would Get in the Draft
If the Kings decide to keep their pick for 2014 the most likely thing theyll be looking for is a Small Forward or Point Guard to add. The Kings could look at some point guards with Harrison, Christon and Exum leading the charge however all those prospects are still up in the air as if they are a one or a two and considering the Kings have Mclemore, might be more more keen on bringing in a pure point and might hold out still for a point guard for that reason. In the more obvious direction this is a great draft to pick up a Small Forward as in most mocks more then half of the top 10 prospects are Threes. Players like Wiggins, Parker and possibly Randle round out as amazing game changing level talents however players like Selden, Saric and Glen Rob III are amazing prospects as well. So yes this is a draft that could easily fix one of the Kings biggest needs without adding the money Rondo would demand however that need could also be addressed in the Summer a different way.
The Draft of 2014 has the makings of being a historic one, but so does the 2014 Free Agency and the most loaded area of the summers money chasers are, you guessed it Small Forwards. Obviously I know a player like Lebron and Carmelo will not dress themselves in purple however those are the front runners for a handful of SF talent and a handful of players who will most likely be high mid levels but have potential of being worth more then that. The Kings showed this summer that money isnt a factor as they were willing to sign Andre Iguodala this off season. This summer has a handful of all star potential talents that could be grabbed for close to the same price they were willing to pay Iggy this summer. Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng, Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless (who both play for the Magic who will most likely let one go) Kawhi Leonard, Harrison Barnes and Chandler Parsons lead a copious group of choices the Kings can choose from. Granted most of those players will most likely be retained by their respective teams and there might be a couple of them who might get somehere in the 14 to 15 million range but the majority of those players are worth between 7 million to 13 million around the same amount that was offered to Iggy this Summer.
Obviously committing that Kind of Money, picking up Rondos money and resigning Demarcus would lock them up financially for the future and later down the line cause problems of retaining a player like Mclemore assuming he establishes himself in the next couple of years but say they signed a draft pick to a rookie deal, three or four years from now they would have the same problem in paying the 2014 pick, Mclemore the year before, and assuming another high mid level. If the Kings could pick up one of these guys for 7 or 8 million they would be in great shape moving forward and that could, later on be on the cheap end. If they got Rondo they would be financially set saving money considering Rondo is drastically underpaid for the next two years. Ask yourself wouldn't Rondo and one of these small forwards be a better investment then just Wayne Selden and whatever high mid level we add, I think the answers yes
Money is a factor and if the Kings did this they would have to commit a fair amount up front however they could get Rondo cheap for the next two years and possibly sign one of the free agent Small Forwards for great value at a high mid level, down the line if they continue reaching their potential. The concerns doing this now are the same concerns that could easily be raised down the line if the draft pick and Mclemore reached their potential but with far less talent and the same amount of money. Granted keeping the pick allows us to decide if we want to invest or not however the Kings already have All Star potential young talent in Mclemore and Cousins and if they wait could close the door on a chemistry level for Cousins as he begins the middle of his career. Building through the draft is great when it happens as a collective, around the same time however if thats the case the Kings would be having to bet all their chips that next years pick would be one of there third options for years to come. Adding Rondo establishes the first or co star piece along with Cousins, provides the chance for Mclemore to be a possible all star piece but also solidfies that same potential in a mid level small forward. If all worked out the KIngs could be looking at four all star level talents in three or four years oppose to a possible three if they kept the pick why longer down the line.
To me winning is everything. If you aren't trying to win a title I don't understand why you should play the game, if your decisions aren't for a future ring you shouldn't make those decisions, however following closely behind is the entertainment factor. The great Kings team is widely considered the best team to never win a title however they wouldn't be remembered if Vlade wasn't flipping his finger through his imaginary rule book, if Scot Pollard didn't alter his hairstyle monthly or if Webber didn't have the best smile in NBA history. This game is about creating memories and pairing eccentrics for better or worse will create memories. I want to win a title for Sacramento one day so bad it kills me, but I want that title winning team to be remembered for its identity and not only its trophy. Im not saying that my suggestions would win the Kings a title or for even that matter make them a legit contender but this team would have an identity, a perspective and personality two build on if they good pieces and made smart decisions. That is something truly lacking in this league, something GM's don't value as they once did. I think its time to change that and putting two weirdos together might just be the perfect solution.