When the Sacramento Kings signed Rajon Rondo this summer, there was a lot of backlash. His time in Dallas and his injury history seemed to indicate that Rondo's time as an impact player in this league was over. So far, Sacramento's gamble on Rondo has paid off in spades, with Rondo leading the league in triple-doubles, assists a game and showcasing an improved outside shot (he's at 35.4% for the season).
But Rondo's on-court impact might not nearly be as important as what he's able to do off the court. For the longest time, DeMarcus Cousins hasn't had anyone on the team that he both respects and has the credentials to command such respect. Rondo has quickly become that guy, as revealed in an illuminating story by Yahoo's Marc Spears about a previously unannounced meeting between Rondo, Cousins and George Karl last week.
In the story, Spears reveals that Rondo essentially brokered the meeting between perhaps the three most important cogs for the Sacramento Kings to find some common ground and go through some of their frustrations. Among the topics discussed were the team being more selective about pushing the pace as well as offering more feedback and constructive criticism during film sessions. Karl went on to tell Spears that the meeting was productive enough that he plans on continuing to hold weekly meetings with both Cousins and Rondo whether things are going well or poorly.
Rondo also went on to say that he wants to be a big brother for Cousins, much like Kevin Garnett was for him in Boston.
"He will do his own thing. I'm not trying to be his daddy. But I want to be his big brother like K.G. was to me, showing me the ropes and helping me along the way. Everything that I'm telling him, K.G. told me. Experience is everything. If someone has it and is willing to share it, I was always trying to soak in as much knowledge as possible."
Among the Garnett sayings that Rondo has shared with Cousins is: "You can't pick and choose when you want to lead." It's advice Rondo should have followed last season when he had some issues with the Mavs and coach Rick Carlisle. And that's perhaps why he knows Cousins could've done a better job of handling his early season issues with Karl.
"There is always a time and place," Rondo told Yahoo Sports. "[Cousins] saying what he was saying in front of the team. ... The concept of what he was saying may not have been wrong, it's just the delivery. I've had a lot of blowups and I've learned from them. I told him, ‘You're wrong on how you did it. Your [message] might be right, but that's when you go in his office and talk to him.'"
The Kings only have Rajon Rondo on a one-year deal, but Cousins seems to think he's going to be a King for a while yet.
"He ain't going nowhere. I will kidnap him myself," Cousins told Yahoo Sports.
Rondo came to Sacramento with a reputation as a hothead and a locker room cancer, but so far in Sacramento he's proving to be the opposite.