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Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli set to sign with Kings

Point guard Rajon Rondo, who agreed to a one-year deal with the Kings on Friday, drives toward the basket for Dallas against the Lakers in December. Rondo helped Boston win the NBA title in 2008 but has struggled in recent years.
Point guard Rajon Rondo, who agreed to a one-year deal with the Kings on Friday, drives toward the basket for Dallas against the Lakers in December. Rondo helped Boston win the NBA title in 2008 but has struggled in recent years. The Associated Press

The Kings had three top targets when free agency began.

They finally landed one.

Point guard Rajon Rondo agreed to a one-year deal worth $9.5 million, according to a league source. Rondo met with the Kings on Friday, then agreed to the deal.

Rondo, 29, was the second player to agree on Friday to join the Kings. They also reached a three-year deal worth $19 million with free-agent swingman Marco Belinelli, a league source said. Belinelli confirmed his decision on Twitter.

The contracts can be signed July 9, when the league moratorium on deals is lifted.

Friday was a bounce-back day for the Kings. Thursday night, guard Wesley Matthews passed on their four-year, $64 million offer, and Monta Ellis, another top target, agreed to sign with Indiana.

The Kings, who had been looking for improved passing and three-point shooting, should get both from Rondo and Belinelli, respectively.

Their signings were made possible after the Kings cleared an additional $16 million in salary cap space on Wednesday, giving Sacramento about $26 million to work with in free agency, after trading Nik Stauskas, Jason Thompson and Carl Landry to Philadelphia.

The Kings hosted Matthews on Thursday, hoping to persuade their top free-agent target to sign the lucrative offer.

But Matthews opted to sign with Dallas instead.

Without Matthews, the Kings moved on to Rondo, their top target among the available point guards, and Belinelli.

The Kings signed Darren Collison to a three-year deal last summer but were intent on adding another veteran point guard rather than finding one in the draft.

Coach George Karl wants to play with two point guards and believes the team needs more passers.

That led to the pursuit of Rondo, who was one of the top facilitators in the NBA when he played with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in Boston.

But this past season left much to be desired. It was Rondo’s first full season since he tore his right ACL in 2013. He averaged 8.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 10.8 assists in 22 games with the Celtics before he was traded to Dallas last December.

Rondo averaged 9.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists in 46 games with the Mavericks. But he never meshed with Dallas coach Rick Carlisle and was suspended for a game for conduct detrimental to the team.

The Mavericks banished Rondo during their first-round playoff series loss to Houston, and he reportedly did not receive a share of the playoff money after a vote by his teammates, who had tired of his attitude.

Many wonder how Rondo will affect the chemistry of a team already dealing with tension between Karl and All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins.

Kings forward Rudy Gay is a good friend of Rondo’s and spoke to him about joining the Kings.

At his best, Rondo is a great pass-first point guardwho could flourish in in the fast-paced system of Karl, who is less structured in terms of play-calling than Carlisle.

But Rondo is a weak shooter from long range (26.3 percent on three-point attempts for his career) and the free-throw line. He made 45.2 percent of his free throws last season and is at 60.9 percent for his career.

Rondo, though, isn’t being brought in to shoot, , but rather to set up the likes of Cousins, Gay and Belinelli.

The Kings have been searching for better perimeter shooting. And Belinelli, 29, is a career 39.2 percent shooter beyond the arc. Last season, made 37.4 percent of his three-point tries and averaged 9.2 points in 62 games.

The Kings needed a proven perimeter shooter to fill the need Stauskas didn’t as a rookie last season.

Like Rondo, who won an NBA championship with Boston in 2008, Belinelli also gives the Kings a player who has been in a winning culture. Belinelli spent the last two seasons with San Antonio and was part of the 2014 NBA championship team.

The Kings are giving Belinelli a nice raise from the two-year contract worth about $6 million that he signed with the Spurs in 2013. That deal is much easier to manage than the huge offer made to Matthews, who is still recovering after tearing his left Achilles’ tendon in March.

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

THE NEW KINGS

RAJON RONDO

Vitals: 6-foot-1, 186 pounds, Kentucky

Drafted: First round by Phoenix in 2006, 21st overall

Teams: Boston, Dallas

Career averages: 10.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 8.3 assists

Last season with Boston/Dallas: 8.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 7.9 assists

MARCO BELINELLI

Vitals: 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, born in Italy

Drafted: First round by Golden State in 2007, 18th overall

Teams: Golden State, Toronto, New Orleans, Chicago, San Antonio

Career averages: 9.4 rebounds, 2.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists

Last season with San Antonio: 9.2 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists

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