Kings Blog

Kings hope Rondo can help offense get on track

Darren Collison was having his best season as a pro before a core muscle injury sidelined him for the Kings’ final 37 games last season.
Darren Collison was having his best season as a pro before a core muscle injury sidelined him for the Kings’ final 37 games last season. Sacramento Bee file

The Kings have had issues with ball movement for nearly a decade.

They haven’t finished higher than 20th in assists the last nine seasons. Last season, they were 26th with 20.3 per game.

Because of what many Kings have called a selfish culture, the team has languished near the bottom of the standings, and it’s a big reason point guard is an annual need in the draft and free agency.

The Kings’ latest attempt at a fix is Rajon Rondo, who agreed to a one-year, $9.5 million contract Friday. Last summer, they signed Darren Collison to a three-year deal.

Rondo could be a stopgap for the Kings’ ongoing dissatisfaction at point guard while the team continues to sort out who is best suited to direct the offense.

The Kings’ efforts to find facilitators more often have resulted in fill-ins rather than long-term solutions. In the draft, the Kings have come up empty, partly because they’ve passed on players who could have stabilized the position.

Collison was supposed to be the answer following “shoot-first” point guards the franchise hasn’t valued such as Tyreke Evans and Isaiah Thomas. Collison is young (27), defensive-minded and willing to defer to DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay.

Collison was having his best season as a pro, averaging 16.1 points and 5.6 assists, before missing the final 37 games last season because of a core muscle injury.

Rondo, an All-Star with Boston from 2010 to 2013 before tearing an ACL, was traded to Dallas last December. He averaged 9.3 points, 6.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds in 46 games with the Mavericks. But he clashed with coach Rick Carlisle and was sent home during the playoffs. Rondo’s career averages are 10.8 points, 8.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds.

Now the Kings must figure out how to use Collison and Rondo. They could play them simultaneously, an option coach George Karl welcomes, or have Collison back up Rondo.

Collison’s injury prevented Karl from using a two-point guard strategy that could have helped the team’s passing. The coach relied on Ray McCallum and Andre Miller to split time. As the roster stands, McCallum would enter training camp as the third point guard.

Next summer, the Kings again could be searching for a point guard. If Rondo proves he’s back at an All-Star level, he could be wooed by a team closer to contending. Collison will be in the last year of his deal, and the Kings will need someone to count on beyond 2016-17.

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

The Kings’ roster status

THEY’RE IN

Player

Pos.

Age

From where

Rajon Rondo

PG

29

Dallas

Marco Belinelli

SF

29

San Antonio

James Anderson

SG

26

Lithuania

Willie Cauley-Stein

C

21

Draft, Kentucky

Kosta Koufos

C

26

Memphis

THEY’RE OUT

Player

Pos.

Age

Status

Derrick Williams

PF

24

Going to Knicks

Nik Stauskas

SG

21

Traded to 76ers

Jason Thompson

PF

28

Traded to 76ers

Carl Landry

PF

31

Traded to 76ers

IN LIMBO

Player

Pos.

Age

Status

Ryan Hollins

C

30

Free agent

Reggie Evans

PF

35

Free agent

Omri Casspi

SF

27

Free agent

Andre Miller

PG

39

Free agent

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