In a hoarse voice, barely above a whisper, point guard Rajon Rondo insisted he was joking when he told a blogger after the Kings beat the Lakers on Tuesday night in a preseason game in Las Vegas that his relationship with coach George Karl “has not been going too well.”
The nine-year veteran in his first season with the Kings clarified his remarks Wednesday after practice at Sleep Train Arena.
“Anyone that knows me, I have a dry sense of humor,” Rondo said. “I can keep a straight face. There is nothing between George and I. The guy (blogger) just caught me. He was new, and I decided to have some fun.”
Karl seemed both bemused and irritated about the commotion. He and Rondo appear to have established a strong relationship in a short period of time – a development noted by several Kings players and team executives. The two often are seen speaking privately during and after practice and openly joke about their relationship within hearing distance of media members.
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“You’re being tricked, you’re being tricked,” Karl said after practice. “Rondo is hilarious. My relationship with Rondo is so good, if it gets better, I’d be scared. It’s pretty amazing, it’s pretty amazing. You’re being manipulated by a smart gentleman.”
Rondo, who clashed with Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle during his brief tenure in Dallas last season, went out of his way Wednesday to clarify his comments. Though he speaks with media members on rare occasions, he sat on the sideline immediately after practice and addressed the situation.
“I told George right after the game that I told this reporter that we had four or five arguments last week, and he laughed about it,” Rondo said. “So like I said, we know what’s going on inside our house and everything’s fine.”
Interestingly, Karl said he has been pushing his players throughout preseason and acknowledged that not everyone was pleased about the prospect of practicing the morning after a night game in Las Vegas.
“We’ve played too many games,” he said. “We’ve had some tired practices. So there’s a little conflict between coach and player going on about, ‘Should we be here? What are doing here?’ And my choice has been, instead of giving them a day off, I’m going to push them through this week. I’m pretty sure the decision’s not a happy one amongst the players. But I’m not here to make them happy. I’m here to make them better.”
The Kings (4-1 this preseason) are not scheduled to practice Thursday before traveling to Lexington, Ky., to play the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night at the University of Kentucky. Rondo, center DeMarcus Cousins and rookie Willie Cauley-Stein all played for the Wildcats.