Mon, Apr 5, 2021
By Jim Vassallo (Veri.bet Writer)
Rajon Rondo finally made his debut for the Los Angels Clippers, who are in third place in the Western Conference, just six games out of first. The Clippers are in second place in the Pacific Division, 2.5 games behind the Phoenix Suns.
Rondo debuted for the Clippers in a 104-86 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. He played just 13 minutes off of the bench. Rondo had two points, three rebounds, and four turnovers. He is on a minutes restriction as he continues to recover from an adductor injury.
The Clippers are hoping that the addition of Rondo helps them advance deep into the playoffs this season and Paul George already sees how much of a leadership role Rondo has played since joining the team via trade last week.
"I think we can reserve more energy," George said of how he and Kawhi Leonard can benefit from Rondo. "I relate it to the relationship I have with Russ. Russ created a lot of closeout situations for me. And so it'll be the same thing with Rondo. Rondo can get to the middle of the paint, he can make plays. And a lot of times, he's going to create closeout situations for us."
Rondo has won two NBA titles in this career, his first was in 2008 with the Boston Celtics and his second was last season with the Lakers.
"Rondo's a leader, you know the point guard, he's a leader," George said. "We're going to listen to him. I look at him as a leader, a leader of this group. He'll hold a lot of weight. He holds a lot of weight in the locker room. As he gets more comfortable within our system, getting games under his feet, he'll hold us accountable. That's what you need in the locker room, somebody that's going to say what needs to be said and get us going."
Rondo was acquired via trade with the Atlanta Hawks. The Clippers send veteran Lou Williams to Atlanta for Rondo. Rondo said that he has looked for areas where the Clippers can improve based on the struggles the team had in last year's playoffs.
"I can't dissect it that quickly," Rondo said. "Obviously, I want to be around and continue to learn my teammates, learn what the coach asks of us as players. I can't really say exactly, pinpoint one thing that needs to be done here. I want to come here, help this team out as much as possible, lead in every way that's possible, and obviously, we have one common goal."
Head coach Ty Lue noted that Rondo will help the offense get better looks at the bucket and help spread the ball around the floor much better.
"He's going to be a key piece to our run," said Marcus Morris Sr., who had 22 points against the Lakers on Sunday. "It's going to help us tremendously. It's going to help our superstars by getting them easier shots and getting them in their spots and even defensively just knowing where to be."
"He played with my brother [Markieff Morris] last year, and my brother had nothing but good things to say about him as a teammate. So we're just excited to get him, and I think he's really going to be a big factor in us trying to hang that banner."