Rajon Rondo appeared on ESPN's The Jump on Monday, where he discussed the turmoil that the Sacramento Kings went through, mainly between DeMarcus Cousins and former head coach George Karl.
Rondo was critical, but straightforward, about the problems that the Kings had this season. According to him, they "didn't sacrifice enough for one another."
"There were too many distractions on and off the court. The organization as a whole, I don't think was together completely. I think as a team you have to want the best for the next man beside you, and that wasn't the case for the Sacramento Kings," Rondo said.
Rondo also spoke on the tension that Cousins had with George Karl. According to Rondo, they didn't exactly mesh well.
"Too much tension. I've never witnessed or experienced a thing like that in my 10-year career."
This is a very telling testimony from Rondo. He went through some serious ups and downs with the Boston Celtics, from a championship to the rebuild years, and he also seemed to have some turbulence with the Dallas Mavericks last season. So, for him to say that this tension was worse than any of the issues he's experienced in the past says a lot.
Despite this tension, Rondo still had high praise for Cousins, saying he is "the best big in the league." He also said that Cousins still has room to improve, but Rondo seems to think that he will reach his full potential.
"He's one of the guys that's very selfless. He has to find other ways to get it done. He's going to continue to grow and learn. I was just glad I was able to be in his life and have a little bit of influence and help him a little bit this year," Rondo said.
Kentucky fans saw Cousins' potential when he was here, and Rondo's comments should come as no surprise. Cousins' size, physicality, and toughness make him impossible to stop. He should be the Kings' franchise centerpiece going forward, especially now that George Karl has been fired.
Cousins averaged a double-double with 26.9 points per game and 11.5 rebounds per game last season, so he's no doubt one of the best centers in the league. Add in the factors that Rondo touched on; his room to improve and his selflessness, and there's no doubt that Cousins could soon be widely-regarded as the best big man in the NBA.
However, he may have to make some sacrifices and give into his coaches to make that happen.
Much to the delight of Big Blue Nation, Rondo would like to play alongside Cousins next season, but the Kings and Rondo have to, as Rondo says, "come together and figure out if we can work," which likely means the two sides are not seeing eye to eye at the moment.
Rondo knows what situation he would like to be in if he goes elsewhere in free agency this offseason, as he said "I want to see myself in a situation where guys want to grow, guys want to get better. I don't want to be the hardest-working guy in the gym."
According to Rondo, he did at times feel as though he was the hardest-working player on the floor in Sacramento, so perhaps that's a situation he'd like to change.
The 30-year-old point guard will be a free agent this offseason, and looking back on his career to this point, it's clear to see what environment he needs around him to succeed. When he helped the Boston Celtics to an NBA Championship in 2008, he was around fierce competitors.
Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were some of the most competitive players in the league at the time, and Rondo thrived with them. When he was traded to Dallas, he was not in the same environment, and it showed. He disagreed with coach Rick Carlisle, and he didn't seem to enjoy himself, and that showed in his play.
Sacramento has been a different story though as Rondo has revitalized his career. He posted 11.9 points per game, 11.7 assists per game, and 6.0 rebounds per game, all numbers above his career averages. Not only was Rondo able to be more of a leader in Sacramento, but he was alongside someone who is just as competitive as he is; DeMarcus Cousins. It was clear from the start of Cousins' career that these two were some of the most competitive players in the NBA.
In order for Rondo to continue to succeed as he passes the age of 30, he needs an environment with other competitors for him to work with. It's clear from his comments that that's what he wants, and it's clear from his numbers this season that he needs at least one person like Cousins, Garnett or Pierce to be in that locker room with him.
Getting back to his interview, Rondo was also asked to speak on the Orlando shooting, which was an interesting question given the controversy he faced after last December when he used a gay slur towards NBA official Bill Kennedy, who then announced that he was gay. Rondo did send his thoughts and prayers.
"Want to send my thoughts and prayers out to the LGBT community. The only thing that's going to stop all this madness is love. The only thing that can conquer hate is love. I think that's what we need to do is love one another. My prayers and thoughts go out to the community of Orlando."
Rondo also apologized again for his actions last December.